how tall should a desk be

How Tall Should My Desk Be? [+5 Ergonomic Tips]

When we start looking for a desk, we pay attention to the design and the material, and we forget to ask ourselves what’s the best ergonomically correct desk height for us.

If your desk doesn’t fit, you will find yourself hunching over, craning your neck forward, straining your eyes and arms to find comfort. 

A poorly designed work area can be stressful, especially to your neck and upper-back regions.

If the tabletop is too low, it forces an unnatural curvature of the spine. If, on the other hand, the table is set too high, the shoulder girdle is pushed upwards, the neck and neck muscles are tense at work.

What's The Average Desk Height?

Most work surfaces are a standard 28 inches to 30 inches, which is a good sitting height for most people between 5 feet 8 inches and 5 feet 10 inches tall, who use conventional task chair. If you are taller or shorter, be prepared to change your work surface height.

According to the National Center for Health Statistics, this height is far from the average American person’s height. This means that a lot of people are dealing with an office desk that is too tall for them or too short if their height exceeds 6 feet.

You don’t have to be accurate to the smallest degree when measuring the height of your desk. In fact, many websites will give you slightly different numbers when it comes to the best height. Just remember that it depends on what feels comfortable to you.  

how tall should my desk be

How to Find the Right Desk Height?

Standard measurements for the “correct desk height for you” in the workplace or home office won’t take into account individual differences.

Being different is human, people of the same overall height may have slightly different neck length, torso length, forearm length, upper arm length, etc.

Therefore, the measurements given in this article are a guideline to help you get started. Yet, the right method to define the exact height is to measure yourself how tall you need your desk and your chair to be.

If you are looking to buy a new office desk, here is how you can decide on the height:

  • Use your elbows

The foolproof way to achieve proper desk height is to make sure that your desk surface and keyboard are at your elbow level when you’re seated at your desk (or standing at a stand-up desk or work counter).

Sit on the chair and put your feet on the ground, make sure your elbows are on the desk surface, your shoulders are relaxed, and your forearms bent at an approximate right angle. Then take the necessary measurements and buy your desk.

  • Buy an adjustable standing desk

No matter what standing desk you are getting; it will work fine as long as your height is within the standing desk height range.

This is the ideal situation because unlike regular desks, answering “how tall my desk should be?” can be done after the purchase. No problem.

Besides, if you buy a regular desk, you will be stuck with the same height for the rest of your life. So, it might be suitable for you (if you get the right height), but if you decide to give that desk to somebody else, chances are it won’t fit them.

If you already have a desk and you want to adjust the height:

  • If it’s too high

If your desk is too high, consider cutting a part of the legs after defining the required height. You can also raise your chair and if your feet aren’t on the ground, use a footrest seat cushion to maintain a correct posture.

  • If it’s too low

If your desk is too low, you need to raise it either using blocks (concrete blocks for example), or commercial leg raisers (like these desk leg risers on Amazon). 

If these solutions aren’t good for you, it’s better to get a new office desk.

Most people prefer a slightly higher surface for handwriting and a slightly lower surface for keying. Computer touch-typists doing intensive data entry prefer lower desks, often below elbow height. Hunt-and-peck typists (those who have to see the keyboard to use it) and those working with computer graphics prefer higher desks.

Quick Tip:

If you want the flexibility of having both a normal desk and a standing desk, take a look at some of these standing desk converters.

Finding The Right Height Isn’t Enough For An Ergonomic Work Area

The good part is that you don’t need to spend money on special or expensive furniture to have an ergonomic work area. Back pain is often simply due to the wrong posture for days, weeks, or months. 

In most cases, few adjustments may save you a ton of pain. Poor organization and configuration of the work area can ruin your posture even in the best chair. Click here to find out the right posture to adopt when sitting at a desk.

1. Chair

Not only the desk should fit you, but also the chair should fit you. In fact, you should determine the chair height before defining the height of the desk. Because if your office chair is incorrectly adjusted, it will lead to back and neck pain, or even worse, permanent back or disc damage.

The chair isn’t the only factor that determines how you sit. The nature of your work or activity you’re performing and the physical effort you make will have an impact on your posture.

The important thing is to maintain a forearm-to-upper arm angle between 70 degrees and 135 degrees. 

Also, both your hips and your knees should be near a 90-degree angle, with your feet flat on the ground. In this position, you will be most comfortable and put the least amount of stress on your joints.

An office chair with a forwardly inclined seat and simultaneous backrest support ensure that the spine is in its natural shape.

>>> Related:  Do you suffer from back pain? Or you want to prevent it? Check out our list of the best chairs that will protect your back.

desk space

2. Leg clearance

When setting up your workstation with your new desk, make sure there is clearance under the desktop so you can move your legs freely, without banging your knees.

3. Monitor

The monitor should be placed below the horizontal visual axis and should be, at least, one arm’s length away. Use monitor arms or risers to position your computer monitor (or laptop screen) at a level just 2 or 3 inches below your sight line to avoid neck pain and eye strain.

4. Keyboard and mouse

Keyboard and mouse should be placed in line with the elbows. You can add keyboard trays to your desks or work tables. This allows you more adjustment options, so you can get into proper working position (shoulders relaxed and forearms roughly parallel to the floor).

5. Accessories

Consider buying a matte finish desk to minimize workplace glare. Sometimes, glare can be a significant problem with glass-topped desks.

Final Thoughts

There is nothing better than having your desk set up to suit you and fit your needs. Spend a bit of time and get out the measuring tape to make sure you are getting the most from your office desk.

If you have additional thoughts about the subject, please feel free to share them with us in the comment section below.

3 thoughts on “How Tall Should My Desk Be? [+5 Ergonomic Tips]”

  1. I am a height of 5″5 and have followed your mentioned guide, yet I cannot find any suitable desk for my need. Am I simply too short of having a nice desk? My back hurts frequently and I urgently need help to assist my posture.

    1. Hi Steve, I am sorry about that. You can try a height-adjustable chair and an under-desk footrest. Or you can buy a fully height adjustable desk.

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