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Office chairs

With everyone working from home at the moment there must be a lot of experience out there.

I need a new chair. Does anyone have any recommendations?

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Welcome to the forum @DianaD

Chair comfort tends to be very personal. My advice is to sit in them at the shops until you find one that suits, and then see if it can be returned in a reasonable time, just in case longer term experience is not so good.

Some vendors have industry tags regarding how long they are suitable for a daily sit. Have had a few chairs over the past decade they are advisory at best, and sales points at worst.

Cleaning? Many fabric ones seem to attract hair that vacs struggle with. The leather and leather look-a-like attract dust in the crevices and can be difficult to clean unless one is religious. The webbed ones have been easy to clean with a brush attachment on a vac.

The adjustments offered are very important, up-down, squab tilt, and back tilt are must haves IMO. More are nice but generally unnecessary in comparison to the ‘big 3’.

My current chair is from my rather smallish local office supply. It was not expensive and at 18 months remains a good purchase. Better than previous chairs at twice the price.

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I have just bought two new office chairs. I assume that you will be spending much time in this chair and so the choice is important. This is what I considered.

  • Does it fit? You need a chair that suits your body. If your chair is too big or small in some respect it will not be comfortable and will cause harm by not supporting you properly. Step one is to get a seat that fits your posterior, the seat must not be too long or short nor too wide or narrow. Look at height, angles etc after that.
  • Can it adjust? This is more important if several people will have to sit in it but sometimes it is the only way to get what you want. Adjustments always include height but can also include; seat angle, back height, back angle, seat depth and rocker - where the whole seat can rock back. Note also that you can have various height gas lift struts installed (probably at no cost) that set a different height range for any given model. If your feet are not comfortably on the floor with all your thighs in contact with the seat the height is wrong.
  • To arms? Do you want/need arms? These can also be adjustable in height or position. Often an add-on that can be optional. You can take them off if you don’t like them.
  • Back up? Do you need a high back with a built in or separate head rest? For many purposes you do not as you are sitting straight - or ought to be. If you don’t use the keyboard much or at all and you like to lean back during long phone calls look for head rest and rock-back.
  • Quality materials. There is not as much choice here as may first appear as many components are very much the same. I suspect that regardless of the badge engineering of each brand many parts come out of the same few factories in Asia. This has the advantage that you can often replace failed parts in some years time rather than get a new chair.
    There is a choice to cover in polymer (polyurethane) or fabric and backs can also be mesh. I don’t know how your determine which will wear better.

A few observations.

Avoid really cheap chairs (say under $120), often labelled ‘student chairs’, even impoverished students need a proper chair. Avoid expensive chairs (say over $700) unless you have the money and need a specific colour, or have the requirement to feel leather next to your skin … To me the sweet spot is about $250-$350 YMMV.

Always sit in the chair and try all the adjustments before you buy. Some vendors have a take home trial period. Never buy online unless you have already sat in it.

Go to a specialist who knows and cares if you get the right chair and has a range.

For example Officeworks has a nice online catalog with a good range and it shows dimensions so you can see what is around and they have many shops. Whether their staff are good and the range checks out when you get there I cannot say as I bought elsewhere, but they are good for window shopping.

Don’t rush, there are many options, you want to keep this chair for years and it will harm your body if you get it wrong.

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Also ensure that it moves smoothly on it’s wheels, and that the legs are good quality and the chair is stable on them, I prefer the 5 leg over the cheaper 4 leg variety. Ensure the chair is in the Safe Weight range for your weight. If using it on carpet then look into getting a chair mat for the chair to sit on so you 1) don’t mark the carpet & 2) allows the chair to move more smoothly and less effort.

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Thanks, this is really thoughtful advice!

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Good point. FWIW most chair mats are soft and the chair will create indents on many of them. Not good. Once upon a time there were thick solid plastic mats but they are increasingly difficult to find, probably since they are difficult to transport in comparison to those that are from flexible to those that can be rolled up.

An option is a wood chair mat. They fold so can be shipped easily. We have two, 6 years old and close to new looking. They work on solid floors as well as moderately thick carpet. Costco occasionally has some, although not the largest size and only one wood type, not always the one you want. Other sources can be found from google. My supplier seems to have moved on since, so no recommendations but here is an ebay example. They come in 3 colours.

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Some similar sized plastic ones:

https://www.ebay.com.au/sch/i.html?_from=R40&_trksid=m570.l1313&_nkw=plastic+chair+mats&_sacat=0

https://www.matshop.com.au/chair-mats

https://www.megaofficesupplies.com.au/furniture/chairmats/

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I have been using one of these for years. Works great.

