Office Chair Buying Guide
Office Chairs 101
Types of Office Chairs
Exercise Ball Chairs
Office Chair Buying Tips:
• 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 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.
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 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:
• 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