Best Office Chair Buying Guide
Welcome on buying guide of best office chairs! If you’re here for the first time, then as a reminder I’ll write a few words about myself: I’m Dave Grant and for almost 20 years now I’ve been working on a computer. For these two decades, because of daily work at a desk, I’ve experienced numerous problems with neck, back and spinal pain. I’ve decided to share my knowledge and observations on this topic with others and help them as much as I can. Please access my blog to read it. You’ll find here best office chair reviews which I know!
How to prevent back pain while working on the computer? Work ergonomics
It shouldn’t be a discovery and it shouldn’t surprise anybody that the most significant thing when it comes to working on the computer is our posture and work ergonomics. It comprises many things, first and foremost, a chair, hand and leg position as well as our desk. Below I’ll describe all elements that, in my opinion, affect work comfort most.
Which chair is the best when it comes to working at the desk?
Work comfort is largely influenced by a chair, which should ensure comfortable bodily posture and free movements. It should be possible to adjust it when it comes to the seat height (40-50 cm from the floor), the seatback height as well as the seatback angle. The chair should also be equipped with armrests, a seat properly shaped for the thigh section of legs and a seatback properly shaped for the natural curvature of the spine. There are many details that ultimately exert huge influence on how comfortable our work at the desk is, especially when we sometimes spend even a few hours daily working on the computer. I’ve described the choice of chairs in more detail below. However, if you don’t want to read too much about it, I can recommend the following chair, which I’m presently using. After several years of trying out different types of chairs, I can in good conscience say that this one is simply great.
Hand position during work at the desk
I recommend adjusting the height of the desk, chair and armrests in such a way that the natural hand position during using a keyboard while maintaining at least right angle between an arm and a forearm is ensured. It will allow for reducing pressure exerted on our muscles. This small tip, which one doctor has once given to me, helped me more than I could’ve expected!
How to place a monitor for work?
It’s also quite common knowledge. Sometimes even monitor manufacturers put such information in their instructions, but it’s worth reminding. You should place your monitor on the desk in the 40-75-centimeter distance from your eyes, ensuring that the monitor observation angle is 20°-50° down from the horizontal line drawn at the eye-level height. Such organization of your workplace will allow for minimizing eyestrain and neckstrain.
Below you can watch video about proper posture during the work on your chair.
Desk and work comfort
The desk should be wide and deep enough to enable placing workplace items of equipment in the proper distance from ourselves. It’ll prevent forced posture during work. I reviewed on my blog DXRacer Desk. Take a look to read what features should have good desk.
Take a break
It’s a very important remark. After each hour of work on the computer, you should take a 5-minute break. Stand up. Acting in this way along with physical exercise will enable your body to change the type of pressure and to relax muscles. Stretch yourself, move your head in different directions and then you’ll see a substantial difference! You can read more about exercises here.
How to choose the best office chair for work? The most important features
I remember my first chair. It was a nightmare! It used to tilt to the left and right, the seatback was below the level of my shoulder blades (and it shouldn’t, remember this!) and it was impossible to adjust height. Because of this I used to slouch (I didn’t even lean against the seatback, which was uncomfortable) and my monitor was placed at improper height. I endured sitting on this chair for about a month, which in my opinion was still a pretty good result.
The first thing when it comes to the choice of a best office chair is that it must have a seatback which is higher than the level of our shoulder blades. Thanks to this you’ll be able to comfortably lean against it and work with pleasure. The lack of the seatback often leads to slouching instead of comfortable leaning against the chair.
Chair height adjustment
The second, equally important thing, is height adjustment. Without it, hands and elbows may be either too low or to high in relation to the desk. The same is true for our eyes, which must be at the proper height of the monitor. Theoretically, one can put a book underneath the monitor so that it’s placed higher, but I don’t recommend this method. It’s better to invest in a good chair and to adjust it the way we like it.
