Office chairs get a significant amount of use.
You may be sitting in a chair for eight to 10 hours a day, depending on your job. It’s not uncommon for some of the high-end office chairs to cost $400 or more.
Why are office chairs so expensive?
Why Are Office Chairs So Expensive? (Top 10 Reasons)
Knowing why office chairs are expensive will help you to invest in one that meets your needs and your budget.
1. They’re Designed For Longevity
Office chairs are meant to hold up to a significant amount of activity.
They are more expensive than dining room chairs and other chairs.
The reason for this is that most people will sit in them all day long.
With such extended use, the chairs have to be able to withstand the pressures of the job.
The cushion has to hold up to your weight.
The wheels have to hold up to being wheeled around all day long.
If you’re going to invest several hundred dollars in a chair, it has to last several years.
The average office chair on the market is designed to last 10 to 15 years.
The seams of the cushions are carefully done.
This ensures that they won’t burst after a few days of sitting.
If you’ve ever seen cushions fall apart, it’s often due to poor quality work or poor quality materials.
The springs have to be carefully designed to ensure they’re not going to break.
With the up and down of getting in and out of the seat, springs and hydraulics get a workout, too.
Cheap chairs are often made of plastic and flimsy mechanisms.
They’re not built for longevity, which is why they may only last for a year or two.
Consider just how much use a chair is going to get.
Some office chairs may sit empty for extended periods in a conference room.
Others may be used in cubicles for hours every day.
Chairs in 24-hour call centers may see even more use as there will be butts in the seats nearly 24 hours a day, every day.
Most of the high-end office chair manufacturers account for a significant amount of use.
They know they’ll get poor reviews if their chairs break quickly.
If you’re not using the chair a lot, go ahead and get a cheap one.
However, if it’s being used regularly, it’s usually worth the money.
2. High-Quality Materials
A lot of high-quality materials are used to create an office chair.
Much of this depends on the style.
However, it’s not uncommon to see such materials as leather, steel, and wood.
Many office chairs are in high-end buildings.
Corporate offices want to have premium chairs for their employees and clients.
When chairs are on display, the materials that are used matter.
No one is going to be impressed by a plastic chair or a cheap aluminum chair with no padding.
The materials used can have a dramatic impact on the price.
Leather, for example, can vary based on the type that is used.
Full-grain leather will offer the best quality. Bonded leather is cheaper but can still look beautiful.
The type of animal that the leather comes from, dyes and colors, and the supplier will all dictate the price.
It’s not just leather that can drive up the cost of a chair.
All sorts of upholsteries are used. It’s not uncommon to see crushed velvet or chenille used in the luxury chair market.
The metal used in the construction of the chair has to be considered.
Steel is more expensive than aluminum, but it is also more durable.
When you consider the weight that a chair must endure, the strength of the metal makes a difference.
Wood may seem like a cheap product, but it depends on the type.
Easy-to-find woods like maple and oak are relatively affordable.
Some chairs, however, are made with exotic woods such as Bloodwood, Mahogany, or Peruvian Walnut.
These are harder to find and are thus more expensive.
They’re still highly desired because of the uniqueness that they add to the office furniture.
Other materials can also be found, including state-of-the-art electronics.
This is what will allow you to have built-in Bluetooth speakers, massaging components, and even electronic adjustment controls.
A lot of office chairs are adjustable to accommodate people of different sizes.
The goal of every chair should be to make adjustments easy.
Often, you’ll be sitting in your chair when you decide you want to adjust the height or the angle you are positioned at.
Various levers and controls are added so that you can adjust the seat while you are seated.
Adjustments may include being able to adjust the armrests, the footrests, the lumbar area, and more.
You may want these adjustments based on what you will be doing for a particular task.
The adjustments are also ideal when multiple people will be using the chair.
Ergonomics is important as it ensures that the chair is comfortable.
Sitting for extended periods can lead to back problems, so ergonomics should be considered.
As you explore the ergonomics in an office chair, they can vary dramatically.
The more features that are included, the more the chair is likely to cost.
