There’s a ton of office chairs out there. Finding the perfect office chair for your needs and requirements can be overwhelming and take a lot of work, especially if you’re not sure what to look for. What makes a chair good and what makes it bad? How do you make sure you’re choosing the right chair for you?
For this specific reason, we put together this office chair buying guide, where you’ll find loads of helpful advice and expert insights on how to choose an office chair. We’ve reviewed, tested, and written about dozens and dozens of chairs. When you’re done reading, you’ll have all the knowledge necessary to make a wise purchase.
How to Choose an Office Chair: Type of Chairs
First up, decide what type of chair you want. There are several styles to choose from, and your workspace may have specific requirements. Do you, for example, have limited space and a small desk? If so, then tiny work chairs or even stool-style seats are your best choice.
There are types of chairs that lack armrests and may lack a headrest. Are these factors essential to you? How to pick an office chair that suits you best? You’ll consider these types of questions while choosing the best chair for your specific requirements. Below are brief descriptions of some of the chair types.
An executive office chair is a specific, premium type of office chair. They are tall-backed, providing superior comfort and support for the entire upper body. Executive chairs are an icon – their height and quality covey authority. In other words, the ‘boss chair.’
These types of chairs are built to support the body, promote good posture, and prevent discomfort. Ergonomic chairs are highly adjustable, meaning they can be customized to suit any body type and provide support. They’re great for people suffering from joint pain.
Leather office chairs are usually made of fake leather (faux leather) but can also come in genuine leather at a premium price. They are often mistaken for executive chairs as they are both usually made of leather. The main difference is their design and comfort for sitting for a prolonged time.
Mesh office chairs are a versatile choice for any workplace or home office. With the help of flexible mesh, the chair can subtly conform to everyone’s unique body type. They’re also very durable. Finally, with a supportive and breathable mesh structure, mesh office chairs are perfect for workspaces where ventilation is vital to keep you cool – good if you get hot easily.
Fabric office chairs are relatively similar to mesh. The main difference is that mesh does a better job at molding to your specific body and is a little more breathable.
The nature of mesh ensures that it’s just as comfortable as its springy nature responds to the body type. The fabric also allows the air to circulate easily, ensuring that the user remains cool.
Ergonomic Features to Consider When Buying an Office Chair
It’s crucial that an excellent ergonomic office chair includes the following features:
- Backrest Tilt
- Lumbar Support
- Adjustable Seat
- Adjustable Height
Whatever style of office chair you like, you should take into account its ergonomic aspects. While each office chair is unique, most of them will only include some of the mentioned features. More expensive office chairs tend to have the most features.
Backrest tilt is usually included in most office chairs, cheap or expensive. This mechanism changes the angle of the backrest relative to the seat. It’s responsible for taking some of the weight off your upper body, reducing the pressure on your back.
Each office chair may include a different amount of adjustable angle, giving you more or less tilt. You should opt for a chair that allows you to recline slightly so that the chair’s back is at 100 or 110 degrees.
This feature is among one of the most important ones to consider when buying a new office chair. This mechanism is installed in the lower part of the backrest. It can be adjusted backward and inwards to create an s-curve to fit the natural curvature of your spine.
Ultimately, it aims to promote good posture by supporting the lower portion of the spine. A thing to consider is that lumbar support comes in 4 different types:
- Fixed Lumbar Support: These are fixed into the backrest and can’t be repositioned or modified in any way. They’re typically found on lower-end or leather office chairs.
- Adjustable Lumbar Support: These allow manual adjustment of the lumbar area to better fit the curvature and depth of spinal curvature.
- Dynamic Lumbar Support: These automatically adjust their depth and firmness based on your posture to provide constant support at all times. Typically found on some higher-end models.
- External Lumbar Support: These are things like a cushion. Many chairs include an external lumbar support and head pillow as an inexpensive alternative to a built-in lumbar. These can be purchased separately for any chair.
Armrests are responsible for relieving stress on the shoulders and the back by helping to maintain a good posture. Armrests are not always included in every chair but are a perfect addition for those who suffer from shoulder or neck pain (see our guide on office chairs for neck pain).
Some chairs allow their armrests to be adjusted in all directions. These are great as they permit you to adjust the height to correspond to your preferred forearm position. The ideal positioning of your arms is when they’re roughly level with your keyboard.
The adjustable seat is often limited to premium chairs only. This mechanism allows the seat of the chair to slide forward and backward. The chair should be adjusted so that your feet are on the floor and you are at the correct working chair for your desk. Refer to our office chair height guide to ensure you’re doing so.
This feature is usually included in all office chairs. Adjust the seat height to ensure the knees are at a 90-degree angle. You should always get a chair that has enough height adjustability so that your feet are touching the floor. It can help increase blood flow.
