Of all regular furniture staples, a desk is a sine qua non. It is impossible to imagine a den or an office without it, more so if you do most of your work at it.

Yet the desks of today do not look the same as the ones that were used decades ago. And not only desk designs have undergone major transformations. The very posture a person working at the desk takes differs from the orthodox sitting demeanor we got used to. More and more office employees opt for a standing office desk or make it a stylish element of their room interior at home. Computer gamers find a standing gaming desk extremely convenient providing them with better concentration and enhanced performance. And freelancers working from home buy a standing desk to boost their productivity and take care of their health at the same time.

standing desk basics

You must have understood by now that a standing desk is the one where you don’t need a chair to work at. Their popularity is gathering a remarkable momentum with manufacturers offering a wide range of standing desk designs, types, shapes, and materials as well as standing desk accessories.

Being a part of contemporary interior swank a modern standing desk is not a brainchild of today.

Standing Desks used in the Past

The name of Leonardo da Vinci is connected with many brilliant inventions. Believe it or not, in the case of the standing desk design he also had his finger in the pie. As early as the 1400s, the man of wisdom painted his pictures and developed his contraptions standing. As he admitted, a standing desk setup let his “creative juices flow freely".

In the 18th century, to be an owner of a standing desk meant to be a well-to-do person. Such people had their standing desks made to order and used them for spreading maps, books, and other printed products (which were also a hallmark of affluence). Historical sources testify that one of the lucky possessors of a tall standing desk was none other than Thomas Jefferson. His mahogany and yellow wooden standing desk was the first documented table that by modern standards was an adjustable desk. A famous Williamsburg cabinetmaker furnished it with a ratchet stand using which one could change the standing desk height.

standing desks used in the past

The next two centuries witnessed a prodigious rise in the spread of this kind of furniture making them even more common than sitting desks. In the middle of the XIX century, self-help manuals stated that half of the business writing was conducted at standing tables which helped in practicing pencraft. Back then, a standing writing desk was a regular denizen of government offices being sometimes shared by several clerks. No wonder that the first adjustable standing desk patents featuring a crank mechanism were issued at this very time.

The best proof of the standing desk's popularity was the fact that many prominent writers and statesmen including Napoleon and Winston Churchill perused documents and battle plans or created their fiction masterpieces poring over a standing desk. Some of them went so far as to completely give up regular desks. For instance, Ernest Hemingway could not use his cluttered sitting desk so he improvised a portable standing desk out of his bookcase. Even when on a sojourn at his friends’ he requested the host to provide him with a small standing desk.

All these people must have known something about the benefits of standing desks to prefer them to sitting ones.

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Benefits of a Standing Desk

Modern scientists claim that standing desks are healthier than their sitting counterparts. There exists several reasons to support this claim:

  • Lowers risk of weight gain & Obesity. If you stand for an hour you will burn as much as 50 calories more than you would do if you sat. This happens because a standing posture stimulates energy expenditure thus reducing the probability of gaining weight. Since obesity is often responsible for diabetes a standing desk is a safeguard against this wasting disease. In a sitting position, your blood sugar level rises due to the increase of insulin resistance so retaining a standing position will prevent this negative effect.
  • Stronger muscles. If you spend all day sitting at the computer the muscles responsible for movement and keeping an erect body posture will gradually waste away and become weaker. This concerns leg, gluteal, and hip muscles as well as the ones in your neck, back, and shoulders. Prolonged sitting will first cause pain in those organs which will eventually develop into stiffness and joint problems. A standing computer desk will protect your spine discs from compression and keep your muscles in constant use preventing possible strains and injuries.
  • Reduced Risk of Cancer. Doctors often stigmatized sitting as “the new smoking” hinting that it promotes cancer of different organs - breast, endometrial, and ovarian cancers afflict women and prostate cancer pesters men while both sexes suffer from sitting-provoked lung and colon cancer. At a standing desk price, you will reduce the odds of getting one of the mentioned maladies.
  • Healthier cardiovascular system. A sedentary way of life increases the chances of cardiovascular diseases unless you become more active. How often should you stand up from your desk? You won’t have to if you never sit at it and use a standing desk instead. Another element of this system that suffers from prolonged sitting are our veins. Constrained blood flow in the lower limbs triggers the appearance of spider veins that can, in the long run, bring about deep vein thrombosis.
  • Better eyesight.Since an adjustable height desk will let you choose the most convenient height for yourself you won’t slouch before the screen so your eyes won’t strain as much.

benefits of standing desk

How to stand at a stand up desk is also an important factor to consider when using your sit-stand desk. Using an anti-fatigue mat under your feet will turn your workstation into a more ergonomic desk offsetting the negative effects standing may have. At Progressive Desk you can choose between two types of mats, depending on the size of your desk.

