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Desk Buying Guide

Every day, employees spend up to 8 hours or more at their desk. Selecting the appropriate desk can improve your work, help you to be more productive and organized, improve your efficiency, and perhaps most important, keep you healthy and comfortable. There is an endless availability of desk style, sizes, materials, colors, and features. Use this guide to navigate the different options and help get you started. 

As you're shopping and researching note that some desks are shipped pre-assembled, while others will need to be assembled upon delivery. As the name implies, "ready to assemble" desks must be built after they are shipped to you. While "pre-assembled" desks may cost more to purchase and to ship, they are generally higher quality, and can save time and resources on assembly and maintenance.
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Desk Layout & Style


Common desk layouts include: standard, L-shaped, bow front, U-shaped, office suites, and peninsula. The standard variety is rectangular and found in most work spaces and offices.

L-shaped desks combine two desks into one, forming an "L", thereby doubling the work and storage space. You can choose which side to primarily use, and which side to host storage.

Bow front desks are most popular as reception desks, creating a rounded front.

U-shaped desks consist of three desks forming a horseshoe shape, and tripling the space of a standard desk. Typically the center desk is a bridge piece, while the outer desks serve as the work and storage spaces.

Office suites provide the most work and storage space featuring cabinets, book shelves, drawers, and sometimes a hutch. This set-up typically combines multiple desk designs into an ultimate workspace. 

Peninsula desks are secured with a main base on one side and a rounded table top over a smaller leg on the other side. This layout makes it easy for small groups or pairs to gather around the desk and collaborate. 

​Desks today are available in a range of styles, from traditional to contemporary to modern and many more to complement the décor of any office or workspace.

Materials


Desks are most commonly made of wood, metal, laminate or glass. Many laminate varieties are made of real wood and covered with a laminate sheet. Metal desks have an edgier, more modern look and pair well with non-traditional decor. Wood desks typically are available in light, medium, and dark finishes.

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Popular Desk Features Include:

Space Considerations

Always measure your office space before purchasing new furniture. We recommend using painters tape to map out where you will place the desk, chair, and other office furniture. This will give you an accurate depiction of how the space will be filled. In your planning, make sure to reserve three to four feet behind the desk for the office chair (usually between the desk and a wall). 

Consider how much workspace you will need. Are you working with one computer screen or more? Desks should be large enough to support a computer, monitor screen, keyboard and still provide open work space for papers and writing. If using a desktop computer, you are likely to need more space for accessories such as a keyboard and mouse. Some desk styles come with a separate keyboard and mouse tray that you can tuck away when not in use. If you are using a laptop, you may be comfortable with a smaller desk.
 
Modular office collections offer space-saving and stylish storage in the form of shelves, drawers, and cabinets that have been designed to work together. These convenient additions give off modern appeal and can be customized for any space. 

14 Common Desk Types


Below you will find information about the most popular desk types. Use this info to help narrow your search.

Executive Desks

Executive Desks are typically large and ornate. However, some styles can be more simple and just slightly larger than a standard desk. Because of their size and ornamentation these desks dominate the room with stylish appeal, and convey professionalism and success. These desks are built with the highest quality and made to last. They also provide abundant storage and a large work area.

  • Executive desks are ideal for corporate, home, and management offices.
  • Measurements: 13-114" wide, 17-74" tall
  • Prices: $100- $5,000

Computer Desks

Computer Desks are ideal for most office spaces, with enough surface area to fit a computer and get work done. Computer desks are built specifically for laptop or desktop computer usage, and range in size based on space needed. Computer desks that are meant for desktops are sturdier and bulkier than the more sleek and compact laptop desks. Many computer desks provide features such as keyboard trays, wire management, elevated storage, drawers for filing, and cabinets for additional storage.

  • Computer desks are among one of the most popular desks for offices. 
  • Measurements: 13-114" wide, 17-74" tall
  • Prices: $50- $6,200

Corner Desks

Corner Desks are shaped like a triangle or wedge and are designed to fit into the corner of a room. Corner desks usually have minimal design features, but typically have a drawer or shelving. Corner desks include L-shaped and U-shaped desks, and can range from just a few feet up to 12 feet wide.

  • Smaller corner desks are ideal for home offices, or an office where not much workspace is needed. Larger corner desks are ideal for executive offices, reception areas, and grand home offices.
  • Measurements: 6-144" wide, 27-67" tall
  • Prices: $80- $4,400

Desks with Hutch

Desks with Hutch refer to desks with additional storage and display space with shelving or cabinets above the work space. Many people prefer these desks as an accessible, stylish, and practical storage solution. Some desks have hutches already built-in, although desktop hutches can also be purchased separately and are compatible with many desks styles.

  • Hutches are ideal for offices with where employees have a lot of paperwork and resources to constantly reference; for example, medical receptionists and school secretaries.
  • Measurements: 6-120" wide, 20-89" tall
  • Prices: $50- $6,000

Writing Desks

Writing desks are one of the most standard styles of desks, and vary from a plain rectangular shape to more elaborate workstations. Writing desks are traditionally simple in design, consisting of a table and perhaps a drawer. Writing desks can be used for more than writing. Often workplaces use writing desks for additional smaller group work spaces. 

