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Computer Desks buying guide

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Computer Desks Guide - An Introduction

The personal computer has changed the way we live in the 21st century. It has made how we work, interact with others, receive news about the world, entertain ourselves, pay our bills, shop, and generally stay organized faster, easier, and much more efficient. Likewise, computer desk furniture has changed over the years.

The primary task of a computer desk is to make using our computers, whether at work or at home, as comfortable and efficient as possible while also being visually pleasurable to the eye.

Some of the typical basic features of a computer desk that help make it comfortable and efficient to use, are a slide out or pull out keyboard tray, a monitor and computer shelves, holes for cables and ample space for speakers and a printer.

Almost everyone today has a home computer and because homes come in a wide variety of sizes and shapes, computer desks come in an equally wide range of types and styles. Some are designed to meet small space requirements while other designs cover a large area and require a larger space to look good.

There is also a wide range of predominate computer uses that computer desk manufacturers address as well, such as the computer desk designed to work efficiently for someone who uses their computer, mainly for gaming purposes. Other computer desks are designed with the needs of a student in mind.

Finally, manufacturers of computer desks also address individual decorating preferences by offering desks in all the various furniture styles. Styles such as traditional, contemporary, and futuristic computer desks can be made of an equally wide array of materials like wood, pressed wood, metal, glass, or marble.

It should be noted that many computer desks come requiring some assembly, especially the pressed wood or composite wood varieties.

Therefore, the question is, with so many things to consider when buying a computer desk, where should a buyer begin? This computer desk buyer’s guide is designed to provide you information and tips to make finding and buying the right desk for you, much easier.

Under the Types section of this buyer’s guide, you will find information on types by material composition, computer desk shape, and style.

In the Buyer’s Tips section, you will find a bullet point list to help you prepare to shop for your ideal computer desk, and in the Jargon Buster section you will find all the mysterious terminology you may run across, demystified.

Types of Computer Desks

Computer desks are divided into two main types first and then by other various characteristics such as the material it is made of, its shape, or its style.

The two main types as stated above are the ergonomic computer desk and the standard computer desk.

Ergonomic vs. Standard

The standard computer desk is a stable design that is not adjustable for people of varying heights. The standard desk is designed for people who are 1.83 meters tall. This can be challenging for anyone who is shorter or taller as the body will be required to work at unnatural angles. This can lead to strain and injury over time. Use of a traditional desk for someone other than 1.83 meters tall can be adjusted for with the use of an ergonomic office chair.

An ergonomic computer desk is an adjustable computer desk. It has adjustable legs, and often has adjustable shelves, monitor pedestals, and keyboard trays. This allows users of any height to adjust the desk to suit their personal comfort, which in turn, eliminates strain and injury.

Types by material

A computer desk can be made from an array of materials or even a combination of several materials such as solid wood, wood laminates, plastic, glass, stone such as marble, or metal.

Each material has its pros or cons and is better in some situations over others.

Wood computer desk

A wooden computer desk can be made of real wood, engineered wood, or a combination of wood veneers and engineered wood.

Computer desk wood can consist of real wood, of varying grades. A real or solid wood desk can be made of hardwoods like oak, maple or walnut, or they can be made of softwoods such as cedar or pine. Real wood desks, whether made of softwoods such as a pine computer desk, or hardwoods such as a cherry computer desk, computer desk oak, maple computer desk, walnut computer desk, or a mahogany computer desk will be more expensive than engineered wood desks.

Engineered woods are typically MDF, medium density fiberboard, or particleboard. A laminate finish on the fiberboard or particleboard adds strength and renders it more durable. Veneers are made by adding thin slices of real wood to engineered wood, which can give an engineered wood desk the appearance of real wood while the cost is considerably less than for a real wood desk.

Real wood vs. engineered wood

  •  Real wood desks can be repaired, re-sanded and re-stained easily, engineered wood cannot.
  •  Engineered woods can be stronger than real wood but may crack with age.
  •  Real wood desks require regular maintenance such as polishing in addition to cleaning, engineered wood does not.
  •  Real wood desks are more expensive than engineered woods.
  •  Engineered wood desks that have a veneer finish can look exactly like a real wood desk.

Laminate computer desk

Resin sealed pressed wood and plastic are called laminates. They are easy to clean, typically inexpensive but may not be as strong or durable as other material choices. They do not fade and they come in a wide variety of finishes and colours, which makes matching furniture pieces easy. However, nicks and scratches in laminate materials are difficult to repair.

Metal computer desk

The metal computer desk has come a long way from the lack luster image generated by the characteristic educational or government institution desk. Today’s metal computer desk offers a variety of looks to choose from, such as a marbled top finish. Pure metals have been replaced with metal alloys that are stronger and more durable. Alloys combined with glass elements in a computer desk; results in a stunning, modern, or futuristic furniture piece. Metal as a material is moisture resistant, can cleaned and re-painted, and can last a lifetime.

