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A guide to furniture glides

We expect a lot from furniture glides. They need to do their job effectively while at the same time forming an integral part of the over-all design concept. Often we need them to function faultlessly and unobtrusively throughout the entire lifespan of the piece of furniture.
Furniture glides are frequently part of the design of new pieces of furniture, whose development involves extensive design and function studies by furniture designers and manufacturers. They can also be purchased as ready-made products for use in existing furniture designs.
In the case of furniture that is rarely moved or subject to light use only, choosing the right furniture glide is somewhat less important. However, particularly when it comes to chairs, choosing the right glide is critical and requires careful attention.
Chair – flooring – use
Choosing the correct furniture glide will ensure that:
  • The floor is not damaged
  • The floor does not damage the glide excessively (soiling, sealing with hard materials, etc.)
  • Moving the chair does not make too much noise
  • The chair is relatively easy to move but does not slip when someone sits down on it
  • Misuse (e.g. leaning back on the chair, tipping the chair over) is tolerated without damaging the floor
  Types of furniture glides
A number of different types of furniture glides have been developed in recent decades:
1. Single-part glides – commonly used plastics include polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP), polyamide (PA), polyoxymethylene (POM) and polycarbonate (PC)
2. Two-part or multipart bonded glides with glued, welded or injection-moulded slide inserts
3. Two-part or multipart bonded glides with mounted slide inserts
Single-part glides are generally inexpensive and are used where a flat, unobtrusive fittings is desired. The main factor determining the size of the glide is the manner in which it is affixed to the chair, unless the design aspects are more important.
Types two and three are more expensive but provide a better match with the type of flooring, without compromising the strength and stability of the chair.
With type three, the insert can be replaced if necessary, but the glides are generally somewhat bigger as a result.

Slide inserts (forms and materials)
The following forms and materials are found for slide inserts and moulded, mounted or affixed glide parts:

  1. Felt stamped parts (pressfitted, mounted or locked into place with an overmoulded plastic frame, glued on, or welded on using friction welding)
  2. Single-part hard plastic mouldings (PE, PP, PA, POM, PC, etc. – overmoulded, glued, welded on using friction welding, pressfitted, mounted, or locked into place)
  3. Stainless-steel feet (flanged around the glide)
  4. Chrome- or nickel-plated steel feet (flanged around the glide)
  5. Single-part soft plastic mouldings: elastomers and thermoplastic elastomers – overmoulded, glued, welded on using friction welding, pressfitted, mounted, or locked into place
  6. Bonded composite mouldings consisting of flexible brackets and easy-gliding foil: elastomers and thermoplastic elastomers (TPE) with foil made out of polytetrafluorethylene (PTFE, e.g. sold under the brand name ™Teflon), ultrahigh molecular PE, or cross-linked ultrahigh molecular PE)


What can chair glides do, and what can’t they do? 
Chair glides (and slide inserts for chair glides) are subject to normal wear and tear. They need to be periodically inspected and maintained, especially when used with sensitive floors. There is no one floor glide that is suitable for all types of flooring: although some materials can be used on any type of flooring, this always comes at the cost of durability (e.g. PTFE, felt) or functional incompatibility (e.g. TPE-U/PUR = excellent adhesive properties or PTFE = extremely low friction or adhesive resistance).
  • The durability of the chair glide depends critically on choosing the correct type of glide. Here, the following factors are important:
  • Surface area that the chair glide or slide insert will rest on in relation to the actual load (weight of person + weight of chair)
  • Correct choice of material for the slide insert – this should suit the type of flooring
  • Pattern and type of use
  • Colour of slide insert
For various reasons (e.g. design, cost, weight), small-diameter round steel tubes or small-diameter tapered steel tubes shaped using hydraulic pressure are often used in tubular steel chairs. Often, the expectations of the furniture manufacturers are that the base of the chair glide will not be too big in relation to the diameter of the steel tube.
However, as the diameter of the tubular steel decreases, wear and tear on the slide insert increases geometrically, as does the amount of pressure exerted on the floor. Keeping the chair glide in place also becomes increasingly difficult with smaller tube diameters. In the case of cantilever chairs and tubular steel chairs which do not have vertical legs made of steel tubes with smaller diameters (18-22 mm), this is less critical if the slide base can be long enough.
The choice of material for the slide insert depends on the characteristics of the flooring and the desired level of comfort. The floor manufacturer should indicate suitable materials for furniture slides and the minimum slide surface area per chair for its products.
If a low level of noise is important, it should be borne in mind that with materials such as felt, elastomers and thermoplastic elastomers, the softer the material, the faster it wears out. If, on the other hand, easy movement of the chair is important, it should be remembered that PTFE and ultrahigh molecular PE or cross-linked ultrahigh molecular PE cannot be moulded using standard thermoplastic techniques – instead they are generally used as feedstock foils or sintered pre-forms for making bonded composite moulded parts. The durability of these products is limited: despite the low level of friction and hence abrasion, only average durability can be expected in the case of intensive use.
School chairs and stacking chairs for use in mass seating are particularly demanding, due to both the type of use and the users themselves. Good floor cleaning and regular inspection and maintenance is essential. Often, vandalism is also a factor – in such cases the chair glides will not last forever, however strong they are. If the floor is sensitive, natural-coloured slide inserts should be used to ensure that any marks can be removed without trace: coloured slide inserts and glides can leave marks that are difficult or even impossible to remove.

