The wheel type and tread material are important considerations when choosing a Caster Wheel.

There are dozens of wheel and material options available to you in your caster journey, and two of the most popular across the industry are poly (short for polyurethane) and classic rubber.

Understanding the differences between these can be an essential step in helping you determine whether poly wheels or rubber wheels will best suit your needs.

Well Hello, Poly! The Benefits of  Poly Wheels

Polyurethane caster wheels, often referred to as simply poly wheels, offer several unique benefits in the workplace. These include:

  • Noise Reduction – Polyurethane wheels are great choices when noise is a significant concern. The poly wheels absorb shock in a way that many others cannot, which reduces vibration and therefore noise a great deal – especially when used on uneven or textured surfaces.

Our tread formulation designed to achieve optimal ergonomic benefits; ErgoTread returns energy, reducing initial and continuous push-pull force. ErgoTread also resists debris, is quieter, and won’t mark floors.

  • Floor Protection – Poly wheels are also ideal for protecting flooring in places like schools or hospitals, or in other applications in which floors must remain in pristine condition – such as on a basketball court. They create a larger footprint and spread the weight out over a larger area, which protects the flooring far more than other materials.
  • Friction Coefficients – Polyurethane grips the floor more than other materials, which can help prevent toppling for top-heavy loads on slick surfaces. If you are utilizing a motorized drive, poly wheels can help maintain enough friction to keep carts moving in the right direction.
  • More Capacity – Poly wheels can handle far more weight than their rubber counterparts, which makes them ideal in medium- to heavy-duty applications where rubber would crush.
Hard Tread

The hardest durometer polyurethane we offer, shore 70D, is designed to maximize weight capacity. This extra-hard polyurethane is ideal for heavy loads, with non-marking and wear-resistant properties. 

  • Corrosion Resistance – Finally, urethane wheels are far superior to rubber casters because they won’t corrode or break down as readily when exposed to heat, water, or even certain chemicals over time. Rubber wheels simply cannot withstand these environmental factors.

When are Rubber Wheels or Casters the Better Choice?

Despite the numerous benefits afforded by poly wheels, there are some cases in which pneumatic rubber wheels are the best option.

Using this type of wheel occurs when you need to move loads outdoors or across very uneven surfaces, including over gravel or cracks in the flooring. Rubber wheels are far better suited to outdoor-only applications and are used extensively in the construction and air-ground support industries, especially.

The pneumatic tires cushion the load and roll over obstructions with ease. These casters provide longer wheel life, less maintenance, and high shock absorbency. Keep in mind that even when used as indicated, rubber wheels will not wear as well as poly casters, which means you will need to replace them more frequently.

For applications that require indoor and outdoor use, polyurethane becomes the clear winner as it is far better suited for use on smoother surfaces. However, if your application requires primarily outdoor use, rubber casters are the better choice in terms of use and safety – both for the load and for the protection of employees. Each option can be modified to a degree to suit your application, but making the right choice from the start is critical for the efficiency of your business.