Glass computer desk

A glass computer desk is usually constructed of tempered or safety glass. There is solid, glass shaped desks available, but most are combined with other materials such as a metal or wood frame with a tempered glass top. Glass is prone to fingerprints and smudges, so nearly daily cleaning can be required but cleaning is relatively easy. Desks made of glass or part glass are light and easy to move, and a while computer desk glass can make a room appear more spacious computer cables and cords may not be as well hidden as with other materials.

Marble top computer desk

Stone top computer desks such as marble are available. They are typically set in a frame of wood or metal much like a glass computer desk might be. The stone tops are extremely durable and strong as well as beautiful, but they can be costly as well as weighty furniture items.

Types by shape

Shape can play a large part not only concerning the size of a room and space available but also regarding style of a room and the functions that the desk will be required to fulfil.

Straight computer desk

The most conventional, multipurpose shaped computer desk is the straight desk. This shape is available in every material type listed above. It can come with shelves, cabinets, drawers or even an optional hutch piece for storage. It makes rearranging a room easier than other shapes.

Corner computer desk

Corner computer desks are triangular desk shapes that are designed to utilize the often-unoccupied corners of a room. They can be a real space saver in smaller sized rooms but are not very versatile. They are limited to occupying corners. Corner computer desks can come with many of the same options as the straight, L-shaped, or U-shaped computer desk including cabinets, shelves, and even a hutch.

L-shaped computer desk

The L shaped desk is the conventional, straight desk with one side or wing extension, which forms an L-shape of the unit, and provides an additional work area. This type provides maximum use of floor space and often features file drawers, cabinets, sliding doors, and/or cubbies.

U-shaped computer desk

The U-shaped computer desk forms a semi-circle and brings work surface areas closer on three sides than does the L-shaped desk. It is a fantastic desk for multitasking, but it also takes up a great deal of space in a room. It works well a larger office computer desk, or as a home computer desk in a room that is only used as an office.

Computer workstation desk

This is a computer desk that does not have many features like drawers, cabinets, or extra shelving. It takes up minimal space and is often used as a student computer desk.

Hidden computer desk

The computer desk cabinet or computer desk armoire is the latest addition to the computer desk types. It combines, storage space, and a home office computer desk with the closable doors of a cabinet or an armoire. This allows the workspace to be disguised as a beautiful piece of furniture in a room that serves a dual purpose, such as a living room by night that becomes an office by day.

Computer cart desk

Computer carts are yet another type of hide able computer desk that is typically on rolling wheels so it can be moved from room to room or even hidden in a closet when not in use.

Types by style

Casual computer desk

The casual style is a relaxed style which often features glass accents, straight lines, textured leather details. This style is most often referred to as chic.

Contemporary computer desk

Contemporary style furnishings first appeared around the 1950s. It is a fusion of both modern and traditional styles and features unusual shapes, curved lines, and an array of colours. A contemporary computer desk blends well with furniture that is of casual, modern, or traditional style. A contemporary style black computer desk can create a feeling of elegance.

Country computer desk

This style of computer desk is typically made of wood and is a simplified version of the traditional style in appearance. Country style is often seen depicted in a white computer desk. They may be representative of any historical period such as Colonial.

Modern computer desk

This style features geometric shapes and minimal lines. Using neutral colours, the modern style computer desk achieves a sleek, highly polished look, especially when made of a combination of metal and glass.

Simple computer desk

The simple style draws the eye to form rather than the drama of detail or elements such as glass or metal. It less complicated than the casual style and tends to make a room feel homier than the modern style.

Traditional computer desk

This style features detailing, carvings, and surface moulding that can be very ornate. Traditional style computer desks are typically made of real wood, engineered wood, or wood veneers. The traditional style can be inspired by any historical period.

Brands of Computer Desks

  • Alphason
  • Avery Label
  •  Badger
  •  Calligaris
  •  CHIC
  • Chrome
  • Compac
  • Corona
  • Cotswold
  • DSA
  • Dyson
  • Freshman
  • Jual
  • Jupiter Microlite
  • Kub Furniture
  • Kent Marine
  • Leda
  • Lincoln
  • Mambo
  • Marylebone
  • Matisse Victoria
  • Maverick
  • Milano SE
  • Milton Bradley
  • MOBILITY
  • Msc International
  • Nimbus
  • NOBO ACCO
  • Pacific
  • Packard Bell
  • PC Line
  • Pearce
  • Rci
  • Sage
  • Seconique
  • Serano
  • Sirius
  • Targus
  • Tesco
  • Tilt
  • Vega
  • View Image
  • Windsor