Being manufactured of (most commonly) rubber, sometimes of vinyl, different carpeting substances or even wood, mats vary in thickness depending on the kind of foam used as a filler in them. Standing at the desk in slippers or flats will require more care for your feet and knees, thus making a thicker and softer “kitchen mat” a perfect choice.

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Standing Desk Parts

Like any other table, a standing desk consists of two principal elements: a tabletop and a standing desk frame. The shape, the size and the design of the platform may vary depending on the place where it will park. Thus, a corner standing desk, like the models we have at Progressive Desk, will have a shape to make it fit into the corner of the room and the size of a compact standing desk will be much smaller than that of a large standing desk, for example, of the twin ryzer standing desk. The issue of the frame or standing desk legs is not so simple as it may seem. For once, they also come in different sizes and shapes. Moreover, a table may have none if it is not an autonomous desk but a wall mounted standing desk.

You may not need to know all this if you just plan to buy a ready-made desk. However, if working with your hands is not an alien occupation for you, an attempt to build a standing desk will not take you too much time and effort. If you are planning to build your own height adjustable standing desk then you will first need what is called a linear actuator. Linear actuators allow you to change a standard desk height at will to suit your needs.

Trying to figure out what is the best standing desk for home or office (whether it is a table made to order, a ready-made one or a DIY adjustable standing desk) you should determine the material the desktop will be made of and choose a frame for it. Both will influence the ultimate standing desk cost.

Standing Desk Material Selection Tips

Normally, your choice of the material will be limited to the type of wood (laminated or solid one). Both have their own advantages and shortcomings.

Laminated wood boards consist of multiple layers. Their manufacturing process allows attaining a moisture-proof surface of the board. Plus the substances used for its coating contribute to the durability and toughness of the completed product. These substances vary from veneers made of natural wood (sometimes even metal) to vinyl wrappings. They are attached to the surface with adhesives applied at high temperature and pressure. Sounds complicated, but the aesthetics of the finished board make it worthwhile.

Typically, the coating is attached to the MDF or Medium Density Fiberboard. To produce it scrap wood is ground to uniform grains and mixed with binding substances (mostly resin) to be further pressured into a solid piece. Choosing among a plethora of MDF planks available on the market always aim for a heavier one which is a hallmark of its higher quality.

Why MDF is a good choice for an affordable standing desk? Firstly, it is cheaper than pricey solid wood. Secondly, they can be painted so it would not be a problem for you to get, say, a white standing desk however unnatural the color may seem for a product made of wood. Finally, MDFs are simple to shape and laminate since they never shrink or expand under the influence of environment temperature and have identical isotropic properties in any direction.

Unfortunately, most of the advantages work only if MDF is laminated and sealed. So if there are some grommet holes in your MDF desktop a spilled liquid running into them may ruin it totally (unless you furnished your desk with our specialized grommets). To prevent such contingencies it is recommended to apply waterproof paint at such places or choose MDFs that are hermetically sealed at the edges. These high-quality planks known as 3D-laminated boards come with a five-year warranty.

Advantages of 3D Lamination

Another name for 3D laminate is thermofoil. It is a film meant for covering MDF boards to protect it from damages, for instance, holes and scratches. Such peculiarity requires a reversed process of MDF manufacturing. Initially, the board is shaped according to the customer's demands and only then the lamination is applied to cover all edges and holes. It doesn’t only make the plank look like solid wood but also allows for the existence of ergo contours, that is rounded corners and edges. Since the latter feature is impossible to get via regular lamination you can always tell 3D laminated boards from their cheaper counterparts. Plus, 3D laminates come in a multitude of hues so you can have a pleasant problem of picking one out of hundreds.

If you decided that 3D lamination is what the doctor ordered for your furniture there is one more aspect to consider before making the final choice, namely the type of 3D lamination. Vertical dimension (or VD) laminate is thinner (one-ply) and consequently applied to vertical surfaces of cabinets in kitchens or bathrooms. For a standing desk, a two-ply horizontal dimension (HD) lamination is preferable as it is harder and more enduring.

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Either 3D lamination type is pretty expensive, so if the superb quality is a matter of compromise you ought to consider some budget options.

