More people than ever are now working from home. But even if you’re just temporarily remote, investing in a good office chair is well worth the cost. We investigated what makes an office chair great along with the benefits of forking over your hard-earned money for one that’s actually high quality. We also included some of our favorite recommendations.
You probably spend several hours each day sitting at your desk writing, typing, taking video calls, or just vibing. You’ve also probably got a pretty good idea of whether or not your current office chair is doing you any good. And if it isn’t, you should keep reading.
Here’s what separates the good office chairs from the bad, along with a few recommendations at varying price points:
The Risks You Take When You Buy Cheap
It’s tempting to buy the first inexpensive decent-looking office chair you can find, but that’s not the best idea. If you’re spending more than an hour a day in your chair, there are several good arguments to be made for spending more money, too.
Why? Cheap chairs never deliver. They’re never comfortable or ergonomic and are often attributed to causing neck and back pain as well as other health issues. Such issues can make it difficult to keep sitting and doing your job every day, and might even lead to injuries and surgeries (and sky-high medical bills). While you could just switch to a standing desk, investing in a higher-quality chair is probably all you need. After all, they’re designed with a focus on comfort and support.
Cheap chairs are more likely to wear down and break within a short period of time since they’re typically made with low-quality materials. Premium chairs, however, are constructed with high-quality durable materials that are designed to hold up to wear and tear over time and (and stay looking pristine).
Additionally, cheap chairs typically also have short or non-existent warranties, meaning that when your chair starts to break down there might not be anything you can do about it except buy a new one. This could lead to you having to buy a new chair every year or two (if not more often). Over the course of five or ten years, you could ultimately end up paying more for a handful of inexpensive office chairs than you would have for a single premium chair. That’s lame.
So, in order to avoid these issues, the solution is spending a little more upfront to purchase a well-made ergonomic chair. We recommend thinking of your office chair as a worthy investment, like a mattress or car, since you use it every day. Be sure to choose one with all the features you want and that includes a solid warranty.
What to Look for in An Office Chair
Though it might not seem immediately obvious, office chairs actually have a ton of features you should know about. Once you’re more familiar with them, you’ll have a better idea of what to look for and you’ll be more prepared to find a chair that’s (literally) a good fit.
You can easily find decent options for as little as $100. Likewise, you can throw down a grand or two for a premium seat. There’s definitely a chair for every budget but keep in mind that when it comes to office chairs, you get what you pay for. We found that the sweet spot runs between about $400-$1300, and that within that range there are plenty of chairs that are well-made, comfortable, backed by solid warranties, and offer some nice customization options.
Chairs beneath that range likely won’t have many (or any) of those features. Alternatively, chairs over that range are probably overkill for the average user and tend to focus more on style and pedigree than on functionality. Also, you can often find premium office chairs in secondhand stores, and if you’re okay with used chairs, it’s a great way to score a name-brand chair without blowing your budget.
The best office chairs are backed by a robust warranty. Some options come with limited lifetime warranties, but most come with warranties for 5 or 12 years, which is the bare minimum you should aim for. Warranties differ by manufacturer and country, so be sure to read the fine print before making a purchase.
For office chairs, everything comes down to design and there are tons of factors to take into consideration, the first of which being customization. One of the perks of buying a premium office chair (especially if you do so directly from the manufacturer) is that you get to customize everything to your liking, from the color and materials to the casters and other add-ons. This way you don’t just get a well-made chair, you get one that’s tailored to you.
Beyond customization, you’ll want to take a look at how each chair approaches individual components, as well. For the armrests, do they only move up and down or can they move in and out, too? How big is the seat pan? What is the chair’s weight limit? Does it come with a headrest? These features vary from chair to chair, and some manufacturers offer more options than others, so consider what you need (or care about) before choosing a chair.
At the end of the day, it’s all about whether your office chair is comfortable and properly supports your body, especially if you spend hours in it each day. Any office chair worth its money will offer a variety of things you can adjust in order to ensure an ergonomic experience. Typically, this can include height adjustment, moving the seat forward or backward, controlling how far back you can tilt in your seat (and the tension resistance experienced when doing so), and lumbar support.
Inexpensive chairs might offer basic lumbar support and height adjustment, but it’s all of these things together that makes a chair ergonomic. And, of course, they’re absolutely worthwhile if your budget can stand to pay for them.