Tips to consider before you buy a Compueter Desk

  • Consider the size of the room and desk space available. Take measurements of the room and measurements of the space you intend for the computer desk. If you want to consider more than one computer desk shape option, measure a usable corner, as well as taking a measurement for an against the wall style straight desk. Take a floor space measurement for L-shaped or U-shaped desks. In addition, be sure to measure wall height if you are considering a computer desk hutch, cabinet computer desk, or an armoire computer desk.
  • Consider whether the room will be dual purposed or strictly used as an office. There will be different considerations if the room is dual purposed, such as a living room that will double as a computer workspace during the day. Consider what computer desk style will blend well with your current living room furniture if the desk will be in the living room.
  • Consider the tasks that you require the desk to fulfil such as storage and the amount of work surface area you will require. How much room will you need on the desktop for papers, desk organisers, or writing? How many drawers, shelves will you need? How much space for files will you require?
  • Consider all the office equipment that will need to be contained in the computer desk home. Think about the size of any scanners, faxes, telephones, printers, storage for extra paper, computer discs, and print cartridges you might need.
  •  Remember to check under desk knee clearance to make sure that it is adequate
  • Remember that if glare bothers you, non-reflective surfaces would be your best choice.
  • Remember that ideally a monitor should be placed 20” away from your face when seated comfortably at your computer desk. Make sure there is adequate room to do so.
  •  Remember that people with shorter bodies may need to be able to place a footrest under the desk in order to achieve comfort and avoid strain while working. Make sure there is adequate room under the desk to do that.
  • Finally remember to consider room for the computer desk chair. You should
    be able to slide it in and out of working position easily with room to spare to
    avoid feeling cramped. Also, consider how much room you might need to open
    computer desk drawers or cabinets.

Jargon Explained

All-wood This term means that the product is made of wood; however, it can be made of either solid wood or engineered wood or a combination thereof.
Adjustable keyboard trayThis refers to a type of keyboard tray on a desk that allows adjustments to be made so that the keyboard is suited to the user’s physical characteristics.
BridgeA bridge is a piece that joins one part of the work surface to the main desk. It can vary it depth and height from the two work surfaces that it connects.
Centre glideThis refers to a track in the centre of a drawer that allows the drawer to glide opened and closed.
ConsoleA console is a table meant to be placed up against a wall.
CredenzaIt is typically the same height as the desk and sits behind the desk and the user. It is used to store office supplies.
Desk suiteThis coordinated set has a matched appearance and includes a desk and various storage pieces such as a credenza or filing cabinets.
Double pedestal deskThis desk arrangement features a desktop that is supported by two pedestal files allowing for user knee space in the centre and between the two pedestals.
Drop-lid desk A drop-lid desk has a hinged door that drops to become a work surface and closes to contain or hide items.
GrommetA grommet is a hole cut out of a desktop to allow for wires or cables to pass through.
HutchA hutch is a piece of furniture that sits on top of a desk. It typically has several shelves, cabinets, or cupboards for storage of office supplies.
Keyboard platformThis is another term for a keyboard tray. See keyboard tray.
Keyboard trayA keyboard tray is a tray that holds a keyboard. It is located under the desktop and slides out for use. Some desks come with adjustable keyboard trays.
Kiln driedThis process diminishes the moisture content that can lead to checking, and splitting in lumber.
Lateral fileThis type of filing cabinet is wider than it is deep, which allows for front to back filing or side to side.
Library storageThis term refers to trays, racks, or drawers that are designed to hold discs, or tapes. They typically slide out for easy access.
Modesty panel This is a special panel located at the back of some computer desk models. Cables can be attached to it for eliminating cable clutter.
Particleboard This is a wood alternative consisting of chips of wood pressed together with glue and heat-treated.
Peninsula wall A peninsula wall is a series of storage pieces and a desk that extends up a wall.
Portable deskThis term refers to any desk that is movable from room to room rather than stationary. The mobility is usually accomplished by affixing wheels to the desk.
RTA This is an acronym that stands for ready to assemble.
Side glideA side glide enables a drawer to slide open and closed by use of vertical tracks on either side of the drawer.
Trestle tableThis is a type of table that rests atop two legs with feet that are joined by a centre running horizontal brace.
Vertical fileThis type of file cabinet is deeper than it is wide and files can be stored from the front to the back only.
Vinyl wrapThis is a wrap made of vinyl. It is applied to engineered wood such as particleboard in order to make it appear more like natural wood.
Wire managementThis is a feature of some computer desk models. It conceals power cords, cables, and wires.

Buying Guide to Computer Desks
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