How Strict Are Weight Limits On Office Chairs?

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When shopping for an office chair, you may notice that each product has its own weight limit. Ranging from 150 pounds all the way to 800 pounds, it’s hard to grasp how a chair can support that little, or that much weight. So is the weight capacity of an office chair important, or is it just a marketing number?

An office chair won’t break instantly when you exceed the weight limit, but it will wear down faster and may become squeaky sooner. Of course, if you weigh 300lb and you sit on a chair with a 150lb weight limit, there is a high chance that the chair will collapse under you.

That being said, the relationship between an office chair and its weight limit is more complex than most people realize. Understanding this topic can make or break your day at the office (literally). In this post, we will explore the question: how strict are weight limits on office chairs? Let’s get started.

Information On Office Chair Weight and Its Capacity:

1. How much does an office chair weigh?

BestOffice Armless Desk Chair

BestOffice Ergonomic Desk Chair

Amazon Basics Big and Tall Office Chair

  • Chair Weight: 15 lb

  • Weight limit: 23 lb

  • Weight limit: 44 lb

According to the York Council, office chairs weigh about 26.4 pounds (12 kg) on average. However, smaller armless office chairs can weigh as low as 15 pounds (6.8 kg), while heavy-duty office chairs, designed for bigger and taller people, can weigh up to 60 pounds (27 kg).

Obviously, the heavier the office chair, the more weight it can support.

Additionally, a lighter and smaller office chair is easier to transport (including fitting it inside a sedan). If you have plans to relocate to a new office, a heavier and bigger office chair is harder to transport, so you may need to hire a moving company just to move the furniture to a new location. 

2. How much weight does an office chair hold?

On average, a standard office chair can hold a weight of about 250 pounds (113 kg). Big and tall office chairs, on the other hand, can hold a weight between 400 to 800 pounds (181-362 kg).

Let’s take a look at some popular office chairs in the market today and see how much weight they can hold:

MOLENTS Armless Chair

Space Seating Office Chair

Steelcase Gesture

  • Weight limit: 250 lb

  • Weight limit: 250 lb

  • Weight limit: 400 lb

As you can see, armless office chairs can support less weight because they are smaller and thinner in shape. On the other hand, bigger office chairs can support more weight because they are more substantial in size and are made of more durable materials. They also have a wider base for better stability.

3. How do office chairs support your weight?

There are two parts of an office chair responsible for supporting your weight: the five-star base and the gas cylinder. An office chair has 5 legs to provide better stability, especially since an office chair with wheels allows the user to move around while sitting. 

Additionally, office chairs use pressurized or compressed air in the cylinder that holds up the seat. This allows the user to raise or lower the seat, which accommodates different people, short and tall.

The quality of both the five-star base and the gas cylinder determines how much weight an office chair can hold. You’ll notice that more expensive office chairs have customized bases and cylinders, as opposed to cheaper office chairs which use generic parts. 

4. How strict are weight limits on office chairs?

Generally, office chairs weight limits are not very strict to the point that it will cause an accident, as long as you stay close to the weight limit. So if you weigh 250lb, you can safely sit on an office chair with a 200lb weight limit. Just expect the chair to wear down faster and become squeaky sooner than later.

Read also: How Long Does An Office Chair Last?

When it comes to office chairs, the weight limit is an indication of quality, not actual weight capacity.

For example, an office chair with a mere 200lb weight limit may have a base and gas cylinder made of plastic. Because plastic is less durable than stainless steel, it’s easy to see why the manufacturer labeled the chair with a 200lb weight limit. The less weight it supports, the longer it can last.

Also, see how the backrest is attached. Some office chairs with lower weight limits only have a single metal bar that supports the backrest. Contrast that with better quality office chairs with higher weight limits and you’ll see how the backrest is often supported by a thicker, often multiple bars.

Let’s take two similar office chairs and compare them. On the left you have the Space Seating office chair, rated for 200lb. On the right you have the Steelcase Gesture, rated at a whopping 400lb of weight capacity.

Space Seating Office Chair

Steelcase Gesture

  • Weight limit: 250 lb
  • Limited ergonomic adjustments
  • Generic materials

  • Weight limit: 400 lb
  • Multiple ergonomic adjustments
  • Premium and high-end materials

Both are mid-back chairs, but how come the latter can support twice the weight than the former?

This is because the Steelcase Gesture is made of higher quality materials than the Flash Furniture. Not that the Flash Furniture chair is bad, it’s just that the chair is made as an affordable option, while the Gesture chair is a premium option. After all, you get what you pay for.

Read also: Can Office Chairs Explode?

5. What happens if you exceed the weight limit on an office chair?

Just like the expiration date on food, there is no exact limit on how much weight before an office chair breaks. Think of it as a guideline, where if the weight limit is exceeded, the office chair will wear down faster. However, if you weigh 400lb and sit on a 200lb-rated chair, the office chair may break immediately.

That being said, if you are sitting a lot, you owe it to yourself to buy a high-quality office chair that won’t break your back. The best ergonomic chairs are made with top-of-the-line materials that support your body during sitting. Don't skimp out on a low-quality office chair that you will despise in a month or so.

As an expert on office chairs, I’ve tested many office chairs, including the cheaper ones you find online. I weigh 200lb, and I got myself a 400lb-rated office chair (made with mostly plastic) a few years ago. While it was solid and comfortable, it was squeaking badly after a month of regular sitting on the chair.

That just goes to show that weight limits on office chairs are not very strict. However, they indicate what type of quality and materials the chair is made of.

So remember, if your work requires you to sit everyday, be sure to use a high-quality office chair. It can be expensive, but so is paying for medical bills. Think of it as an investment for your health. Working hard and achieving success means nothing if you experience back pain from working diligently everyday. 🙂

Of course, if you are big and tall, take the time to read the best big and tall office chairs.

Bottom Line

Now you understand how strict weight limits are on office chairs. An office chair won’t break instantly should you exceed the weight limit, but it will wear down faster and become squeaky sooner than later. The least you can do for yourself is to invest in a high-quality office chair that will last for years to come. 🙂

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.