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August 23, 2021

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9 min

Types of Office Chairs

Using this guide to learn all you can about the types of office chairs available can help you make an informed decision for your next office furniture purchase.

Types of Office Chairs: How to Choose the Right Chair for You?

One of the most critical, but often forgotten features of any workspace is the furniture, specifically the chairs. The right office chair can make the difference between long-term discomfort or the most productive workdays possible.

There are all kinds of office chairs out there, and each can serve vastly different purposes. Some chairs can be the finishing touch to take an office's aesthetics to the next level, while others might focus on comfort or appearance. Whether working from home or the office, everyone needs a quality chair that will optimize comfort without being distracting. Learning all you can about the types of office chairs available can help you make an informed decision for your next office furniture purchase.

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Types of Office Chairs

The major distinction between the different types of office chairs is the various tasks the chairs are designed for. While all chairs serve the same purpose of providing somewhere to sit, modern technology and features have created different, specialized chairs that can greatly benefit certain professions and workloads. Learning the differences between types of chairs can save you money and hassle in the long run. Here’s what you need to know:

Ergonomic Chairs

Looks are the least important aspect of ergonomic chairs. These advanced devices highly prioritize one area: comfort. Added features, such as headrests, integrated lower-back support, or memory foam padding set ergonomic chairs apart from others. The goal of an ergonomic chair is to support good posture and comfort, allowing the user to work as efficiently as possible for extended sessions without any health risks. A specification unique to ergonomic chairs is an hour rating. This means how long the chair can be sat in comfortably without any health risks. Typically, ergonomic chairs have a 24-hour rating or higher.

Drafting Chairs

A common feature among drafting chairs is a lack of armrests. This is because these chairs are designed for use by architects and other visual media-based professionals who need ample space to draw and move freely while working. Drafting chairs are also typically taller than other office chairs allowing them to be used with a wide variety of furniture, such as drafting tables or standing desks. Other features found in drafting chairs include rings or bars to rest your feet on or wheels that make the seat easier to move. 

Executive Chairs

Leather upholstery, large cushions, and polished accents are standard features for executive office chairs. While these chairs do come with some ergonomic features, the most important part of any executive chair is the appearance. These high-quality items can be the final touch to make any workspace feel like a high-end luxury office. Large padded cushions and expensive leather finishes make executive chairs instantly recognizable while still having adequate back support and functionality. 

Task Chairs

Task chairs are the most common and readily available office furniture. These chairs are affordable solutions for many general tasks. They can work with a wide variety of desks and other furniture. Task chairs can look quite different depending on the materials used to make them. However, each shares the common attribute of being designed to fit under a desk. Typically, these chairs have high backs, sturdy wheels, and minor adjustable features. 

Big & Tall Chairs

Not all people are the same size, and neither is office furniture. Big and tall chairs are designed for larger users and have features, such as wider seats, extended backrests, or adding cushioning. No one should have to work in discomfort, and big and tall chairs make sure of that. These chairs can also combine features of other types of chairs to further provide anyone with a premium seating experience. 

Accent Chairs

Sometimes in an office, there are not enough desks for every chair. Office spaces, such as break rooms or reception and waiting areas need vastly different furniture from their counterparts. With these chairs, aesthetics may be a primary deciding factor, because they will likely not be sat in nearly as long as other office chairs. Accent chairs, such as stools or armless plastic seats can help make any space feel more professional and comfortable. 

Stackable Chairs

Special events or large meetings can require a significant amount of seating that is not ideal or affordable to keep available at all times. That is where stackable chairs come in. The key feature of stackable chairs is that they can be easily stored and ready at a moment's notice. These chairs are typically made from plastic or acrylic material and can come with or without armrests, but usually have some lower back support. 

Office Chair Features

Among the different types of office chairs, there are some uniform features and specifications you can look for to better understand how each function. Learning what these features do and how they can make using a chair more comfortable is the next step in finding the perfect choice for your office. You can read below for a list of standard office chair features and how they can affect your decision. 

Seat Dimensions

This specification pertains to the lower cushion of the chair and shows its maximum size or supported, adjustable positions. Ensuring the dimensions of a chair works for you is the first step to feeling comfortable when using it. If you cannot try a chair before purchasing it, try comparing its seat dimensions to those you have available around you. Having more space than you think is necessary is always better than less, because adjustable features, like armrests make a chair feel smaller than it is. 

