• What Makes A Good Office Chair

    July 19th, 2009HARTHome Office

    Every year I spend between $150-$200 CDN on a new office chair for my home office. Being self-employed and working out of my house, an accountant and income tax preparer, a blogger and just a general person who loves to be on the internet for 12-16 hours per day .. I go through a lot of chairs. Some years, I’m buying a new chair every 8 months and other years it’s one chair every 18 months. Time sure flies though, because everytime I need a new chair I can remember rushing out to my local Staples or Office Depot and search for a cheap replacement chair.

    Last year, I thought I found a good chair … at Office Depot. It was a little more than $200 CDN ($229.99 I believe) and was the first chair I ever bought that actually had an “ergonomic rating“. It was rated for a maximum of between 3-5 hours a day. When I purchased this chair, I told the salesmen that this was the most stupid rating system that I’ve ever hear of, having office chairs not being able to at least average a regular 8hr business day sitting on the damn chair – not to mention me, who is on the chair for about 12 hours a day or longer! The salesman (who earned his commission that day) assured me that the chair does last a good working day .. and that it’s just common sense guidelines that this new “ergonomic rating” system is really meant that you shouldn’t be sitting in front of your computer for more than 3-5 hours anyway – and should go for a walk, stretch your legs, keep your eyeballs away from the computer screen, etc etc etc

    Anyway, This is what happened AFTER 9 Months


    On June 5th, the above happened to my office chair. I was just sitting on the chair, and was swivelling left to grab some report out of my printer and *SNAP!* the back just broke in half, like corkboard. The chair wasn’t that bad actually, although the padding was a bit squished from sitting down all the time – but, I couldn’t work without a back.

    I tried to fix that chair!


    I needed a chair! So, I tried to fix it. I found some 2×4 pieces in my basement and wedged it in along the front of the back mechanism of the chair back, and tied it together with some electrical wire that I also had lying around! That wire started to hurt my back sitting against it, so I found a few old belts and a small pillow and this chair basically was ‘almost’ good as new!

    In Search Of A New Office Chair

    It was my birthday July 11th and my wife wanted to buy me a new office chair as a present. When she asked me where I wanted to go to buy a new office chair, I thought about this very hard. I thought I could “double up” on her present, and instead of buying some cheap office chair from a cheap office store chain like Staples or Office Depot .. I thought I would look around and find something that would last a lot longer than 8 months or a year! This is what we found.

    Believe it or not – we bought a USED office chair, from a hi-end furniture company. These office chairs just came off lease (2 year lease that is) and was still in great condition! Hard to believe! Brand new, these chairs were priced to sell for about $1,600 CDN RETAIL. Because they were used, the were discounted to about $800.00 range (50%). Well, that was more than just a double up on the birthday present and was more like 4x’s what we were initially planning to spend. We asked whether there was something that they can do, and he did say he could lower the price a little, and had to run a few figures. We weren’t dealing with a salesman, by the way .. we were dealing with the owner of the company! My wife’s place of work, as it turned out … is a big customer of this company, and altogether, all things considered … I could have the chair for $600 CDN!

    So ..we bought it! Meet HART’s New Office Chair


    Not bad for a 2 year old used chair, eh? And, it’s been a week IN USE that I have been testing this chair, and I can tell you 100% that I will never buy a cheap office chair from cheap factory outlets again! It pays to upgrade and I really think that this chair will last a while for me!

    Characteristics Of A Good Office Chair

    #1. Good Materials

    chair-seatSitting on this chair is an absolute delight. I’m a big guy, and the fabric of the chair material is durable and permeable that is supposed to dissipate moisture and heat. This is very important for my office, because I’m on the second floor of our Condo and there is a heating issue. In the summer it is quite hot and in the winter it is quite cold and I have to have a heater in my office to keep it warm enough to type. The seat is wide enough so I’m not cramped in the chair and there is about a good “fistful” of space between the front of the chair and my inner knees. Apparently, this is a good thing to keep circulation for those working sitting down in a chair all day. Also, this is a chair with some feathers or spongy styrofoam inside. There is an extra durable MEMORY FITTING harder styrofoam in the cushion that not only supports my weight sitting down all day (and the back too) but when I get off of the chair the seat cushion resorts back to normal position! How cool is that?! Also, there is the standard ‘Seat Pan Tilt” control for this chair. Part of the whole “ergonomics” thingie is to help get the right posture while sitting while you work and help to alleviate
    pressure on the back of the thighs. If you ever pulled your hamstring muscles while sitting down working – this is probably why.