A few things to look for:
Backrest: A backrest should support the curvature of your spine.
Lumbar support: The cushion should be adjustable and fit the inward curve of your lower back. This will assist with posture, too.
Armrests: These should allow lower arms and elbows to relax at a comfortable height. As such, they should be adjustable.
5. Research & Development
There’s a lot of research and development that goes into office chairs.
What you found 10 years ago isn’t what you’ll find now.
Chairs are changing as new materials become available.
Many people also have new demands based on technology and innovations.
Architectural Digest released a list of 26 of the best office chairs.
These have been heavily researched to ensure that they are structurally sound and as ergonomic as possible.
Some of the designs eliminate the bulkiness that is traditionally associated with office chairs.
Other designs focus on comfort while typing at a desk, complete with tilting the pelvis forward while keeping the shoulders back.
Further, the days of a lot of DIY assemblies are gone.
Many chairs come fully assembled.
If there is assembly required, it’s minimal.
All of this research and development comes at a cost.
Even if you didn’t ask for these things, you’re paying for them anyway. It’s all part of companies wanting to have a competitive edge.
6. Built With Style In Mind
Every office has a unique style.
Some go with European Old World Charm.
Others prefer a highly modern, new-age look.
Companies usually specialize in one style or another.
They become the go-to brand for a specific look.
As such, they have a lot of pricing freedom.
Why make a little profit when you can make a big profit?
Companies know that you’ll pay to get the style aesthetic that you want.
It’s why gaming chairs are getting ridiculously expensive.
If you want that red chair or neon green chair, you’ll spend a hundred or two more to get it.
The more unique a chair is, the more it’s likely to cost.
This includes chairs that are dedicated to taller people, wider people, and premium cushions.
Some chairs are also built to focus on aesthetics.
There may be copper grommets, embroidery, vibrant colors, unique materials, and more.
All of this can come at a hefty price.
Add in a well-established luxury brand that offers a chair that has the latest bells and whistles, and you could be looking at paying over $1,000 for the office chair.
Hey, at least it will look stylish in your office.
7. They Can Hold A Lot Of Weight
Not everyone weighs the same.
When an office is adding furniture, they have to buy not knowing who will be in that seat.
The person may be 120 pounds or 420 pounds.
It’s not fair to hire a person based on how much they weigh.
There’s no way to apologize that you bought cheap chairs, preventing that person from being able to sit in an office chair.
You have to buy a chair that can accommodate anyone.
Some chairs are built to accommodate 300 to 400 pounds.
Office chairs are also commonly used as carts.
If you’ve ever placed a printer or a stack of books on a chair to move it, you know the importance of weight capacity.
If a chair is going to collapse under the weight, it’s not a good chair for you.
Saying that a chair can hold a lot of weight is one thing.
Making sure that it can is another.
A lot of different components help to accommodate a large amount of weight.
This includes everything from durable cushions to premium levers and wheels.
8. There Are More Moving Parts
Think about the number of moving parts on the average chair.
There are more than you might think.
Most office chairs allow you to adjust the height.
You will have the ability to swivel 360 degrees.
You should even be able to rock back and forth, adjusting the incline.
All of this requires moving parts.
The more you adjust and move around, the more friction the parts endure.
With more friction comes more wear and tear.
You don’t want something to break within a week of swiveling around.
Manufacturers do a lot of testing to find the right parts.
The parts capable of withstanding more wear and tear are more expensive.
Since every company is in business for a profit, you’ll pay more.
The moving parts don’t stop there, though.
There are also levers and pedals that help to make the adjustments.
Many of these are metal instead of plastic.
The simple reason is to ensure that the part doesn’t break.
If the lever or pedal breaks, you can’t make adjustments any longer.
Thus, the chair is no longer fully functional.
It’s something to think about when you look at the $100 chair with plastic levers and the $400 chair with metal ones.
Spending more money is likely the better move for the long-term.
Many chairs start to get expensive when you add in customization.
While it’s not available for all chairs, many companies are realizing they can charge more just by letting you control one or two details.
