Office chair + hardwood floor = ?
January 11, 2018 12:45 AM   Subscribe

I'm about to move to a new office space that has beautiful old hardwood floors, and I will need to use some kind of adjustable office chair. My preferred chair has castors, but I'm worried about them damaging the floor. How can I preserve the floor while looking after my back?

I thought about using a plastic mat underneath the chair, but the internet tells me that these might cause damage too. What's your experience with this? Perhaps a cheap rug would work? Or are there decent office chairs without castors? I need to sit at my desk for long periods of time, so the chair must be comfortable and adjustable.

Is there a way around this, or should I just look for another office where I don't need to consider the floor?
posted by rubbish bin night to Home & Garden (12 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I've seen folks get tennis balls and cut into them so they can be fitted over the casters, to protect a hardwood floor.
posted by The otter lady at 1:22 AM on January 11, 2018

I think you need a chair mat.
posted by bendy at 1:42 AM on January 11, 2018 [4 favorites]

Inline Skate casters are fantastic. Made of soft material with smooth edges and closed centers that don't collect dust, hair et cetera.

These are simply the best.
posted by ashtray elvis at 2:40 AM on January 11, 2018

Most office chairs seem to ship with hard plastic casters, but it looks like you can buy aftermarket replacements that have softer polyurethane wheels. You’d need to pop out one of the original casters and measure the mounting post before ordering.
posted by jon1270 at 2:41 AM on January 11, 2018 [2 favorites]

I can confirm that plastic chair mats can damage wood floors. We will have to refinish our floor after "protecting" it with a mat that said it was safe for wood.

I'd get a large commercial carpet sample and have the edges finished. It will help deaden noise and protect the floor, and could look very nice too. We have a carpet outlet near us that offers this for very cheap, like $0.49 per square foot.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 4:22 AM on January 11, 2018 [4 favorites]

I'm sitting on a leather chair with castors on a plastic mat and it has damaged the wooden floors underneath.

peanut_mcgillicuty has the right idea, I think (I'm assuming that a carpet offcut would be quite a lot cheaper than a wool/acrylic rug of the same size, even from Ikea, etc.).
posted by humph at 6:02 AM on January 11, 2018

A carpet or plastic chair mat will protect the floor from dents, for the most part, but they will still scratch up the surface of the floor.

HOWEVER, at the end of the day, even a nice hardwood floor is still a FLOOR and its main job (unless it is a priceless decorative mosaic floor or something) is to support people and furniture. Old hardwood floors have been refinished before and will be refinished again.
posted by mskyle at 6:50 AM on January 11, 2018 [6 favorites]

When I had my floors done I bought inline skate replacement castors for my chair. No mat required and they don't hurt the floor at all. You can get them on Amazon for less than 20 bucks IIRC.
posted by oblique red at 7:58 AM on January 11, 2018 [1 favorite]

I've used a tightly woven sisal mat with a thin "carpet padding" foam underlay for several years with my plastic-wheeled rolling office chair. The dark wood floor underneath looks great. And it was both far cheaper and much nicer looking than plastic or carpet.
posted by eotvos at 9:32 AM on January 11, 2018

I ruined some floors with a plastic mat, because ultimately grit and detritus slipped under it and I rolled around over it. I now have a rug, which is warmer, nicer on my feet, and seems to be keeping the detritus level down.
posted by clone boulevard at 10:11 AM on January 11, 2018

We use rugs under our desk chairs to protect our hardwood floors, and it seems to work reasonably well.
posted by thejanna at 10:38 AM on January 11, 2018

We use a desk floor mat that is fabric backed bamboo slats. The fabric protects the hardwood floor & the office chair moves smoothly on the bamboo. It rolls up into a manageable bundle for cleaning. It was an Office Max item.
posted by X4ster at 12:18 PM on January 11, 2018

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