If you spend hours sitting at your desk each day, a great office chair can make all the difference for your back. But since the best office chairs cost hundreds of dollars—and some are over $1,000—it’s not an investment that everyone can (or wants to) make.
The good news is that since these Office chairs are built to last for decades, they make excellent secondhand purchases. Yep, you can get all the benefits offered by our top picks at a fraction of the price. But before you fire up a new browser tab and start searching Craigslist, there are just a few things you should keep in mind if you want to buy a refurbished or used office chair.
1. Make a list of must-have features or specific chairs you’re interested in
Before you start looking for an Next Chair Reviews, have a wish list of one or two models you’re interested in and a list of features you’re not willing to compromise on, such as height-adjustable armrests or a mesh back (here’s what we prioritize when evaluating chairs). This will help you quickly comb through used-chair listings and avoid the temptation to buy just any office chair on a budget. More important than scoring a discounted chair is scoring a discounted chair that really fits your needs. It’s kind of like buying a used car: You should have a make and model in mind, but perhaps be flexible with things like color options.
2. Shop local and in person if you can
Once you know what you’re looking for, try to shop local—it’s best if you can see the chair in person, so you are able to try it out and look for any defects, stains, or other issues. During the COVID-19 pandemic, follow the same safety measures when buying a chair as you would when shopping for anything else, such as wearing a mask and keeping at least 6 feet from other shoppers or the seller. The best places to start your chair-shopping adventure are:
Local authorized dealers:
Chair companies’ authorized sellers sometimes sell gently used chairs or floor models. See if you can get in touch with a sales or warehouse contact to find out if they have any chairs to sell to individuals. A big benefit of going with an authorized dealer is you can be assured that the parts were all made by the original manufacturer and covered by its warranty. Check out Steelcase’s authorized dealers search form and Herman Miller’s authorized retailers list to find out whether there’s one near you. Herman Miller and Design Within Reach also have five outlets across the United States that sell gently used, overstocked, and returned furniture. They’re located in Vero Beach, Florida; Brooklyn, New York; Oxnard, California; Leesburg, Virginia; and Zeeland, Michigan.
These companies resell furniture from businesses that have closed. Search Yelp for “office liquidator” to see if there are any near you, and then check their websites for available inventory. I found a pre-owned Herman Miller Aeron chair for $395, for example, from an office liquidator in another state; it’s 2½ hours away, but to save over $600 on a chair that normally goes for $1,000, I’d consider taking the trip. Alternatively, you can search used-office-furniture dealers by state on NextChair Review. You’ll need to sign up for a free account, but once you’re logged in, you’ll have access to customer reviews and ratings of the dealer, as well as its furniture listings. Fair warning: You’ll probably also get emails from dealers pitching you chairs they have for sale, so get ready to filter those out of your inbox.
High-end chairs sometimes appear on Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace, but the selections are limited, so you’ll need to be patient to find the exact chair you want. You might get lucky, however, by searching these sites with a generic term like “office chair.” As this video from YouTuber Ahnestly points out, sometimes people sell pricey office chairs like the Herman Miller Aeron without knowing what they are. It takes some patience to comb through all the listings, but the results can be worth it.
3. Test the chair before you buy
Once you’ve found a chair you think you want, be sure to actually sit in it before you hand over the cash. Bring a printout, or refer to the chair manufacturer’s website during testing so you know what adjustments and features to look for. Spend enough time in the chair to make sure it fits you, is comfortable, and is in full working order. In particular, do this:
Test the adjustment levers to make sure they work smoothly, since these are most likely to wear out. Raise and lower the chair, and, if possible, adjust the armrests, lumbar support, and seat pan depth. Lock anything that can be locked—like the armrest and recline angle—and make sure they don’t budge once they’re locked.
When you’re seated with your back against the backrest, take note of whether there’s the recommended small gap (about three fingers’ width) between the back of your knees and the front of the seat. Do your lower and mid-back feel supported? (The lumbar support should hit you in the small of your back, right about your belt line.) Does the seat feel too firm, too soft, or just right?
Lean back in the chair to recline. Adjust the tension control, which adjusts how much force is needed to tilt back. Make sure this is comfortable.
Wheel the chair around. The casters should be secure in the base and roll easily.
Check the fabric on the seat and back for any tears, stains, or unpleasant odors. (Cleaning an office chair is straightforward, but if the chair requires deep cleaning, you might be able to negotiate the price.)
Look for any cracks in plastic and metal pieces, especially on the wheels and armrests.
If you’re concerned about authenticity, Amy Auscherman, head of archives and brand heritage at Herman Miller, advises that you look specifically for the label attached to the underside of the chair. That label on most chairs often lists the serial number, model number, and date the chair was manufactured.