    #2. Good Armrests

    chair-armYou need armrests when working on the computer. Because my office is an “L” shaped office, I have to be careful on the left side. Almost every chair that I have .. the left armrest always gets broken or sliced up as I rotate a lot to the left, where my Laser printer is located. I’m always swiveling and it has to be able to be a little lower on that side. The armrests on this new chair is very sturdy and well built too. It’s not cheap rubber that, if too hot in my office, my elbows will stick to it. You can move the armrest inwards and outwards for greater comfort seating and you can raise and lower the armrest to place it at the right height you need. For this chair, there’s actually a button/knob that you turn to raise and lower. Most other chairs have a button that you just push in and slide up or down. I think this is a good thing, because it’s more sturdy and doesn’t wobble. My last chair I thought the arms would have fallen off before the back would have broken.

    #3. Good Backrest Adjustment

    chair-raise-back I’m quite happy with the backrest adjustment on my “new” chair. A good chair will have backrest adjustments to help make it easier for you when you sit in a chair for long periods of time. This chair’s backrest can adjust both up and down and tilt forward and backwards. I’m 6’1″ and a big guy, and I need good lumbar support while I sit. I can sit in this chair and lean back, and if the backrest is in the lowest position, I can actually find the right position and slide up a notch at a time to get the right position while I am sitting! At the top of this setting, I would have to release a button on the backrest to revert. There is a lever under the seat for the tilt position, which is supposed to help with the lower back support. My chair has three levers under the chair in total. One to raise the height of the chair, one for the tilting of the backrest and another for the seat tilt. All of this sort of sounds silly talking about it, but in my old chair I would always have to get up and do stretches that .. well, you push your shoulders out and stretch your back (what’s that called?) Since I got this new chair last week .. my back never needs to get a stretching while I work. I think that’s good!

    #4. A Really Comfortable Back

    chair-backThis chair has the best back that I have ever had – just look at the shape! My entire office is used while I work, and I often swivel left to get something out of my laser printer, or around to get a glass of water, or swivel right to my fax/inkjet/scanner printer or to my phone, and so on and so on. You don’t really think you notice it with the larger chairs, but the act of spinning around on a chair and reaching for something behind you – with a chair that’s not so thick around the shoulder blades – is very noticeable to me now! Imagine spreading your arms out to your sides, then backwards. It is a lot easier to move your arms back as your shoulders and shoulder blades move with them as well. I have the chair’s skinniest part to fall in between my shoulder blades and have been quite mobile reaching all around my office while remaining sitting at my office chair!

    #5. Stability

    chair-legsUnfortunately .. my chair FAILS in this part. I’ve never really noticed this before . but my previous office chair had 5 legs, and this new office chair only has 4 legs. When I was researching for new office chairs, I read somewhere that a good office chair should have 5 pronged base for support. You should also have soft casters for hard surface and hard casters for soft surfaces. Currently, this chair has the softer casters. My chair is sitting on a plastic sheet on top of carpet – so, the surface is also soft. At the moment, this week, it’s not an issue because where my old chair used to have 5 legs .. there are dents in the plastic floor cover! I’m sure over time, the 4 legs will create it’s own indentation in the plastic. I’ve also noted that with the 4 prong legs, if I turn suddenly to the right, it comes a little unstable. I have to watch this to be sure that I don’t tip over and give extra weight to one side of the chair.

    All In All ..

    Well .. 4 out of 5 ain’t that bad and I’m still sure that this chair will last me a few years at least. I’ve hope you enjoyed my adventure in RECORDING of my chair purchase here in this blog .. as it is a major part of my blogging process each day (being comfortable as I write). Also, I want to see how long it will last me and give me something to search for in the upcoming years, when I need a new chair!

    How’s Your Office Chair? How many Hours Do You Sit At Your Computer? How Much Did You Pay For Your Last Office Chair?

    Feel free to let us know in the comments!

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15 responses to “What Makes A Good Office Chair” RSS icon

  • Your new chair is cool mate, the color is also suitable for a home office. Don’t throw away the old chair, it will probaly still look good resting in a corner :), it’s like a piece of art.
    .-= ** Check out Robin Bal´s last blog .. Amusing Quotes To Motivate You With A Smile =-.

