How Do I Choose a Standing Desk?

A standing desk is an important buying decision for  your overall health and well-being. But for a newcomer, all the different types, sizes, and styles may seem pretty confusing. This article was written to help you find the perfect standing desk. 

Before you can start choosing a good standing desk, it is important to know the different types. Then, you can look at adjustability, height, size, and more. Let’s get started.

how do I choose a standing desk

Types of Standing Desks

There are a few different types of standing desks that you should consider. There are non-adjustable standing desks, manual standing desks, standing desk converters, pneumatic standing desks, and electric standing desks. 


These will only work for standing and may not be the best choice for a lot of people. However, if you are going to keep your traditional, sitting desk separate from your standing desk, then this could be a good option. Just make sure that you purchase a desk that fits your height (more on how to do this later!). 

Manual Standing Desks

Manual standing desks are another option to consider and they usually use a knob or a crank to adjust. Some will also only adjust to certain set heights. Some of these are not good options for the same reasons that non-adjustable ones aren’t great - because they are difficult to adjust. Others, like crank ones, can be very useful while remaining affordable. 


This is a small desktop that fits on top of an existing desk. They are usually adjustable as well so you can still sit at the desk. Then, you can use the desk you already have as an adjustable standing desk.

Pneumatic Standing Desk

This type of standing desk uses a pneumatic adjustment system to adjust at the touch of a lever. This makes it easy to go from sitting to standing and back again. It also is a good option if you want to share the standing desk with someone else because it is unlikely that you will both need a desk that is exactly the same height. 


This is the most popular option and will adjust at the touch of a button. They will have one or two motors to effortlessly adjust between a wide range of heights. Many of them also have preset buttons so you can program different heights that you use often. 

How do I choose a standing desk

Why is it Good to Get a Height Adjustable Option?

A standing desk can reduce the amount of time sitting and sitting can be terrible for your health. However, standing too much is not good either. Therefore, it is best to alternate between sitting and standing regularly throughout the day.

To be able to alternate you would either need a standing desk and a separate traditional desk, or you can use an adjustable standing desk. Also, since you should go from sitting to standing and vice versa fairly often, it may be best to get an option that adjusts easily.  

How High Should it Be?

The desk needs to suit your height while you sit and while you stand. But how do you know how tall that is, especially if you are buying online? 

For sitting height, sit in the chair that you plan on using. Keep your feet flat on the floor while wearing the footwear that you will wear or shoes that offer a similar sole thickness. Now, keep your upper arm at your side while extending out your forearms. Now you can measure from the floor to the underside of your forearms. That will be the height. 

The measurement is the same for standing ( are standing). Measure to your forearms while they are extended away from your body. 

The height for both sitting and standing should allow you to rest your arms on top of the desk. This allows you to type comfortably without moving your wrists, arms, or shoulders too much.

If you are going to be sharing the desk with people of a large range of heights, be sure to get one that has a large height range. The recommended height range is 22.6″ to 48.7” but the preferable height is dependant on the user. 

Read More >> Eureka Ergonomic Height Adjustable Standing Desk Review (2021 Edition)

What About Desktop Size?

This depends on your usual work materials. If you are using a laptop with very few other materials and no keyboard, then you probably do not need a huge desktop surface. However, if you use multiple monitors, a separate mouse and keyboard, and paperwork, then you will want to have a larger area. 

For the size you also need to consider the amount of room that you have available. The depth or distance from the front of the desk to the back of the desk needs to allow you to sit about a foot away from your screen while reaching the keyboard and having enough room to work. Usually 30 inches is sufficient, but less may work for some people and others may require 36 inches or even more of depth. 

The lengths range a lot with small options being less than 30 inches long and larger options being up to 72 inches or even more in some cases. You do not want a desk too big because then you will have to reach for materials too often. However, get a desk too small and you will not be able to fit all your work materials on it. 

Finally, there are also options that have multiple tiers. This allows you to have the monitor on a raised height away from the other materials on your desk. This can be very comfortable for some people and also makes good use of desktop space. 

Read More >> Top 5 Best Standing Desk Accessories? (2021 Review)

How Strong Should the Desk Be?

A stronger desk has a couple of benefits. While you can get more affordable options that are not as strong or durable, they will likely wear out faster and the mechanisms can become more wobbly. A strong desk will be stable and you will be able to use it in good condition for longer. 

A stronger desk will also have a higher weight capacity. Most desks will easily support average desktop materials, but if you will have heavier items on the desk, make sure that you get one that can support it without wearing down. 

Which Desks are Noisy?

Most desks are quiet enough for most situations. However, if you have a very quiet office or get bothered by noise easily, then you may want to think about getting a quieter model. Hand crank options are usually the noisiest and low-quality pneumatic systems can make more noise than high quality ones. 

Electric standing desks can vary greatly in noise output depending on the quality and number of motors. More expensive ones are generally much quieter and many options even list the noise level produced on their product descriptions. 

How Fast Does it Adjust?

While this may not be the first thing you think about, it can be an important factor. A few seconds difference doesn’t seem like much, but when you are adjusting often throughout the workday, it can get very frustrating and bothersome when you have a slowly adjusting desk. 

Should it Be Mobile?

Some people will keep their desk in the same exact spot for the entire lifespan, but others like to organize their office or even move it around during the day. If you do plan on moving it around, you should make sure that it isn’t overly heavy. You may also want to consider options that have good quality caster wheels. 

What About Optional Additions?

There are a lot of different features that either come on desks or that can be added to them. Some of them may improve the functionality or style of your desk and work area. 

There are monitor arms that can give you a clearer view and distance from the screen. This can be beneficial for your eyes and posture if the desk does not put the monitor at an optimal height in relation to your head and body. 

A lot of people like to get standing desks with a keyboard tray. This saves additional space on the desktop surface and allows you to type a little lower than you would otherwise which can be more comfortable. This is especially good for shorter people when they are working in a seated position. 

An anti-fatigue mat can also help your feet, legs, and muscles remain more comfortable without getting tired. There are also grommet holes and other wire management features that can keep the entire area more organized and clean. 

Price and Style Considerations?

For most people, the only thing as important as the functionality is the price. Luckily there are tons of options for virtually any price range. However, it is important to never sacrifice comfort or ergonomics for a cheaper option. This is because you will likely not want to use it if you begin to develop aches and pains or if it is too difficult to adjust. 

Style is all dependent on your preferences. Most options have a modern style and design, but there are plenty of options that have traditional aesthetics or industrial feels. 

Final Thoughts on Choosing a Standing Desk

Choosing a standing desk does not have to be difficult. Just make sure you take all of these aspects into consideration. If you are unsure, just go down through this article again and make sure that each of the considerations and factors works for you. Good luck!

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Darryl Higgins

Darryl Higgins

Hi, I'm Darryl. I made this site to help share information & reviews about ergonomic desks, chairs & accessories to help others who want to work more comfortably. Learn more about my journey by reading my bio here. Enjoy!

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Darryl Higgins

Darryl Higgins

Hi, I'm Darryl. I made this site to help share information & reviews about ergonomic desks, chairs & accessories to help others who want to work more comfortably. Learn more about my journey by reading my bio here. Enjoy!

About Athlete Desk

Learn about standing desks, bicycle desks, treadmill desks, ergonomic chairs & accessories.

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