The following criteria should also be taken into account:
  • Care and cleaning of the floor
  • Type of flooring
  • Quality of the floor design
Floor care and cleaning, depending on the level of soiling and wear and tear, are essential. Small, hard particles of dirt become ingrained in all types of slide bases. When the chair is moved, they then scratch the floor at the same time as wearing down the slide base. In steel or stainless-steel feet, this leads to sharp-edged grooves which in turn damage the floor.
Some flooring manufacturers seal their floors with a top coat containing corundum to protect it from scratches. Corundum is a very hard abrasive material and can quickly wear down furniture glides and slides. The type of flooring determines the level of abrasion and grip, as well as the level of noise created when moving the chair. A less or more easily sliding chair glide should be chosen accordingly, and extra soundproofing glides added if necessary.
The floor on which the chair is placed should be smooth and free from bumps. Rough floor tiles with protruding edges and sudden thresholds or doorstops can put chair glides beyond repair in a very short time. Choosing the right type of flooring can also be critical for ensuring a low level of noise.

In many cases, the furniture glide will actually outlast the item of furniture. Often a simple straight glide from our GL product line, in a natural colour, or an angled glide from our RS line, also in a natural colour, will be a satisfactory solution. These products are also very easy to replace in the case of excessive wear and tear.
(look at.: plastic material characteristics behaviour without obligation)
  Private and public tenders for seating systems
Where a tender specifies the type of chair glide to be used, the floor design, floor type, chair glide and type of use must all match in order to ensure realistic durability for the specified level of floor care (cleaning, inspection, and maintenance of floor and chair glides).
The tender documents will indicate how long the construction materials, objects and different components used should last. In many cases, the chair glide is the weakest link in the chain: if it is faulty, it can potentially damage the floor by causing excessive stress.
In terms of type of use, stacking chairs for schools, halls and large venues place the greatest demands on chair glides. Careful thought needs to be given to what chair glide is most suitable for the particular type of use in question. If tilt glides are chosen, it should be remembered that these can twist in the opposite direction from that required to support the chair leg.
The people responsible for the chairs must make sure that the bases of the tilt glides are always flush on the floor, and that when the chairs are unstacked they are placed carefully on the floor rather than thrown onto it. If they fail to do this, the tilt glides can come off or be damaged when the chairs are unstacked or in use. Natural coloured PE angled glides – our SRS and RS product lines – can be a safer, if somewhat less elegant, solution: they are sufficiently soft and do not mark the floor with their colour, but wear out more quickly.
We offer all common types of slide base
  • Stainless steel
  • Felt (various qualities, natural or dyed)
  • PA (natural or dyed)
  • PE (natural or dyed)
  • POM (natural)
  • PP (natural or dyed)
  • PTFE (natural or dyed)
  • PVC-P (soft; natural or dyed)
  • Steel (nickel- or chrome-plated)
  • TPE (-U, -V, -E; natural or dyed)
TPE-U offers the most effective stop/non-slip function on a wide range of different floor types, combined with very good durability. PTFE offers the best glide effect (dynamic and static friction) on a wide range of different floor types.
Some mounted slide inserts are easy to replace. Often, however, replacing the whole glide can be cheaper and easier than replacing the slide insert. Natural-coloured slide bases are recommended, as they can be used in a wide range of settings. They also do not leave marks if the floor or glides contain vinyl (PVC, EVA, etc.).
