Despite ever-evolving technology in the workplace, desks are still very much a part of almost every office employee's day-to-day work life. It’s where your computer lives, it’s where you file away your documents and, when it comes down to it, your desk is your home away from home. Whether you’re designing a home office or you need to replace the old desk in your corporate corner office, there’s a lot to choose from, and it can be tough to make a decision. This comprehensive guide to office desks is designed to give you a solid understanding of where to start your search.

desk guide

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What type of desk should I buy?

The options can be overwhelming. Compare and contrast these common types of desk to determine which is the ideal choice for you and your work style.


Executive desks are commonly used in large offices with ample space to spare. These big desks almost always have a double pedestal design equipped with file and box drawers for housing office paperwork and supplies. Executive desks are typically made up of a single work surface that is situated in the center of the office, but executive L-desks and executive U-desks also exist for those who find themselves in need of more space.

executive desk

Computer desks are scaled down versions of executive workstations that typically include work surface space for a desktop computer, filing drawers and wire management capabilities. Computer desks are ideal for home offices and those that aren’t quite large enough for a big executive workstation.

computer desk

Compact desks are computer desks on a smaller scale. These little workstations are perfect for use in tight quarters and can come in corner shapes as well as straight and L-shaped designs to fit virtually anywhere.

compact desk

L-Shaped desks come with two connecting parts—a desk and a return. The desk portion is typically larger, while the return is skinny and meant to be used as additional work surface space. L-desks come in a wide range of styles and sizes, making them a great choice for just about anyone who needs more desktop space in his or her work life. Just take caution—some L-desks have an unfinished back and must be placed in a corner, so double check your product details if you’re planning on using one of these in the middle of a room.

l desk

U-Shaped desks are similar to L-shaped desks, but they have three work surfaces which include a main desk, a bridge and a credenza. U-shaped desks are typically very large, but compact varieties do exist. A U-desk is ideal for an individual who needs as much work surface space as possible in order to get his or her work done effectively. U-desks almost always come packed with storage as well, so you can expect plenty of filing and utility space with this type of furniture.

u desk

Standing and adjustable desks allow the user to alternate between sitting and standing throughout the work day. Standing desks are stationary and must be used in combination with a standard height desk or with an adjustable height stool. Adjustable height desks have a work surface that can be raised and lowered either via an electric mechanism or a manual one.

adjustable desk

Credenza desks are narrow storage units with a kneespace that allows them to be used as a workstation. Credenzas usually have one or two storage pedestals and are most commonly used in conjunction with a U-shaped desk.

credenza desk

Cubicles consist of a work surface that is surrounded by modular partitions. Cubicles are great for use as employee workstations in a mid to large size company wherein there are a large number of employees to seat in an open area. To learn more, read our complete guide to partitions, cubicles and room dividers.

cubicle desk

Laptop and writing desks have a table-like design that consists of a spacious work surface with no pedestals. Any storage that may exist in one of these desks will be in the form of a pencil drawer and/or keyboard tray under the center of the work surface. It is commonly recommended that mobile pedestals be used if additional storage is needed.

writing desk

Corner desks are designed to be used in the corner of a room. This type of desk is different from an L-shaped desk because the user is meant to sit in the rounded corner of the desk rather than at one of the sides of the ‘L’ shape.

corner desk

What size desk should I buy?

The size of the desk you choose will be determined by the size of your office and the type of work that you do. Take these steps to determine what size desk is right for you and your space.


Measure the size of your office to determine how large of a desk will be possible within the space. When measuring the square footage of the area where you’d like to put your desk, allow for at least two feet of space around it.


Measure doorways & stairwells to ensure the desk will make it into your office in the first place. If there will be a lot of slender doorways or narrow stairwells to navigate on the way to your room of choice, then you may want to consider getting a desk that isn’t too big or comes ready to assemble (RTA), just to make sure that it will fit.


What type of material should my new desk be made of?

There’s plenty to choose from! These are the most popular options.


Laminate. Although laminate can be made to look like it has real wood grains, it is actually made from some form of particle board with or without a wood grain print. Desks that have a laminate surface construction are ideal for high traffic offices because laminate does not scratch or dent easily and is generally easier to maintain and keep clean. Laminate is also an affordable option, making it a great choice for businesses on a tight budget.

guide to standing desks

Wood Veneer. Wood veneer is a good in-between for those who want that real wood look without paying the high cost of solid wood furniture. Veneer desks have a similar base as laminate furniture (such as particle board), but feature a thin layer of real wood on top of that. Veneer desks can be trickier to clean and care for than laminate, but the veneer layer provides a much richer look that many offices prefer.

guide to standing desks

Solid Wood. As the name implies, solid wood desks are made of solid wood. These beautiful desks are of the highest quality, but they are very heavy and can be quite expensive.

guide to standing desks

Metal. Although you can find all-metal desks, most come with a wood or glass top and just have metal framework for stability and industrial aesthetics. Metal desks are usually made of steel, though the gauge may vary and the desk may come in either a chrome or powder coated finish.

guide to standing desks

Glass. In the case of glass desks, the work surface is usually made of tempered glass that is thick to prevent shattering. This is usually complemented by metal framework. Glass is easy to clean, but it does show fingerprints easily. If you don’t want a full glass top, there are wood top options with a glass inlay available.

guide to standing desks

Still have questions? Shop our full selection of office desks or call our furniture experts at (800) 558-1010 and we’ll be happy to help!


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