The two above aspects are significant, but still the most important one is probably stabilization. It’s probably the most significant aspect of comfortable work at the desk. High seatbacks or comfortable sheaths won’t help, if the chair moves in every direction. Sometimes, it’s enough to tighten one screw and a wobbling chair starts working like a new one. Nonetheless, if we buy any chair made of poor materials, then tightening screws won’t help.
Proper shape of a chair
The shape of a chair is also very important. A good chair has a properly shaped seatback, thanks to which our spine has natural S-shape. It prevents slouching, which in my case translated into neck pain. You can see an example on the photo on the left.
Seat depth is the next thing you must draw your attention to. Because of too short seat you’ll fall off your chair and the very sitting on it will be uncomfortable. Too long seat, in turn, will strain your back, which will acquire unnatural position. I’ve encountered this problem in the past, when one of the chairs I bought had too long seat (with respect to my body).
Armrests are also a significant element of a good chair for work. Yet, in most of the cases, it’s not so important when we work on the computer keeping our hands on the desk next to the keyboard. The situation is different when clients come to our office and we stop keeping our hands on it and start talking with a newcomer in a seated position. Then armrests fulfill a significant stabilization role and enable comfortable sitting and talking. Additionally, moving on the chair which has armrests is much easier. In conclusion, one may live without them, but they are surely useful. Besides, nowadays it’s difficult to find a chair without them.
Head support is an increasingly frequent solution when it comes to chairs for work. Personally, I used to work on a chair with head support for some time and I must say that when we read something on our computer screen such head support is a very good solution. If we analyze some data and we don’t have to use the keyboard for a longer period of time, then such support is an ideal option.
The next significant element is the chair base. It doesn’t exert huge influence on ergonomics, but its choice is very crucial. Generally, when it comes to office chairs, then we may choose swivel chairs or, less frequently, cantilever chairs. Cantilever chairs aren’t frequent when it comes to office chairs. I also don’t recommend buying them for work. Wheels of office chairs are made of different materials. They are very significant as rubber wheels of office chairs may be soft or not, which than translates into traces on surfaces (they don’t scratch floor panels, stand in a stable way on ceramic tiles, may be moved on carpets in a comfortable way etc). I recommend these.
Types of chairs
It is worth to specify which types of chairs intended for office work we have. Of course, the list of types of chairs intended for different things (e.g. for eating) is almost endless. I’ll also focus on office chairs which are intended for work as this is the idea of my blog.
It’s a very popular type of chairs which we encounter in offices. They’re very simple in appearance, but at the same time they may be adjusted in terms of height or seatback angle. They’re very cheap, but personally I don’t recommend them. I’ve used a few of them and generally their structure is pretty poor. They aren’t stable as well. Additionally, they don’t have a shaped seatback, because of which the spine is in unnatural position. One may not sit comfortably on them, or at least in my case it was impossible.
Mid-Back mesh chairs
For some time now, they’ve been probably the most popular type of office chairs, which is good. Basically, these chairs have everything that a chair needs to have when it comes to comfortable work, i.e. they may be adjusted both vertically and horizontally, they have a shaped seatback, stable structure and armrests. Obviously, lots of things depend on a company and a model that we buy, but generally this type of chairs is good. The chairs are covered with mesh, which allows skin to breath and thanks to which we don’t sweat like in the case of leather chairs. When it comes to the type of chairs, this is my favorite one, taking into account both price and quality.
Sometimes you probably watch films in which the president of some big company sitting on a huge leather chair talks with stakeholders. They’re the so-called Executive chairs. They’re almost always leather chairs and they have very solid structure. They’re soft and comfortable as well. But still, in my case, they weren’t good. Firstly, because in my office it’s hot for 5 months per year. Because of this chair I always used to have sweaty back. Secondly, it must be possible for us to place the chair under the desk. At this point we may have some problems, since the Executive chairs are usually pretty wide. Additionally, their shape is often adjusted to comfortably lean against their seatback rather than to work on the computer. Therefore, if you’re a company boss, you often analyze and watch various things on the laptop, you like comfort and there’s air conditioning in your office or it’s not too hot in it, then I can recommend the Executive chairs. If not, then I believe that you’ll prefer the Mid-Back mesh chair and it’ll be better for you to work on it.