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I bought a new office chair 18 months ago after visiting several specialist stores and trying many many chairs in the store.

The last store (on the Gold Coast) delivered two loan office chairs that I chose for a week each so I could try them at home. This is quite different to being in a store! I finally decided on the best custom fit chair for me, and they then ordered it. The company that makes my chair has a huge range of components and can make a chair to suit your particular requirements.

I have avoided mentioning the brand of my chair, because as @PhilT stated, chairs are a very personal thing, and what suits me would likely be completely wrong for you, so the only way to work out what is right for you is to go out and try them.

As @syncretic pointed out, Officeworks have chairs, but my experience is they are built to a price and not true ergonomic chairs.

If you need a truly ergonomic chair, do an internet search for ergonomic chair suppliers in your area. Be aware that real ergonomic (as opposed to just basic adjustable) office chairs can be expensive.

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Get the chair you are comfortable with (as per the comments above this is a personal choice),
then adjust the height of the chair so your feet are flat on the ground,
then with your keyboard on your desk consider the angle of your elbows when you are seated on your new chair and adjust your keyboard height so that your elbows are bent at about ninety degrees (right angle) - to do this you may have to adjust the height of the desk and/or put a block under your keyboard (I used to use a block of styrofoam wrapped in contact). Then consider the height of your monitor that is sitting on the desk - are your eyes level with the top of the screen? Many monitors are height adjustable these days making it easy, but if not then you can use another block to get the height of the screen suitable for you.

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As well as traditionally shaped chairs (agree ones with five legs/wheels are more stable than ones with four) there are ergonomic chairs where you sit with your knees on a forward pad and your bottom on a rear pad. These are also called posture chairs.
You can get them with five wheels, where you sit with your knees on a forward pad and your bottom on a rear pad and your lower back is supported by a vertical pad - called ergonomic/posture chari with back support.
This one is called KneelSit is adjustble for different size people. http://www.kneelsit.com/ But it takes up a fair bit of room, and there are more compact and more modern designs which incorporate swivel too - such as several models made by QDOS https://at-aust.org/items/11086 https://www.healthezone.com.au/qdos-kneeling-chair-with-back-support
And there are other brands too. https://ilcaustralia.org.au/products/search?utf8=✓&q=knee+chair
Obviously it is worthwhile to try out an ergonomic/posture chair before you decide to buy one - maybe you know someone with a type of posture chair who’d let you try it, or ask a retailer.

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I would third that. Wheeled chairs quickly destroy carpets.

Also, if one is using a wheeled chair on a hard surface, I suggest you get a very short fibre carpet mat…even artificial grass mat could be used. Rubber backed mats are best as they tend to move around less.

Most wheeled chairs are like roller skates on hard surfaces and move very easily…a gentle bump can result in the chair moving when sitting down, either causing an injury when one hits the floor or cause damage when the chair skittles away. They can also damage coatings on timber floors. A mat will impose friction on the wheels meaning they have less of a life of their own, and protect the hard floor surface.

And the more wheels the more stable and less likely to tip. I had a 4 wheel work chair which was not overly stable. …and also had a 5 wheel one which was far better.

Also look at how far the wheels protrude from the centre of the chair. The further the wheels are out, the more stable they are. The only thing is they may reduce foot space.

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Not everybody can use a kneel chair. In my experience they are hard on your knees. Another case of individual differences that are part of this problem.

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An adjustable posture chair lets you rest your shins on the front pad and your bottom on the rear pad (with the small of your back supported by the back pad) - so it is easy to have no pressure at all on your knees.

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We finally got around to buying a new office chair today and assembled it.

In the instruction booklet, it states to check and tighten all screws every 4 months.

Could everyone list this task on their to do list calendars as you cannot be too careful.

image

Solution:
Loctite 242 or a store brand equivalent.

An alternate view point is a quality chair should not require such attention.

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Cheap superglue as well.

The other option is installing a spring washer to maintain pressure on the thread.

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It ia a Burroughs chair from Officeworks and it seems to be of excellent quality in contrast to the piece-of-junk chair we bought in 2014 and saw still on sale today.

Even the carton had consumer advice on it including that it is rated at 130kg and suitable for 3 - 5 hours sitting a day.

The old piece-of-junk started shedding its imitation leather years ago and we put a seat cover over it before the lift mechanism went belly up.