Custom colors, stitching, and monograms are fairly common.
If you want a color that will match your office perfectly, prepare to pay more.
This may even include the upholstery being dyed to your specifications.
This is how some corporate offices have chairs that are a perfect match to their logo.
Speaking of logos, if you want a logo embroidered or screen printed, it’s possible.
Whether it goes on the back or the front, it’s going to cost you more.
It will cost even more if the company has to create the artwork for it.
Some companies are even going as far as providing a custom build.
They give you a list of features that you can choose from.
Upholstery: Choose from an array of materials.
Height: Choose the height of the chair that you want.
Armrests: Yes or no?
Wheels: Choose the look and the material.
Xchair, for example, goes one step further by allowing you to choose between an office chair and a massage chair.
You’ll pay more for special edition colors, too.
Do you want to add a footrest?
It’ll be more money.
If you want fabric protection, it’ll cost more depending on whether you want the protection for three years or five years.
The moment you get into customization and building to order, you may spend $1,200 or more, but the chair will be built to all of your specifications.
Does a custom-built chair feel any different than one that you shop for that has all of your desired features?
Nope. It’s just a way for a company to charge you hundreds of dollars more.
Hey, you designed it—that’s apparently worth more.
10. Extended Warranties
If you’re going to spend a few hundred dollars, you need to know it’s money well spent.
Some of the top manufacturers offer an extended warranty.
It comes with the cost of the chair.
This provides you with peace of mind knowing that your chair will last.
The average warranty guarantees that the chair will remain fully functional for a set length of time.
If it breaks within that time, you may get free repairs or even a full replacement.
Chair warranties work differently than cars.
There’s no way to tell how long you’ve sat in the chair or how many miles it may have been pushed.
As such, most warranties focus on a set number of months or years.
A good warranty for a chair is three years.
A great one is five years or more.
If you’re spending $500 or more, you want a great warranty.
Some stores will offer extended warranties that you can purchase, too.
It’s often a good investment as it protects you in the event that certain things happen.
The leather may rip.
A wheel may fall off.
The armrest may stop functioning.
Particularly if you have had issues in the past, you’ll know what needs to be included in a warranty.
Consider your office environment, too.
If multiple people will sit in the chair, it means there will be more adjustments.
If you have pets around you, the material may be subjected to rips and stains.
Don’t assume that a company is being nice by offering you an impressive warranty.
You’re paying for it in the cost of the chair, whether you use the warranty or not.
Focus On Your Desired Features
If you’re not careful, you could end up spending hundreds of dollars more than what’s necessary.
Not all chairs have the same features.
It pays to shop around.
If you don’t want adjustable arms, don’t buy one that has them.
You’ll pay more.
Take the time to look at some of the top features available for office chairs.
Decide what is important to you.
Much of this will come down to what you do in an office chair.
Are you typing?
Performing specific tasks?
Talking on the phone?
Holding virtual meetings?
Sitting in board meetings?
What you do matters.
If you’re watching a screen and playing games, you may want the ability to lean back at a significant incline.
It’ll cost you more for this feature because of the balancing required.
If you’re typing, you need to be more upright, so don’t pay for a feature that will actually work against you.
Even the height of the chair matters.
Taller chairs are more expensive.
There’s more material, and they typically have a headrest.
You might not want that, especially if your goal is to not get too comfortable.
Offer people a place to sit, but don’t encourage them to stay seated for hours.
Once you have a list of features that you want in a chair, start shopping.
Explore a few sites.
In the end, don’t be afraid to pay more for a chair if it offers you features that you’ll actually use.
Saving On Office Chairs
Office chairs don’t have to cost a fortune.
However, you do get what you pay for. If you find a budget chair that is hundreds of dollars less, it will likely only last a few years.
Consider how long you’ll sit in your chair on a daily basis.
The more you use it, the more you need to consider a hefty investment.
When the chair ends up lasting for several years, you’ll get your money’s worth.
If the cost is a true concern, shop the various furniture sales.
Many sales take place around Memorial Day and Black Friday, allowing you to save quite a bit of money.