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Buy a Standing Desk: The Ultimate (Step by Step) Guide + Checklist

So, you have decided that you want to be more productive, work on your posture and have a super modern, nice standing desk. Now the exploration starts, and as you research you find that there are many variables when buying a standing desk. What to look for in choosing and buying a standing desk? This article aims to cover all the needed information to make a properly informed decision.

Now, let’s do your homework!

Step 1: Do research. Google “buy standing desk”

In this one-click-away-from-Google world, you have access to countless sources of information. However, don’t forget that you can also ask for the experiences of people you know. It is highly likely that in your network of acquaintances, at least one person is using some form of a standing desk. What should you ask if you want to know more about their standing desk using experience?

Personal opinions from different individuals and can be very personal and contextual to their situation! Therefore, before being sold on such products, it is critical to gain information about: which kind of standing-supported desk they use (there are more than one)? How often and have long have they used it (there is a possibility that some just used it for a few hours at some shared working space and fall in the first love/hate game).

Beware of those who speak too much about one branded product, as there is a chance that your ‘friend’ works for a commission-based affiliate program. Affiliate programs are common in the e-commerce marketing world. In case your friend do receive commissions for referring (often they are open about this), that doesn’t make that brand a bad one, it is just harder to get unbiased, diversed reviews about multiple brands from them.

On the other hand, in the case of doing online (desk) research, what should you be aware of, what should you look for? Below are the typical things that I would bear in mind:

What to do in your first-round of research? Let’s cover the surface for now, later we will get to the standing desk details & specifications.

Do I need to buy Standing Desk?

No, you don’t need a standing desk. A normal desk works just fine.

However, if you care about your ergonomic health and be aware of how prolonged sitting can be detrimental to your long-term health, considering switching to a standing desk and use it properly can bring numerous health  benefits.

What are the health benefits or potential harms from using standing desk?

Benefits of a Standing Desk

Understand the true benefits of a standing desk.

Negatives of a Standing Desk

Understand the possible cons of a standing desk.

  • Initial cost (you can save buy only the frame to match with your favorite table top)
  • Need an electric power source
  • Increase risk of varicose veins if standing too much
  • Increase risk of lower limb swellings if standing too much
  • Need for electrical and mechanical installation

Moreover, we have made a list of both academic and opinions from different sources that we have compiled just in case you want to dig deeper into the cons of a sedentary lifestyle and the benefits of ergonomic health.

View our full list of sources regarding ergonomics and heath. We have compiled opinions from different sources, from academic, scientific sources to trustworthy magazines.

How to read online reviews?

Read reviews from different electric standing desk models in market (from your country). Reviews since the no-screen world or full-screen world has been a helpful source for shoppers. Get genuine reviews from well established bloggers, reviewers, or sources, such as trustpilot.com, wirecutter.com. Be critical when it comes to reviews, are you looking for the right information or are you being fed with info someone wants you to read. One tip is checking if the reviewing procedure & standards are mentioned; also be careful if the reviews contain merely links and low-quality curated content. We recommend looking at the highest rated reviews and always filter on the worst reviews too, to get an idea of both points of views.

How to do brand research?

You will be overwhelmed by the amount of brands there are in the market when you Google for “buy standing desk”. It is advised that you check for brands that ship to your residence. Don’t chase good deals and splendid-looking design overseas and overlook services such warranty, free returns, shipping and most importantly customer support that a local brand can give you. You can dig into brands if you have already had some brands in mind, or you can come to grips with them later in the process.

My mom usually says “If you want to point one finger at others, first point the other four at yourself”. Before taking the plunge, sit yourself down with these bullet points (about yourself) in mind:

What is my buying purpose?

What do you buy standing desk for? Who are you? What do you do? Are you a student, a working person, are you buying for your home-office, or your office-office, are you buying it for yourself, for your kids (or for both), for your team, or for the whole department, company, etc. Many brands offer a floor plan design with interiors designers of your choice, or special quote with bulk buying. What kind of tasks do you see yourself using the desk to accomplish? Is it involved studying, mostly design-related, development-related, writing related, administrative related? Bearing these in mind will help you in deciding specifications for your desk.

