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I think a lot of us bigger folks have been there. Someone offers us a seat, we look over, and suddenly there’s that little flicker of doubt about the seat being able to support our extra weight.
Even if the chair doesn’t snap underneath your weight, if it’s somewhere you sit down all the time like your office chair, it’s going to experience excessive wear and tear if it isn’t strong enough. This means less support and if you’ve ever struggled with back problems like I have, then you know support in a chair is everything– especially at the office.
That being said, how much weight can an office chair hold?
The standard office chair has a maximum weight limit of around 250-300 pounds. That aside, some chairs are built bigger and sturdier for the heavier body and these can have a weight limit of 400-500 pounds or more.
Below, we’ll take a closer look at how much weight an office chair holds, features that make a chair friendlier for the bigger body, and answer some questions you may have.
How Much Weight Can an Office Chair Hold on Average?
The standard model office chair is made to be lightweight and ergonomically supportive. While it supports the average person, office chairs only have an average weight capacity of 250-300 pounds.
Of course, that’s going to vary a bit between brands but we took the average of more than 30 different brands of office chairs and found the precise average to be 261 pounds. That sample includes some with a weight limit as low as 240 and others with a weight limit as high as 290.
So while you should still check the individual brand, our small sample size suggests that if you weigh less than 230 pounds you’re usually going to be in the clear. However, we didn’t look at heavy-duty office chairs which are in a category all their own.
How Much Weight Can a Heavy Duty Office Chair Hold?
Heavy-duty office chairs are built to handle more weight without breaking down. It’s actually easy to find chairs that are designed to hold 500 pounds and you’re not limited to just one option as is often the case when it comes to finding plus size furniture.
When built well, they also provide ergonomic support in all those areas when you need it most, especially when you spend a lot of time in the chair at work. Here’s a look at some of the top high-weight capacity office chairs and their weight capacities.
While heavy-duty office chairs do have the obvious advantage of a higher weight capacity, another major benefit is that they are generally built sturdier and will last longer. Like with heavy-duty beach chairs, this appeals not only to larger men and women but also to people who prefer a better quality project.
Features to Look for in a Fat-Friendly Office Chair
When it comes down to it, the most important thing to look for is a high weight capacity. Personally, I prefer something is at least 40-50 pounds more support than I need. After all, why not have something sturdier that will last longer and still support you if you gain a little weight.
With these types of chairs, you’ll usually notice the frame is made from sturdier, heavier materials. You want the casters and other hardware for the wheels to be made from sturdy material too. Otherwise, they could break down over time and not roll as smoothly as they once did, or even break off.
Height is something else to consider. Knowing the distance between your knees and the bottom of your feet can help you find a chair that helps you sit properly and with good posture, whether you’re big and tall or shorter and plus-size.
Proper posture while sitting is critical to preventing chronic pain or injury in the back, neck, and shoulders. Having an adjustable recline can also help with this and gives you the option to sit in different positions through the day.
Next, be sure the chair will be comfortable. The width of the seat should ideally be a little wider than your widest point (that’s my hips for me) and well-padded on the back of the chair. While padding is nice, you’ll also want the material to have some ventilation, especially since heavier people tend to sweat more.
Lumbar support is also important. When your head, back, and neck are supported, your back will feel a lot different at the end of a long work day. Regularly getting up and moving around through the day can help, too and it even significantly reduces your risk of certain diseases.
What Happens if You Sit in an Office Chair That You’re Too Heavy For?
The answer really depends on how much of a difference there is between your total body weight and the amount of weight that the chair can hold. If you’re only like 20-30 pounds over the weight limit, chances are the chair won’t break right away. However, supporting more weight than it’s supposed to causes the chair to break down faster and it won’t last as long as expected.
That being said, if you are 100 pounds or more over the weight limit of the chair, there’s a good chance that it could break. This is especially true of chairs that have weaker wheels and casters, which is pretty common in an office setting.
Something else to consider is the amount of support the chair provides. A chair that isn’t rated for your weight isn’t going to provide the cushioning and the support that you need to be comfortable and keep your back healthy while you’re at work.
Does My Employer Have to Provide a Fat-Friendly Office Chair?
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, employers do have to provide a chair that provides adequate support for your arms and back. Furthermore, adjustability is an important feature so that you can change positions during the work day.
Sedentary jobs come with a lot of health risks on their own and sitting in the same position only worsens these risks. Sitting, especially with poor posture, strains muscles and discs in your back, neck, and spine. This causes pain, weakens the spine and discs, and even increases the risk of injury with time.
While there are no protections concerning workplace discrimination and a person’s weight, providing an office chair that is adequate for your weight really should follow under “reasonable accommodations”. If your workplace does not provide these accommodations, though, there’s still something you can try. We’ll get to that next.
Are You Allowed to Buy Your Own Office Chair for Work?
When it comes down to it, some companies allow employees to bring in their own office chairs while others prefer that the employer-provided chairs be used. While company policy does play a big role, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to spend all day sitting in a chair that is uncomfortable or that does not provide the support you need.
While companies aren’t allowed to discriminate against employees based on disability, there are not really any protective laws in place when it comes to an employee’s weight. It can be harder to get a job when you’re fat and you’re less likely to be promoted.
However, if the office chair is causing problems for your neck or back, the best route is to have it evaluated and documented by your physician. If they decide that switching up your seating would help, then getting a medical note could override company policy.
When it comes to “How much weight can an office chair hold?”, I personally find that a bigger, sturdier office chair is really worth the investment when you spend a lot of hours at your desk.
A heavy-duty office chair is going to be more expensive, but it also comes with the major benefit of better lumbar support, more cushioning, a wider design, and all those other features that you want in plus-size office chair.
Honestly, there are even benefits for people who aren’t on the heavier side and who want a quality chair. Not only do sturdier chairs last longer, but they also won’t break down as easily with time.
Hopefully, this article has been helpful as far as answering your questions!