My wife's office has solid hickory hardwood floors, and I'd like to protect the floor from her rolling office chair. What can be done to protect the floor?
Should I even be concerned about the chair damaging the floor?
In two old homes now I've shredded the wood floor under my chair, monster splinters eventually emerging. I work at home in semi-rural New Hampshire. I think they're very old pine floors, so softwood. I plan to try Shepherd Brand Urethane Casters after putty and repainting.
From the manufacturer's site, "Nylon tread for carpeting, and urethane tread for hard floors." Much buzz on Amazon about these.
Edit: After months with the new casters there are no new paint flakes or splinters. I haven't repainted the floor yet, but it appears these casters will do the trick.
Edit 2021: After six years and ten locations the above urethane casters are still in good shape and still saving wood floors. In that old home I repaired, repainted, and rolled around on the pine floor for three years, and when I left all was intact. Alas these exact casters are now unavailable, but there may be good alternatives searching chair casters hardwood floors. These are polyethylene:
I live in a house full of wood floors (engineered hardwood). If the floors are kept clean and the wheels of the chair also are kept clean, every little damage will ever happen to your floors. If your floors are perfectly smooth and any imperfection will bother you, I do recommend either a low pile or woven rug under the desk and chair. I say this, because if some sand or small rock gets between the chair caster and the floor it will mark it. You can always fill the small imperfection but a rug is a small insurance plan for that area of floor.
I would either get some sort of "mat" or area rug. There are some plastic mats that are sold without the plastic spikes. There are also 'floating vinyls" or fiber floors that come in rolls (often at Home Depot) and they can just go on top of floor without adhesive. You can cut them to size. Usually, their weight holds them down.
I use something like this: http://www.officedepot.com/a/products/459806/Realspace-Bamboo-Chair-Mat-36-W/ Of course I have bamboo floors so it blends in.
The trouble is, no matter what you put down there, if it's a sunny room, your floor will age unevenly. I had one of those clear plastic mats down and when I removed it after a couple of years, a huge light spot was left behind. I have recently refinished the floor in this room and I'm reluctant to put anything down on the new floor--though maybe with the modern tools & chemicals it's fade-proof I don't know. But I think I have to expect some change of color over time. It's a very sunny room. Kept hoping I'd find something like casters with felt coated wheels. I had no luck. Maybe I should invent such a thing, Lol. Bet they'd sell well. My office chair is also terribly loud rolling across the floor.
The chair mat is the way to go. You have to use roofing tacks hammered into the corners to hold it down, otherwise it will slide around and be annoying.
Getting a mat is a good idea. If you don't do this what will happen is that dirt and sand particles adhere to the wheels of the chair and grind ruts in the wood creating bare spots.