Which desk chair is best?
If you work in an office, you know just how important a comfortable desk chair is. Depending on their design, they can either contribute to or help get rid of back and neck pain.
Most people who sit at their desks all day for work will be best served by an ergonomic task chair like the Ergohuman High-Back Swivel Chair with Headrest. However, if you are trying to mitigate some of the health consequences of sitting, you may consider an active sitting chair or a kneeling chair.
Types of desk chairs
Task chairs are the most common type of desk chair and can be found in practically every office setting, both home and commercial. These tend to be lightweight, have a no-frills yet still comfortable design and are usually equipped with wheels. Most are reasonably priced and offer good ergonomics, but they are often made with functional materials.
Drafting chairs are essentially just taller versions of task chairs but with the inclusion of a footrest. They are designed to be used with standing desks or drafting tables but can’t be used with a standard-height desk.
Executive chairs are just as much a statement piece as functional furniture. They often boast premium materials like genuine leather and design features like button tufting or nailhead trim for decorative purposes. Most have thick padding for comfort but tend to have less of a focus on ergonomics, so they may not be ideal for someone who sits for eight hours a day.
Active sitting chairs
Active sitting chairs come in various forms, but they are all designed to mitigate some of the negative health consequences of sitting for long periods every day. They do this by providing you with an unstable sitting platform that requires you to activate your core muscles. This is believed to help improve posture and reduce the risk of developing lower back pain. Active sitting chairs can take some getting used to, so many people start by using them in short sessions before working up to extended periods.
Like active sitting chairs, kneeling chairs are also designed to mitigate some negative health consequences of sitting all day, namely poor posture and lower back pain. They also take some getting used to, as they spread your weight between your buttocks and shins. This can feel uncomfortable at first, but the forward tilt of your pelvis helps to keep your spine in a more neutral alignment.
What to look for in a quality desk chair
Nylon or polyester mesh, cloth, faux leather and genuine leather are the most common upholstery materials for desk chairs. Each of these materials offers differing properties in terms of breathability, durability, comfort and aesthetics. They also vary significantly in price.
For example, nylon mesh is highly breathable and durable, but many will find it less comfortable against bare skin than cloth upholstery. Genuine leather has a very refined look, but it’s more expensive. It costs significantly more than faux leather, which is less breathable and tends to wear out quicker. Consider your needs and the properties of the various upholstery materials before purchasing a chair.
Most desk chairs use either memory foam or standard foam for cushioning. Memory foam is more resilient and will hold its loft longer, but it is more expensive and less breathable than standard foam. Some chairs forgo padding entirely. These rely on soft bungee cords or the flexibility of mesh netting to replicate a cushioned feeling.
Lumbar support is perhaps one of the most important features of any desk chair. It can go a long way to promoting proper posture and preventing lower back pain from long periods of sitting. On some models, you can adjust both the height and depth of the lumbar support.
Most desk chairs allow you to adjust the seat’s height. Some models take things a step further by also allowing you to adjust the seat depth, the height or angle of the armrests and the backrest tilt.
Most people will opt for a desk chair with armrests for comfort reasons. Before doing so, check the space constraints of your desk opening to ensure it will fit. The last thing you want is a chair that cannot slide up to your desk, which can result in you hunching over while you work and lead to back or neck pain.
Though less important than armrests for most people, a headrest can be a nice addition if you often find yourself leaning back in your chair. Ideally, these should be height adjustable.
Wheels on a desk chair can help you be more productive. Rather than getting up every time you need something that is just out of reach, you can roll around your workstation as needed without wasting time.
How much you can expect to spend on a desk chair
Desk chairs start around $50 for a practical model of reasonable quality. If you want something a bit more plush or stylish, expect to spend between $100-$300. Highly ergonomic models with a lot of bells and whistles, or those made with premium materials, can cost $500-$2,000.
Desk chair FAQ
How long do desk chairs last?
A. Many factors contribute to determining how long a particular desk chair lasts, including the overall build quality, materials and the type of cushioning. The lowest quality models may only last a couple of years before they start to fail or show noticeable wear and tear. Quality models from reputable brands should last at least five to 10 years.
How do I know when it is time to replace my desk chair?
A. There are several signs that it may be time to replace your desk chair. The most obvious of these is discomfort. If it begins to feel like it is offering less support or becoming less comfortable, these are good indicators that the chair has reached the end of its usable life. Likewise, if the upholstery is starting to crack, tear or otherwise deteriorate, it may be time to replace it. Another sign that your desk chair is getting too old is the cushioning losing its loft or holding a visible indentation of where you were sitting after you get up.
What’s the best desk chair to buy?
Top desk chair
What you need to know: Built with a high focus on ergonomics and adjustability, the Ergohuman High Back Swivel Chair can keep you comfortable all day long.
What you’ll love: The armrests, headrest, tilt and even the seat depth can all be adjusted independently. You can also change the amount of force needed to recline the chair.
What you should consider: Some users report that the mesh fabric is rough on bare skin.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Top desk chair for the money
What you need to know: This plush and stylish chair is ideal for both gaming and work, and it looks considerably more expensive than it is.
What you’ll love: Its S-shaped back keeps your spine in a neutral alignment, which can go a long way toward preventing lower lumbar pain. Also, the seat is roomy enough to accommodate large users comfortably.
What you should consider: The faux leather upholstery looks nice but doesn’t breathe well.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Worth checking out
What you need to know: Coming from one of the top names in office furniture, this modern-looking chair can see you through a decade of use without failing.
What you’ll love: The armrests can be adjusted in every direction and can even be pivoted inward and outward based on your needs. Another smart design choice is the slightly flexible front edge of the seat that helps to relieve pressure on your thighs when you lean forward to focus on a task.
What you should consider: Some users find the assembly to be complicated.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
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Brett Dvoretz writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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