These chairs resemble the Mid-Back mesh chairs, except that they’re higher and protect the upper sections of the spine to a higher degree. The Ergonomic chairs often have a seatback which is above the level of the neck (sometimes, they even have special head support). While working on such chairs, we don’t have to worry about neck pain. That’s why, it’ll be ideal for those who have problems with it. I used to work on these chairs and they’re OK. Generally, when our back is properly leaned against a properly shaped chair, then the neck adjusts to the spine on its own, provided that we don’t tend to lean forward, because then the Ergonomic chair would be a better choice. To sum up, these chairs are very good and I can also recommend them, especially if you can spend more money than in the case of, e.g. the Mid-Back mesh chairs.
This is quite new type of chairs. Some people don’t have good opinion about gaming chairs but truth is that this kind of chairs could be as good and as bad as any other office chair. It’s only the matter of company, model, sometimes price. What stand out gaming chairs from the other one’s? They look different – more like chair for sport car. But it doesn’t mean that gaming chairs are crap. Not at all. There is a lot of manufacturers of gaming chairs but the most popular are AKRacing and DXRacer. You can check my reviews of their chair like AKRacing AK-7002, DXRacer King Series, DXRacer F-Series. If you want to know much more about game chairs you just must read my big article about best gaming chairs in 2017 (AKRacing vs DXRacer, Vertagear, Arozzi).
Choice of a chair for work – what else should we take into consideration?
I’ve already discussed all most significant aspects of chairs which influence work comfort and their types. If we already know what to draw our attention to when it comes to technical aspects of chairs, then we may discuss other, equally important things.
How much should I spend on a good chair for work? Price of a good office chair
I’ll be honest, when I was choosing chairs for work at the beginning of my career, the choice was usually limited to their price. Yet, my shopping ended up with what I’ve described before – back and neck pain caused by slouching and the improper shape of a chair. I’ve tested many types of chairs both in my office and at my friends’ homes and I know one thing for sure: you can’t skimp too much on the choice of a chair. Of course, I’m not saying that you can’t buy a good chair for $300, quite the reverse. However, I don’t recommend buying chairs for less than, let’s say, $50. In this article I’m describing best office chairs under $100, which I can recommend. Of course, it’s not a top shelf, but if somebody doesn’t want to spend too much money, then, personally, I think that they should decide to buy one of them. It I were to recommend one cheap chair, then I’d recommend the following one: When it comes to better chairs, then the prices start from about $100. I’ve recommended the one which I like most on the top of the blog entry, but If I were to choose another one, then I’d probably choose the one below. I used to work on it for about 3 years and it was great. Now, my son is also using it. More expensive chairs, the ones which cost more than $400, are designer chairs, or the ones which look almost like seats in sports cars. I had an opportunity to sit on such chairs and I must say that they were really comfortable. Generally, such chairs have head support, great finishing material and all other aspects which I’ve described above. Often they are covered with original leather, which automatically substantially increases their price. I recommend reading the article ➞ in which I’ve described this type of exclusive chairs.
Type of material
The material that is used to cover the whole structure is also a very significant element when it comes to choosing a chair. I had an opportunity to use leather chairs and in my case they were a bad choice. But will it be the same in your case? Not necessarily. My office is located from such a side that the rays of the sun get through the windows most of the day. Because of this it’s very hot in it the months between June and September. Under such conditions, a leather chair won’t be a good choice. Of course, the better leather, the better comfort, but in my opinion if you need a chair for an office or a room in which it’s hot for most of the year, then I still wouldn’t recommend leather. In such a case, a chair with light mesh and a kind of foam underneath will be the best. It will ensure a good air flow and our skin will not sweat and stick to the chair. Remember that appearance isn’t always the most important thing and sometimes it’s better to resign from it for the sake of work comfort rather than have a cool-looking chair. I made this mistake in the past because I wanted to have a chair which would look perfect in my office. I bought the best-looking chair for lots of money and it turned out that it was uncomfortable and it only looked good in the office. It’s not just about nice material and appearance. Now I have a chair with mesh and I can definitely recommend such a solution when it comes to the material.
