Materials For Office Seating – The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.

Posted by: Mitchell H. Kirsch 1 comments

Executives can choose from a variety of materials for their office seating requirements. Traditional fabric chairs are quickly being supplanted by classier materials like leather, or more exotic materials, from simple vinyl upholstery to space-age mesh office seating.

But why choose one material over the other? What advantages and disadvantages do mesh, leather, and vinyl have over each other? If you’re graduating from fabric office chairs, what material should you choose?

Mesh Office Chairs – Breathability and Comfort Go Together

Mesh Office Seating – Good. Mesh office chairs are designed with one purpose in mind – to allow air to circulate between areas “covered” by the user, the seat and the back. This provides a high level of comfort, and prevents sweat and odor build-up (as moisture is allowed to evaporate through the office seating).

Mesh office chairs are known to stay fresh, even after years of heavy use. If you work in a humid environment, or even a normal one, mesh office seating can be your most comfortable alternative.

Mesh Office Seating – Bad. The relative novelty of mesh office seating and the limitations of the material constrict the types of design available for mesh office chairs. Unfortunately, all other material types boast of more designs and colors than do mesh office chairs.

Mesh Office Seating – Ugly. Finding the perfect balance between comfort and durability is an even bigger challenge where mesh chairs are concerned. As we’ve explained in an earlier article, mesh chair users are stuck between the compromise that designers have to strike: soft mesh is more comfortable, but sags quicker; stiff mesh is less comfortable, but lasts longer.

More after the jump. (read more)

Leather Office Chairs – the Classy Seating Choice

Leather Office Seating – Good. Leather office seating grows to love your body over time – as you keep using a leather chair, the malleable leather adjusts to your specific curves, becoming even more comfortable through the passage of time. Emphasis on “passage of time”: leather office seating rendered in high quality hide will serve you well for years to come.

Last on the “good” ledger – leather upholstery is a cinch to clean, you simply need to wipe the seating with a clean, damp cloth, with some special hide cleaner every few months.

Leather Office Seating – Bad. The smooth surface offered by leather office chairs can be a bad thing – if your posterior cannot gain traction on the leather, you’ll move around in your chair like a bowling ball on a rocking boat. The smooth surface can also wear a shine in your clothing, if you’re not careful.

Leather Office Seating – Ugly. The bad news about leather chairs comes in case temperatures in your office rise above normal levels, as leather office seating can cause users to sweat excessively. Leather is simply not as breathable as fabric or mesh, and when the air conditioning breaks down, they may find their leather chairs to be more a curse than a blessing in the heat.

Vinyl Office Chairs – The Cheaper Leather Look-Alike

Vinyl Office Seating – Good. Often used as faux leather or leatherette on office chairs, vinyl is a cheap alternative to leather office seating – It’s just as easy-to-clean as leather, with the added advantage of bacteria resistance. These properties make vinyl chairs the office seating of choice in the biotech industry.

Vinyl Office Seating – Bad. Unlike leather, vinyl is unable to adjust to your body over time; it cannot stretch or wear the same way, so vinyl becomes far less comfortable over time compared to leather.

Vinyl Office Seating – Ugly. Boy, if you think leather doesn’t breathe well, try vinyl. Vinyl is essentially plastic – and plastic is not breathable at all. With a lack of ventilation for covered body areas, heat and odor problems will quickly arise, making an extended working session in a vinyl office chair feel like a vacation in Hell.

Jan 22, 2011
6:12 pm

I hear you on the slipperiness of leather. However, the shape of the seat and the way it’s padded really have a lot to do with how much the sitter tends to slide around. Even a high gloss leather won’t present a problem if the contours are correct.

Daisy McCarty

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