During wet cleaning of floors, furniture with felt or steel (nickel- or chrome-plated) slide inserts should be removed until the floor is completely dry. The detergent used must be compatible with the material in the slide base and not react with it in any way.
We recommend the following combinations of floors and furniture glides. Floors must be cleaned and maintained regularly, and the chairs should be used with proper care.
The level of comfort varies for the different combinations, as does the durability of the slide inserts:
  • Laminate floors (not sealed with hard materials): Depending on sensitivity and anti-slip factor, soft to medium-hard felt, TPE, PE, PP or PVC-P (natural)
  • Parquet (not oiled or sealed with hard materials): Depending on sensitivity and anti-slip factor, soft * to medium-hard felt, TPE or PVC-P (natural)
  • Elastic flooring for sports halls and similar: Depending on sensitivity and anti-slip factor, stainless steel and each natural colour (not coloured) medium-hard felt, PA or POM
  • Linoleum: Depending on sensitivity and anti-slip factor, soft * to medium-hart felt, TPE or PVC-P (natural)
  • Soft, smooth natural stone: Depending on sensitivity and anti-slip factor, soft * to medium-hard felt, PTFE, TPE or PVC-P (natural)
  • Soft, raw natural stone: Depending on sensitivity and anti-slip factor, TPE or PVC-P
  • Hard, smooth natural stone: Depending on sensitivity and anti-slip factor, medium-hard felt, PTFE, PA, PP, PE, POM or PVC-P (natural)
  • Hard, raw natural stone: Depending on sensitivity and anti-slip factor and each natural colour (not coloured) POM, PA, PP, PE or PVC-P
  • Hard, smooth ceramic tiles: Depending on sensitivity and anti-slip factor, medium-hard felt, PA, POM, PVC-P or TPE
  • Carpet/textile floors: Depending on sensitivity and type, stainless steel, PTFE or PVC-U (hard PVC)
  • Vinyl floors: Depending on sensitivity and anti-slip factor, stainless steel, felt and each natural colour (not coloured) TPE, PA, PP, PE or POM
  • Composite concrete, exposed concrete: POM (natural), PA (natural) or stainless steel

*) soft felt has a short shelf life – look at
  felt plastic material characteristics behaviour without obligation

Legal notice
This article has been written and researched in good faith. However, the views and recommendations of Walter Bethke GmbH & Co. KG presented here are for informational purposes only and are in no way legally binding.

Walter Bethke GmbH & Co. KG is therefore not liable for any damages that may result from implementation into practice. Further we would like to point out the required coordination  between  soil material, sliding surface material, colouring of the sliding surface material, surface area of the sliding surface (pressure load) and the floor cleaning agent. This isiues are subject to be clarified by the customer in cooperation with the manufacturer of the soil material or/and the architect in charges of the task.
Copyright © 2013 Walther Bethke GmbH & Co. KG


KKSGUG clamping (snap on) saddle feet

  • Good gliding ability due to PTFE slide base
  • Very good soundproofing
  • For 24-35 mm tube diameters
  • Alternative slide bases available

UGS universal glides

  • Good gliding ability due to PTFE slide base
  • Very good soundproofi ng
  • 19-60 mm diameters
  • Alternative mounting options available

OGK2/F oval angle slide caps

  • For ends of traverses
  • Good soundproofi ng due to felt slide base
  • Made of heavy-duty polyamide
  • For all standard tube diameters
  • Alternatives for round tubes also available

MGS furniture glides

  • Non-slip due to TPE-V gliding base ring
  • For 50 mm tube diameters (especially upholstered furniture)
  • Other tube diameters available on demand

GGF 2000 tilt glides

  • Patented design with high durability
  • Minimum fl oor scratching
  • Good soundproofi ng due to felt slide base
  • Suitable for jointless or tightly-joined fl oors
  • 25-30 mm foot diameters
  • For 16-28 mm tube diameters
  • Alternative slide bases available
  • Other product variants on demand