Introduction: DIY Office Chair Mat & Caster Replacement
When I started working from home, I bought a nice desk and office chair. The wheels/casters made deep divots into the carpet. (see photo). My first solution was to buy a cheap floor mat from Office Max. What I didn't know was that not all chair mats are worth buying and it cracked apart within days.
So I then invested in a more expensive mat hoping it wouldn't crack up. It didn't crack. However, the wheels continue to make fairly deep impressions into the mat - not as bad as the carpet, but bad enough that it was a nuisance and I felt that I had to drag the chair out of the impressions just to move it.
Next, I invested in oversized casters, which made a big difference - until I rolled off the mat onto the carpet. Then I was back to square one.
I figured I need to come up with a better solution. I spent some time googling and found a few people saying they'd used furniture movers/sliders, but I couldn't find a step-by-step so I had to make up a few steps, but it worked out.
I hope it works for you.
Step 1: Create a Firm Foundation
The first challenge was to find a suitable foundation. After searching craft stores, online, and considering making my own supports, I finally found the perfect solution: bun feet. These are designed to be used as the feet under a couch or love seat.
They're perfect because they're round, solid and have a pre-drilled hole that comes in quite handy. The only challenge is that pre-drilled hole is filled with a lag screw that needs to be removed for our purposes. I found that channel lock pliers give the right leverage, but I'm sure vise grips would work equally well.
Simply unscrew and discard the lag screws.
Once I removed the lag screws, I replaced them with T-bolts, which I found in the specialty hardware section at Lowe's, and that fit perfect into the pre-drilled hole.
Step 2: Prepare Buns for Painting
After removing all five lag screws and replacing them with T-bolts, I screwed five, 1/4X20X2" machine screws just a few twists into each bun. I figured this would protect the inside threads when I spray-painted the buns. This would also allow me to paint the tops of the screw heads at the same time I painted the buns.
As an added benefit, the screws came in quite handy to hold the buns while I painted them.
I also prepared fender washers, but ultimately didn't use them.
Step 3: Paint the Buns
Now that I had the five buns ready to go, just a couple of quick coats of spray paint and we're well on the way.
Step 4: Prepare Star Base
While waiting for the paint to dry on the buns, now it's time to prepare the star base.
First, you have to decide if you want to remove the base from the chair. I did, but it's not required. Regardless, remove the wheels/casters and flip the base/chair upside down.
My chair has decorative covers over the end of each leg that are held on with tiny screws, which are inserted through the holes used to insert the casters. I removed those screws easily using a manual screw driver.
Step 5: Drill Base to Receive Buns
With the screws out of the way, you're now ready to drill 1/4" holes in each leg.
The decorative covers on my chair were held by two screws - one in the wheel/caster holes, and the other a bit further up the leg.
When I drilled the first hole, it shattered the decorative cover on that leg. So for the next four, I taped the decorative cover with duct tape so it wouldn't have any give. That worked well for me.
Step 6: Install Buns
By now, the buns should be dry.
Remove the screws from the buns. Insert a screw through one of the newly drilled holes and screw the T-bolt onto the screw.
I found that I didn't need to use a screwdriver to hold the screw as I tightened the bun - which is nice, since it would have scratched the paint on the screw head.
After installing the remaining four buns, your star base will look like a UFO or hovercraft.
Step 7: Prepare Sliders
I bought a package of 8 furniture movers/sliders at Home Depot for about $5. There are certainly more expensive brands, but I'm pretty sure they all do the same thing.
The type I purchased had foam inserts - supposedly to accommodate furniture legs - which needed to be removed. This took a bit of time but I needed a good surface for adhesion to the buns.
Step 8: Attach Sliders
Now you have to decide how to attach the sliders. I thought about using some glue/epoxy, but realized that if I ever needed to replace the sliders, the glue/epoxy would make it impossible to remove the slider(s) without damaging the bun. So I decided to use 3M picture hangers. It's like Velcro so it's removable, but very strong.
I removed the backing paper on one strip and pressed it to the bottom of a bun. Then I pressed its "mate" onto it with the backing paper still intact. This ensures the two will be lined up perfect when installing the sliders. I used two pieces of 3M per bun.
After installing two 3M strips (with their mates) on each bun, remove the backing paper on the 3M strips on one of the buns. Carefully center one of the furniture sliders over the prepared bun and press down firmly to stick the 3M to the slider.
Repeat on the other four legs to complete the process.
Step 9: How Well Does It Work?
After you've installed all five sliders, reinstall the star base to the chair and turn it upright.
Now you've got 5 furniture sliders under your chair that will make it "float' on carpet. These sliders supposedly work on tile and hardwood, but I haven't tried it out.
Now that I don't sink into the carpet, I've removed my chair mat altogether.
I slide around the carpet quite easily. I wouldn't say it's like rolling on a hard surface, but it's definitely better than trying to get the wheels up out of a carpet rut.
Overall, I'm quite happy with the results.