Our Favorite Office Chair Recommendations
After spending so much time talking about office chairs, we’d be remiss not to make some actual recommendations. We know that everyone’s budget is different, so we included picks at every price point. That being said, remember to think about how much you’ll be using the chair and what features you want then consider your budget before making a choice.
Around $100-$150: Homall Gaming Chair
We don’t recommend spending less than this on any office chair. In fact, at this price point, we actually recommend a gaming chair over a traditional one, like the Homall Gaming Chair, as they offer a more ergonomic experience. This chair has a 1.8mm thick steel frame and is designed with high-density shaping foam and a wear-resistant leather finish. The chair supports up to 300 pounds, includes an ergonomic headrest pillow and lumbar cushion, and features five rubber casters that roll quietly.
The chair’s back measures 22.5 x 30.5 inches, and its seat measures 14.5 x 20.5 inches. You can also adjust its height anywhere from 17.3 to 21.5 inches. Feel like kicking back and relaxing? It can recline anywhere from 90 to 180 degrees and also lets you rock back and forth. The chair comes with a one-year warranty from the manufacturer and is available in a variety of bold colors. It’s a budget-friendly pick with decent comfort and adjustable options—just keep in mind what you’re paying here. If you can afford to spend more, then we recommend doing so.
Around $250: HON Exposure
At this price point, the HON Exposure Mesh Computer Chair is your best bet. Not only does it look stylish and allow you to make basic ergonomic adjustments, it comes with a five-year limited warranty. The chair’s breathable mesh back keeps yours comfortably supported and cool while you work, though you also have the option to upgrade to leather for a more premium look and feel.
The fully-adjustable chair has pneumatic seat height adjustment, allowing you to move the seat base forward or backward or change the seat width and height with ease. You can also adjust the reclining tilt ratio, lumbar support, and armrest height and lateral distance with ease. It even has a tilt tension and lock function that allows you to control how easily you can recline.
The chair supports users up to 250 pounds and does not ship assembled. It’s a good balance of comfort and price and is the best bet for anyone just temporarily working from home as it’s not too pricey.
Around $500: Autonomous Kinn
Now that we’re at the $500 price point, you’re going to see changes in the quality of the chairs, like more customization options and better materials. As you’d expect, the Autonomous Kinn ($419) does not disappoint. The chair offers outstanding spinal support and promotes good posture thanks to its fishbone design, and it supports up to 350 pounds. It’s also frameless and aligns to the contours of your body, keeping you comfortable all day long.
The Kinn offers a huge range of movement and adjustment, so you can set things up just how you like. You can easily move the armrest in four directions, scoot the seat pan back or forth as needed, adjust the seat height with the flip of a handle, and control back tilt tension. The chair allows you to fine tune your sitting experience so that you’re always supported and feeling comfy. It’s also worth noting that this chair doesn’t have a cushion, rather, just a frame.
It’s also constructed with thermoplastic elastomer, which is environmentally safe, easy to clean, and odor resistant. The only real downside to the chair is that it doesn’t ship assembled—you’ll have to do that yourself. It’s a solid choice for those who frequently have lengthy office or gaming sessions, however, and with its five-year warranty and 30-day trial, the Autonomous Kinn makes it easy for you to sit with peace of mind.
Around $850: Steelcase Series 1
Steelcase is a terrific brand and is known for its incredible customization and warranties. With the Steelcase Series 1 (starts at $747), you get to choose the color of the upholstery, frame, base, and other components. This makes it easy to build a chair that matches your existing home office or one that adds a pop of color. You’ll be able to configure its armrests and wheels, and there are additional options you can select, like an adjustable headrest, a coat hanger, a polished aluminum base, and hard or soft casters.
The Series 1 has a LiveBack flexor system in its backrest that conforms to and moves with your body for support, even as you move throughout the day. It also features adjustable lumbar support dials and sturdy foam with adaptive air pocket bolstering for pressure-free comfort for users up to 300 pounds.
The chair’s weight-activated tilt mechanism automatically responds to your movements and it has an additional tension setting that lets you increase the resistance you’ll feel while you recline. The tilt mechanism is also synchronized so that the seat base and back move with each other all while ensuring you remain comfortable.
