14,000 hours. If you work at a desk, that’s roughly how much time you’ll sit in an office chair over the next 10 years. So if you’re looking to buy a new chair, you want to make sure it’s supportive and comfortable. Is the cheap $200 model going to cut it, or are the $800 to a $1,000 high-end, ergonomic ones worth the money? Should you save or splurge? If you need help figuring out what’s best for you, here are four basic differences between cheap and expensive chairs.
You can spot build quality pretty quickly on moving parts, like the arms tilt and the wheels. Budget chairs have weak-feeling materials that tend to break over time. On a nicer chair, the adjustment knobs are made with better plastics. On top of that, the foam and seat cushions or back is also much more comfortable out of the box on expensive chairs, and they should last longer without flattening out.
Generally speaking, the more chair costs, the more adjustments you can make. This makes it easier for you to get comfortable regardless of your body type. On cheap chairs, you often can’t move the arms in and out or adjust the tension of the reclining tilt. Or you might turn a knob three or four or more times before you feel any change in the chair. More expensive chairs will give you feedback right away. It kind of works like this. If your body type happens to fit a cheap chair, it might be all you need. If you’re outside of the size range that a budget chair fits, which most people are, it’s tough to dial in those settings properly.
Expensive chairs offer a wider range of comfortable settings. You can set different steps with a back can only recline so far, or you can adjust the resistance of the recline. You can also change the seat depth. All of this adds up to a more natural and comfortable experience, something cheap chairs can’t usually match.
Most cheap chairs come in one or two bland color options. They tend to have limited styles too, like mesh or faux leather. Many high-price chairs allow you to customize the color and fabric, the color of the base or the frame, and choose the wheels built for either solid surfaces or carpet. You can also customize them with things like headrests and optional lumbar support.
And last but not least, if you get an expensive chair, you’re going to get a better warranty. They run about 10 to 12 years and cover pretty much everything that happens to a chair. If a piece breaks off or cracks, the company will replace that, free of charge. On top of that, just about everything on a high-end chair is repairable, so even if it’s out of warranty or you buy it used, you can usually find replacement parts. Cheap chairs might come with a warranty, some might not. But if it does, it’s limited in what it covers. In the long run, having a high-end chair for a decade with a robust warranty means you could potentially save money by not having to replace a cheap chair every few years.
Nothing beats going to the store to try some chairs out yourself. It’s like finding a good pair of shoes. Ultimately you want something that makes you feel comfortable and supported, regardless of the price.
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