How to manage my expectation?

As discussed by Tim Ferriss in his podcasts, expectations play a triumph role in determining one’s satisfaction level. Ask yourself what do you expect a standing desks will contribute to improving your lifestyle, posture, ergonomics health and safety? What about productivity? Standing desk helps with the above mentioned,  but they are not magic pills. Check our standing desk resources for more information.

Do I have any health issues?

If you think about getting yourself a standing-desk (we will get into different types later), ergonomic health and working health is of priority in your conceived self-care list. Unlike online ads, the hurtful truth is that a standing desk is not exactly for everyone. Ask your doctor if you have varicose veins, are currently pregnant, or have any health issues that prevent you from standing for a prolonged time.

Step 2: Choose your desired model

There are multiple options for you to choose from: standing desk converter, full crank standing desk, full electric standing desk, DIY standing desk, standing box, etc. 

Different Standing Desk Models

As mentioned above, there are many models and types of standing desks. So, it will be the first fork in the road we bang into. What are the most popular and practical models there are? And what are the fundamental differences between them?

Standing Desk Converter

fitnest desk converter

Source: Fitnest featured product

If you are not ready to make a full switch to a fully-built desk, then a height adjustable desk converter is an option for you. Ask yourself if you are thrilled by the set-up of having another smaller desk placed on top of your normal working desk? This is a good option for you if you are in love with your current work station, or it is too new to be replaced. It is understandable that big changes are not easy steps, especially if your purpose of considering a standing is just to feel the standing-kind-of-feeling. However, the cons are aesthetics matter, especially if you have multiple devices and lots of cables. Moreover, budget-wise, a good desk converter cost around 300EUR, while an economical version of a standing desk ranges from 400EUR and above (depending). You do the math.

Full Crank Standing Desk

Full Electric Standing Desk

Fitnest Sierra Electric Standing Desk no background

Source: Fitnest Sierra Pro

The most popular of its kind is the full height adjustable standing desk, the table top is alleviated within a range of height due to the support of the height adjustable legs. With this type of standing desk, you will have a whole new work station overhaul for yourself. The difference between the crank and electric versions mainly affect its transition speed, and most of all, the feeling you develop with your desk. Some say the electric version gives them a smooth experience (with those products at low transition noise of 50 decibels or less), without breaking their sit-stand flow. It is likely that other prefer the physical manually transition process with a crank. The offers depends on brands and prices.

DIY standing desk

Oristand Cardboard Standing Desk

Source: Oristand Standing Box 

Or, another option for you without having to actually buy a standing desk, and just for the sake of standing, is to DIY your workstation. This is a great way to see if standing is getting yourself to try and get used to a standing desk. Just Google “DIY standing desk”, and there are multiple options for you to choose from. The perk is very good cost or no cost at all. You can make use of a carton box for your laptop, perhaps another one for your keyboard and mouse, and voila, you have a standing desk. In the long-term, however, it may affect your ergonomics posture and health because the position is fixed. You can check out Standup Box if you are in the Netherlands.

There are also less popular desks such as hydraulic desks, treadmill desk, bicycle desks, reclined desks (where you half-lying down similar to the position when are at your dentist).

reclined desk

Reclined Standing Desk (Source: PCMag)

treadmill-standing-desk-by-kos

Treadmill Desk (Source: KOS)

bicycle standing desk

Bicycle Desk (Source: Fitnest featured products)

Now that you know what are the typical standing desk models out there, perhaps you have an idea what kind of desk is suitable with you for now.

Depending on which type of buyer you are, perhaps emotion and heart-feelings are enough prerequisites for you to go forward, or perhaps you are a “Suspicious Steward” or a “Rational Raymond” (the nicknames that Grant Cardone make for customers that really push a salesman to go the extra mile to earn your trust). You may also switch from one type to the other sometimes. But it doesn’t matter, we have curated a checklist for you. Based on our experience of buying and using standing desks ourshelves, this is the list of items to be weighed against your priority preference.

