How long do office chairs REALLY last?

So here I am sitting on my desk at the office and my chair is starting to make this creaky noise. I got this chair about two years ago, it’s not expensive but it is pretty comfortable and I don’t want to have to replace it anytime soon.

This got me thinking how long should an office chair last so I did a little research and here’s what I found out.

Cheap office chairs can last for about 5 years. Expensive office chairs can last for 10 years and beyond. It all depends on the quality of the materials and the sturdiness of the chair frame. The warranty given by manufacturers is a good indicator of how long a desk chair can last.

Of course, there are all sorts of variables when it comes to the life expectancy of an office chair such as the quality of the materials it is made out of, the weight of the person who is using it, how often it is being used, and so on, so let’s take a closer look.

How long do cheap office chairs last?

How long do cheap office chairs last

Cheap office chairs, usually in the range of $80 to $100, can last up to 5 years. By that, I mean to remain functional.

But take this estimate with a grain of salt because such chairs are made of lower-quality materials. They can start to exhibit signs of wear within just a few months of use.

In my experience, the weight of the person using the chair is the factor that will determine how long such a chair will last. Usually, the lowest price tier chairs come with a warranty of 6 months to 1 year so even the manufacturers don’t expect them to last for too long.

I’ve been working in an office for more than a decade now, and I think that I have gone through at least 3 cheap chairs ($80 to $100), now sitting on my 4th.

I have noticed that when I get a new chair, it takes about a year for it to start to look a little worn out. Just by looking at it, you can determine that it has seen some use.

After two years of regular use, some kind of mechanical problem comes up (usually with the backrest or the seat height adjustment) and the chair has to be replaced.

I am a 209-pound guy (that’s 95kg for our European friends) and I move, fidget, and adjust my position a lot when seated because I start to feel very stiff and sore after 20 minutes of sitting.

How long do mesh chairs last?

I am currently using a cheap mesh chair (about $120) in the office and it is very comfortable. I have been using it for about two years now and I have to say that it looks pretty good and no mechanical faults have appeared so far besides a bit of creaking.

I’ve been told that a good-quality mesh chair can last from 5 to 10 years. If we look at the high-end of the spectrum, for example, the Aeron line by Herman Miller is a popular choice when it comes to mesh chairs, and most resources claim that it can last for 10 years, and maybe even more if you take care of it.

How long do faux leather office chairs last?

Faux leather is basically a synthetic material that imitates real leather (which is derived from animals). Faux leather is often used as an upholstery material for all sorts of seats and furniture.

Faux leather office chairs can indeed be durable and last from 2 to 5 years. Also, faux leather is easier to clean than real leather which usually requires special cleaning detergents. The quality of the faux leather is also a determining factor.

However, what I have noticed with faux leather is that sunlight can quickly start to deteriorate it. So if your chair is situated in a way that exposes it to a lot of sunlight through the windows, this might contribute to the wear of the faux leather upholstery.

How long do expensive office chairs last?

How long do expensive chairs last

Now, you have to keep in mind that there are expensive office chairs and there are very expensive office chairs. So we can safely say that the price range between $200 and $600 is where you are looking at good quality office and desk chairs.

So the more appropriate question would be how long does a good office chair last?

Usually, the warranty given by manufacturers is a good indicator of what you can expect when purchasing an expensive office chair. If you are looking at 5 to 10 years of warranty, then you should have every expectation to enjoy your chair for a long time.

Of course, signs of wear can start to appear on the upholstery after a couple of years of regular use but the chair itself should remain sturdy and functional for at least 5 years and maybe even more, depending on how often it is used and the weight of the person using it.

When it comes to the very expensive chairs, let’s say in the range of $600 to $1000 and beyond, you should have a warranty of at least 7 to 10 years, especially if you are getting a piece that falls in the luxury category. 

For example, let’s take a look at how long do Steelcase chairs last. Steelcase is a popular choice when it comes to pricey chairs. From what I’ve seen, they can range from $800 to $1,200 and beyond.

There are various models but it seems that they are all very durable and can last from 10 to 20 years. Well, they better! For that kind of money! Am I right?

How long do fabric chairs last in an office environment?

How long do fabric chairs last in an office environment

Fabric chairs are usually used in office settings as guest seats. It’s not uncommon to see a couple of fabric chairs for visitors near the desk of а person who has a private office space.

Another use of fabric chairs in an office setting is for creating what I like to call “chill spots.” For example, the headquarters office of the company I work for has spacious hallways and here and there you can see strategically placed seats and sofas around small coffee tables.

We use these spots for relaxation and face-to-face work conversations when most of our meeting rooms are taken.

So of course there is no need to have expensive seats when used for such purposes. Besides, they don’t really see much use, you don’t have people sitting in them for hours on them. Such seats can last for 4-5 years with a bit of care.

Even if somebody spills a cup of coffee on one of them, it can be cleaned with professional hot water extraction (it’s the most effective deep cleaning method used for carpets, upholstery, and even mattresses).

How do I know if my chair is worn out?

How do I know if my chair is worn out

Office chairs can become visibly worn out through the deterioration of their appearance. Usually, the first signs are tearing or peeling upholstery and cushioning that is starting to lose its original form. Office chairs also wear out mechanically which starts to limit their functionality and usability.

Here is a quick checklist of the most common signs of a worn-out office chair:

  • Squeaky noises when moving
  • Flattening of the cushion
  • Peeling/tearing upholstery
  • Wobbly or broken armrests
  • Stuck or broken wheels
  • Seat height adjustment problems
  • Faulty back support

Why do office chairs wear out?

Office chairs wear out mainly through simple everyday use. The constant rubbing of clothes against chair upholstery wears out the fabric. With time, the upholstery can show visible signs of discoloration, tears, and peeling.

As a person is sitting on the chair and applying pressure through weight, the cushioning of the seat and the backrest can become partially crushed.

Through regular use, by shifting and adjusting on the seat, the chair is slowly but surely being worn out. The frame of the chair can also sustain some damage with time and use.

How often should you replace your office chair?

In case a lot of people you work with or customers visit you at your desk and appearances matter, then you can replace your office chair as soon as you notice that it looks visibly worn out.

If appearances are not that much of a priority in your line of work, and the chair that you are using is otherwise perfectly functional, then you can continue to use it for as long as you can comfortably sit on it.

You can replace your office chair when some part of it becomes too mechanically worn out and you can no longer use it as you did previously.

Key takeaways

  • Cheap office chairs (from $80 to $100) start to exhibit signs of wear after about one year of regular use. On average, they can last for about 5 years.
  • Expensive office chairs are made of quality materials and can last up to 10 years, or even more.
  • The lifespan and functional use of office chairs mainly depend on the quality of the materials they are made out of.