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Office Chairs buying guide

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Office Chairs Guide - An Introduction

In this age of information and technology, many of us spend more time in an office chair then we do in any other type of chair. Since we are spending so much of our time sitting in an office furniture chair, it is only sensible that we should take extra care in selecting a chair that will support us properly while we work. Yet, for the most part, people tend to spend more time, thought and money on selecting their living room furniture than on the one chair they sit in the most.

The facts are that along with the information age and the age of technology different types of muscle and skeletal strains and injuries have emerged. This buyer’s guide is aimed at providing you the most current information to support you in making your best decision when shopping for the modern office chair that is right for you. Whether you are looking for an executive, an ergonomic, a home office, or a computer chair for an employee, this guide will provide you with the most up to date information.

In the Buyer’s Tip section of this guide, you will find a bullet point guideline for how to determine if a particular office chair is the correct fit for your body, using measurements.

In the Types of Office Chairs section, you will be able to locate some of the main types of office chairs by both style and best use.

In the Jargon Buster section, some of the most common terms, you might run across while shopping for an office chair will be clarified.

Tips to consider before buying Office Chairs

Getting properly fitted for an office chair:

  • Check space availability under your desk. Have the measurement of the space that will be available to slide your office chair under your desk. Make sure that there is enough room for your thighs and the chair with a little to spare.
  • Check the chair seat depth. If an office chair seat is the correct depth for you, you should be able to put your closed fist between the front edge of your seat and your calves. When sitting in the chair with your back up against the backrest properly, your feet should be comfortably flat on the floor. At the same time, your legs should be resting comfortably on the chair. If you are quite tall, this may involve raising the chair and the desk as well. Another test for correct seat depth is to slide your finger under your legs while sitting; it should be easy to do if the seat is set at the right depth for you. A third test for correct seat depth is to place two fingers between the front edge of your seat and the back of your knees. This should also be easy.
  • Can you move your body in the chair easily? Does it feel too tight or too roomy? The correct office chair or office chair adjustment should easily allow changes in posture.
  • Are your elbows at a 90º angle to your desk when you are seated? If not, your seat many need to be raised or lowered until the 90 º angle is achieved.
  • Check lumbar spine support. Make sure the backrest properly supports your lumbar spinal region. We are not all made the same. The backrest should touch you a little below and above midway for maximum lumbar support.
  • Check the tilt of your office chair seat. To reduce stress on the spine, the seat of your office chair should be slightly angled forward so that your hips sit 5º to 15º higher than your knees.
  • Check the armrest height. If your armrests are set correctly, your shoulders should be relaxed and only slightly raised, never hunched.
  • Check the tension in the back tilt. A tilting back should be easy but require a slight effort. Too easy invites accidents and too much tension invites muscle strain.

Types of Office Chairs


Bungee chair

Although it might sound as if you will be bungee jumping out of the office window in this chair, that is hopefully not the case. The Bungee office chair is quite a sensible choice for anyone who spends more time getting in and out of an office chair than staying in it. This is a lighter weight chair that actually makes getting up constantly just a bit easier. It is made of flexible bungee cord material, which will add a bit of bounce or lift when you need it.

Captain's chair

captain’s chair refers to a style of an office chair. They are the most recognized wooden office chair. This wood chair need not be seaman style to be considered a captain’s chair, although it can be. However, it must have armrests and a vertical backrest support in order to be classified as a captain’s chair. It may or may not have upholstery or cushions, but, even if it does, the wood captain’s office chair is probably only a comfortable chair for those who spend less than 4 hours a day in it.

Deluxe office task chair

This is a heavy duty chair. The deluxe task is typically more ergonomic than the traditional or the regular task chair. Liberal cushioning and a higher back make this adjustable chair ideal for anyone who spends 8 hours a day sitting while working. These chairs are often on castors or rollers for easier mobility around and near the desk.

Ergonomic office chair

There are several types of ergonomic office chairs on the market. All of them have one thing in common; they are designed to eliminate user fatigue, discomfort and to increase maximum productivity by offering better support to the body.

The most common ergonomic chair is the adjustable chair. A standard office task chair may offer up to five possible adjustments but an ergonomic office chair typically offers between 10 and 17 possible adjustments. Basic adjustment capabilities of an ergonomic chair may include armrest angle, width and height, backrest depth, angle, tension, and height, seat height, and tilt, air lumbar pump and swivel, just to name the most common. These adjustments make it possible to fine-tune the chair to meet your physical requirements.

Exercise ball ergonomic office chair

This is a variation of the adjustable ergonomic office chair. It may sound as though the gym or playground equipment is coming to the office, but the ball ergonomic  is an excellent posture chair. It stimulates circulation and reduces stress and fatigue. This office chair is exactly what it sounds like; it is a large ball used as a chair and which supports the user comfortably for long periods of sitting.

Learning to balance on the ball is what improves posture and alertness while continued use maintains the improved posture. The use of one’s legs for balance are what improves the circulation. Ball ergonomic office chairs come in a range of sizes to suit various user heights.

Executive office chair

The executive office chair shares certain similarities with the deluxe task chair as they are both designed to be heavy duty chairs. However, they usually have more padding or cushioning than the task chair, may or may not have castors, and are usually a high back chair. The material covering of the chair is typically of a better quality as well. It is in this office chair category that you will find well-recognised status chairs like the leather, executive leather, the black leather, and the luxury office chair. Luxury office chairs include the recliner and the massage chair.