Step 3: Prioritize desk features & functions

Check which features and functions that are important and relevant to your use case. Variables are desk height range, table top size, control panel with or without presets, budget, speed, noise level, durability, warranty, weight capacity, frame width adjustment, nearby plug, built-in cable management, etc among others.

Specification Checklists:

Now that you have done your online research, brand search, identifying buying purpose, also check if your health conditions allow you to have one. You also understand what are the available standing desks available on the market. Let’s continue with some standing desk specifications. We have categorized the specs into different levels importance and give our explaination underneath.

1. Height:

Fitnest Sierra Electric Standing Desk moving point

Source: Fitnest Sierra Frame 

This is the most important factor when it comes to standing desk. A typical standing desk can go as low as 60cm up to 120cm. That is as low enough for a recommended desk height of a 7-year-old kid to a 2-meter-tall adult in standing position. As Lushhouse suggested, for 120 – 150 cm (47 – 59 inches) tall kids their writing desk height should be between 55-65 cm. Meanwhile, for an average Dutch man height: 185cm (whose men are famous for holding the world record for being one of the tallest men in the world), specialists from painlessmovement.com recommend a standing desk height of 119cm.

Buying a standing desk that ranges between 60cm and 120cm, you are given maximum flexibility to mutiple sit and stand positions. If you are given the task to buy standing desk for a family member (even a kid with fast height growth) or a company, then you don’t have to worry about a desk that won’t fit.

However, not all desks offer this range. Some frame only goes as low as 70cm or higher. But worry not. A typical desk-side drawer from IKEA is 69cm tall, which mean you are safe to go as long as your to-buy desk frame can go as low as 70cm.

An example of a “IKEA desk-side drawer (69cm) under desk” setup. Source: Emilyeveryday.co

According to researchers from Start Standing, when you’re standing, you should be able to type with your elbows at east besides your sides, and your forearms slightly angled downward towards the floor. As a note, are your cables are long enough for the new desk in its standing position.

2. Width adjustment

The feature is not that well-known between buyers when searching to buy a standing desk. The ability to shrink and expand your frame width comes in handy when you plan to have a bigger-than-average table top. If your table top width is less than 150cm, then any frame on the market would work just fine. However, if you have a 200cm or more desk top, then make sure you choose a frame that can expand to at least 180cm for smooth and sturdy performance.

3. Weight capacity:

We place at low importance because, in most cases, there is no need for you to exhaust the maximum power of the frame. A modern working station with a laptop, monitor, keyboard, pen and paper is not that heavy.

designer-workspace-minimalistic-home-office-blank
A Modern Workspace isn’t that heavy

However, it rather has another meaning. Lifting capacity is actually a direct reflection of how strong the lifting columns are. The more powerful the desk engine is, the more it is said “it can lift”. Buying a standing desk with strong legs will for sure give you a more satisfying experience, stable and sturdy.

It is okay to neglect this spec when consider buying a standing desk. However, if you own a home studio or have a special work station, do measure the total weight of your all things on desk.

Normally, weight capacity provided by companies are excluding the table tops. From major brands in the market, a table top typical weight from 5kg to 30kg (depending on material) (yes! 30kg). Meanwhile, the loading capacity of a typical standing desk ranges from 70kg to 130kg, even though some advertises that their desks can reach up to 180kg, we advise you not to overdo it if you want to protect the frame longevity. In a nutshell, if you want your desk to move smoothly, grab a weight and measure all possible things that will possibly be placed on the frame.

Example:

  • Advertised Lifting Capacity = 125kg (Sierra Pro Electric Standing Desk)
  • Desk Top Weight = 30kg (180 x 80 cm Laminate Table Top)

=> All things on desk = 95kg (which is the average weight of man)

flexible-man-practicing-yoga-at-workplace
An average man weight 95kg. Can your standing desk lift him?

