Office Chair Materials: Which is Best for My Workplace?

Office chairs in a line

Many different things make up an office chair, and each one needs to be carefully considered against the circumstances of your office or home working space.  

One of the most important is the material. Depending on your budget, type of work and general office environment, a certain type of office chair material may be more or less suited to you.  

In this guide, we’ll take you through the most popular office chair materials, listing out the pros, cons, and who it’s most suited to. 

Common Office Chair Materials   

When it comes to office chair materials, you have a four to choose from. Here is an explanation of each, plus the benefits and drawbacks of investing in that type of office chair.  

Leather/Faux Leather  

Leather office chairs are positioned at the higher end of most office chairs ranges. Like other applications of leather such as clothing or sofas, the material commands a higher price than other materials.  

The added prestige of leather makes it ideal for an executive look and feel. You’ll often find leather chairs in executive offices, but they’re also just as suited to home office workers who are willing to spend a little more for some added luxury. 

For those who want to get close to the look and feel of a leather chair without the cost, faux leather is a cheaper alternative. It might not quite have the same high-end feel as genuine leather, but it comes with all the other benefits of the material.  

Leather is also easier to maintain than some other materials. Leather and faux leather chairs can be wiped down, clearing away anything that might otherwise have stained.  

Leather office chair

Pros 

  • A premium, stylish look and feel 
  • Comfortable to sit on in most conditions 
  • Often feature high backs for extra comfort and style 
  • Easy to clean  

Cons 

  • A genuine leather office chair costs more than other materials 
  • Is susceptible to temperatures changes 

Summary 

With an executive look and feel, leather chairs are a high-end office chair material that costs more than the alternatives.  

Fabric  

Fabric is a popular choice of office chair material, owed to its durability and comfort at a reasonable price. Fabric is hardwearing, able to deal with daily regular use for many months and years.  

By their very nature fabric office chairs are comfortable. With plenty of padding to support, there isn’t another type of office chair material that can bring immediate comfort when you sit down. It’s also a naturally breathable material, allowing air to pass through it and keep the user cool.  

For all these reasons, you’ll find that fabric is often the most popular choice for everyday office operator chairs. Their cost-effectiveness, durability and comfort make them ideal for filling up banks of desks in modern office spaces. In contrast to leather, fabric is also available in lots of different colours.  

Fabric office chair

Pros 

  • Reasonably priced 
  • Comfortable  
  • Naturally breathable  
  • Available in lots of colours  

Cons 

  • Not as durable as some other materials 
  • Mesh is more breathable 
  • Can stain and be difficult to clean  

Summary 

A great option for an everyday office chair, bringing comfort and relative durability at a good price.  

Mesh  

Made from fabric, mesh is specifically designed to bring extra layers of comfort to the user. Maximising breathability, mesh chairs are ideal for warmer offices or people who struggle with sweating when working in hotter months of the year. 

In mesh office chairs, the backrest is a net-like material that allows for better circulation throughout the day. The seat will also have a top layer of mesh, allowing for more breathability through the bottom of the chair.  

Despite a more specific use, mesh chairs are no more expensive than fabric office chairs and are no less comfortable.  

Mesh office chair

Pros 

  • Net-like material allows for extra breathability  
  • Cost-effective 
  • Still as comfortable as fabric 

Cons 

  • Not as luxurious as other materials 
  • Not available in a wide variety of colours 

Summary 

An alternative to fabric office chairs, giving more comfort in hot conditions without increasing costs.  

Vinyl  

Vinyl brings a specific set of benefits that makes it especially suitable for certain types of workplaces. A robust, easy-to-clean material, vinyl office chairs are perfect for clinical or care-based office spaces like hospitals or other caregiving environments.  

When infection control is important in your office, vinyl should be your material of choice. With a quick wipe, you can remove any germs and avoid them being transported around the workplace. 

Vinyl’s robust nature also makes it ideal for environments where heavy-duty use is possible. Whether it be 24-hour use or an environment like a car garage where staining is a frequent possibility, vinyl is your best option here too.  

Vinyl office chair

Pros 

  • Robust  
  • Easy to clean 
  • Ideal for good hygiene 
  • Cost-effective   

Cons 

  • Least comfortable material 
  • Often only available in black or blue 
  • Cheaper look and feel than other materials  

Summary 

Robust and easy to maintain, vinyl is perfect for environments where hygiene is of critical importance and heavy-duty use is likely.   

Things to Consider    

Before you make your choice of office chair material, consider the following factors and weigh them up with the pros and cons of each material.  

Budget   

When it comes to price, the four different types of office chair materials can be grouped into two. Leather is the high-end, premium choice that stands alone, whereas fabric, vinyl and mesh are cheaper alternatives.  

Consider how many chairs you plan to buy with your budget. If you only require a small number of chairs then it could be worth investing that bit more in a leather chair. If you need enough to fill an office, a standard fabric or mesh chair may be your best bet. 

Style and office environment  

Office chairs need to fit into the wider style of your office space. This is where fabric chairs come into their own. With a wide variety of colours on offer, you can pick the ideal product for your office. 

You also need to consider where your office chair will sit. Is it for an executive office, where you want the chair to match the managerial position of the user? Or are they for the wider office space, where uniformity and value for money are more important? Before you buy, think about how the office chair will look in its new home.  

It’s important to consider the materials available before you invest in a new office chair. Now you’ve read this guide, all that’s left is to browse Furniture At Work’s array of office chairs, where you’ll find lots of options for each of the materials discussed here. Alternatively, discover more about office chairs in our guide to every typed of office chair there is. 

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