Choosing the right desk chair
How do I choose the right desk chair?
With the rise in number of people working from home there has been an increase in the number of people looking for a suitable desk chair. Traditionally, office chairs are bought in bulk so everybody in the office has the same chair with the occasional exception for someone who has a bad back. The decision on what chair is selected rarely includes the opinion of the person who will have to sit on the chair for 8 hours a day though, so relatively few people understand the ins and outs of why a particular chair is selected. The internet has a huge number of chairs to choose from with different sizes, materials, mechanisms and colours among other things to decipher. The prices range significantly from £30 all the way up and over £1000 and everything in between. With all that choice it’s no wonder people aren’t sure what desk chair to choose for their home office. Hopefully the below will help explain some of the jargon and help you narrow down the selection to the right chair for you.
What is the right height and size of a desk chair?
The right chair for you should first and foremost allow you to sit comfortably in an ergonomically correct position. The correct position is with your feet flat on the floor (or on a footrest), your legs bent with your knees slightly lower than your hips, with your back straight and your lower back (lumbar area) adequately supported. If you are working at a computer the height of the chair should also allow for the keyboard being directly in front of you at elbow height and the top of the monitor directly in front of you at eye level. It is important you check the dimensions of a chair to ensure it will be large enough for you to sit correctly and provide the support you need.
What is an office chair made of?
Next we will look into the various materials used in desk chairs. These chairs are mainly made from wood, polypropylene, fabric/foam and mesh.
Wooden chairs are great for bringing natural tones inside the home and they are traditionally pretty sturdy. However, wooden chairs are much better for shorter use such as at the dining table, rather than extended periods. They are not designed for 8 hour comfort and have no adjustability making the ergonomic properties minimal over a longer period. Definitely not the best chair for sitting on all day! - See our Platform chair.
Polypropylene chairs are normally cost effective making them popular. They are also lightweight so makes them easy to move from room to room if necessary. However, they suffer from the same downside as wooden chairs in that they are not designed for ergonomics and will certainly not be comfortable at the end of the day. They are great for products like the Roto Stool that can be pulled out to sit on when needed then moved away or used as a side table when not required. - see our Roto stool
Fabric chairs have a lot more going for them! By their nature the fabric tends to surround a foam which instantly makes them more suitable for a working day. There are lots of different types from the sort you see in commercial offices to those modelled specifically for the home market. Choosing a fabric chair also allows for some customisation on colour which we’ll come onto later. With the fabric wrapping round a foam it is easier for them to be made with shaping to allow for correct posture. Be sure to check if the back is shaped for back support. - see our Noir chair
Finally, there are mesh chairs which are my personal favourite. In my opinion mesh chairs are better than other materials. On most mesh chairs you get the comfort on the seat of a foam, with the mesh back providing comfort, support and air circulation on the back. A good quality mesh chair will have adjustable support for the lumbar region of the back and the breathability of the mesh makes them much more comfortable in the summer months. This comfort and support makes the mesh chair my favourite above the other materials available and a great ergonomic option. - see our J1 task chair
What sort of movement should a desk chair have?
Next we move on to the minefield of mechanisms and the chairs functionality. The first, and most obvious is a fixed mechanism which means that other than potentially the height adjustment of the seat the back is fixed. Put simply, although the correct seated posture is in an upright position, humans were not designed to sit still for 8 hours a day. Unless you can get a fixed chair to meet the correct seat height, and provide adequate support for your back and arms then a fixed height chair is probably best left for people who want to use it sparingly.
The next option is a Permanent Contact Back (PCB). This allows some movement for the back rest, normally in both height and angle. The back can be fixed upright or left to free float so it is ‘permanent contact’ with your back. These are the next step up from fixed mechanisms but are limited as it is difficult to get the required support when moving the back in isolation.
The next ‘step up’ is a Lock/Tilt mechanism. The seat can be locked in an upright position or the back and seat tilt back together. These are certainly one of the most popular mechanisms as they tend to be price for a lower budget. - see our J2 eco
Following Lock/Tilt is an Asynchro mechanism. These are usually harder to find as they are more of a specialist mechanism. They allow for the seat and back to be adjusted independently giving a wider range of support. Most commonly these are used on heavy duty/task intensive chairs used on a 24 hour basis.
The last desk chair mechanism readily available in a Synchro mechanism. These are great for commercial offices but also in the home office. When the chairs recline they move in a ratio of 2:1 which is the optimum ratio to provide continuous support for your body. They also have the option of locking in a number of positions so you can maintain posture whatever the setup. With the Synchro mechanism automatically moving the back and chair in the correct ratio, it is my mechanism of choice.
Do I need arms or other functionality on my desk chair?
Some other considerations for desk chairs are arms. These tend to be fixed, height adjustable or multi adjustable. Fixed arms are static which limits their ergonomic benefit, but they can also offer style so if they are the right height they are a good choice. Height adjustable arms do just that and allow you to adjust them so your arms are supported at desk height. If you want to sit correctly at your desk, then arms are a must.
Lumbar support is another consideration. Having the ability to support your back while working will certainly help stop feeling like your seizing up every time you try and move! Seat slides are the final consideration. These allow the seat to slide forwards to help users with longer legs get more support behind the knees to increase blood circulation. When you are choosing the right desk chair for you, be sure to check the additional features a chair offers.
What colour chair should I get?
The last thing on the list of choices is colour. The highest selling colour of desk chairs is certainly black. It is neutral and fits into most environments. Colour though, is ultimately one of personal choice. White frames on desk chairs have become more popular in a modern setting but also the option to customise is growing. All our desk chairs have the option for customisation but we have also added a bespoke section with 20 different fabric choices on a number of different chairs.
I hope this guide has given you an insight into desk chairs and you feel better equipped to choose the right desk chair for you. Once you decide on the right chair, it is best to view it as an investment into your wellbeing as a good quality desk chair is definitely worth the money. If you have any questions on the topics raised in this article please do contact us at email@example.com and we’ll happily help.
Feel free to check out our range of desk chairs here, or click here to view our chairs that are upholstered to order.