4. Table Top Size:

Your table top size is directly related to the user-experience that you have with your desk. It is the whole “look” in the look-and-feel of the desk for you. You may want a smaller desk top to make better Instagram photo for your desk-tour minimalistic-style pic, however, be sure you are comfortable with the space you have, especially if you have some sort of claustrophobia.

architect-woman-at-her-desk-working-on-blueprints
Does your table top give you enough space?

Grab a rule and measure. Make sure the width and height is enough for all of your equipment. Spare some extra some if you prefer to have writing space, drawring space at your desk. Do you only use a laptop for your desk? Or you also have monitors? How many monitors do you have?

Ensure enough width desk space from your body to the screen so that your eyes won’t stress out too much from the blue light. The general rule of thumb is one arm-length distance from your eyes to the screens.

rule of thumb distance between eyes and screenRead more about research on suggested distance between eyes and monitor.

5. Noise level:

If we were you, we wouldn’t worry much about noise level when it comes to buy standing desk. Still, here are some key points about noise level.

The measurement for noise level is decibels. Your breathing is 10dB. Your whispering is 30dB. A normal fridge humming is 40dB. And a quiet office is from 50 to 60dB. (National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders). If you work in big cities, you are basically dunk in urban noise all day, typically, Amsterdam (55-70dB) or New York (90dB). So, the question you should worry about is not how noisy your standing desk is, but does your living environment suffer from noise pollution?

Moreover, a standing desk only makes noise while it moves. It is not constantly on like a fridge or too noisy like a vacumn cleaner (70dB).

As an ending note, looking for a range of noise level from 50dB (which is pretty quiet) to 60dB when buy standing desk should give you a comfortable and satisfying experience. If you want to read more about standing desk noise level, look for Wirecutter reviews. Not believed what being told, they conducted themselves a thorough experiment to measure the exact decibels in different environment.

6. Presets (apply if you opt for electric standing desk):

There are many  some electric height adjustable standing desk has an up and down button (such as the Fitnest Sierra Starter), or an up and down pad (Herman Miller Renew Desk), or a programmable presets which give you one-click to a preset adjusted height of your choice (Fitnest Sierra Pro).

  Simple up-down control panel (Source: Fitnest Sierra Starter) 

 

Programmable Presets control panel (Source: Fitnest Sierra Pro) 

 

Paddle control panel (Source: Herman Miller) 

7. Speed:

Speed itself, same as Lifting Capacity doesn’t play an important in affecting your desk functionality. However, by identifying how fast and how much the frame can lift, you can know if they are strong frame or not.

Why would you want powerful-engine frame?

A strong frame is stable. And it moves sturdy. It is pleasing. It is just one of the satisfying feeling that reward yourself for being or will-be for working your ass out. Just like that powerful-engine car that you rarely go max speed but still enjoy very much. I can’t think of a better explanation for this.

Moreover, the more powerful the engine, the faster it moves and also, the quieter it moves. Are you a believer of flow in concentration span? If yes, then you know how precious, but also tangible it is to get-in-the-zone and keep-being-in-the-zone. That is when switching speed plays its card. After all, isn’t it productivity is what bring you to this article anyway? If not, let’s know in the comment.

8. Plug nearby:

Have you already had a plug nearby? (if you are using an electric standing desk model).

If not, then no worries. This is of low importance. Not having a plug nearly wouldn’t hinder you from buying standing desk. You can always use a wire connecter, even though, it means you will have to sacrifice the aesthetic element regarding messy wires.

9. Durability:

It is good to ask yourself how long are you planning to use the table for? For 6 months, a year? Do you have to move a lot? Then a average quality, economical version is alright. You can consider a #2200 Colin Nederkoon desk for €21.98 or a carton standing box. With this price range, no warranty is needed.

For standing desks, frame (with its mechanical and electrical parts) usually have different warranty terms than its table top. So, make sure you check thoroughly. Current market models offer from 2 to 7 years on frame. If you want to take a step further, check if the retour is free of charge, or who and how much each parties need to cover the extra fees. Typically, the high-class Herman Miller Renew Standing Desk offers up to 12 years for their table top, but only 2 years for its electrical components.

