Mesh vs. Leather Office Chairs Comparison

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When choosing an office chair, you'll find that mesh chairs and leather chairs are among the most common options available on the market. Each of these chair types offers benefits and drawbacks from the other. 

So what’s the difference between mesh vs. leather office chairs? Mesh office chairs are known for their breathability and affordable price. Leather office chairs, on the other hand, often come with more padding and cushioning. They also come in exquisite designs which can be more expensive than mesh office chairs. 

Deciding between a mesh office chair and a leather office chair means looking at the pros and cons of each type before committing if you don’t want to end up with a chair you’re not comfortable sitting in.

Read on to learn more about the differences between mesh and leather office chairs so you can decide which one might is the right fit for you and your workspace.  

Differences Between Mesh and Leather Office Chairs:

Mesh Office Chairs

Leather Office Chairs

  • Excellent ergonomics.
  • Easier to clean than leather chairs.
  • More breathable and lightweight.
  • More affordable than executive chairs.
  • Less cushioning and padding.
  • Not as durable as leather chairs.

  • Hefty, durable, and long-lasting.
  • Abundant cushioning and padding.
  • Luxurious and executive look.
  • Stain-resistant.
  • More expensive than mesh office chairs.
  • Requires long-term maintenance.

Mesh Office Chairs:

Advantages of Mesh Office Chairs

Mesh office chairs are popular in corporate offices and cubicle farms due to their economical and ergonomic design. These light chairs are designed to help reduce repetitive stress injuries and are usually made to contour to the shape of a person's sitting body. 

Here are several of the advantages associated with purchasing a mesh office chair: 

  • Easy to clean: Most mesh chairs are made of easy-to-clean synthetic materials that can be safely cleaned with most upholstery cleaners. This makes them a great choice for people who frequently bring food and drink into the office.
  • Lightweight: Mesh office chairs are much lighter than leather chairs or other different types of office chairs, convenient for users who often find themselves having to move offices. This also makes mesh chairs a good pick for people who have difficulty moving around heavier office chairs.  
  • Good ventilation: For offices in warmer or more humid climates, the ventilation in mesh chairs can help keep office workers cool and comfortable. Working in a hot office has been shown to reduce worker productivity.
  • Commonplace: Mesh chairs are easily found in most office supply stores in a wide variety of options. This also makes these office chairs easy to replace if they become worn or broken. 
  • Not expensive: For a business owner trying to supply a company office, mesh chairs can provide an economical option that won't break the bank. This also makes mesh chairs a good choice for freelancers or other remote workers purchasing their home office chairs on a budget. 
  • Ergonomics: Mesh chairs were initially constructed to conform to modern ergonomics, the science of form and function in workplace design. Ergonomic designs help reduce fatigue and prevent neck aches, backaches, and other body strains from excess sitting. 

As you can see, there are plenty of reasons why you might want to choose a mesh office chair. However, there are some drawbacks to this office chair type too. 

Disadvantages of Mesh Office Chairs

Even though mesh office chairs have plenty to offer potential buyers, they do have a few disadvantages too. Here are a few of the downsides to purchasing a mesh office chair: 

  • Lack of comfort: Because they don't have much in the way of padding, mesh office chairs have a reputation of being less comfortable than leather office chairs. This is especially true for office chairs that are sat in for long periods. 
  • Not durable enough: Mesh office chairs are made of lightweight synthetic materials, but the same materials that make the chair light also detract from its durability. Since the materials used to construct mesh office chairs are usually thin, this leaves them vulnerable to snags, rips, and other damage over time. 
  • Limited options: Unlike leather office chairs which come in a wide variety of colors and designs, most mesh office chairs look pretty much the same. This makes it harder to match them to other office decor or for owners to put their own self-expression into decorating their workspace. 

Even though mesh office chairs aren't a perfect choice, they're still the preferred chair type for many office workers. They might not be the most comfortable office chairs when you're sitting in them, but they're designed to keep you from developing pain and fatigue over time. 

Leather Office Chairs:

Advantages of Leather Office Chairs

Leather office chairs are another popular option when it comes to setting up an office, and these high-quality chairs are often the preferred chair type for business executives. Here are some of the benefits you can enjoy if you purchase a leather office chair: 

  • Sophisticated look: Compared to mesh office chairs, leather chairs look much more classy and bring to mind the leather chairs and sofas in traditional offices. Leather also comes in many colors and finishes to offer buyers a customized choice. A nice leather office chair can add positively to the overall decor of an office. 
  • Durable and long-lasting: Compared to mesh office chairs, leather office chairs are long-lasting and made of sturdy, organic materials like leather and metal. While these materials make leather office chairs heavier, it also makes them more likely to hold up under extensive use without suffering damage or wear. 
  • Stain-resistant: Leather is naturally resistant to spills and stains without having to be protected with a fabric guard such as Scotchguard. Even if it begins to age, it still tends to look good too. 
  • Comfortable: The biggest advantage associated with office leather chairs is their comfort. Most office workers find cushioned leather chairs to be much more comfortable to sit in for long periods than other office chair types. Like mesh office chairs, many leather office chairs are also designed with ergonomics in mind. 

The many benefits of leather office chairs make them an attractive choice for workers. But not everything about leather office chairs is great. 

Disadvantages of Leather Office Chairs

Leather office chairs might be the preferred option for many, but they come with their own set of disadvantages. Here are some of the drawbacks associated with purchasing a leather office chair: 

  • Expensive: Leather office chairs are notoriously expensive, and the better quality you get, the more expensive they'll be. This can make leather office chairs too expensive for business owners to provide in bulk for their workers and too expensive for the workers to purchase for themselves. 
  • Easy to scratch or scuff: While leather does tend to age well, it can still take damage through use. Both leather and faux leather chairs can be easy to scratch or scuff, and these types of damage are difficult to repair without leaving a mark. These chairs are also not very pet-friendly since cat claws and dog teeth can leave lasting damage. 
  • Requires long-term maintenance to avoid bleaching/cracking: To avoid the wear and tear associated with leather office chairs, the chairs need to be regularly treated with leather oil. There are also many cleaning agents that will permanently damage leather. This makes these chairs more high maintenance than their mesh counterparts. 
  • Heavyweight: Leather and metal are heavier construction materials than the synthetic fiber and plastic used to construct many components of mesh office chairs, and this makes leather office chairs heavier and more difficult to transport if you need to move the chair to a new office. Leather office chairs can weigh up to sixty pounds.

Leather office chairs can be both more delicate and more pricey than mesh office chairs, which might make it a less popular choice. However, for those who can afford to splurge on some higher-quality materials, a leather office chair can last up to a decade with proper care.

Both Mesh and Leather Office Chairs Are Useful

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

And there you have it, the comparison of mesh vs. leather office chairs. To summarize:

Buy a mesh office chair if you want something sleek, affordable, and breathable (especially if you work in warmer climates). However, if you want a luxurious, executive look to complete your office’s interior design, go for a leather office chair. They are well-cushioned and comfortable too.

Fortunately, the best ergonomic office chairs have mesh and leather options to choose from.

Even though mesh and leather office chairs have features that make them very distinctive from each other, both of these chair types have plenty to offer potential buyers. Which you ultimately decide to go with should be determined by your budget, the amount of time you'll be sitting in it, and the office environment.

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.