Office Chair Buying Guide

A good office chair will help take care of your body while you’re taking care of business. This office chair buying guide covers the different types and features to consider when making a purchase.

Office Chairs 101

Most people with a home office spend more time in their chair than their bed, so choosing the right office chair is important to your comfort and health. A well-designed office chair will provide proper back support, promote good posture and reduce muscle stress and strain. In addition, a chair that's the right size and has the right set of features for your office environment will allow you to work more efficiently and productively. When shopping for an office chair, factors such as adjustability, mobility and durability should be at the top of your list. You should also consider style because you want your chair to complement your existing office furnishings. 

Types of Office Chairs


Task Chairs

Basic in design and function, task chairs come with a steel frame and plastic, mesh or fabric seats and back. Frequently, the back displays a contoured design that provides welcome support for your lower and mid back. Common task chair features include armrests for added comfort and a swivel base and wheels for easier maneuvering and multitasking. A well-designed task chair will have adjustable armrests and seats that offer customized comfort and support for different family members.

Mesh Chairs

Mesh chairs are similar to task chairs, but the back and sometimes the seats are made from a perforated mesh fabric. The main purpose of the mesh design is to allow air circulation for added comfort, particularly in hot, humid conditions. Mesh chairs are also lighter, making them easy to move from room to room. And because air passes through the mesh, they collect minimal dust. This cuts down on cleaning time and contributes to a healthy work environment. 

Executive Chairs

An executive chair is the upgraded version of the basic task chair. This type of office chair typically features thick padding on the seat, armrest and back for enhanced comfort. In some models, additional padding in the back creates a contoured shape for better lower- and mid-back support. Look for a sturdy frame, swivel mechanism and wheels to support the extra weight. Many executive chairs allow you to adjust the height, depth and angle of the back and armrests for personalized comfort and ergonomic benefits. 

Ergonomic Chairs

Ergonomic chairs offer improved support for your arms, legs, neck and back (especially your lumbar region, or lower back) while reducing tension on the rest of your body. They're ideal for anyone who sits for prolonged periods and wants to prevent back pain or reduce stress in their back and legs. Ergonomic chairs typically allow you to adjust the headrest, armrests, seat and back for optimum body posture and personal comfort. Some also allow you to adjust the chair's tilt. Even if you don’t choose an ergonomic chair, look for one with ergonomic features to reap the benefits. 

Knee Chairs

A knee chair reduces stress on your lower back by spreading the weight of your upper body between your buttocks, which receive most of the weight, and your knees. If you suffer from back pain while sitting in a conventional office chair, whether due to a chronic injury or a temporary condition such as pregnancy, a knee chair can help you achieve a more comfortable posture and be more productive in your work. Some knee chairs are stationary, while other feature swivel mechanisms and wheels. Rocker knee chairs allow you to tilt forward into your task. Some knee chairs feature backrests to give you the option of sitting back in your chair.

Exercise Ball Chairs

Exercise ball chairs come in a variety of sizes to accommodate kids and adults alike and are designed to promote healthy movement and active sitting. Their bouncy seat requires you to make constant balance adjustments. This strengthens your core muscles, stimulates circulation, lowers stress and combats fatigue. These unconventional chairs also promote good posture because they make slouching and hunching difficult and take pressure off your spine. Exercise ball chairs can be ideal to keep young children focused while doing homework or keep parents alert while paying bills and catching up on email.

Recliner Chairs

It’s important to stretch and change positions often when you’re sitting for prolonged periods to stimulate circulation and alleviate stress on your back and neck. With a recliner office chair, you can lean back into a reclined position as needed. Some models come with footrests, while others recline fully into a temporary bed. If you like to work in reclined positions, choose a model with a swivel attachment to hold your notebook or laptop. Recliner chairs are the ultimate office chair for those days when you need to put in extra-long hours at your desk. Be sure to look for a recliner with a stable, sturdy base to prevent tipping.

Conference Chairs

Conference chairs come in a variety of designs and styles to suit any home office. This type of office chair provides short-term comfort for meetings with colleagues or clients, kids' group homework sessions or in-home tutoring. Conference chairs generally lack the extra padding and adjustable features of task chairs or executive chairs and are designed with a slim profile to minimize their footprint. In a pinch, you can always use your conference chair as a regular desk chair.

Stacking Chairs

Available in an array of colours and designs, stacking chairs for office use typically consist of steel frames with plastic or wood seats and backs. Some models have armrests, but most do not. As the name suggests, these chairs are designed to be stacked one upon the other for convenient storage when not in use. In general, stacking chairs are lightweight and take up minimal space. You can use them for a wide range of purposes, including meetings, study sessions and kids’ craft projects.

Office Chair Buying Tips:

• Choose a mid- to high-back office chair with flexible or built-in lumbar support for optimum comfort
• Look for pneumatic controls that adjust for height, depth and tilt to maximize comfort and accommodate different users and tasks
• Choose padded, contoured armrests when buying a computer chair to reduce neck, arm and shoulder strain
• Select a reclining chair if you like to catch catnaps during office hours
• A stacking chair should be both lightweight for easy storage and styled to complement your office decor

Office Chair Features

Size & Style +

Office chairs come in a variety of sizes and styles to suit any home office setting. Choosing an office chair involves selecting a size that's right for your space and a style that complements your other furnishings. If you're buying a recliner, make sure there’s enough room for your chair to fully recline. When shopping for conference chairs, consider choosing a model that fits not only your conference table but also your desks, so you can use them as regular office chairs in a pinch.