  • ​Writing desks are ideal for any office that does not require extra storage; including corporate and home offices. 
  • Measurements: 12-116" wide, 6-72" tall
  • Prices: $60- $8,200

Ergonomic Desks

Just about every style and design of desk is available with ergonomic features. Ergonomic desks have customizable adjustments to ensure comfort and injury prevention. Some adjustable features include keyboard trays, which help to maintain a comfortable and restful position for hands and wrists while typing and using a computer mouse. Other adjustments include height adjustment and keyboard tilt.

  • Ergonomic desks are ideal for all office spaces, and are highly recommended. Read more about ergonomic workspaces to find out if your work environment could be improved. 
  • Measurements: 22-142" wide, 3-72" tall
  • Prices: $40- $3,380

Drafting Tables

Designed for drawing, drafting tables are built to be sturdy and durable. These have a larger work area than standard desks, and are slightly taller. If you are looking for the sturdiest of drafting tables, look for one with a stability beam or beams between the four legs. For added convenience, many drafting tables have desktops with height and angle adjustments, storage drawers, and pen or pencil cup storage. Some drafting tables are collapsible for easy transport however, these models are known to be less stable than the stationary variety.

  • Drafting tables are ideal for cartography, as well as graphic and architectural design.
  • Measurements: 13-114" wide, 17-74" tall​
  • Prices: $95- $1,700

Reception Desks

The reception desk is often the focal point of the reception area in any given business. It should reflect professionalism and be welcoming to guests. Typically, reception desks are situated higher than other desks, so that visitors can speak with the receptionist and fill out paperwork without having to lean over. An added shelf provides space for guests to fill out paperwork and display materials. There are many feature options to accommodate various types of business needs; security and privacy are two key considerations when buying a reception desk.

  • Reception desks are ideal for reception areas, lobbies, and entrances for offices, hotels, restaurants, and healthcare facilities. ​Read more about reception room essentials.
  • Measurements: 47-142" wide, 5-71" tall
  • Prices: $150- $4,200




Specialized Desk Options

Office Workstations and Cubicles

Cubicles are joined desks with walls in between, made from metal, plastic, fabric, glass or cork board. The walls help to muffle office noise and keep employees from becoming distracted. Workstations typically have minimal to no walls or partitions, and provide more of an open concept. This set-up can be more cost effective, as many are sold as sets of 2-10, or more desks. Cubicles and workstations can be customized and arranged in a variety of ways; such as rows or separated pods.

  • Workstations and cubicles are ideal for offices with open floorplans and that cannot or do not provide separate offices for each employee. 
  • Measurements: 30-313" wide, 29-55" tall
  • Prices: $20- $11,807

Home Office Desks

Home office desks include all desk varieties, as home office needs can vary greatly. To find the perfect home office desk, create a list of needs.  What is the nature of your work? How much storage space you will need? How often you will be working at this desk? Most people generally purchase a small sized home office desk unless they work from home or use their home computer quite frequently. 

  • Home office desks are ideal for offices at home and for workspaces with a traditional style. 
  • Measurements: 3-232" wide, 3-100" tall
  • Prices: $30- $6,000

Floating Desks

Floating desks are secured to a wall and are ideal for offices with very limited space and for people who do not require a large amount of working area. Some are desk tops protruding from the wall, while others offer a convertible top and can fold or slide into discreet shelves. 

  • Floating desks are ideal for works areas that have minimal floor space and require little workspace and storage. 
  • Measurements: 20-71" wide, 11-54" tall
  • Prices: $150- $900

Standing Desks

Standing desks allow users to stand while working. These desks first became popular in public speaking and retail settings, but people have now chosen to use standing desks in the office for various health and medical benefits. Sitting in an unsupportive chair all day can wreak havoc on the spine. Using a standing desk is one way to combat health risks. The height of these desks can be adjusted and should be customized for each user. Also, many people purchase tall stools, so that they do not have to stand at all times. 

  • Standing desks are best for those wanting to combat back and neck strain that can accompany traditional seated desks. Standing desks are ideal for any office setting.
  • Measurements: 3-232" wide, 17-100" tall
  • Prices: $800- $4,500

Treadmill Desks

A treadmill desk is a standing desk with the addition of a treadmill. This type of desk is ideal for people who are active or want to be more active during the work day. Many companies are weighing the benefits of adding a few treadmill desks for their employees to use during the day. Employees can take a leisurely walk while reading, or take a mental break and be more productive when they return to their work. 

  • Because treadmill desks will make noise when in use, it's best to separate them from traditional working environments in the office.
  • Measurements: 29-78" wide, 17-100" tall
  • Prices: $700- $4,050



Armoire Desks

Armoire desks are similar to floating desks, in that they are ideal for small spaces and can be hidden when not in use. Armoire desks appear to be a cabinet, but provide interior shelving designated for electronics and computer equipment. Some even have enough space for a printer.

  • Armoire desks are ideal for home offices which no not have a room designated for office work, perhaps a living room or dining room which occasionally is used for work.
  • Measurements: 30-56" wide, 29-72" tall
  • Prices: $150- $3,000

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