Other Lamination Types

The cheapest type of lamination is powder coating. To produce it a layer of paint is sprayed on an MDF plank. Such technology is barely enough to let the paint cling to the surface making it extremely susceptible to physical damage. Even if a moisture protection film is in evidence powder laminated boards can’t be cleaned with a detergent as the coating will just peel off.

A notch above powder lamination is HLP boards. High-pressure lamination is by far the most widespread type of coating used for office furniture. Here MDFs are covered with plastic (typically melamine) layers from the top and bottom. The edges are wrapped around with a PVC band matching the lamination hue.

The main drawback of HLP planks is that the protective strip peels off over time letting moisture and detergents erode the plank completely. Another downside to it is also connected with the seam banding that tends to leave a reddish impact on the arms of people leaning against the desk. Consequently, the dream vision of an ergonomic standing desk can hardly include an HLP desktop. Although, an affordable price makes this option quite attractive.

Solid Wood

More conservative customers tend to shy away from novel desktop materials retaining their preference to the good old wood. They don't mind paying a higher price. They are ready to wait for up to six weeks (if their table is made to order). They don't resent a narrow choice of colors and sizes. The genuine wood call is a thing from the times of yore and today it sounds no less compelling.

Manufacturers heed the call and respond with a great gamut of solid wood desktops. Their ergo contoured rims and simulated barkline at edges produce a venerable impression a respectable desk ought to. However, solid wood desktops have one more disadvantage (in addition to the high price): they fall short of laminated boards in terms of durability becoming rather battered in the long run. Yet this drawback is offset by the possibility to renovate them which doesn’t work with even the best laminated surfaces.

If solid wood desktops, nonetheless, appeal to you more you should be aware of still another choice to be made before acquiring one: the choice between hardwood and softwood. As the name suggests, the former is sturdier and more endurable, but more expensive too while softwood is the opposite of it in terms of durability and price.

Bamboo tabletops have a reputation for being a money-saving and eco friendly option which ostensibly makes them superior to any kind of wood. Yet, this choice is far from being flawless. For one thing, bamboo tops are notorious for their delamination which usually occurs after their long exposure to moisture and sunlight, so your budget-saving efforts will be undone very quickly. No wonder bamboo desktops are leaders in returns and complaints among all the desktop materials. Secondly, bamboo is not a tree, but a grass, thus shaping it into a board requires egregious amounts of electricity, water, and adhesives – so much for its ecological repute.

Shopping for a solid wood desktop you should realize that such products are almost never made of a single slab of wood since it is almost unreal to find a tree that doesn’t have any knots or flaws (and in case such one is found it will be expensive beyond reason). Instead, a number of real wood planks are glued together to form a flat platform which makes the price of such desktops reasonably affordable. A cheaper solution is engineered wood in which crisscross layers of low-cost wood are enwrapped by natural wood – the manufacturing process similar to MDF lamination.

An important factor to be considered while picking a solid wood desktop is the origin of the wood. Some countries are quite lax in their ecological standards permitting the usage of toxic solvent-relying sealants to process the wood. So desktops imported from there will be hardly suitable to make the best standing desk for home or office if you expect to spend long hours toiling at it.

Have you decided on the desktop for your dream table? Well, now for the frame.

Choosing a Standing Desk Frame

The choice of the frame is determined by the desktop that is going to rest on it. So the heavier and thicker the desk board (or stone slab, who knows!) is the sturdier the legs must be. But not only the weight of the board is to be taken into calculations. Don't forget the expected load of the equipment to be placed on it. If you are not sure of the size of your prospective table choose a frame with telescopic crossbars that will allow it to accommodate both a wide and a narrow standing desk board.

Another guideline for your choice is certainly the price of the frame. It is lower for desk frames produced in China (anything between $250 and $450), but when you buy items with a long term of usage being penny-wise doesn’t seem to be a safe bet. Moreover, if you want to have an electric adjustable desk it is advisable to look for frames manufactured in the USA or Europe. Naturally, you will have to shell out up to $850, but splurging on it you are sure you receive a more reliable product with a longer warranty whose mechanism works faster and quieter. That is why if you decided to build your own adjustable standing desk Progressive Desk is a partner you can rely on. A range of standing desk frames offered by us will be a perfect choice with an eye to creating a reliable foundation for your standing table. Besides, we offer you a plethora of accessories that are sure to make your workstation a more ergonomic and comfortable place to spend your long working hours at.

For instance, a CPU holder will prevent your computer from being dislodged when the process of height adjustment is under way.

