Different Types of Office Chairs Explained (With Pics)

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Office chairs have become quite the growing market, but with the number of people working from home these days, it’s no surprise. It sounds silly, but your office chair could either excel or hinder your work. Imagine being uncomfortable for hours on end and trying to get all of your work done at the same time. 

There are ten different types of office chairs available for purchase, they are:

  1. Computer Chairs
  2. Ergonomic Office Chairs
  3. 24-Hour Chairs
  4. Big and Tall Office Chairs
  5. Armless Office Chairs
  6. Executive Office Chairs
  7. Conference Chairs
  8. Kneeling Chairs
  9. Folding Chairs
  10. Exercise Ball Chair

Fortunately, no matter the type of work, function, or desired comfort lever, there is a chair that can accommodate your needs. A good chair can make a surprising difference in the way you feel during your work day; therefore, you can have a more productive day.

Continue reading to see the advantages of different types of office chairs.

Different Types of Office Chairs:

Across many different types of office chairs, some seem to be more popular and sought after than others. There are various chairs for all different types of people and work environments, which means that any of your seating needs can be met—as long as you know what to look for. 

Depending on what you’re looking for and what your budget allows, office chairs can range anywhere from under $100 to over a couple thousand dollars!

The most important thing is that it fits your needs and is comfortable. 

Do you need conference chairs just to keep people engaged and are short-term seating arrangements, or are you going to be sitting in that chair for the better part of your work day daily?

Below, we’ll cover some of the more sought-after office chair options. We will also explain to you what makes each office chair unique from the rest. Here are the different types of office chairs explained:

1. Computer Chairs

Many of us work from home now and need to have a fitting office space to get into the work mode. And, as you would imagine, a well-crafted computer chair can make all the difference throughout your work day.

A computer chair is designed to be paired with a desk.  As such, one of the most critical elements of a computer chair is that it is easily adjustable to varying heights so it can fit under any desk properly.

If you’re doing a lot of computer work, then you’ll want your computer chair to have the aspect of comfort without having to think about it. Armrests would be ideal for when you find yourself typing a lot of copy, and you want to have proper low back support for long hours of sitting.

For your average computer chair, you’re looking at a price range of $200-$500. When the price tends to go up, you’ll likely notice more available adjustments that you can make to the chair since it’s designed to fit just about any desk you roll it up to.

With more adjustments comes more labor, and thus a more expensive product.

2. Ergonomic Office Chairs

Now, if you’re worried about maintaining good posture throughout your work day, a chair geared directly towards good ergonomics would be the best choice for you.

Work over a desk long enough, whether at a computer or all the countless tasks to be done at a desk, an ergonomic office chair can help mitigate long-term posture issues.

It’s so easy to get caught up in a task or project, and before you know it, you’ve been hunched over for the last hour. Now you need to try to unravel yourself and extend a little to get that extra big stretch. Avoid all of that by giving yourself a high-quality ergonomic office chair so you can be comfortable again.  

According to the American Posture Institute, good posture can lead to better productivity and even overall health. When purchasing your posture-saving office chair, be sure it has a headrest so you can lean back instead of your head more forward than the rest of your body.

It should also have adequate lumbar (low back) support and an incline if you do better sitting with a bit of a tilt in either direction. The combination of the two should provide better sitting posture.

Ergonomic office chairs will vary a bit more in price, as it depends on the customer's needs and physical make-up. There will be a handful of different materials and adjustments, making this price range a little more upper-middle tier, between $300 to $1,500.

3. 24-Hour Chairs

Hopefully, you don’t find yourself sitting for this amount of time continuously, but 24-hour chairs, as the name suggests, are built for just about any job or work environment.

According to National Business Furniture, these chairs will be made with extra durable frames, thick padding (typically leather) and can conform to any body size and type. The 24-hour chairs have great functional features with adjustable height and easy maneuverability to help accomplish any office task.

Similar to an ergonomic chair, this is designed for long and constant use. A 24-hour chair will have a range of materials and adjustments, which adds up in the price. As mentioned, more adjustments raise the price, putting a 24-hour chair’s price range in a higher bracket, $400 to $1,800.

4. Big and Tall Office Chairs

Do you have long legs? Maybe just a bigger frame than most? “Big and Tall” isn’t just a department store for clothes. Big and tall office chairs can accommodate any shape and size to keep you on task, in style.

The big and tall office chairs will have a very durable frame and extra cushioning but can also hold weights up to 300 pounds or more. If you happen to carry a little more weight, you want to be able to trust your office chair, especially when you’re sitting in it day in and day out.