Guest office chair or visitor chair

The name of this chair type is somewhat self-explanatory; they are intended for visitors. For this reason, they are stationary chairs without castors or rollers, and they seldom have adjustment capability of any kind. This is because visitors do not tend to sit in them for long periods. They are often found in reception or waiting areas.

Kneeling office chair

A kneeling chair is another type of ergonomic chair. This chair has no backrest at all. Like the exercise ball ergonomic it helps to improve posture and maintains that improvement with continued use. It puts the user in a modified kneeling position which reduces spinal stress.

The kneeling chair is an office chair that is ergonomic and has no back, and places the user in a modified kneeling position. The design encourages good posture by placing weight on the shins and pelvic regions, which keeps the spine in a more natural position while sitting.

Manager’s office chair

Although some manager’s chairs are stable, non- adjustable types, this term is most often synonymous with the executive office chair. See the executive office chair in this section.

Mesh office chair

Have you ever noticed how sitting on a traditional material office chair feels uncomfortably warm after a bit? This type of chair is lighter in weight as the material is lighter in weight than what is otherwise used. It is both a supportive and comfortable chair with one huge advantage over traditionally upholstered office chairs; the mesh allows your back and legs to breathe and stay cooler. Best of all lumbar spine support is woven right into the mesh.

Office Swivel Chair

This chair is a favourite, especially for home offices, home libraries, and executive boardrooms. They are exceptionally comfortable due to generous padding on the backrest and armrests. They pivot clockwise and counterclockwise easily with your body.

These chairs are stationary. The two most popular styles of the swivel chair are the barrel chair, and the wing backed chair. This chair has great style as it is offered in leather and fabric upholstery and custom patterns and colours are available.

Office task chair

The office task chair is another type of swivel chair. It usually comes on castors and is adjustable to various weights and heights. They are always considered a heavy duty chair as they typically come with at least 4 or more adjustment options. This chair is often armless although options with arms are available. These will help a user get through 8 hours of work. Below are two popular types of the office task chair other than the most common computer task chair.

  • Draughtsman chair : This is a high office chair that generally has a metal footrest ring as it is too high for the user to be able to place their feet flat on the floor. It is most often used armless but arms are an available option for some models. It is also usually padded and upholstered. This chair type is typically designed for weights up to 114kg but there are some available for the larger person.
  • Operator chair : The operator office chair is most often an armless office chair, although arm option is available for many models. It typically offers an adjustable seat and a permanent contact back although some are available with tension adjustability. It, like most good to great office task chairs is recommended for those who use their chairs up to eight hours per day.

Stacking office chair

The stacking chair is a stationary chair that can be pulled out for the weekly meeting and then stacked out of the way, in a closet until needed again. They also work great as reception room chairs.

Tall office chair

The average office chair is designed to accommodate a person of average height and weight; no more than 125 kg. Those who are tall or larger in girth will find the traditional office chair uncomfortable. The good news is that office chairs are available for the taller and/or heavier person. They typically have a larger seat and/or a taller backrest. Some are made for the comfort and support of people up to 181.8 kg.

Brands of Office Chairs

• Addis
• Amigo
• Aqua
• Avery Label
• Baron
• Calligaris
• Chrome
• Dexter
• Dyson
• Elan
• Fellowes
• Hamburg
• Hannah
• Herman Miller
• Kendal
• Kingston
• Marathon
• Maxima
• Memphis
• MOBILITY
• Montana
• NAVY
• NOBO ACCO
• Omega
• Onyx
• Oxford
• Polaris
• PC Line
• Sage
• Serano
• Sonic
• STIRLING
• SWIFT
• Tesco
• Trenton
• View Image
• Viking
• Viva
• Wilson
• Windsor
• Xtreme

Jargon Explained

Adjustable ArmsThis term can refer to any arm adjustment capability including, vertical or height adjustment, width or horizontal adjustment, rotating or sliding arm pad adjustment.
Backrest dept adjusterA backrest depth adjuster allows the chair user to adjust the depth of the backrest to a depth distance that is most comfortable and supportive.
ErgonomicsErgonomics is the study of office chairs, desks, and other office equipment designs with a focus on the proper alignment for humans. The goal of ergonomic studies is to understand how to attain and maintain a person’s comfort, energy level, and maximum efficiency while working.
GlidesThis term refers to a type of finish on chair legs that protect both the chair leg and the floor.
Height adjustable backrestThis refers to a feature of an office chair that allows the user to adjust the height of the backrest to suit their personal physical requirements.
Lumbar SupportLumbar support is an option that is included on some office chairs. It is different in design from straight back office chairs in that it mimics the natural curve of the spine. It is a style of a backrest that is designed specifically to eliminate stress in the lumbar back region by supporting the lumbar area.
Pneumatic adjustment leverA pneumatic adjustment lever is an adjustment lever that is operated, moved, or worked by air pressure, wind, or gases.
Seat Height AdjusterA seat height adjuster is an option on some office chair models and allows the user to raise or lower the seat to their personal comfort level.
Seat tilt adjusterWhen seated it is best for your body to have your hips slightly higher than your knees. A seat tilt adjuster is an option available on some office chair models. It allows for adjustment to correct angle for the chair user.
Self-Cooling Seat CushionThis is a popular office chair accessory. The office chair self-cooling seat cushion utilises natural minerals that have cooling properties. It keeps the seat from becoming too warm when in use. The cushion regenerates itself without refrigeration.
SwivelThis is a common feature on many traditional office chairs as well as ergonomic office chairs. It allows the user to rotate the chair, right or left, simply by turning his or her body. It helps to eliminate straining to reach items on various areas of the desk or surrounding office furniture.

Buying Guide to Office Chairs
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