Computer cables are a notorious nuisance that tends to tangle around your feet, planning to trip you or get all over the room hindering free movement about the premises. With our cable management gimmicks your cables will know their place.

Whatever desktop and frame appeals to you, your ultimate verdict in favor of any is determined by the standing desk type you wish to have.

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standing desk types

Types of Standing Desks

Despite the great variety of modifications available in the market, all standing desks fall into three distinct groups:

  • Perching desk. In fact, it is not a purely standing desk since you sit at it (albeit on a special kind of chair). But the posture you take is quite uncommon: a sitter’s hips keep a wide-open angle (like a horse rider does) giving an impression of “half-sitting”, so to say. Opting for this transitional kind of desk you receive a good opportunity to see if it can wean you from conventional sitting habits.

  • Fixed-height standing desk. As the name suggests, it stays in one position with no possibility to change it. First of all, you will have to make some calculations before buying it since you should know whether you are buying a standing desk for tall person or someone of regular height. Such a desk type will be most effective in offices where it can be utilized for brainstorms or solving tasks that require the cooperation of several employees. In case you are a home-working freelancer the odds are that you will feel the need to give your legs a rest from time to time. Consequently, you will have to find space and money for a regular sitting desk too – a solution which can hardly be called ergonomic or thrifty.

  • Height adjustable desk. This is the most user-friendly model available at Progressive Desk. You can change the height of it at will to turn desk into standing desk or make it suitable for any person no matter how tall they are.

If your choice is the latter type it is time to decide on the adjusting mechanism it will be equipped with.

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Adjusting Mechanisms

An adjustable stand up desk can have two types of mechanisms to lift or lower it, so you can opt either for a mechanical or a motorized standing desk. If it is the former you will have to deal with a crank lift. It secures the desktop position with clamps and when you wish to change it a system of knobs will help you to do it. Being a budget solution it is sometimes looked down upon by fastidious users. They claim that it is a thing from the past, from the B.A. (before automation) era. Cranking up a structure when you may just push a button instead seems a primordial activity overtaxing your muscles and patience. If you share this attitude aim for the second type where you can choose between pneumatic and electric standing desk. Here you will be choosing between the sources of power leveraging the desk motion. In pneumatic systems, it is a gas and in electric ones electricity used to lift and lower the desktop via linear actuators.

Converting a Regular Desk into a Standing One

Are you eager to give a standing desk a try but still not sure if it will work for you? Then splurging on one is hardly a viable solution. Instead, you can opt for a compromise – equip your standard sitting desk with a desk riser for standing while working. This add-on, or converter, is placed on your regular desk allowing you to feel all the benefits (and gauge all discomforts) a standing posture at the workstation brings. It is also a wise way out if the table that you use is too hard to move so replacing it is out of the question.

Types of Standing Desk Converters

Similar to the desk itself, a standing desk riser may be of two kinds – a fixed-height one and an adjustable one. The cheap and light fixed-height converter creates a raised space for your computer monitor or laptop to rest on. Being good as a “trial version” or when you like to switch to a standing mode only occasionally it doesn’t seem a proper choice for a desk which is used day in, day out. Besides, you can build a makeshift riser yourself placing the monitor on a stack of books or a box.

An adjustable monitor stand for desk provides you with a range of heights to be fine-tuned to fit your requirements. The peculiarities of the adjustable desk riser design allow for the distinguishing of their several types:

  • Post and base. It consists of a stout standing desk leg which upholds a desktop. Some smart modifications of it are supplied with a kind of memory that saves the height it was fixed at to be later resumed when you choose to relocate the desk. In comparison to other types, this one is a space saver yet its price tag is well above the average.

  • Hover. This monitor arm hovers across a great area over your desk. This is the most ergonomic design which takes next to no desktop place. Besides, it is easily fine-tuned to be instrumental in screen-sharing, so in fact, you acquire two workstations at the price of one converter. But nothing is perfect and the hover is a good example of this old adage. The design peculiarities render the desktop rather insecure.

  • Z-lift. This one is the most popular type which is partly explained by its affordability. One more edge its Z-shape design offers is the effortless manipulation. Just grab the desktop on both sides, release the brake pedal, and lift it as high as you need.

  • X-legs. It is a modification of the previous kind where the shape of the adjustable desk legs serves as the justification for its name. Being a notch pricier it is more compact and provides more structural stability. But these leg-shape related boons are offset by some leg-shape related downsides. The chief of the latter is the “pinch points” where your fingers and tender flesh may get caught.