Since the big and tall office chairs have extra durability and can also offer a bigger frame, this requires more materials and labor. Therefore, on the low end, most big and tall office chairs can start around $500 and get closer to $2,000. They may be pricey but they offer extra support.

5. Armless Office Chairs

As cruel as this may sound, there are actually many different styles of office chairs that do not have armrests. This is simply because some users feel that the armrests can get in the way when moving about the office. 

Although it may seem like a knock on comfort levels, armless office chairs can actually serve multiple purposes and benefits depending on the space and environment you’re trying to fit it in. Some of the biggest benefits of having an armless office chair are:

  • Versatility - Adding armrests makes your sitting experience much more enjoyable, but can also make the chair bulky and easier to bump into things and fit through doorways. Not having the armrests makes the chair more versatile and maneuverable.
  • Save Space - Because there are no arms, these chairs can save a surprising amount of space. 
  • Affordable- Since there’s a little bit shaved off of the build of these types of chairs, the armless office chairs tend to make a smaller dent on your wallet. If you are running a business or just starting your own home office, it’s always nice when you can achieve the end result with a little more economical option. Especially early on, every extra dollar goes a long way.

Surprisingly, armless office chairs can have drastic price changes depending on its size and length. There are couch options, but if you want the most basic armless chair, it can be under $100, but as high as $1500.

6. Executive Office Chairs

Maybe you can spend the extra money on some lavish chairs or just want one that the room seems to revolve around. If you want to add some flash to your office and have a gentle reminder of who the boss is, add an executive chair to your space.

Executive chairs have tall backs, mostly made of leather, and have nice furnishings to match luxury offices.

Executive office chairs will also be designed for proper ergonomics, complete with all the available adjustments to suit your body type and preference, have memory foam cushioning, and ensure you can adequately move about your office without a hitch. 

With a more luxury executive office chair, there will be more customization to it to fit your executive office's exact needs. Since you might be doing more of your own final touches to it, the price can range starting from $300 to more than $1,000.

PRO TIP: As you can see, there are office chairs with tall backrests and short backrests. Sometimes, it can be confusing to determine which one is the right one for you. To help you understand the pros and cons between shorter and taller chairs, we have an article explaining the difference between mid-back and high-back chairs.

7. Conference Chairs

Last and most certainly not least, conference chairs are designed to be the perfect chair to maximize comfort yet keep each attendee’s focus on the presentation being delivered.

Conference chairs are typically built with a slight tilt forward, helping each attendee be in a forward-leaning position. This can help prop them in a posture to ensure they are engaged and less likely to slouch or lean back to be disassociated from the group or not pay attention to the presentation or pitch.

Probably the easiest on the wallet, a conference chair serves as a short-term seat, designed to keep attendees engaged and not be overdone on comfort. Conference chairs can be bought for between $200-$500.

8. Kneeling Chairs

Kneeling chairs are unique. They are chairs that allow the users to sit in a position where the thighs are at a 60° to 70° from a vertical angle rather than the normal 90° degree angle of most standard office chairs.

Despite its name, an ergonomic kneeling chair does not require you to kneel or put your entire body weight on your knees. Instead, your body is supported by your shins. Several ergonomic kneeling chairs even let your buttocks bear some of your body weight too.

By dividing the user’s body weight on the shins and buttocks, kneeling chairs are excellent for reducing lower back pain. In fact, they are used interchangeably between normal office chairs to help desk workers change positions while sitting at work, promoting healthier workdays.

9. Folding Chairs

Folding chairs, as the name suggests, are chairs that can be easily folded when not in use. Because they can be folded, they are excellent options for temporary events. They are easy to set up and very much portable, allowing for use anytime you need additional seating.

Not only can you use folding chairs for indoor office use, but you can also use them for outdoor events (as long as they are waterproof). Because of this, it’s always a good idea to keep folding chairs for spares. You never know when you need them!

10. Exercise Ball Chair

Exercise ball chairs are becoming a trend in today's office ergonomics scene. The idea is to use an exercise ball to sit while working in front of the desk, which will promote healthy micro movements because you will work harder to balance your body. As you can probably imagine, it takes some getting used to.

As popular as exercise ball chairs are, the cons outweigh the pros in our opinion. Finding balance can be challenging because the ball is unstable, which may hinder your focus while working. But, if you want to try it out, be sure to use an exercise ball with the right size to avoid injuries and minimize discomfort.

Important Characteristics of a High-Quality Office Chair

It’s just an office chair, so what’s the big deal? As simple and mundane as office chairs might seem, they can truly make all the difference when you’re in the same position for hours on end, every single day.