The Steelcase Series 1 ships unassembled, with a limited lifetime warranty. It’s an excellent, feature-rich option, and a great value, given that most of its features aren’t typically available on other chairs at this price point.
Around $1,000: Steelcase Gesture
Here we are now in pricier territory. Starting at just under one grand, the Steelcase Gesture boasts a stylish look and a comfortable, supportive, and durable build. It supports users up to 400 pounds, offers a fleet of adjustable options, and was designed to support everyday interactions with modern technology, be it texting or spending hours typing on your computer.
If you purchase it directly through Steelcase’s site, rather than through Amazon, you can take advantage of the Gesture’s impressive customization options. You can opt for the shell back version or the fabric wrapped back version, depending on which better matches your style. You can also customize the upholstery and frame colors and opt for fun add-ons like a polished aluminum base, adjustable lumbar support, a coat hanger, fixed arms, or an armless design. Keep in mind that further customization will increase the price to as much as $2,000.
Beyond customization, the Gesture is designed to handle a wide range of users, postures, and technology usage. In fact, Steelcase undertook a Global Posture Study, observing thousands of people across six continents to see how people actually move in their seats. As a result, it created the Gesture and ensured it’d be able to keep up with you whether you’re leaning back and texting or leaning forward and drawing on a tablet.
With its extra durable padded seat pan and back, the Steelcase Gesture is a stellar choice for anyone who’ll be spending hours each day sitting at their desk. You can adjust the seat pan, chair height, and 4D armrests. And though it doesn’t have a position lock mechanism, the tension dial similarly allows you to control how much resistance there is when you recline. The Gesture ships fully assembled and includes a limited lifetime warranty.
Around $1,500: Herman Miller Aeron
Herman Miller makes beautiful iconic chairs, and the Aeron is no exception. It has received accolades for its industrial design. Heck, it was even vaulted as “America’s best-selling chair” in 2010 and is on permanent display in the NYC Museum of Modern Art. So if you’ve got the budget, the Aeron is the one to beat.
You’ll get to choose the color of the frame and base, which size you want (this is great for super tall or petite folks), and even customize options like back support, tilt, arms, arm pad material, and casters. The chair, designed by Don Chadwick and Bill Stumpf, was created with the latest technology, driven by a deep knowledge of human-centered design. As a result, it is widely recognized as one of the most comfortable and ergonomic chair options out there.
The Aeron comes with a 12 year warranty and is made in Michigan at a 100% green-energy facility. It has a breathable seat pan and back design, features eight zones of varying tension for optimal body support, offers adjustable tilt angles, and terrific lumbar support. It’s designed to ensure you sit with good posture, with your chest open, shoulders, back, and pelvis tilted forward a little. You might even say it’s got your back.
The Herman Miller Aeron is a great choice given its price point and is flush with premium features and ergonomic design elements. And, let’s be honest, it’s simply gorgeous and will look good sitting anywhere in your home. It arrives fully assembled and supports users as tall as 6’7′ who weigh up to 350 pounds.
Since the Aeron is one of the most popular high-end chairs out there, you can oftentimes find good deals on secondhand or closeout models. If you want an Aeron and don’t have a grand and a half to spend on a chair, keep your eyes open.
Over $2,000: Eames Aluminum Group Executive (with Pneumatic Lift)
Charles and Ray Eames are responsible for what is perhaps the most iconic chair of all time: the Eames Lounge Chair and ottoman for the Herman Miller furniture company. So it’s no surprise that the pair also created one of the most beautiful and comfortable office chairs of all time. The Eames Aluminum Group Executive Chair with Pneumatic Lift is a spectacular choice for anyone who cares about style just as much as comfort and functionality.
The Group Executive Chair comes with a 12-year warranty and a timeless design. Its thin, modern silhouette doesn’t take up much room and its lightweight design makes it easy to move around your office. Yet despite its slim design, the chair still manages to boast a supportive suspension system and a pneumatic lift and tilt swivel mechanism that allows for incredibly minute adjustments on behalf of your comfort.
You can select what type and color of upholstery and frame you want, and choose from multiple caster and height range options. The chair supports users up to 300 pounds, makes it easy to adjust height and tilt options, and it swivels. It ships fully assembled and ready to use.