Most frequently made mistakes when it comes to the choice of a chair
Because in the past I bought many improper chairs I may say something about the mistakes 🙂 Below I’ll describe the most popular mistakes, which should be avoided when it comes to the choice of a chair for work.
- Drawing too much attention to the chair’s appearance Remember that neck and back pain is far worse than a chair which slightly differs from the chair that you’ve dreamed about in terms of its appearance. You may have wanted to have a leather chair, but first you should think if it’s not too hot in your office and if leather will not make you sweaty. You should also check if a chair is properly shaped.
- Buying chair with unnecessary gadgets If you need a chair for work, then buy a chair for work. If you want a massage chair, then buy a massage chair. Don’t make my mistake. Some time ago, I decided that a massage chair would be great for my back pain. As a result, working on it wasn’t too comfortable due to massagers which cut into my back and buttocks. The very massage wasn’t as awesome as I thought it would be as well. The chair used to vibrate a little bit and that’s it. That’s why you should remember to ask yourself a question of what type of a chair you are looking for. If it’s a chair for work, then it should be limited to this functionality.
- Excessive saving money On the Internet and in shops you may find so many chairs at reasonable prices that it’s really pointless to buy some junk for $30. Trust me, after two, (maximally) three months, you’ll have to go shopping for another chair, since back or neck pain will be unbearable. It’s pointless. It’s better to invest once and enjoy work in great conditions.
- Improper size It should be remembered that a child won’t find it easy to do homework while sitting on a huge chair of their dad. The father would also find it difficult to fit on his 12-year son’s chair. It’s obvious, but it’s worth remembering. As I’ve mentioned before, check if the seat is sufficiently long, or if it’s not too short as it affects work comfort.
Most frequently asked questions
- What are the best companies producing chairs? I’ve tested many types. I’ve tested chairs bought in ordinary supermarkets and chairs of the biggest worldwide brands. Personally, I can recommend the chairs produced by ➞ Flash Furniture, ➞ Alera and ➞ Serta. They’re renowned companies and they were established a few years ago, thanks to which we may be sure of their quality. Additionally, I had a possibility to sit on each of them (first and foremost, when I used to work in an office having a full time job) and these types of chairs were usually very comfortable.
- What’s the best type of chairs? I’ve already answered this question above, by describing the types of chairs (if you want a longer answer, just scroll the webpage up). The Mid-Back mesh chairs are usually the best option. However, if you’re a fun of very big comfort and it’s not too hot in your office, then the Executive chairs will be a good choice. If, in turn, you want your chair to be suitable for each element of your body (including your neck), plus your budget is a little bit higher, then you should choose one of the Ergonomic chair models.
- Are there any cheap and good chairs for work? Yes. You may definitely find a good and cheap chair. But, as I’ve already written, we shouldn’t buy chairs below a certain price. Personally, I’d establish a minimum price of $50 (and if we seek well, then we’ll find a good chair for $200). Top shelf chairs may be bought for $400 and more.
The best chair for work and the best office chair when it comes to back and neck pain – which should we buy?
I hope that my article has introduced the topic of the choice of chairs to you and now it’ll be easier for you to make a decision. I know that pleasant work on the computer is impossible without a proper chair. I’ve learned that the hard way. Yet, if you want to quickly choose some good chair for yourself I can recommend once again ➞ this one and ➞ this one due to the fact that I’ve tested them myself and that working on them was simply great. Excellent material, structure and a good price. You’ll find even more information on my blog. In other articles I’ve described my personal rankings of chairs of different categories as well as few curiosities which will help you to choose a chair which will be ideal for you. So today start working with pleasure! Good luck!