Upholstery Material +

Home office chairs are upholstered in a variety of materials, each offering different degrees of washability, convenience and comfort. Leather and vinyl chairs are comfortable and easy to clean but wear out easily, lose their shape and can be sticky in hot weather. Fabrics offer year-round comfort but may wear out easily and be difficult to clean. If you prefer fabric upholstery, consider investing in a heavier type with a stain-resistant coating. Mesh and plastic upholstery retain their form and are easy to clean but tend to be less comfortable.

Armrests +

Armrests support your arms, wrists and hands and help keep your body aligned with your desk. Look for padded armrests contoured to the shape of your arm and in the proper position to help prevent repetitive strain injuries. Ideally, your arms should be level to the height of your desk, with your forearms supported and shoulders relaxed. Some office chairs have adjustable armrests, which allow you to modify the angle, tilt, height and depth for an ideal fit. If the armrests don't have a built-in adjustment mechanism, make sure they can be either loosened and repositioned to the correct height or removed entirely.

Backrests +

A well-designed office chair has a firm, contoured back that supports the spine's natural curve and provides proper lumbar support. An adjustable contoured backrest offers even more comfort and support. Look for a backrest sufficiently wide and high to support every part of your back. Adjustable armrests can be set to match your elbow height, and a reclining feature will transfer some of your upper body weight to the backrest. The ideal office chair should also provide adequate support for your upper back and neck to prevent muscle soreness and migraines.

Lumbar Support +

Your office chair should support the inward curve of your lumbar region, or lower back. Sitting for long periods without support flattens the lower back's natural curve and puts stress on the lower spine. This can lead to muscle strain and back pain. Ergonomic office chairs typically feature built-in lumbar support specifically designed to relieve pressure on your lower back.

Adjustable Controls +

Office chairs feature a range of adjustable controls that allow you to create a fit suited to your personal tastes and needs. Depending on the chair, you may be able to adjust the height, depth and tilt of your seat, backrest and armrests. This allows you to customize your chair for different users and tasks. Look for controls that are easily accessible. You may want to consider pneumatic controls over mechanical ones because they tend to be easier to use. With an adjustable chair, you can create an ergonomically sound work environment in which your arms, legs and spine are properly aligned and supported, thereby reducing muscle strain and tension.

Cushioned Seat +

The ideal office chair has a contoured, cushioned seat with enough width and depth for your hips and thighs. Adequate cushioning prevents the nerves and veins in your hips, thighs and buttocks from being pinched, which can reduce circulation and cause numbness. A well-cushioned seat with soft yet firm padding also prevents muscle soreness in the backs of your thighs and buttocks due to prolonged sitting. You might want to consider a seat with a rounded or waterfall edge to relieve pressure on your thighs and reduce the chance of constricted circulation. Look for a seat that can be adjusted forward and backward as well as up and down. The optimal seat height is 16 to 21 inches off the floor, or a height that keeps your feet flat on the floor, with thighs horizontal and arms level to desk height.

Wheels & Casters +

It’s important to have a home office chair that allows you to move easily around your office and multitask effectively. Wheels and casters let you glide back and forth with minimal effort from desk to printer to filing cabinet. Consider choosing a chair with optional locking wheels, so you won't roll about unintentionally. The chair you buy should have wheels or casters designed for your floor type. Select hard casters for carpeting and soft or rubber-coated casters for hardwood floors and tile. Invest in a plastic office chair mat underneath to make it easy to manoeuver and prevent wear and tear on your floor.

Five-Point Tip Base & Swivel Base +

Your office chair should support your weight whether you’re sitting upright or reclining. A chair with a five-star configuration or five-point tip provides stability and prevents tipping. A swivel base allows you to move freely around your workspace without overstretching or straining. Look for an extra-wide base made of sturdy metal or wood.

Position & Height +

Your office chair should make changing positions throughout the day easy. Make sure you adjust the tension controls to suit your body weight. You can also change the angle of the seat to move some of your upper body weight to the backrest. Swivel office chairs allow for easier access to files, cabinets, shelves etc., and will inhibit tension caused by twisting around. Keep your keyboard at elbow height with feet flat on the floor and upper calves about 10 cm from the seat cushion.

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Ergonomic Home Office Tips:

• Position your monitor with the top of the screen no higher than eye level to avoid neck strain
• Position your keyboard at elbow height so your arms relax and wrists fall flat when typing
• Work in a well-ventilated, well-lit room with adjustable window coverings to reduce eye strain and glare
• Use a headset instead of a phone to reduce neck strain
• Position your feet flat on the floor and your upper calves about four inches from your seat to promote circulation
• Organize your workspace so that all supplies are close at hand to avoid overreaching

Office Chair Maintenance Tips:

• Once a week, wipe your office chair, including the seat, arms and legs, with a damp microfibre cloth to remove dirt and dust
• Immediately spot-treat stains using a clean, damp microfibre cloth and cleanser and apply a stain-resistant coating
• Regularly vacuum the chair seat and back with a brush attachment
• Use a vacuum, scrub brush and rubbing alcohol to deep clean the caster wheels
• Spray compressed air into the adjustable parts and joints to eliminate dust
This article is intended as general information. Always be sure to read and follow the label(s)/instruction(s) that accompany your product(s). Walmart will not be responsible for any injury or damage caused by this activity.



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