  • I was going to keep that chair in the basement, with my other collection of broken down chairs and useful things (that we normally store in our basements) but .. as part of the condition of this being a birthday present and all, I had to chuck that last chair into the garbage bin! It was glorious.

  • I just had to laugh as I read your chair story. But that is one fine looking new chair. I do hope it lasts a long while for you.
    .-= ** Check out RecycleCindy´s last blog .. Recycled Plarn Backpack Pattern =-.

  • Thanks Cindy 🙂 I hope it lasts a long time too! It’s really comfortable and well built!
    .-= ** Check out HART (1-800-HART)´s last blog .. How People Count Cash Around The World =-.

  • When you make a living online, the your chair is a close second in importance to your computer.
    .-= ** Check out Clara´s last blog .. Comment by terity =-.

  • You are a funny guy Hart.

    But, I do know what you mean about wanting a nice chair. I went to Ikea with my partner for my present chair just after my last one broke. I tried them all. Then I tried a few other shops. Then a few days later I went back to Ikea alone and tried them again. I asked strangers to sit down and tell me which was better – they probably thought I was a store employee, so they did. I brought my new chair home and just loved it. The next day I went back to by another – for my partner, not a backup.
    .-= ** Check out McLaughlin´s last blog .. Examples of Productivity Ideas Tools and Blogs =-.

  • @Clara .. you said it! In the past month (after my chair fix) there were some days that I sat here in that broken chair and would cringe to stretch my back and deciding if I should work or not! By that time, my wife already suggested the new chair/birthday present idea so it was a waiting game for me. I was a little unproductive last month.

    @Richard .. do you have any pics of your Ikea chairs online? on twitpic? on your site? 🙂

  • This might surprise you, but I actually prefer to sit on a dining chair. I really hate chairs with wheels.
    .-= ** Check out John | English Wilderness´s last blog .. Ladybird on a Foxglove Leaf =-.

  • That doesn’t surprise me at all 🙂 Do you have a picture of your office/dining chair?

    I’m indifferent about the wheels on any office chair .. they only seem to dig into the protector/carpet anyway and doesn’t really roll that much after a while.. but for me I need a chair that spins around at least – as I multi-task in a circular environment in my Home Office.

    Thanks for dropping by!
    .-= ** Check out HART (1-800-HART)´s last blog .. How People Count Cash Around The World =-.

  • I usually don’t post comments, but I’ve been reading a lot on this topic lately, so I just could not resist. Articles here gave me a lot of boost in my work, so I wanted to thank you.

  • Hello, when I try to browse posts I just wind up viewing half of the site’s post. I do not understand if it’s my browser(Opera) or not, is someone else dealing with this?

  • Hi Joseph ..

    I do not use Opera, but can you link to a screenshot of what you see? I was thinking of upgrading this template in May to Thesis .. but .. maybe I should push up that schedule if readers are having problems viewing this template.

    Thanks in advance
    .-= ** Check out HART (1-800-HART)´s last blog .. HP SimpleSave External Hard Drive – Instant Hands-Free Backup =-.

  • I will give you advice for your office chairs as I spend about 10 – 12 hours at the computer as well. MAKE SURE ANY CHAIR YOU BUY has the arms ATTACH to the back of the chair. This will definitely prevent the problem in the first pictures.

    Go from there; make sure, if you aren’t allergic to leather, the entire SEAT, at least, is GENUINE LEATHER. This will keep your bottom from making a lasting impression and, in turn, will keep the edge of the seat from causing blood clots in your legs – very dangerous to your health. If you get blood clots in your legs, they can move to your heart and you know what happens from there.

    Make sure the arms of the chairs are padded as well to prevent blood clots in your arms, which is less likely.

  • Thanks for advice John!

    This “new” chair I have, is in perfect condition as a got it last summer .. thanks to the extra durable MEMORY FITTING harder styrofoam in the cushion … Although genuine leather and plusher cushion would be more padding for my tush .. my chair will probably wear out sooner than this one will.

    I’m just doing one wrong with my chair however … to prolong its life .. I’ve got the height all the way down to the bottom level, which make it about 3″ lower than normal height chairs. I found this more sturdy and totally avoids the risk of me swaying and breaking the base (while the rest of the chair lives on) – but, I have to get out of my chair more times during the day to stretch my legs.
    .-= ** Check out HART (1-800-HART)´s last blog .. HP SimpleSave External Hard Drive – Instant Hands-Free Backup =-.

  • office chairs that are made of steel and leather are the best stuff that you can use on your office”;*

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