Choosing the Best Office Chair
With literally thousands of office chairs on the market, choosing the right Office Chair can be daunting. Do you want an Ergonomic Office Chair? A Gaming Chair? How about a Leather Office Chair? Read on for some helpful tips to help you choose the Best Office Chair for your needs.
Different Types of Office Chairs
Office Chairs can be broken up into several different categories. Here's a brief description of each category:
Task Chair - These are specialist office chairs that most people will be most familiar within the commercial office setting. Task Chairs offer good ergonomics, versatility, functionality and value. They are especially suited to seats shared by different people of different sizes.
Mesh Chair - A mesh back provides outstanding breathability to keep you cool and comfortable.
Executive Chair - Normally these are a one-piece with the seat and back joined, so they are unable to be adjusted independently. They are perfect for boardrooms or meeting rooms, however, they can easily be adapted to a home office environment.
Drafting - Generally high seats for use at a drafting or drawing table, with a full range of adjustments and features. Ideal for long sittings.
Visitor Chairs - Simple chairs for short term waiting, similar to chairs found at a dining table.
Gaming Chairs - Supreme comfort with the added bonus of ergonomic features for those long gaming sessions. Sort of a cross between a lounge chair and an office chair.
What to Look for in an Office Chair
It's no secret that prolonged sitting can cause havoc on your back, especially your lower back. That's why it's so important to choose a chair with the most suitable backrest for your needs, especially if you have underlying back issues.
High Back - Offers good support to the upper back and shoulders, and maybe suitable for people with upper back or shoulder problems. Extra-high backrests often come with a headrest for head support.
Mid Back - Supports usually offer good support to the lower back/lumbar region, but not to the upper back/shoulder region. Probably a good choice for those with lower back issues.
Adjustable Lumbar Support
Lumbar support is important to provide lower back support and maintain the correct curvature of the lumbar region of your back. Because everybody has a different body shape it's important to have adjustable lumbar support. It should be able to move up and down in height, as well as moving in an out.
Mesh back chairs are tremendously popular these days because they breathe better and allow the user to remain cooler and thus more comfortable. They often look slimmer, more stylish and more modern too. If you do go for a mesh back it's super important to get one with a fully adjustable lumbar support to make up for the lack of moulded shape.
Whilst upholstered back chairs can be a little hotter, particularly in warmer climates, they have a huge advantage of being moulded into a fitted back shape. This can make it far more comfortable, and ergonomically superior to mesh back chairs. You really need to go for a high-end mesh chair to match the ergonomics of a well fitted, upholstered backrest.
Office Chair Adjustments
The second most important thing to get right is the adjustments. Some may even say this is the most important, ergonomically speaking.
The adjustment mechanism allows you to change the tilt angle of the backrest or the seat, as well as the tilt height. These are vitally important to achieving a good ergonomic seated position. There are two main types to consider.
Independent Mechanism - 2 or 3 levers adjust the backrest and the seat independently of each other. These are more expensive but offer greater control, and are recommended for those who want full ergonomic control.
- 2 Lever versions will adjust a) seat height b) back tilt.
- 3 lever versions will adjust a) seat height b) back tilt c) seat tilt.
Synchronised Mechanism - The seat and back tilt are combined into a single lever, to tilt in a synchronised movement. These are a little more difficult to adjust and achieve the perfect position than the independent mechanism and are typically cheaper.
The gas lift determines the seat height. You need to know the height of the desk you are to be seated at and choose the gas lift to suit. Here are the options typically available:
- Low gas lift - for low desks
- Standard gas lift - for standard desks, typically around 720mm high
- Intermediate gas lift - for high desks
- Drafting gas lift - for drafting or drawing tables (extra high)
The third thing to get right is the seat. There's more the office chair seats than meets the eye!
Seats come in all sorts of sizes. Here are typical size options.
- Small - 480W x 450D
- Standard - 490W x 465D
- Large - 520W x 490D
- Extra Large - 560W x 500D
- Extra Wide - 570W x 520D
- Extra Deep - 530W x 530D
Thus the depth of the seat should extend along the back of your thigh, but stop short of the back of your knee. So your leg length plays a major part in selecting the most suitable depth.
The width of the seat should be sized so that you don't overhang the side of the seat. So people with wider rear ends should choose wider seats.
You should always get a seat with a moulded seat which conforms to your body shape. This will always feel much more comfortable and help you to maintain a better-seated position.
Better quality office chairs will often come with a seat slide, to move it backwards / forwards. This is a great idea to fine-tune the depth from the moulded seat to the lumbar support area of the backrest.
Your perfect office chair has a few other selections to take care of.
Castors are the little wheels fitted to the base of the chair. Standard castors will normally operate best on the carpet. Other options available are:
- Soft tyre castors - Suitable for hard floors like tiles or wood.
- Locking castors - Available in 3 different options sit lock/stand lock/lever lock. These will prevent the chair from moving when the castors are locked into position.
- Heavy-duty castors - Easier to roll.
Chairs generally come with or without arms, and you can often get arms included as an upgrade. Armrests generally come in 3 styles:
- Fixed Armrests - cannot be adjusted.
- Height adjustable armrests - can be adjusted up or down.
- 3D adjustable armrests - can be adjusted in any direction.
Armrests can result in poor body position if not set up properly. Thus it is advised to go for full adjustment if you do choose to go for armrests.
Maximum User Weight
Office chairs will normally be rated up to 120kg maximum user ratings. But some people are heavier than 120kg, so it is possible to find heavy duty chairs rated up to 135kg, or even 160kg maximum user ratings.
Fabric type is a matter of taste. Quality Australian made office chairs will give you the option of choosing from an unlimited range of fabrics and materials, to match any interior design. Generally speaking, a cloth fabric which breaths will feel more comfortable, and less hot/sweaty than a harder cover like PU leather.
The Bottom Line in Choosing an Office Chair
To get an office chair with all the bells and whistles is going to cost you. These are generally high-end chairs which will be several hundred dollars. One of the best ways to go is to purchase Australian Made and customise your chair to your exact requirements from the full range of options.
My strong advice is to not skimp on features and adjustability. You should go for good moulding/shaping, good adjustability and correct size. In the long run, this will serve you much better than what may be a cooler looking, less functional chair.