Things to Consider Before Buying Office Chair [Detailed Guide]

Are you looking to buy a new office chair? Are there too many options and you don’t know what you’re looking for? You don’t know if you should go for a gaming chair or an office chair

In this case, this office chair buying guide is your perfect friend. We present you with the only chairs buying guide you’ll ever need.

We are here to guide you in your shopping journey and help you choose the best office chair for you.

Sizes, shapes, fabrics, lumbar support, armrests, wheels or no wheels, swivel base, tilting or reclining, we’ve got everything covered for you in this chairs buying guide.

You might be wondering

Why do we spend our precious time studying… chairs?

Well, let us explain:

The average person usually sits around 10 hours every single day (crazy, right?) being it while working, watching TV, playing games, eating, doing homework, etc.

You see where this is going… 10 hours every day is not a joke. Health experts have shown that sitting uncomfortably for a long period of time increases the risk of obesity, heart disease, depression, hips and back pain, stiff neck and shoulders, varicose veins and even cancer.

The benefits of having a good ergonomic office chair

A good chair comes with lots of health benefits, being it psychical health or mental health. We’ve made a short, simple list below in which we explain some of them.

A good office chair reduces pain

This benefit is obvious, but people don’t think about it too much when buying a new chair. Be sincere, the last time you’ve bought a chair, have you thought about how it is going to reduce your pain?

Most of us only think about how comfortable it is or how cool it looks… but that’s about it. Of course, a chair has to be comfortable, but how long will it be comfortable for?

Some chairs might feel like you’re in heaven when sitting on it but after a short amount of time you’ll start feeling stress on your lower back, hips, tights or the chair will reduce the amount of blood going to your legs. (Yes, that happens)

Now, do you see why how comfortable it is isn’t the main factor when buying a new chair?

A good office chair makes you more productive

Yes, that’s true. Studies have shown that happiness has a direct impact on productivity. Happy people are up to 12% more productive at their workplace!

Imagine that. If you’re working 10 hours per day that means you’ll be able to finish your work up to one and a half hours faster!

Don’t fool yourself, of course it can.

Don’t you feel good when you finally find that sweet position in bed where there are no pressure points and all the stress accumulated throughout the day it’s relieved?

That’s happiness. The same exact happiness you’ll be able to feel for hours if you choose the right chair for you.

But wait, it gets better:

Ergonomic workstations reduce the risk of making errors

A study made by HRBLR shows that at one particular business a $400 mechanical device saved the company over $6000 annually by reducing the psychical stress of its employees, therefore helping them do fewer mistakes.

$6000 profit with just $400 investment, how crazy is that?

Now that we talked about the benefits of a good chair, let’s help you choose yours:

Consider reading our “Proper sitting posture – How to sit in a chair” article to fully benefit from your new chair.

Things to consider when buying a chair:

There are many things to consider when buying a new chair such as fabric, size, shape, etc. We took our time to list them below and explain each one of them in a simple way, making it easy for everyone to understand.

The fabric – Mesh or Leather?

There are two main options available when we’re looking to buy a chair which you’ll see everywhere, mesh and / or leather.

But which one do we choose?

Let’s take both of them separately, shall we?

Firstly, let’s talk about mesh.

Mesh is one of the main and most used fabrics for office chairs. Let’s see some pros and cons about it:

Pros
  • Durable
  • Breathable
  • Comfortable
  • Excellent air circulation
  • Lighter
Cons
  • Can be too firm
  • You might be able to feel certain parts of the chair behind the mesh.
  • Stains might be hard to remove

Now let’s talk about leather.

Leather is the fabric that is able to give a high-end look to any chair, easy to clean and with a luxurious look.

Pros
  • Durable
  • Removal of stains is easy
  • Comfortable
  • Excellent support
  • It has a pleasant smell
Cons
  • It needs conditioning
  • Can crack after a period of time
  • Might be too stiff for some users

We can’t give an exact answer on which one is better, that’s for you to decide according to which one suits your needs better.