A great office chair can keep your mind on your assignments and not on some random discomfort you’re experiencing because of a subpar office chair. 

There’s also a handful of important aspects of a high-quality office chair you’ll want to keep in mind when picking one out, regardless of the type:

1. Adjustable and Maneuverable

With any great office chair, it should be adjustable and easy to move around the office. The height of the seat should be easy to adjust to the desired height fitting for your desk. 

The chair should also be easy to move around your office and easily fit through door frames if you must move to someone else’s office for a meeting. A simple foundation done correctly makes for an easy experience for the user, free of unnecessary frustration(s).

2. Tall Back with Backrest and Headrest

The best ergonomic office chair can help you to sit with proper posture, removing pressure from your lumbar spine.

These may seem obvious, but a tall back with a rest for your low back and head will help with comfort and posture, leading to a proper ergonomic position without compromising the relaxing nature of sitting down.

  • As Paradigm Interiors notes, backrests should range between 12-19 inches in width and be able to support the entire curve of your spine. It should also be adjustable to make sure it fits snug with your low back, and you don’t have any discomfort. 
  • A proper headrest will make sure to take the strain of holding your head off of your neck but keep you forward enough not to seem too far away from what you’re doing. Often people lean their heads and necks further forward than the rest of their body, resulting in added tension and pain in the shoulders and neck. 

When your office chair fits proportionately to your body, you spend less time trying to re-adjust to find the “right spot” and more time focused on the work you actually need to get done. An office chair with a tall back, backrest, and headrest will help. 

3. Supportive Armrests 

Believe it or not, armrests have a few hidden benefits outside of just a place to rest your forearms. They may seem like small additions for extra comfort, but they can provide a lot more than most people may realize.

If placed properly, armrests can actually reduce the amount of stress on your low back. This is done via the armrests relieving the weight of holding your arms further away from your body. The added assistance makes it easier on overall tension, reducing the amount of potential stress in other areas.

Similarly, armrests can reduce shoulder and neck pain by reducing the tension further up your body. Throughout an entire work day, your arms start to feel a lot heavier than they might actually be. The shoulders and neck will take the brunt of this weight if armrests are not present, leading to discomfort.  

4. Comfortable and Breathable Materials

One of the biggest factors that will play into your office chair's comfort is your desired material. Do you prefer leather, cloth, mesh, or a combination of a couple of materials? Other than the external shell of the chair itself, how does the cushioning itself feel? Do you prefer memory foam or something that might not give as much? 

Even if you’re operating on a budget, you want to get a well-built chair that will have some life to it. Durable materials will cost more but will be worth it knowing your chair won’t break after a couple of months of use. 

5. Excellent Function

Your office chair should make you comfortable in the sense that it is properly serving the function(s) that you bought it to serve. For example, if you’re going for more ergonomics, does the office chair fit those needs?

Consider its materials, build, and whether it provides ample back and head support. For conference chairs, you will likely want to opt for something comfortable to sit in for shorter periods and keep those seated engaged during meetings and presentations. 

After all, you’re in the market for an office chair to serve a specific purpose, so you should have comfort knowing your chair is going to provide exactly what you need.

6. Fits Your Body Well

When trying new office chairs, your body should fit and conform well to the chair's mold. If your body feels awkward or doesn’t fit well in the chair, it’s unlikely to improve between trying it at the store and your office.

If things don’t fit and line up well, you’ll find yourself constantly trying to re-adjust in your seat to try to get comfortable. You’ll spend more time worrying about your chair than the deadline you’re trying to meet.

In some cases, you can even customize your own chair from scratch. But, with the endless options available for building it, just keep in mind that the price you end up paying for the chair may get a little pricey, depending on the materials you use and any extras.

However, for most people, the result of a nice, form-fitting chair is well worth the cost.  

Final Thoughts

And there you have it, the different types of office chairs explained.

It might not seem like one of the more essential pieces of furniture or office supplies, but a high-quality office chair can have countless benefits outside of just providing a place to sit for a while.

There are many different styles of office chairs, each design having its own purpose and area(s) of proficiency.

Whether you’re seeking nothing but comfort, need a chair to fit a larger person’s frame, need to maintain focus in numbers, or just need a high-quality chair for a little bit of everything, there is an office chair that can accommodate your wants and needs.

A good office chair, or lack thereof, can be the difference between that extra little bit of work and productivity accomplished, or the little bit left for another time due to some ache or complaint from poor quality. Save your body and production levels with a high-quality office chair.

Stephen Lim

I write about office ergonomics and wellness.  Simple changes in the workspace can help produce better health and productivity, both at home and the office.