Find the best office chair for your workplace with these expert tips.

Buying an office chair can be overwhelming and time consuming if you don’t know where to start.  With so many different prices, chair features and body types to consider, there is a lot to keep in mind.  That’s where we come in!  In this guide, we break down everything you need to know about choosing the perfect office chair so you can make a smart buy.

Let’s jump into it…

Pricing

There’s no question that office chairs can get pricey.  With prices ranging from very cheap to incredibly expensive, before you even think about all of the features you are looking for in a chair, you have to get a handle on your budget and know how much you are willing to spend.  If you can afford it, getting something a little more expensive is worth it, given that most of us spend 40+ hours a week sitting in our chairs.  However, there are still some solid options in the lower price ranges too.  

Who is using the chair?

Choosing the right office chair can be very subjective.  We all have different body types and seating preferences.  If you are buying a chair just for yourself, take the time to test out different types so you get a feel for what you like and don’t like.  If you are buying in bulk for the entire office, look for chairs that will work for a few different body types – the more adjustable they are, the better, so employees can customize as needed.  Consider buying (or renting) a few options you can bring into the office and have employees test them out before you buy.  Employees can even vote on their favorite so you get a feel for which chair is best overall.

Back support and adjustability

Proper back support is crucial if you are sitting for long hours and support can vary greatly depending on the chair type and the features it includes.  Most chairs have some kind of lumbar support to help reduce the risk of back or neck pain.  The chair you pick should align naturally with the curve of your spine to relieve pressure on your lower back.  Most office chairs have at least 5 adjustments and some have as many as 14.  Some key adjustment features to consider include the arm rests, seat back width and height, seat angle, backrest angle, backrest height and tension control. Good support can also come from things like the build quality and the upholstery type.

Build quality

Chairs that are less than $200 are made with cheaper plastic or metal and do not have as many adjustments.  As you get into the $300-$400 range, you get better quality materials, like premium quality plastic and more adjustment features.  Any chair in the $1,000 + range is obviously top of the line and customizable to fit most body types and seating preferences.  Higher end chairs often come with a great warranty too.  For example, Herman Miller chairs come with a 12-year warranty which covers parts and labor.

Upholstery material

Mesh Chairs

Mesh is popular because it is breathable and provides better air flow however it can offer varying levels of comfort depending on what type of mesh is used.  Softer mesh is often used in higher end office chairs while harder mesh is typically found in cheaper chairs and can be uncomfortable to sit on.  We recommend testing out different types of mesh chairs to see if it’s the right fabric choice for you.

Fabric Chairs

Fabric is plusher than mesh so it is usually a lot more comfortable.  Fabric chairs often come in a variety of colors and patterns which is great if you have a certain office aesthetic but many reviewers note they can stain easily.  Fabric also tends to hold moisture and odor a bit more than a mesh chair.  Despite these shortcomings, it is still the most common office chair upholstery material and a nice middle ground between the mesh and leather options.

Leather Chairs

Leather is durable and has a more luxurious feel but can get hot if you are sitting for a long period of time.  Most leather chairs can last years with proper upkeep, making them a good long term investment for the right person.

Seat comfort

Finding the right seat all depends on your body type and your personal preferences.  A deeper seat is best for taller people while a shallow seat is preferred for shorter people.  Some chairs also have an adjustable seat to accommodate for different heights.  For maximum comfort, you should be able to fit 2-3 fingers between the back of your knees and the seat of the chair.

Assembly

Chair assembly can be one of the most frustrating parts of buying a new chair and it’s usually an afterthought for most new chair buyers.  If you aren’t handy with a screwdriver, look for a chair that comes pre-assembled or hire someone who is handy through a service like Task Rabbit to build it for you – you’ll be glad you did!

Take it for a test drive!

Above all else, taking the time to test out your prospective chair is essential.  No matter how many reviews or office chair buying guides you read, you never really know if a chair is the right fit until you sit in it.  Everyone has different opinions about the firmness of a seat or feelings about the armrest or lumbar support.  Try to find your chair at an office supply store like Staples or Office Depot and take it for a test drive.  If you are looking for an office chair to help with back or neck pain, Relax the Back specializes in ergonomic office furniture and has locations all across the U.S.  Even if you do find your dream chair in a store, you may be able to find a better price online.  Many online stores offer a 30-day money back guarantee so if the chair doesn’t end up working out, you can return it and continue the search.

Warranty and reviews

Before you buy, make sure the chair comes with a warranty.  Chairs that have a good warranty mean that the manufacturer has confidence in their product.  If there is a limited warranty or no warranty at all, you are rolling the dice a bit and might be stuck with a less than stellar chair a few months down the road.  While you are looking up the warranty, look at reviews of the chair too.  If someone had a bad experience with a particular chair, they will likely want to share that with other customers.

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