IKEA office chair: lock wheels on an uneven floor

January 23, 2021

I love my apartment. But there’s one thing with it. It’s not level. Like, not at all.

That never really bothered me. Until the day I buy an office chair. You know, the kind with wheels.

And guess what happens when you put something with wheels on an uneven surface? It rolls around. And the last thing I want when I’m sitting on my office chair, or when I’m not sitting on it for what it’s worth, is it rolling around without my permission.

Put it on a carpet

The first thing I did was to put it on a carpet, and that straight up solved the issue. That’s great, but the carpet comes with a bunch of other inconvenience (like extra hassle when moving furniture around, need to clean it, having area limits, and so on) so I ditched that at some point and looked for another solution.

Manual brakes

If you have the kind of wheels with brakes, just lock the brakes and you’re good, but if you have this kind of wheel you would probably not be reading this.

You can get replacement wheels with brakes, but I have an IKEA chair that have a special kind of nonstandard socket for the wheels so I didn’t find any in Canada that had a reasonable price and shipping date.

Elastics (don’t do that)

One thing I tried was tying a whole bunch of elastics inside the wheels. And that did work. For 5 minutes. After that the elastics started to catch in the mechanism and broke one after the other and I ended up with a mess of bits of elastic all over the floor.

Automatic brakes

But it turns out that I have an IKEA chair with an automatic brake, that brakes only when you’re not sitting on it. So the chair is not moving when I don’t use it, but as soon as I sit on it, it starts rolling around and I have to keep my feet on the floor and keep my abs and legs tight to prevent it from moving. Good workout, but I don’t want to deal with that all day.

I really wanted to find a way to keep those brakes on all the time. It’s just the perfect amount of braking, like you can still roll it around if you push it, but it’s not gonna move by itself even on the slanted floor.

The way the mechanism works is that there’s a spring inside it that pushes the wheel up so it rubs against a brake surface, but your weight when you sit down pushes it away so that it’s not touching the brake anymore and can roll freely.

What I wanted is for the wheel to say on the brake even when I’m sitting on it.

Obviously the mechanism is built in a way that you can’t disassemble it without breaking it, so I was left with a limited number of solutions.

Screw it

What I ended up doing is take a bunch of screws, and screw them down the brake mechanism to lock it in place.

Screw in chair wheels

And that worked! It’s been a couple of months and the chair is still locked in brake mode where it doesn’t move around by itself.