Choosing an office chair

Fabric and fabric colour – free samples

To ensure you are not disappointed, you may request up to three samples of the seat covering for the chair you are considering. Our photographs have been professionally taken but we cannot guarantee the colour reproduction is accurate when you are viewing on a screen. To request a sample, please complete a ‘Contact us’ form with the details of the chair, or chairs. There is no charge for this and we are really pleased to help you get it right first time.

It is very individual

Everyone has a different body shape, size and weight. We also have very individual ideas of what is comfortable and what constitutes a 'good' chair. Hence a chair cannot be specified on technical measures alone. Our experience tells us that comfort is most often achieved if the user’s first visual impression of the chair is positive. However, it’s obvious that the more adjustments that are possible on the chair, the more likely the chair can be moved into a position that can allow for good posture, comfort and lowest health risk.

Thinking points when choosing a chair

  • Your weight
  • What sitting height you prefer
  • What the chair looks like – the image it presents
  • How many hours a day you might sit in the chair – up to 24 hours
  • Seating foam types and under thigh pressure
  • What work will you be doing
  • Arms and tilts and neck rests
  • How many different people will use the chair
  • If you have any aches and pains – back care
  • Chair coverings

Your weight

All of our chairs will specify a 'maximum weight of user'. It means just that - no one heavier than this should use the chair. In general we have erred on the cautious side, because we want you to be safe. To increase the weight capacity of a chair, every component must be upgraded in order to make it safe. It is not sufficient only to fit a stronger gas lift, as some sellers appear to risk.

If you are a lightweight person and you choose a chair whose weight limit is high, you might find that the movement of the chair is a little too 'stiff' for you as your body weight is just not enough to move the mechanism smoothly.

Conversions are shown below; our chairs specifications are in kilograms.

Stones Kg Stones Kg
       
10 63.5 20 127.0
11 69.9 21 133.3
12 76.2 22 139.7
13 82.5 23 146.0
14 88.9 24 152.4
15 95.2 25 158.7
16 101.6 26 165.1
17 108.0 27 171.5
18 114.3 28 177.8
19 120.6 29 184.0

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What seat height suits you now?

Measure the distance from the floor to the top of the seat on a chair you currently find comfortable for work. You can compare that to the seat heights we show for every chair. All our office chairs have gas lift adjustable seat heights.

What the chair looks like – the image it presents

Design affects how your business is perceived by customers and staff.  So a good looking chair is by employees as a benefit and evidence of a caring boss. Equally customer judgements about business quality, style and efficiency can be enhanced. 

How many hours a day you might use the chair?

Few people will sit on a chair for every minute they are at work. A heavy user will sit for six hours in an eight hour working day. Some jobs just require ten minutes sitting at a terminal a few times a day. It is possible to sit on a hard wood seat for six hours, but it may not be pleasant nor create a productive environment. The specification of each chair shows how many hours each day it might be used, safely and comfortably.

In some working environments, the same chair might be used for longer than 8 hours. For example is a control room or security office working day and night shifts. For longer than 8 hour use a day, you should select a 24 hour chair.

Seating foam types and under thigh pressure

The foam in a chair may vary by thickness, density and method of manufacture.

  • Cut foam is the most widely used, as it provides relatively cheap comfort, but it is hard to shape and usually low density. About half of our range is cut foam.
  • Moulded foam is a more expensive production method and gives rise to shaped seats and backs that can be firm (high density), but also provide the a higher level of longer term comfort for the majority of users.
  • Memory foam is usually a denser material that more readily moulds to your shape and does not rebound easily, reducing pressure. It is often used in products that offer the best long term daily comfort.

Our chairs offer a variety of foam thicknesses and foam types, detailed in the specifications of each chair.

The front of the seat pad, the part under the leg nearest to the user’s knees, is quite important as it can affect blood flow in the legs. A distance of something like a hands width between the front of the seat pad and the back of the knee is about right. A user with a short upper thigh should not choose a chair with a deep sitting area, to avoid the seat pad coming really close to the back of the knee. (A chair with a seat slide provides flexibility in this distance.) To reduce the pressure under the thigh at the edge of the seat pad, chairs may have either a waterfall front to foam or a flexible front edge to the seat pad.

What work will you be doing?

