The Real Reason Why Office Chairs Are So Expensive

We spend almost eight hours a day sitting in the same chair, so being uncomfortable for that long can really wear you down. If you’re looking to upgrade your office space, we have a feeling that one question that keeps popping into your head time and time again is: “Why are office chairs so expensive?”. Today, we’re going to answer just that.

Why Are Office Chairs So Expensive?

You’re a smart person: you know that all these companies don’t just make up a price for their chairs. There has to be a logical reason as to why there are cheap vs. expensive office chairs. Let’s take a closer look at some of the main reasons. 


It might sound obvious, but different materials have different costs, as do different qualities of those materials. Most chairs will be made of many components and each of these has different options for materials. The different components are:

  • Legs with/without wheels
  • Seat frame
  • Padding 
  • Cover 

Each of the components have a variety of materials that they could be made from, usually of varying quality and/or appearance.

For example, the chair frame could be entirely metal or it could be partially plastic. Similarly, the same chair in leather will cost more than the fabric version, just because leather is a more expensive material to source. If you look at the chairs from Secret Lab, their Omega and Titan series are all available in fabric, Polyurethane (PU) leather, or Napa leather. Their prices reflect the difference in qualities and properties of the materials, with Napa leather costing double that of the PU leather.

A lot of the variation in price for different materials is due to their difference in quality and the properties they possess. Metal is a stronger but heavier material than plastic, faux leather is easier to clean than real leather, memory foam is more supportive than standard foam, etc.  


It’s not just what it’s made from, but how it’s made that can also affect the price of an office chair. Having components of the chairs made as a single piece, rather than pieces to attach together, can push the price up because they require a specialized machine or process to create.

Think about a wooden chair: it would take a lot more work to carve a chair out of a single tree than it would to attach smaller pieces of wood together. When you’re looking at different chairs, a beautiful design element might take a lot more effort to create than a simple shape which could increase the price.

If we look at the office chairs available from CB2, for example, the ones with a single piece seat, wheels and adjustable height are more expensive than the multi-piece, static chairs. 


office chair
There’s definitely a science to sitting. Using an ergonomic office chair makes a difference you can feel, and this technology costs money. Creating the right seat shape, foam density and adjustable hydraulics all require research and development (commonly referred to as R&D) to make sure it’s right.

Companies such as Herman Miller have a whole range of performance seating, and highly technical office chairs, designed with tons of features and benefits. They couple this with their famous design aesthetic, which lands their chairs among some of the most expensive office furniture available.

Brand Name 

It’s not something anyone likes to talk about, but sometimes you do pay extra to get a brand name. Why? What this boils down to is partly that brands that have a famous or long-standing name are generally more trusted and reliable. The other part is that a recognizable brand name or design can give the owner a certain appearance. In business, giving the right appearance to clients or coworkers can be vitally important to success. Choosing the right brand of chair for your office can be a subconscious message about your reliability and success, giving those you work with reassurances about your ability. 

Shipping Costs

office chair among packing boxes
Office chairs can be heavy. Even ones that are mostly plastic with a fabric cover can weigh a lot, and when you start replacing the plastic and fabric for metal and leather, it gets even heavier. Add to this the fact that chairs are a bulky item, and you’re already looking at a pretty big shipping box. However, it’s not just shipping the chair to you that costs a lot. Shipping the chair to the warehouse it’s stored in before they ship to you can add up.

Sometimes parts for chairs aren’t all made at the same factory, sometimes they are. Once the parts are made, they then have to be either assembled, to ship it to you ready-to-use, or packed ready for self-assembly.

One place that definitely doesn’t have high shipping costs is Amazon, especially if you are a Prime member. The marketplace giant has their logistics down to a science, making massive savings that are passed on to the consumer. If you browse the office chairs they carry from various brands, you can compare the materials, manufacturing and brand name of them easily.

Bottom Line

Now that we’ve looked at a few of the reasons for the cost of office chairs, as well as some different companies, you should feel confident in choosing the right office chair for your needs. The question of “how much are office chairs” should be gone from your mind, and you can now focus on asking the right questions. When you’re looking at different office chairs, it will be helpful to bear these questions in mind:

  • What materials do you want? 
  • What style are you looking for?
  • What features or technology do you need?
  • Will the brand name matter?
  • What is your budget?

Once you know the answers to these questions, you should be able to easily find the chair of your dreams. Like we said in the beginning, we spend nearly all day sitting in the same chair. If you think about a cost-per-use scenario (divide the price by hours or days of use), you could see that what might be expensive to begin with is actually an investment in comfort. 

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