  • Buying an adjustable computer desk or a standing desk converter is not the end of your worries. Correct installment and fine-tuning are what will ultimately allow you to leverage its advantages and mollify its downsides.

    Adjusting of a standing desk

    Setting the Desk Height

    It will never do to splurge on an adjustable desk and spend your working hours hunched over it or straining your neck and eyes to look at the monitor positioned too high. Thus, the correct desk height is of utmost importance.

    To figure out what desk height is good for you, start with measurements. The distance from the bottom of your elbows positioned at a 90-degree angle to the floor is the basic dimension you should go by. There is no need to overdo it with minute precision of the measuring process since positioning your elbows a little lower will do you no harm. But make sure the elbow angle is not less than 90 degrees, in which case your wrists, shoulders, and elbow joints will experience an unnecessary strain. But if you don’t want to fool around with a measuring tape use an online calculator that will spare you brainy computations.

    An important issue to be taken into consideration is the footwear you are going to have on while working at your desk. Depending on the sole thickness your aggregate height will vary quite significantly which may render your calculations inaccurate. So try to picture the environment you are planning to install the desk in. If it is an office your are likely to be wearing thick-soled and high-heeled shoes so throw in their height to your counting. But in case the premise awaiting your standing desk is your den at home the odds are that you will have no shoes on (or some kind of flats) so there is no need to perform any addition operations to figure out the perfect desk height. And don’t forget to factor in the thickness of an anti fatigue mat - and the latter is a must have if you are going to spend up to 8 hours a day at your desk.

    Seeing in your mind’s eye the shoes you are going to wear working at the standing desk you may sometimes forget that humans are volatile creatures. Men can be quite fastidious changing shoes at will and women may switch from one type of footwear to another depending on their mood one day opting for stiletto heels and some other for pumps. To counter the fickle nature of people it is wise to acquire a standing desk or a desk riser that can "memorize" at least a couple of desk heights corresponding to various footwear types. Then you won’t have to waste precious working time on setting the desk height anew or (God forbid) making fresh calculations each time your footwear is different.

    The adjustment process is not over with the desk height setting. The monitor position also needs consideration.

    Monitor Adjustment Guidelines

    Adjusting the monitor you should take care to take into account the following four criteria. Keep reading to learn all the tips.

    • Vertical positioning

    The vertical arrangement of an adjustable height computer desk is quite easy to regulate. Just place your monitor on a stack of printer paper and remove or add sheets until you see that its height is the one you need. After that, you can fine-tune the desk or converter height level correspondingly.

    To choose the right height we should heed what scientists say. As they claim, working at the computer we mostly look at the upper left part of the screen. So position your monitor so that your eyes are level with the top fourth (or third) of it.

    In case it stands higher you have all chances of developing the tension of neck, shoulders, and back muscles since your head will be tilted up too much. And it is also a cause for extra eye strain.

    • Horizontal positioning aka centering

    It is obvious that the monitor must be straight before your face. Placing it askance will result in the need for twisting your neck to look at it. Unless you are a manager communicating with customers across your desk (and the screen before your face will hinder your responsibilities) you should avoid such an awkward arrangement likely to result in neck and shoulder stiffness.

    A good option in this respect is to acquire a swivel arm to place the monitor on so that you could adjust its position according to your immediate needs and even share the screen with your colleagues working next to you.

    • Tilting

    A typical backward tilt should be between 10° and 20°. The advised angle is achieved by moving the monitor base closer to the user than its upper part.

    However, in case you wear bifocals the most comfortable angle will be between 30° and 45°. However, tilting the monitor too far back will make it capture and reflect the lamplight over your head, so you will have to scale down the tilt otherwise your glasses will not help you much to see the screen better anyway.

    • Distance to the screen

    This parameter is largely determined by the comfortable distance from the eyes to the screen. Here “comfortable” means not too close to create a blurred image and make you tilt back your head and not too far when you can’t make out the picture on the screen and have to strain your eyes (or try to move the head closer to the monitor). Normally, such a distance equals 24 inches (61 centimeters) with 4 inches as a plus-or-minus margin. If you have no wish to fool around with a measuring tape just place the monitor at a stretched arm’s length and get done with all the bother.

Conclusion

If you are an active person eager for new ideas and enthusiast of a healthy lifestyle a standing desk will be an excellent solution ticking all the boxes an ergonomic workstation should. Adjustable standing desks by Progressive desk are high-quality state-of-the-art commodities that will boost your productivity providing health benefits coupled with maximum comfort.

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