If you use a screen to any degree, then your seating position needs to be adjusted to reduce the risk of injuries, aches and pains. See http://books.hse.gov.uk/hse/public/saleproduct.jsf?catalogueCode=9780717626021 for guidance from the HSE on “Making sure your office complies with the Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992 (as amended in 2002)"

It is most likely that a chair with separately adjustable seat and back will suit a regular keyboard user, in fact the more adjustments the better. On the other hand, if you are in a job with little keyboard usage then a tilting chair could be best. 

Arms and tilts and neck rests

Arms are recommended on almost all work chairs. Your arms weigh about 10% of your total body weight, so by simply using a chair arm to rest on, the force on the base of the spine and pelvis is reduced. If a user pushes downwards on the arm rests, the force is reduced further. When using a keyboard, the lower arms should be positioned horizontally. Holding this position can be tiring without resting elbows on the chair arms. Adjustable chair arms can help to give the lower arms the right positioning. However if you work involves only frequent short periods on a chair, getting up and sitting down a lot, then chair arms can be a hindrance rather than a help. (Most chair arms can be removed)

Tilting mechanisms are an aid to health as well as comfort. A heavy keyboard user will need to sit in an upright position for much of the time. Other roles might have more flexibility of position and may well require ‘thinking’ time.  A tilting chair can allow for a simple tilt backwards, or for a rocking chair motion. These are definitely comfort features that can also aid health, because when tilting, the chair back supports the spine and takes some of the user’s weight, reducing the downward force on spine and pelvis.

Neck rests provide similar benefits to very high chair backs, by supporting the weight of the head in a tilting position. Heads are very heavy and the consequence is that the forces on the spine are reduced.

How many different people will be using the chair?

The more functions a chair has, the more likely it will suit a greater variety of users. So for example our robust task chair is available with a simple mechanism and a fixed seat or a more complex one with a tilting seat. It is the same chair, but has two variants of mechanisms. With more possible positions, the more complex mechanism is more likely to suit more users.

If you have any aches and pains – back care

In most cases, the more a chair can adjust, the more likely you will find a position to ease your aches.   Personally, we like a well-padded chair with lots of adjustment. The benefit of adjustment is that you can alter the chairs set up through the day, as many times as you like. However a chair with a mechanism that allows tilting may be the most comfortable for ‘thinking’ jobs.

We have included a section for chairs that have a huge variety of features which can aid your posture, including seat slides, flexi seat fronts, memory foam, neck-rests and lumbar supports.

Chair coverings

We use fabric, sandwich foam fabric, mesh, air sandwich mesh, bonded leather and top grain leather. Free samples are available of all our chair coverings.

Fabric can be woven or manufactured. Premium fabric gives a smoother surface than standard fabric.

Sandwich foam fabric is made from two layers of smooth fabric sandwiched around a thin layer of foam. We think it makes the chair more comfortable than regular fabric. However, the nature of the material means it can only be stitched on particular chairs.

Mesh is a weave of artificial threads with clearly visible air holes. It gives firm support. It has a degree of 'moulding' to the body, so when used a seat back it can feel really comfortable. The obvious benefit is that it can be cooler than foam as the mesh is full of holes allowing air circulation.

Air sandwich mesh is made from two layers of smooth mesh sandwiched around a thin layer of foam.

Bonded leather is a material made from a mix of real leather (usually around 50%) and polyurethane or nylon material. It looks like leather and is soft from the moment you first sit in the chair.

Top leather, more accurately called top grain leather, is usually the best leather that is used in furniture manufacture. It is durable and pliable. 

Split leather. We do not use it, but want to mention it because it is very common to find it on cheap 'leather' chairs selling at £29.99 or £39.99. It is one of the lower layers of leather that has had an artificial coating applied to it, which is then embossed by a stamping process to give a grain pattern. It is usually hard to the touch compared to top or bonded leather and does not soften. 

Some important information

Please read 'Choosing a chair and FREE fabric samples' to help you make the right choice and to reduce the risk of an expensive return. . . . . . FREE delivery in 3 working days to almost all of the UK. We also deliver to Ireland, from our own stocks. . . . . . Do not hesitate to contact us by email or phone if you need any further information; there is no hard sell, only a support team

Contact Us

01223 967 769
01223 967 006
Support@ChairsForOffices.com