The Complete Guide to Office Chairs
Looking for a new office chair for your desk? With so many options, it can be tough to know what to choose. Use our comprehensive guide to office chairs to help you narrow down your options and decide which chair is best for your needs.
Computer chairs are the most basic of the bunch. Computer chair is an overarching term encompassing several types of desk chair, including ergonomic chairs and armless chairs. Any chair you use at a computer desk could, in theory, be considered a computer chair. Computer chairs or desk chairs on NBF.com typically feature very few ergonomic adjustments.
Executive chairs are upgraded versions of computer chairs that usually feature a high back and stately design. The most distinguishing feature of an executive chair is the presence of a headrest, whether built-in or detachable. The higher back and headrest of an executive chair give it a more impressive look befitting for corner executive offices, hence the name executive chair or manager’s chair.
Ergonomic chairs feature multiple ergonomic adjustments that enable users to easily find their ideal seated position by adjusting the chair accordingly. Ergonomic chairs are commonly recommended for task seating as they can conform to a wide range of body types and user needs.
Drafting stools are ideal for standing height workstations as they allow the user to easily switch between sitting and standing. Most drafting stools come with very few ergonomic adjustments, but all are height adjustable and have a much greater height range than computer chairs.
24-hour task chairs are, as the name implies, designed to be used 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. These heavy-duty seating options are reinforced to withstand constant use, making them ideal for applications such as military bases and 24-hour call centers.
Kneel chairs are ergonomic seating solutions designed to put the user upright by encouraging a kneel-like posture. Kneel chairs were especially prominent before active seating options gained popularity, but they’re quickly being replaced by ball chairs and other active sitting solutions.
Active seating is taking the world by storm. With new research confirming that a sedentary office lifestyle leads to increased health issues, standing desks are becoming more popular. However, you can take steps to make even the process of sitting healthier by incorporating active sitting. Active seating includes the ever-popular ball chair and newer, more unique solutions such as leaning chairs. These chairs and stools force the user to balance while seated, providing comfort while allowing the user to burn energy and stay active by fidgeting.
Fabric upholstery is a woven material that helps give furniture a homelike look and feel. Fabric is available in many colors and patterns and is a popular choice for most office settings.
Genuine leather upholstery is either full grain or top grain genuine cowhide. Full grain leather is kept as close to its natural state as possible to show its grains and natural imperfections. Top grain leather is the most common type of genuine leather upholstery—it’s thinner and more flexible than full grain leather. Top grain leather is also sanded to remove imperfections, giving it a more polished look.
Faux leather and vinyl upholstery are manufactured alternatives to genuine leather. Faux leather and vinyl are made of either polyurethane (PU) or polyvinyl chloride (PVC), both of which give the look of leather at a lower cost.
Mesh is a textile that provides more breathability than any other type of upholstery. Mesh is durable but can be trickier to clean due to its porous design.
Pocketed coil systems are made up of a number of individual pocketed coils that help evenly distribute weight for user comfort. The coils are usually outfitted with a layer of foam on the top and bottom, with the top layer being less dense to create a cushioned feel.
Fabricated foam is one of the most common materials found in upholstered office chairs. This type of foam varies in density. The denser the foam, the more firm the feel.
Molded foam is made by pouring a liquid foam material into a mold. This type of foam offers more consistent support and holds its shape for longer than fabricated foam. This allows for more contour and a more comfortable feel.
Memory foam has a unique chemical makeup that allows the seat to adjust to your body temperature. Therefore, the seats retain more heat than others, allowing them to mold their shape as the user moves. Memory foam seats are known for providing a superior level of customized support. In addition, this material is hypoallergenic and resistant to dust mites.
TEMPUR® material is the ultimate in office chair comfort. Found in Tempur-Pedic® office chairs, this type of seat material goes beyond basic memory foam to conform to your specific body type, offering the same level of support one expects from a mattress.
Soft floor casters are designed to roll effortlessly on soft flooring like carpet. This type of caster comes standard on most office chairs.
Hard floor casters are designed for hard flooring like tile and wood. Hard floor casters are available for most chair models, but they need to be special-ordered in most cases. Consult a furniture expert if you’d like to purchase hard floor casters for your chair.
Adjustable floor glides are sometimes used on office chairs in place of casters. Although these are not common, they are good for users who prefer not to roll in their office chairs.
Standard-size office chairs are comfortable for the majority of people. A standard-size office chair is designed to support users measuring 5’ 5” to 6’ 0” tall and weighing 250 pounds or less.
Petite office chairs are designed for smaller users who feel that standard-size office chairs are too large. Petite chairs can still support up to 250 pounds, but they feature a shorter cylinder and shallower seat pan ideal for users who stand at 5’ 4” or shorter.
Big and tall chairs are designed for larger users. Not only does this type of chair offer a larger seat and back, but it can also support more weight than standard chairs. Big and tall chairs can support at least 300 pounds, but many support 500, 700, or more. Be sure to check the description of your big and tall chair to ensure it supports the correct weight.