Therefore, durability is of medium/high importance depending on how many years you expect your usage life span.

10. Wire management system:

You don’t want to ruin the outlook of your desk with wires, unless you decide to go DIY, the appearance is not something you want to be meticulous about. Check if your suppliers offer wire management system, or you can order a Signum from IKEA for 10EUR.

11. Budget:

Last but highly personal is the budget you have for this ergonomics product.

For some, €600 to buy a standing desk is quite an investment, but for others, €1000 for health & productivity enhancement is not what they have to think much about.

But again, it is a all-time purchase myth to think that the more expensive something is, the better it works. The only guarantee is your expectation that big-cheque pays off.

  • Do you want a desk that simply works?
  • … or that works fine?
  • … or that works the WOW factor out of you?
  • … or your standards include a desk that it-does-not-hurt-to-look-good-duh?
  • … or one that sparks JOY?

Also check if the price is inclusive, are there any hidden costs, which is very likely the case when you shop online? Is it tax included? Is it free-shipping? How many years of warranty are you being offered? Do you have free-detour? Check the warranty procedure if needed. If you need, don’t be shy to call the customer service for further information. Customers first!

12. Myths-debugging:

This is highly important.

Do you know that waiting time itself is a negative experience, however, in general, it increases customer satisfaction from built-up expectations (read full research here).

With the same logic, the longer time you spend researching for your next standing desk, the more likely you are satisfied with your purchase. However, nowadays, it is easy to be trapped in illuminating online reviews that push your expectation real high. Even though, it is hard to know what to expect.

Be prepared mentally, anticipation is always better than real life. Especially, some health & productivity benefits will only comes after a while.

Complete Specs Checklist

Below is a compiled checklist for you:

Fitnest Standing Desk Shopping ChecklistDownload Complete Standing Desk Shopping Checklist

Step 4: Choose appropriate accessories (optional)

It should not be a problem as a beginner to buying a standing desk. But as you have gone this far into the researching process, it is good to also think if there are any accessories you may need for yourself. List of accessories to consider:

  • Standing Chair (chair itself is not an accessory, but standing chair is optional)
  • Balance Mat
  • CPU holder
  • Monitor Arms

etc.

Besides the accessories, do you wish to have special features as an add-on:

  • Compartments to store stuff
  • Smart touch screen
  • Environmentally friendly material

…or just a standing desk as it is!

Step 5: Buy, unbox & Set up

One thing we can promise you is that it will not be comfortable out-of-the-box, nor the first few days you are using it. Make sure you keep yourself educated on using instructions from the manufacturers. First symptoms to be expected include: fatigue (multiple causes: standing too much, not used to standing because standing requires 20% more energy than sitting), tired feet and legs, deeper sleep, altered mood, changes in energy levels, more focused or can’t focus at all etc. The eyes see it all but not itself!  You may not realize if you are in a different mood, but maybe it is because you start using a standing desk.

You can buy online or offline. Unbox, set up and it’s ready for you to use. Next step is to learn how to use a standing desk to improve your productivity.

Make sure to check out more guides and articles in Fitnest Blog and Resources to get yourself well prepared.

Commonly Asked Questions

Check out FAQ.

Conclusion:

In summary, learn about your buying purpose, read reviews critically from practical sources, be conscious about ads. Check your work habits, decide on which standing desk model you like, use our specification standing desk buying checklist when you are being surrounded by the paradox of choice, and remember there are no perfect desk, there is only THE DESK FOR YOU – the one that sparks JOY.

We hope this ultimate guide to buying a standing desk helps you in the journey of improving your work productivity. Let’s know if we can further assist you in the process. Being there for you to help you master your work productivity is our mission.

Disclaimer:

Fitnest curated this article, however, the post is not for selling purpose. Other brands are mentioned for the pure purpose of demonstrating an example. We receive no commission from such mentioning.

The Best Electrical Standing Desk for Better Productivity. Quality-crafted, certified and ethically built.

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The Best Electrical Standing Desk for Better Productivity | Fitnest