Why Do Office Chairs Have 5 Legs?

This is a guest post by Kelsey Stewart for Office Solution Pro.

Ever wondered why office chairs have 5 legs? It’s a question I’m often asked when discussing the overall function of an office chair. This is understandable though, since chairs come in different shapes and sizes.

Why do office chairs have 5 legs? The biggest reason why office chairs have 5 legs is to provide the user with optimal stability. While an office chair can function with 3 legs, the National Institutes of Health recommend a five–point chair base for maximum stability and minimal chance of the chair tipping.

With that said, there is a lot of physics involved in answering this simple question. I’ll try my best to provide you with the simplest explanation without bombarding you with unnecessary information.

Whether you’re looking to maintain your chair or looking to buy a new one, this post should help you make the best decision possible.

Why Do Chairs Have 4 Legs?

Let’s start with the most basic question. Why do chairs have 4 legs? After all, an office chair is fundamentally a chair.

If you think about it, most chairs almost always come with four legs. It is by far the most common form of a chair. However, did you know that only three legs are needed to maintain the chair’s stability?

If that’s the case, then why don’t manufacturers design chairs with 3 legs to save cost?

After all, three legs can save more material than four legs. To answer this question, we have to first look at why three legged chairs are not used in practice anymore.

Why are three legged chairs not used in practice?

There are three possible reasons why a four-legged chair is preferred than a three-legged chair:

  1. With four legs, each leg will support less weight, distributing the load more evenly.
  2. With four legs, a chair is easier to build as all legs come at a 90-degree angle. Building a chair with three legs is harder because the manufacturer has to make sure they are all the same length (or the chair will wobble).
  3. A chair with four legs looks better aesthetically,​ due to the symmetry.

Based on the above considerations, it becomes curious that an office chair is made with five legs. After all, the long and arduous process of building an office chair can be reduced simply by removing one of its legs...

Why Do Office Chairs Have 5 Legs?

In a nutshell, there are two important reasons why office chairs have five legs. An office chair with five legs is designed for ease of movement and minimizes possible tipping. 

Most office chairs are built with a hydraulic center post. This stable base provides greater flexibility in choosing the number of legs. The considerations are:

  • More legs = heavier chair (more durability)
  • More legs = better stability
  • More legs = better spread of the load (wheels don’t sink too far into the carpet)
  • Odd number of legs = better stability against wobble

Because of these considerations, an office chair with 5 legs is better suited for functionality.

You might also like: Are Armrests Good for Ergonomics?

Why do all office chairs have wheels?

Did you know that Charles Darwin designed the office chair wheels? I know, I was surprised as well.

According to this report, Charles Darwin put wheels on his office chair while he was studying in order to get to his specimens more quickly.

Charles Darwin was a hard worker who spent many hours with plants and animals. Unfortunately, during the 19th century, chairs were designed without wheels.

This made moving around while sitting in a chair quite troublesome. 

He wanted to be able to move around while sitting, so he modified his chair to include wheels on the feet.

This revolutionary upgrade has resulted in the addition of wheels to almost every office chair around the world.  

Today, almost all office chairs come with wheels, thanks to the great Charles Darwin. 

PRO TIP: If you’re looking for the ideal office chair, whether you’re working from home or trying to equip your office, be sure to read Office Solution Pro’s complete review of the best ergonomic office chairs. It’s written in a simple and concise manner to help you make the best buying decision. 

Bottom Line

And there you have it, a simple post to answer the question: why do office chairs have 5 legs? 

At the end of the day, a high-quality office chair made by a reputable manufacturer is designed to provide you with the best level of comfort and safety.

Hopefully, you now have the confidence knowing that an office chair can help you become more productive. 🙂

Kelsey Stewart

As a freelance writer working from home, I enjoy writing anything related to office productivity and maintaining a healthy work-life balance. Have a nice day! 🙂