Although drafting chairs are a type of office chair, they offer distinct features compared to traditional office chairs.
I’ve created this in-depth guide on drafting chairs vs. office chairs to help you make the best decision for your current needs and budget. Whether your current office chair needs an upgrade or you’re looking for something new with more optimal features, it’s all covered here.
Drafting Chair vs. Office Chair: What’s the Difference?
|Drafting Chair||Office Chair|
|Seat Height Range||20″ to 32″||15″ to 23″|
|Size||Large||Small to Medium|
|Armrests||Sometimes — 0D to 2D armrests||Yes — 0D to 4D armrests|
Office Chair Basics
The most common office chair design is a rolling, swiveling chair used in office work environments. The primary use of these chairs is to offer a supportive place to sit, improving productivity by keeping you upright for extended periods.
Basic office chairs have wheels that let you move across your desk or room while remaining seated. They also offer a 360° swivel and a height-adjustable mechanism. The latter feature allows you to move the seat up and down easily.
However, even low-cost office chairs often come with other key features, such as some degree of recline and a tilting mechanism.
You can get office chairs as low as $50, but if you want an office chair that is durable, comfortable, and full of features, you’ll need to spend anywhere between $300 and $800.
Common Office Chair Features
- Postural support – The best office chairs support your ability to sit upright at your desk, offering some level of lower back and lumbar support. Seat cushions and backrests also play a role in postural and ergonomic functionality.
- Minimal appearance – Unlike other options on the market, such as gaming chairs, office chairs tend to offer the minimum concerning aesthetics. Expect a small frame and muted, neutral colors.
- Varying configurations – Although they’re typically smaller than other chairs on the market, office chairs generally boast customizable frames. The same office chair style can have dozens of configurations, allowing for personalization.
Cons of Using an Office Chair
- Depending on the model, office chairs can be expensive — especially customized ergonomic office chairs.
- Some say the more comfortable the chair, the lazier you become. You may not take the types of breaks you usually would, which can harm your health. The key to avoiding this is remaining conscious of your activity levels.
- It can be hard to find all the features you want in one chair without building a custom office chair.
Chairs to Check Out
- Branch Ergonomic Chair ($299) – This is the perfect example of a comfortable, functional, and attractive office chair. It was awarded “Best Office Chair” by CNN, WIRED, and TechRadar and received countless five-star reviews. Enjoy seven adjustment points, tilt, removable lumbar rest, double-layered mesh backrest, a high-density cushion that supports 300 pounds, and more. The price of this chair ranges from $299 to $359.
- Steelcase Gesture | Amazon ($1,000) – If you’re looking for a highly adjustable office chair, the Steelcase Gesture is one of the best on the market. Consumers have raved about this chair for years based on its adjustable knobs, quality fabric, and optimal back support. This office chair is also customizable, allowing you to choose the height, color, fabric, and more. The price of this chair ranges from $1,000 to $1,500. You can build yours to the exact specs you want.
- Herman Miller Sayl ($675) – This office chair provides durability and comfort at an affordable rate based on its quality. If you’re looking for a chair that is an excellent fit for everyday office work, this is an ideal choice. One of its unique features is the webbed backrest. This design allows you to stay cooler without sacrificing comfort. Thanks to this chair’s harmonic tilt, you can move naturally for a balanced, smooth recline. Depending on the features you choose, this chair ranges from $675 to $1,200.
Drafting Chair Basics
As the name applies, a drafting chair is designed for working at a drafting table. This type of chair is generally taller than a conventional office chair. The added height allows users to perch over their work.
Although designed for drafting, this chair style often gets used across different design-related industries and job positions.
Common Drafting Chair Features
- Include a footrest – Since drafting chairs are taller than traditional office chairs, they include a footrest.
- Highly adjustable – Drafting chairs are typically highly adjustable to meet the desired height of a table or piece of work.
- Various options – Many designs are available, ranging from leaning drafting stools to large padded drafting chairs.
Cons of Using a Drafting Chair
- If you opt for a drafting stool, you will lack lumbar support. Sitting for long periods can be challenging.
- Since they’re designed for specific use cases, they are not ideal when transferring to a lower, conventional desk.
- Certain features, like gas cylinder movement, can malfunction and cause issues.
- Not all drafting chairs are rated for as much weight as office chairs.
Chairs to Check Out
- Boss Ergonomic Drafting Chair | Amazon ($170) – This is an affordable armless drafting chair with a pneumatic gas lift, a contoured back, and a padded seat. This chair comes in various colors, includes a 20-inch chrome foot ring, and is ideal for those on a budget. The price of this chair ranges from $170 to $250.
- Harwick Evolve All Mesh Heavy Duty Drafting Chair ($687) – This drafting chair has built-in lumbar support, offers seven inches of height adjustment, and supports up to 325 pounds. The flip-up armrests allow you to move closer to your desk, and the large 22″ foot ring ensures optimal comfort. The price ranges from $687 to $870.
- Nightingale LXO Stool ($459) – Often recommended as one of the most comfortable drafting chairs, this chair gives you the best of both worlds — comfort and adjustability. This chair stands out because of its multiple locking positions, back depth adjustment, synchro-tilt mechanism, and more. The price of this chair ranges from $459 to $539.
Are Office Chairs and Drafting Chairs Interchangeable?
When comparing the drafting chair vs. office chair, they are interchangeable to some degree.
However, a drafting chair mostly excels in architecture and design studios, where desks tend to sit high above the ground. A drafting chair’s height is also uniquely well-suited to support standing desks. Using one at a standard desk isn’t recommended for more than a short period of time, as it can lead to strain and discomfort.
Meanwhile, an office chair is ideal for most users who work at standard desks. Office chairs also come with a handful of extra supportive and comfort-oriented features designed for long workdays. That said, most office chairs will come up a little short when used alongside drafting tables.
Drafting Chair vs. Office Chair – FAQs
Here are the answers to some of the web’s frequently asked questions about office chairs vs. drafting chairs.
1. Why would you pick a drafting chair over an office chair?
A drafting chair is ideal in specific situations. If you need to work at tall or adjustable-height desks, consider a drafting chair.
2. Why would you pick an office chair over a drafting chair?
A traditional office chair is best-suited for everyday office work. If you find an office chair that is comfortable and offers the features you need, you don’t need the unique functionality of a drafting chair.
3. How does the price of drafting chairs compare to office chairs?
Both options have low- and high-end models. Variables that influence cost include the brand, features, materials, and level of customization.
Drafting Chair vs. Office Chair: Which One Should You Buy?
Deciding whether you should buy an office chair vs. drafting chair depends on your needs. For example, an artist or architect may need to work at different tables and oversee work at varying heights. In these instances, height functionality and extensive swivel are essential.
If you’re someone who remains stationary, mainly typing or filing paperwork, comfort and lumbar support will be necessary. You may not need all the bells and whistles — just a durable and comfortable chair to sit in for 8+ hours. If that sounds like you, an office chair will do the trick.
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