Sitting can kill you or at least cause serious health issues. Unfortunately, many jobs require sitting at desks for several hours a day. While it’s tough to change what you do for a living, it’s pretty easy to switch your desk, and therefore your sitting and standing habits.
An excellent means of remaining active at work is with a standing desk.
Learn all about the best standing desks available, why you should use a standing desk, and what to consider when selecting one.
Why Use a Standing Desk
As a freelance writer working from home or a co-working space, I struggle with this challenge more than most other professionals. Thanks to a set of freelance achievement stickers, I’m now more conscious of activities such as going outside, remembering to eat (shrimp ramen counts, okay?), and wrapping up work before 1 AM. Better make that 2 AM. Sure, I could work from a sofa or bed. However, I make a concerted effort to regularly get up, walk around, and stretch. Try these exercise videos for added motivation, or use these tips for using your laptop in comfort. Aside from increased activity, I tried a standing desk and found that I enjoy switching between standing and sitting, depending on what I’m doing.
There are some challenges associated with switching from sitting to standing. Once you get over them, a standing desk may help you avoid certain health issues associated with sitting for prolonged periods of time. You might even burn a few additional calories. Finally, designing and building your own custom desk is a neat and functional do-it-yourself (DIY) project. This might be as simple as plopping a sturdy cardboard box on your desk and placing your laptop or monitor on top or actually cobbling together a desk or desk topper.
- Burn extra calories
- Avoid health issues
- Regularly switch from sitting to standing
What to Look for in a Standing Desk
Not all standing desks are the same. What you’ll want depends on your workspace requirements as well as space. For instance, if you’re like me and can’t work without multiple 28-inch or larger monitors, you demand a hefty chunk of tabletop space. But elements such as physical space and employer requirements create limiting factors.
Depending on your needs, budget, and how much freedom you have with your physical environment, a tabletop standing desk may be the way to go. If you have a higher budget, leeway, and plenty of allotted space, a full-fledged standing desk is your best bet. Additionally, consider how the desk will rise and lower. Many function electronically. Still, others rely on manual operation. Generally, electric standing desks provide smooth adjustments. But either form carries a slew of benefits.
- Tabletop space
- Room space
- Manual vs. electronic operation
10 Great Standing Desk Designs
Looking to save your spine? Check out these top standing desks to help you stay active and working.
It’s tough the beat the Spark by Ergodriven. This cardboard standing desk sits atop any table to easily a “sitting desk” into a standing desk. What’s more, the Spark clocks in at a super reasonable price of around a Benjamin. That’s tough to beat. Sure, it’s not a standalone desk. But for the price, it’s tough to beat. On over 200 reviews at Amazon, the Spark sits at 4.5 out of five-star rating.
It uses an origami design which produces a surprisingly stable standing desk addon. The real benefit is that the Spark by Ergodriven converts any surface into a standing desk. Therefore, there’s no required equipment swapping. Originally, I made the foray into standing desk territory with an empty printer toner cartridge box. The Spark is essentially an evolution of that concept, and better suited to the purpose.
On the downside, the desk is made from cardboard and received a D rating from Fakespot. Even so, it’s the cheapest way to experiment with standing desks.
Cost: In the ballpark of a Benjamin
Effort: almost none
Difficulty: basic folding skills
Verdict: Simple to put together, and ideal for any physical environment!
Brandon of opensoul.org thoroughly researched desk options and almost spent a small fortune on a GeekDesk. After a few weeks, he concluded that none of the commercial products offered exactly what he wanted. So he proceeded to build his own desk and the result is a beautiful bargain.
Difficulty: almost no skills and only basic tools required
Verdict: Seriously, anyone can do this!
My colleague Dave built himself a standing desk inspired by Colin Nederkoorn, who also explains the ergonomics for the ideal standing desk. Dave’s desk is built entirely from IKEA items. By taking down the top half, you can easily convert back to a regular sitting desk.
Cost: Around fifty bucks (not counting everything you shouldn’t buy at IKEA)
Effort: couple of hours (not counting the full day spent at IKEA)
Difficulty: some basic handicraft skills and tools required
Verdict: Anyone with a minimal amount of patience can do this. The biggest challenge is not getting stuck at IKEA.
Ellie over at Mint built a standing desk using self-made sawhorses and an IKEA countertop. The advantage of the custom-built sawhorses is that you can choose any height and width for your desk. It does, however, take a little extra time and consideration to get the right material. For a similarly-priced alternative, look to the Readydesk 2.
This standing desk converts any table top to a standing desk complete with room for dual monitors. It’s comprised of sustainable birchwood and clocks in under $200.
