Height adjustable Sit-Stand Desks and Desktop risers: The Ultimate Buying Guide

So, you’ve gone through the initial research process, discovered the downside of a sitting and a sedentary work culture and compared this to the many benefits of sit-stand active working!

Better posture, more energy, increased productivity, and improved long-term health and wellbeing. Or you may be suffering from back pain or other muscular-skeletal issues and want to be more proactive in approaching your office desk set-up. (You can read more about this in a previous article).

When it comes to choosing a sit-stand desk, it can be a daunting process with so many options on the market. Accessing the necessary information to help with your buying decisions can take you down a rabbit hole. It can soon become confusing with so many claims made for best-buy and bestsellers, further complicated by the fact that reviews and testimonials can’t always be trusted. It’s estimated that 20% of reviews are fake. Personal recommendations and word of mouth are good starting points, especially when they are from reliable sources.

Our ultimate buying guide takes you through purchase considerations, helping you find the perfect solution for your particular needs.

A desk converter/riser or a height adjustable desk

One of the first decisions is likely to be whether you’re going to concentrate on desk converters (desk risers) or height adjustable desk options (also known as a sit-stand desks, stand-up desks and up-down desks to name a few).

Budget and available space will also have a bearing on your decision making. We’re not looking at fixed height standing desks as they don’t offer any ergonomic height adjustment.

WorkFit Corner Desk Converters
Desk risers

Bamboo/birch ply desk riser

A bamboo, birch ply or even cardboard desk riser is a very cheap introduction to sit-stand active working on a limited budget. These typically come in 4-5 sections and slot together, so assembly is straightforward. Lightweight and sturdy enough, there are plenty of designs on the market to choose from, priced between £20 – £150. Smaller, more portable desk risers are also good if you spend time working in different locations like coffee shops etc. Enabling improved ergonomics if using a laptop, for instance.

Desktop risers, stand up desk converters or toppers

However you refer to them, desk converters quickly transform a static desk or table into an active sit-stand workstation. They are ideal for use with contract office furniture, where static desks can’t be changed, and are easily transported if moving to a new office. Unlike the cheap click together versions mentioned above, good quality converters need to be robust and sturdy. Stability when moving up and down with no sway, tip or height-drop if leant on is a minimum requirement. Most risers tend to be quite basic in their colour options, available in grey, white or black.

The design of most desk risers are very similar, offering a separate ledge for your keyboard and a higher platform for your laptop or monitor, with not much room for anything else. Most models have a two-hand gas or spring lift assist for ease of up-down motion, with some budget models having a one-hand lift assist. Some desktop risers are even electrically powered.

Risers have a variety of fixed positions, with some offering more than others. Depending on your height, make sure they give you the flexibility to go high enough for a proper ergonomic set-up with your computer equipment. If your monitor is on a fixed stand you may want to consider a monitor stand accessory that attaches to the back of the riser, not only does this create more worktop space but also gives you the necessary ergonomic flexibility and height adjustment.

Ergotron workfit T

One downside of the riser is if you need access to the whole of your desktop as a flat surface, especially if you’re used to spreading out paperwork, documents, files, books etc to work on. Heavy to lift and where to store can be an issue if you want to use your whole desktop.

There are plenty of designs on the market to choose from. We offer Ergotron’s WorkFit range, one of the market leaders. Ergotron are sit-stand pioneers and a well-established brand describing themselves as a Movement company, with a promise to move you physically, emotionally and intellectually. Founded by Harry Sweere, Ergotron was formed 40 years ago in 1982 and earned patents on some of the first ergonomic tilt stands and mounting arms. They continue to design innovative products that help improve employee health, comfort and productivity.

WorkFit converters arrive fully assembled; just place on your tabletop and you’re ready to work. You can add more adjustments for improved ergonomics with an accessory monitor mount.

Models available – Workfit-Z mini, Workfit T, The Workfit TL is a sturdy desktop converter offering a workstation that can be easily adjusted (it’s counterbalancing mechanism uses CF™ technology to facilitate quick height adjustment) with the stability to be lent on while working without worry of tip or height-drop.