With the help of the headrest, you can relieve the stress on the shoulders and the neck by helping to maintain a good posture. Remember that a headrest is not included in every chair because it’s ideal for those who suffer from shoulder and/or neck pain. In addition to some medical benefits like reduced neck strain, it can be a great addition for when you need to relax.
Considerations when Buying an Office Chair
The most fundamental consideration when picking an office chair is first to decide how much you want to spend. That’s because a lot of other considerations and decisions will directly connect to your available budget.
As I’ve mentioned before, there are many different office chairs available, with prices ranging from very affordable to incredibly expensive. Some of the best office chairs may cost more than $1,000, and that’s not all. There are executive chairs that can cost double or even triple that amount.
An office chair may be purchased for less than $50 at the budget end of the market. However, we recommend you only buy an office chair at that price if you are on a very limited budget and absolutely necessary. An average office chair should cost you at least $200.
On the other side of the spectrum, you can expect office chairs to go beyond $500 and even more. However, the price often comes from ‘branded’ chairs; we don’t actually recommend going much over $1,000.
Investing into the higher-end chairs, you can expect a great quality build and many adjustable ergonomic features. With higher-end chairs, you can also expect an extended warranty and manufacturer’s support for the given chair.
Office Chair Aesthetics
How an office chair looks can significantly impact the overall aesthetics when designing your home office. You don’t need to sacrifice style for ergonomics. Office chair design has improved over the years as manufacturers found ways to refine them.
Choose from fabric, mesh, leather, or plastic for your office chair, and don’t be limited by the color – black is popular but not the only option. Maybe opt for something fancy, like pink?
Additional features included in a chair can go a long way in terms of improving the overall style. For example, a chair with a ‘waterfall edge’ will make the chair look sleek. At the same time, it has an important ergonomic purpose: it relieves strain behind the knees.
Often people forget to check what others think of the chair and just buy based on the description and if the chair ticks all the boxes. However, looking at what users think of the chair is essential. Who knows better than those who have purchased and used the chair? It often gives you a brief overview of how the chair will perform and if it’s worth the price. It will definitely help you with how to choose an office chair.
Office Area Space
A large comfortable office chair is undoubtedly something you want. However, it will just get in the way in a crowded workplace, and it’s better to opt for small office chairs. It’s essential to be aware of the size of your office space and the number of employees if you’re getting them for a business.
Take your time in determining the best seating option for your given workspace. This is an excellent way of filtering out your chair selection to those that will really fit while still offering the essential comfort, mobility, and support. Proportions are also important. Choose a chair that comfortably fits your desk to get the best health benefits. Find out how to find out optimal chair height and desk height in our guides.
Time Spent on the Chair
Finally, another factor to consider is how much time you will spend sitting each day. This will also drastically reduce the selection of chairs to choose from. If you typically spend more than 6 hours working each day, consider opting for an office chair with good padding. On the contrary, if you’re spending less than 6 hours and cheap out on padding, look for different features instead.
Test If You Can
Office chairs are a subjective matter, one person might find a particular seat firm and comfortable, while another might think it’s too hard and unforgiving. That said it’s almost always impossible, especially when you’re buying from online retailers.
Even though some retailers offer a return window for items brought from them, it’s quite complicated when it comes to office chairs. Once assembled they’re hard to disassemble.
Whenever possible, try going to your local retailers and try some of the office chairs out to get a feel for them. It’ll be a lot easier for you to decide from the information you’ve gathered.
Other Types of Chairs
If you’re looking for something more exotic or simply want to reap the benefits of other chair types, here are some to consider:
A kneeling chair puts your body with your knees below your waist. It’s said that it fell more natural than a standard office chair.
Kneeling chairs doesn’t come with a back, and because of that, your core and back muscles will improve over time. However, if you already have knee discomfort, it may be difficult to get accustomed to it. They require a small amount of space which is great for small office spaces.
The saddle chair promotes an upright posture, which is intended to relieve pressure on your space and lower back. It has a split seat which requires you to sit with your legs slightly apart. Suppose you often switch between sitting and standing during the day. In that case, a saddle chair can be an excellent alternative for you.
A drafting chair can be used at a higher height than a traditional office chair, making it an excellent choice if you want to pair it with a standing desk. Most variants contain some form of footrest around the base of the chair, as well as seat backs and armrests.
That’s all there is when it comes to how to choose an office chair. While it may seem like a lot to take it at first, try the process of elimination. Decide what you need the most from an office chair and what’s unnecessary. That way, you will shorten the ever-growing list of office chairs to choose from. One thing to always remember is that office chairs come in all different shapes and sizes. What works for one person may not be compatible with your preferences.
Ultimately, we hope that you found this office chair buying guide to be helpful and informative. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to drop a comment below or send us an email.