Cost: $150-200 (depending on supplies)
Effort: several hours
Difficulty: some handicraft skills and proper tools required
Verdict: Anyone with access to proper tools (cutting sawhorse legs) and a little bit of cash can do this.
Jeff Wain’s Massive Wood Standing Desk [No Longer Available]
Like many of us, Jeff Wain was inspired by Lifehacker to build his own standing desk. Before he dived head first into the project, he stacked books on his kitchen bar until he was sure he had figured out the right height. Very clever approach and a beautiful result.
Effort: several hours spread over several days (guessing)
Difficulty: handicraft skills and some basic tools required
Verdict: You can definitely do this if you’re determined and not completely broke.
Apparently, it’s hard to get away from IKEA for DIY furniture hacks. Maybe that’s because the ingredients are, well designed, affordable, and universal. Here is one of many standing desk projects from IKEA Hackers. Peter Marks built this model using Expedit shelving units and a Lack shelf.
Cost: $250 (plus IKEA by-catch)
Effort: a couple of hours (plus IKEA visit)
Difficulty: basic handicraft skills and tools required
Verdict: Anyone who can mount IKEA furniture and with good credit can do this.
This standing desk is fashionable and functional. It lifts and lowers seamlessly, and remains stable even when fully assembled. Plus, the Fully Jarvis boasts compatibility for almost 96% of all Americans for height. Additionally, it can hold up to 350 pounds.
As Fully explains, its programmable handset makes for speedy adjustments. It’s cobbled together from sustainable bamboo and is stain and dye free. As an alternative, you may consider the Uplift Bamboo Stand Up desk. It’s similarly priced and features a strong one-inch thick bamboo top which is also eco-friendly
Cost: Under $400
Effort: a couple of hours
Difficulty: basic handicraft skills and tools required
Verdict: This is a stylish desk with tons of adjustment range and a strong weight capacity.
ApexDesk’s Elite Series standing desk boasts a massive 71-inch wide top constructed from American Walnut. With its black frame, the Elite Series looks stunning. It brags an enormous amount of surface area perfect for your ultrawide monitors, tons of coffee cups, fidget spinners, and whatever else you have cluttering your workspace. It clocks in at 160 pounds, so mind that assembly is no one person job. Moreover, you’ll need serious office space for this standing desk. For the money, and the room, the ApexDesk Elite Series offers an elite standing desk experience. ApexDesk also offers the Vortex series 60-inch desk which is a bit smaller and more affordable.
Effort: a couple of hours
Difficulty: moderate handicraft skills and tools required
Verdict: Tons of storage space and a beautiful exterior make this standing desk a winner.
Custom Standing Desk [No Longer Available]
The folks from Tinkering Monkey will build you a custom standing desk based on your height and accessory preferences. The luxury edition comes with a keyboard tray and cord guide attachment.
Cost: $750 (basic model)
Effort: minimal, ordered in minutes
Difficulty: easy peasy
Verdict: You must be able to afford it and ideally live in the US.
Find more great standing desk designs on Pinterest.
The LifeSpan TR1200 is not for everyone and arguably deserves its own category. That’s in part because of its just shy of $2,000 price tag. Additionally, the TR1200 is indeed a standing desk but with a treadmill attached. Sure, the treadmill portion may be removed for use as a traditional sitting desk. Or, you could simply plop a chair on the treadmill deck if you’re so inclined. If you’re a true fitness buff, the TR1200 DT7 treadmill desk is the standing desk for you. However, it seems to me that walking and working might be tough. As a writer, jogging or walking isn’t conducive to avoiding typos. Yet, for a call-based job, perhaps this is a total winner.
Effort: fairly involved
Difficulty: moderate to difficult
Verdict: If you can afford it and can walk and work at the same time, this is a good choice.
Take a Stand: The Best Standing Desk Designs to Save Your Spine
Before switching to a standing desk, try it before buying. The easiest method to simulate a standing desk is to put a cardboard box on top of your table. That was my initial foray into the standing desk space, and I continue to improvise with this method.
If you do switch, keep in mind that too much of any one thing is bad for you, and so is standing. Your best bet is to keep your options open and switch back and forth. And the healthiest choice is to stay active. Another fantastic office hack is using a balance ball as a chair. Sure, it’s best to stand when you can, but learn what to look for in the perfect office chair for those sitting intervals. Check out how to buy a super sweet office chair for less money, and find out about the best office chairs you can buy right now.
How do you keep your back happy at work?
Image credits: Back Pain via Shutterstock