Armrests – Which one is better? Do I need them?

There are three main types of armrests:

Fixed Armrests

Even though it might not look like it, fixed armrests can actually work for a good load of people

Every person comes in its own shape and size, and if a chair with fixed armrests suits you and you’re sure that the armrests don’t need any adjustments then go for it!

Height-adjustable armrests

There are chairs on the market that offer height-adjustable armrests, which suits the more average user the best.

As humans, we have lots of differences and similarities, one of them being height. If your back has an average size and most armrests have perfect or close to perfect horizontal distance between the armrests but their height doesn’t always match yours then this option is the best one you’ve got.

Fully-adjustable armrests

This is the category that would fit the majority the best. Being able to adjust the chair’s armrests up and down its a blessing.

If you’re one of those types of people where regular chairs fit them properly then you’re in luck, most of us aren’t that lucky. But there is nothing to be mad about, fully-adjustable armrests are on the market and they help regular buyers like us tremendously.

Do I actually need armrests?

This topic is a hot topic among researchers and manufacturers.

We at ChairsWiki believe that armrests are essential, as long as they’re adjusted correctly of course.

Check our guide on “How to sit properly in a chair” to find out more about why are armrests important.

Lumbar support

What is the lumbar support, how does it help you and why we believe it’s crucial.

The lumbar support is the part of the chair that it’s ensuring your spine is aligned naturally. It is one of the main factors people are spending lots of money on a good ergonomic chair.

The lumbar support has to be adjustable, stiff but still comfortable.

Never; we’ll say it again; NEVER skip this part when choosing a new chair.

Lynda’s story with lumbar support

We’re often reading the experiences of other people online, on forums or on social media, but we can’t guarantee their authenticity… so we’re going to tell you our friend’s story, Lynda. (Which is also our colleague)

Lynda is working in her office for over 8 hours per day, five times a week. With time she started to suffer from lower back pain. She tried everything there is to try: going to the gym, running every day, yoga, regular visits to her chiropractor but nothing seemed to work.

After we’ve seen what she is going through we decided to take another approach, and by that, we mean buying a brand new chair.

We helped her choose one the best chair for her (which ended up being the Steelcase Gesture chair) and in just two months her condition improved a ton! And by “a ton” we really mean it.

Her posture was better, her mood was better, the pain slowly faded away and he was just unrecognizable.

Wheels or no wheels?

This is a thing you might have not considered when you bought the chair you’re sitting on right now, and that’s okay. Not many people tend to think about this aspect of “wheels or no wheels”, but we’ll talk about it anyway.

Now, this aspect is pretty simple and doesn’t need a lot of explaining.

Just ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do I move my chair multiple times a day, being that just a few inches?
  • Do I move my chair all over the room, going from one desk to another?

If you answered with “yes” to at least one of those question then it is pretty simple, you’ll enjoy a chair with wheels more.

Let’s now talk about the budget:

Why Ergonomic Office Chair is an Investment

Yes, we admit. The price of a good ergonomic office chair can be quite high.

But think of it this way:

The average person in the US works 38 hours/week, 46 weeks/year. That adds up to 1,748 hours every year. In 10 years the average person spent 17,480 full hours sitting in a chair. Imagine what sitting that many hours in a bad chair does to your health, just imagine.

The price of a good chair starts from roughly $200 (which might sound pretty expensive, we get that) but think about it like this:

The average lifespan of an office chair is 6 years, that means 10,488 hours of work. If you buy a chair for $200 that means that you’ll be spending $0.019 an hour for it. $0.019 an hour! Tell me that an office chair is expensive one more time.

Let’s do the exact same math for a $1000 chair, shall we?

Again, the same lifespan, (office chairs that go for the price of $1000 tend to have a longer lifespan but for the sake of this math experiment we’ll let its lifespan at 6 years) again 10,488 hours of work. That means $0.09 an hour!

Now, tell me this

Isn’t your health worth at least $0.09 an hour?

Conclusion

After reading this office chairs buying guide, do you still think that a chair is just a chair?