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A Guide to Getting the Best Laboratory Chairs for your Lab

Updated on August 29, 2010

When equipping your laboratory, the most important piece of equipment (second to safety features such as fume hoods or safety cabinets) is the laboratory chair.  These chairs are essential to providing support and comfort and allowing you to maintain your focus while you’re working in the lab.  You can’t afford to mess around with adjusting your seat while you are in the middle of an experiment.  However, picking the right lab chair isn’t easy; there’s a whole range of features as well as safety issues that need to be factored in.  The following guide can help you choose the best laboratory chairs for your lab.

While I try to cover all the important safety and regulation aspects, each lab is different in what they deal with as well as the regulations that cover their industry or region.  Being familiar with the regulations that govern your operations is the best way to determine which lab chair will be best for you.  There are many places online that cover these safety regulations.

We’ll start with the safety aspects.  Many laboratories have guidelines as to what type of materials can be allowed in the labs.  These guidelines can include things like chemical resistance, absortivity, etc.  If you work in a lab that has toxic chemicals such as TICs, TIMs, or Oxidizers these materials can “eat through” or even start a fire with the upholstery on lab stools or vinyl lab stools.  Also, if you work in a bio lab, you can’t have anything that will support the growth of the organisms and they need to be easy to sanitize.  For this reason, most labs prefer solid metal lab stools.  They’re easy to clean, unreactive,  usually lightweight (made from aluminum mostly) and fairly inexpensive (as far as laboratory chairs go).  The down side to metal lab stools is that few are adjustable, and they’re generally pretty uncomfortable. 

On to lab chair features.  Many labs have different work stations setup (a fume hood or bio cabinet at one location, a lab bench at another, a sink somewhere else, a desk over there) and you tend to have different heights that you need to work from.  For most labs it’s impractical to have chairs for each location so many labs prefer to have an adjustable lab stool or two.  These usually come in two varieties: a spiral or cork-screw lab stool and a pneumatic lab stool.  The cork-screw type requires you to spin the stool clockwise or counter-clockwise to lower or raise the stool.  While this is nice to have the adjustable feature it can take a long time to raise and lower and is not easy to do; especially one handed.  The pneumatic lab stool on the other hand is very easy to raise and lower with one hand and it works just like a normal office chair.  Of course, the pneumatic lab chair is much more expensive.

If you do work in a lab that has multiple locations that you need to get back and forth quickly, you’ll want to consider looking for a lab chair with wheels.  These types of chairs make it easy to get back and forth between multiple locations.  And because you’re not getting up and fussing around with the chair you’ll be able to stay on task and get more done. 

Another popular feature is the lab stool with a back.  If you’re running a long experiment and you’re going to be sitting for a while, it’s important to support your posture.  This will keep you more focused because you’re spending less energy trying to just sit up straight.  The lab chairs with a back will provide you with that support.  There are two different types of backs; the large backs and the small backs.  The large backs are just like an office chair in that they will support your entire back, which is good for reclining (I don’t know how much reclining you’ll do in the lab, but you may want to stretch here and there).  You can find the small back in models like the biofit lab chairs.  They provide support to the lumbar region which when you’re leaning forward for a majority of the time, that’s really all you need.

As you can see there are many different options in choosing laboratory stools.  There are plenty of good resources online that can provide you with details such as pricing and assembly instructions.  With a little bit of research you should be able to find affordable laboratory chairs that will fit your needs and your budget.

Other Chair Resources

Waiting Room Chairs – A guide to selecting the right waiting room chairs for your office or foyer

Leather Office Guest Chairs – A guide for picking out leather office guest chairs to give your conference room a professional look

Office Guest Chairs – A guide to saving money on office guest chairs by getting the right ones.

Ergonomic Executive Chairs – Help choosing the right ergonomic chair for when you’re not in the labs

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