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How to Find an Office Chair for Large Sized People

Updated on August 14, 2014
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Laura has been writing online since 1996. Her first content was sold to a print zine. She is a solo publisher of her own sites.


I looked online for a new office chair for myself. I have a vintage chair from the 40's or earlier but it's too firm on the seat and not as comfortable as I would like for a lot of sitting. I spend a lot of my day in this chair working on writing, promoting and maintaining sites and assorted and various other things people do when they work on the computer all day. Lately I've been getting swollen ankles and feet. So, the hunt was on to find a new chair.

What I concluded is that I have to test the chair myself and shopping online isn't really going to work for me. I did find one chair I really liked and would have bought, but I don't have the payment options to make it work. (You can see the chair in the photo with this article).

For most large sized people the average office chair is not enough. I've had wheels break off and the chair padding is feeble or too thin and I don't feel comfortable. So, a large person (big and tall) needs a better made chair, sturdier and with consideration for ergonomics.

What to Look for in a Sturdy Office Chair

Some of us weigh more than the 200 pounds which most office chairs are designed for. Then there are those who work a lot in their office chair and would like a sturdier chair just to have a long lasting, dependable chair. Either way, a sturdy office chair will cost more than the average office chair. I found the price range was at least $200 - $400 (not including taxes).

It was not easy to find a chair which I liked and seemed sturdy enough. The information online at many stores did not include how much weight the chair was designed for. So, any time the information is not there, assume the chair is not made for a big sized person.

Armrests. Is there enough space between the armrests for you to sit comfortably between them? If not, are they removable? If you really want a chair with armrests you will have to watch this. If you don't care for them especially you can remove them if they are not comfortable for you.

Wheels. Do you trust plastic wheels to roll and not eventually crack? Almost every chair I looked at has plastic wheels This is a downfall of modern manufacturing. If you want to avoid plastic wheels, look for vintage office furniture. It isn't likely to be sold in the average office supplies store and they probably won't have a weight standard available. But, vintage chairs were usually made to last, sturdy and more metal based.

Materials. Plastic is not the plus sized person's best option for most things, office chairs included. Look for a chair which has a metal frame for sturdiness. Also, the seat covering should be something which will stand up to time. However, you can recover the chair at a later time if you need to. The frame is the important part.

Padding. Likely you will be spending time sitting in your office chair, that's the point of having a good chair. The padding needs to be something strong and durable which can give your body some support. It is not comfortable sitting in a chair which causes your legs, ankles and feet to become swollen. Look into ergonomic chairs. Even if you do get up and walk around, drink water, all the things they say you should do - the fact is you will still be spending a lot of time working in that chair and you need better than average padding.

Adjustments. An office chair you are spending money on (as you will be for a larger, sturdier built chair) should be adjustable. This is important too for the height of the chair for your legs. You should be able to have your feet on the floor in a way which will be comfortable and not strain your back or knees. If you are able to test the chair see how adjustable it is. Can you remove the arms or move them farther apart? Is it easy to move the seat higher and lower and does it stay that way once it is moved? On some chairs you could even remove the back if you find it is not comfortable.

Back. Do you like a thickly padded back, or a tall back or a shorter chair back. Some of them will even have a headrest. Some backs will tilt. I never used this myself, it always made me feel the chair was tipping too far back. If you can test the chair before you buy it (if you aren't online shopping) see how the chair back works.

This is going to be a chair you keep for the long term. Check if you can easily replace parts like the wheels and the fabric or leather covering. Is this a chair which can easily be refurbished or restored?


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