Office Chair Buying Guide

It's difficult to remain productive in the office when you're twisting and turning in discomfort. If you stick with that uncomfortable chair for too long, you could end up with back pain that sends you running to a chiropractor or physical therapist. If you know that your office chair no longer provides the support that your body needs, this buying guide will help you select a new chair that keeps you comfortable for years to come.

Types of Office Chairs

Standard office chairs are typically designed with four or five wheels so that they can easily roll in all directions for functional use. They often have foam padding on the seat, and some may have additional padding on the back. Most have arms on each side of the chair, and some may have padding or soft material covering the arms as well. A standard office chair is typically suitable for users up to 200 pounds, and the amount of padding and type of covering material will often determine the price of the chair.

Big and tall office chairs are designed to hold more weight. These chairs feature wider seats with more padding than you will find on a standard office chair. Stronger materials are used to create more durable bases for these chairs, and most will have five wheels that ensure smooth movement despite their larger size.

If you don't need a lot of body support and want to remain ready to stand up as needed, you may consider an office stool or drafting chair. These chairs have the same base as standard office chairs, including multiple wheels that allow you to move in all directions. What makes them different are the round seats and minimalist backs with little to no padding. These chairs don't come with arms, so they allow you to rest your legs without sitting in a completely relaxed position.

If you suffer from back pain or sit in your chair for long periods of time, you may need an ergonomic office chair. There are different types of ergonomic chairs, but they're all designed to hold your spine in proper alignment so that you don't slouch over or maintain other body positions that place excessive strain on your back, neck or shoulders. Many office chairs have lumbar support or other ergonomic features, but there are some types of ergonomic chairs that you may not know about, including the saddle chair, kneeling chair and exercise ball chair.

Pay Attention to

Does your back get hot and sweaty after a few hours of sitting? This is the price you often pay for selecting an office chair with thick padding on the back, and some chairs get warmer than others due to the leather or thick fabric that covers the back rest. You can cool down by selecting a new office chair with a breathable mesh back. While you won't receive as much cushion for comfort, there are some ergonomically designed chairs that will keep you cool while providing adequate support.

If you're going to invest in a chair that suits your body perfectly, look for one that excels in the adjustability department. Your standard office chair may allow you to adjust the seat, but more expensive chairs should also allow you to adjust the arms, back and tilt. There are even some ergonomic chairs that come with adjustable lumbar support panels.

If you move around in your office chair a lot, you may want to purchase one with five wheel legs. Those with four legs are often cheaper, but they're also easier to tip over.

Some professionals estimate that an office chair should last for approximately 10 years, but keep in mind that all chairs aren't created equal. If you spend eight or more hours a day sitting in your chair five or more days per week, you should invest in a quality chair designed for durability and optimal support. Look for a chair that comes with a manufacturer warranty and that is designed with strong base materials. You also want to consider whether the chair is covered in vinyl, leather or upholstery because that material will impact the chair's comfort when you sit for extended periods of time.

When purchasing an ergonomic office chair with lumbar support, make sure that it adjusts for height as well as depth. Many consumers assume that any chair that says "ergonomic" on the box will protect their back, but that's not reality. Each person sitting in a chair needs to adjust for their height, weight and sitting habits in order to ensure proper spinal alignment.

You may want to consider ergonomic office chair designs that aren't sold in many local stores. For instance, an exercise ball chair allows you to sit on an exercise ball without the ball rolling away. A reclining chair allows you to recline while remaining productive, and a saddle office chair looks much like a horse saddle and keeps you in a position that is halfway between standing and sitting.

Top Brands and Product Lines

La-Z-Boy

This well-known brand offers leather office chairs that sell at all price points. Many budget-priced big and tall office chairs are sold by this brand.

Raynor

This manufacturer offers the ErgoHuman office chair for users interested in extreme adjustability and ergonomic support. Each chair in this line comes with a lifetime warranty, and there are eight adjustments complimented by added lumbar support. You can also choose your fabric or add the headrest for complete comfort.

Steelcase

With more than 100 years of experience in office furniture design, this is a brand that many consumers trust. There are many product lines offered, including the popular Leap chairs that feature back panels that move with your body.

Bodybilt

This brand is produced by ErgoGenesis and is known for offering some of the best ergonomic chairs on the market. While they are higher in price than your standard office chair, they should make up for the price tag with years of comfort and spinal support.

Boss

If you're searching for cheap office chairs from a recognizable brand, Boss may fit your needs. They sell many basic office chairs, but you can't expect ergonomic features or advanced adjustability.