Office chairs are available with seats and back rests constructed from a large variety of materials, including leather, faux leather, mesh, vinyl, wood, fabric, and plastic. An important part of selecting the right office chair is selecting one constructed of a material with which you can feel comfortable. You must ask yourself a few important questions: How will it feel on my skin? Will it offer any support? How easy will it be to clean? How long will it last?
As we look at different types of desk chair materials, you will see that it is often necessary to sacrifice one of those qualities for another. For example, the easiest materials to clean are not always the most comfortable. Therefore, before reading any further in this article, you may want to stop and prioritize how important each of those considerations is for you.
First, let’s go through and answer each of the questions I posed above. After that, I will go through and summarize these points by material and add any other important information about each material which may have been missed in answering these questions.
How Will It Feel On My Skin?
Obviously, different types of materials will feel different on your skin. The two major questions we will discuss here are: Will I stick to it? Will it irritate or scratch my skin? Let’s deal with the stickiness factor first. Of all the materials listed here, the ones you are most likely to stick to are leather, faux leather, vinyl, wood, and plastic. That being said, these types of materials are also the ones which are least likely to scratch or irritate your skin.
Materials such as mesh and fabric are more likely to scratch your skin, because the tiny fibers of which they are made may break free and poke up at your skin. Some types of fabrics and meshes are known to be scratchier than others. You may want to take some time to research particular types of fabrics and meshes or try them out in person.
Another reason mesh and fabric may irritate your skin is because they are often sprayed with chemical compounds designed to make them last longer and/or make them fire retardant. If you are worried about these types of irritants, you may want to directly contact the manufacturer for definitive information.
Will It Offer Any Support?
The answer to this question depends highly on which type of support you are looking for. Leather, faux leather, mesh, vinyl, and fabric are often used to cover cushions. The type of support you receive from that cushion will depend on the type of foam or fluff used to create the cushion. Generally speaking, this type of seat or back rest will be softer, but may flatten out over time and begin to place stress on important pressure points.
Although mesh may be used to cover cushions, it can also be stretched around plastic or metal frames and used alone as a back rest or a suspension seat. This type of back rest or seat will form to your body, giving you support exactly where you need it most. You will want to make sure that it is very high quality mesh – low quality mesh will stretch out and render itself useless.
Wooden and plastic back rests and seats may not be the softest options in the world, but they are often the most comfortable. This type of back rest or seat can be contoured to fit the curves of your back or buttock, reducing stress on pressure points. The hardness of wooden and plastic seats promotes a properly aligned spine. Also, unlike cushions and low-quality mesh, these back rests and seats will never lose their shapes. The best wooden and plastic chairs are those which have been custom built to fit your particular body, much like a great pair of clogs.
How Easy Will It Be To Clean?
Wood and plastic are usually the easiest materials to clean. More often than not, you can simply wipe away spills with a wet cloth. Paint and pen markings can be scrubbed off of these durable surfaces with ease.
Leather, faux leather, and vinyl are also rather easy to clean. ; for the most part, spills will wipe away easily. I would be more careful with scrubbing these materials than I would be with wood or plastic, since they are thin and may wear down. Leather and faux leather have little grooves which may collect spills, so more attention should be paid to cleaning these materials. Leather, faux leather, and vinyl coverings often feature visible seams so that they may show off intricate stitch work. These seams can collect liquid spills and be quite difficult to clean.
Fabric can be difficult to clean as well, especially if it is atop a thick cushion. You will want to be very sure that you sop up all moisture to prevent the growth of mold. You may also want to consider purchasing a dark color of fabric or rub-on stain remover, since most chairs are not built to allow you to remove the fabric for cleaning purposes.
Mesh has many of the same problems as fabric when it comes to cleaning, with one added problem – it has many more little grooves for things to get stuck inside. Especially when mesh is placed atop a cushion, consumers complain that it is next to impossible to keep it completely clean.
How Long Will It Last?
It should be rather obvious that wood will last the longest of all these material options. Plastic comes in at a close second, but can crack if you accidentally knock your chair over. Fabric will last a while as long as you treat it well. One of the main reasons people tend to ditch their fabric-covered chairs is difficult-to-remove stains. Consider not eating of drinking in your fabric chair, or purchase dark-colored fabric.
As has already been mentioned, when it is pulled over a plastic or metal frame, mesh gets stretched out over time. This is true of all mesh, but lower quality mesh will stretch itself out much quicker than higher quality mesh. Do your research first to ensure that the chair you purchase has been made with high-quality mesh.
Leather, faux leather, and vinyl are all known to wear and crack over time. Actual leather can be treated and oiled to lengthen its lifespan, making it a superior choice. Faux leather and vinyl are, essentially, the same as each other when it comes to wear and tear. Like mesh, there are different qualities of faux leather and vinyl. The harder the material is, the drier it is. The drier it is, the more easily it will crack. Try to select soft, malleable faux leather or vinyl.