Materials

Modern office chairs are made from all kinds of materials that provide various levels of support and other benefits. Mesh chairs are great for staying cool without sacrificing strength. Leather chairs help to establish a high-end office aesthetic while still providing comfort and support. Plastic chairs are more affordable and can often be easily stored or moved between locations. Every material has its strengths and weaknesses, and it is not uncommon to use multiple within a single office. When choosing which material is best for you, think about where you will be using the chair and other environmental factors that could affect the daily use of the furniture.

Mobility

Features like wheels, hydraulic lifts, or handles help make chairs easy to move and able to accommodate many locations. Some options, such as executive chairs, will rarely move between locations and thus require fewer options for mobility. Other furniture, such as drafting or task chairs can require more robust movement solutions due to the nature of the work they are designed for. 

Chair Height

Sometimes associated with mobility, a chair's height or adjustable heights can tell you what kind of desk or other furniture it can be used with. Besides telling you what type of desk works best with it, the height can also help determine the fit of the backrest and the overall size of a chair. Be careful, because getting a chair that is too short or lacks the proper support can be uncomfortable or even damaging to your back. Chairs with a range of adjustable heights can work for multiple locations or even save you money by performing the duties of numerous other chairs.

Adjustable Features

Ergonomic chairs are the kings of adjustable features. Almost everything on an ergonomic chair can be loosened, tightened, or turned to help you feel more comfortable. Although less extensive, most other types of office chairs come with some adjustable features. Common features include armrests that can raise, lower, or swivel and support cushions in multiple moveable locations. Chairs with many adjustable parts can be used by various parties while still being comfortable for each. Just keep in mind that the more adjustable features a chair has, the higher the final price will typically be.

Lumbar Support

While this specification could be included in other areas, it is so commonly mentioned with office chairs that it is worth elaborating on. Your lumbar is essentially the lower-middle area of your back. This area is the most injured among office professionals. Daily use of an inadequate chair is a quick way to develop serious lumbar issues. If you or someone in your office has back pain or other posture problems, look into chairs with adjustable or more extensive lumbar support. Proper back support in an office chair can be the difference between comfortable use and long-term health issues. 

Chair Accessories

Many office chairs will come with some minor accessories or the ability to use additional equipment to make the chair more comfortable. Sometimes purchasing an entirely new chair is not an option. Accessories, such as extra cushions or a footrest can help extend the life of older chairs or increase the comfort of a new one. Office chair accessories can go a long way in making furniture more comfortable and increasing its overall life span. Read below for a list of some standard accessories and how they can benefit your office chairs.

Seat Cushions

Over time, the seat of a chair can wear down, and that is perfectly normal. Other times, the stock cushioning may not be enough or have an awkward shape. The solution for both of these problems is the addition of a supplemental chair cushion. Added padding can make it possible to sit in the chair for more extended work sessions and help prevent discomfort and injury. 

Backrests

Chairs can sometimes be perfect in every area, but still require added support for some users. That's where backrests come in. These affordable and easy-to-install add-ons usually slide over or rest on top of an existing backrest and provide users with added support and comfort. 

Floor Mats

The mobility of office chairs can be heavily limited by the flooring within a workspace. Carpets or particular floors can all, but immobilize wheels and force chairs to be stationary and not fully utilize their features. An easy solution to ensure mobility is the implementation of an under-desk floor mat. Typically made of plastic, these mats come in all kinds of shapes, sizes, and colors to provide added functionality and still match the look of your office.

Footrests

Most chairs, aside from top-of-the-line ergonomic and executive chairs, do not come with any kind of footrest. Small stool-like devices and stands can help to elevate your feet off the ground and add yet another layer of comfort to your office chair. Switching up desk footing positions can help prevent bad posture habits and make longer work sessions more comfortable.

Summary

Office chairs see daily use and thus are some of the most essential parts of any workspace. Having the right chair can make work more enjoyable and aid in productivity and efficiency.  There are many different types of office chairs out there, and learning the pros and cons of each will help you determine which is the best choice for your office.

Features, such as adjustable seats or added back support can help to further improve the quality and comfort of an office chair. There are also numerous accessories and additional equipment that can be purchased to make chairs more comfortable or increase their usable lifespan. Finding the perfect chair can be one of the hardest parts of setting up an office. However, by discovering all you can about your different options and using the information in this guide, you can confidently make your next office chair purchasing decision.

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