Desktop riser prices vary from £75 – £450.

Height adjustable sit-stand desks

Budget – Working out your budget is an obvious place to start. This will dictate where you buy. If you purchase from one of the large online retailers like Amazon or Ikea, you will undoubtedly get a cheaper desk, but this is likely to be offset by a slow response time should you need customer service for any problems.

Here are a few things to consider depending on your list of important features and priorities.

Noise – Would the sound of the motors driving the desk up or down become an annoyance if they were loud? You may find it a distraction if you’re sensitive to background noise. Cheaper frames tend to be noiser

Movement mechanism – Most sit-stand desks are either electric powered, raising or lowering the desk at the press of a button or manually using a crank system, turning a handle to move the desk. Crank desks tend to be much cheaper. Pneumatic sit-stand desks utilise tubes filled with gas. When the desk is lowered, the gas is compressed and works similarly to a gas cylinder on a chair.

Leg columns – profiles include square, rectangular and cylindrical in varying thicknesses. The two and three-stage relate to the number of sections that make up the column. As you would assume, a desk with 3 stage legs has a wider height adjustment range. If you have a preference, columns that are wider at the bottom with thinner sections going upwards are an option as well as reverse columns that are wide at the top and narrow at the bottom.

Desk feet – vary in design and size, not to mention weight. A sit-stand desk’s feet play an essential part in providing a strong and sturdy base, anchoring the desk for maximum stability.

Stability – There are a few things to take into consideration regarding the stability of a sit-stand desk. It’s one of the most subjective things when buying; every user will have a different perception and tolerance. There are two types of movement, front to back rocking and side to side wobble. Simple physics means the higher the desk, the more noticeable this becomes, especially front to back movement. The old addage “you get what you pay for” does ring true when it comes to the precision engineering required to produce quality electric height adjustable desk frames.

Factors that affect the stability of a sit-standing desk include:

  • frame construction
  • steel quality and weight
  • number of moving parts
  • how well the frame has been put together ie tightening of the bolts and screws etc
  • internal construction of leg columns
  • quality of parts ie cheap plastic v more expensive components
  • Surface and flooring. A hard, flat and level surface will produce less wobble than a carpeted floor surface.
  • Distribution of heavy weight items on top of the desk

Warranty – The length of warranty can be a good indication of the build quality and standard of materials used. However, unscrupulous companies may offer long warranties with the knowledge they won’t be around long enough to honour the warranty! The range is mostly from 2 years covering metal parts only up to 15 years including electrics.

Many products these days are designed in a way in which their lives are artificially limited or are purposely frail and prone to breakage. This is known as planned obsolescence, the practice of creating consumer goods that rapidly become obsolete and fail. With raw materials, energy and shipping costs rising, we know that this old way of manufacturing has a significant impact on the planet and is no longer acceptable or sustainable. Most importantly, products need to be designed to last.

We offer a full warranty on all our frames, 10-years for Skyflo and 5-years for Airflo, Maribo and Quadro frames.

Environment and sustainability – The eco-credentials of a product can be a complex area to research. Many companies are involved in greenwashing, making bold statements about their energy consumption, waste and recycling, resources used in production, product life span, and the supply chain.

Our frames are made by LINAK®, who are world leaders in the research, development and design, manufacture and production of electric linear actuator solutions, from healthcare to agriculture, comfort furniture, office interiors and industrial automation.

Click here read their environmental policy.

Anti-collision detection – an anti-collision sensor system is a critical requirement in avoiding damage to anything stored under the desk and to the actual desk itself. The anti-collision technology detects changes in the electrical current when resistance is met. The system is stopped and the motors drive the desk back up or downwards in reverse to avoid any damage.

Height control panel – the device that activates the desk to move up or down. The most basic control panel is simply a push-button device with up and down movement options which need to be continually pressed in order to keep the desk moving until the required height is reached. More sophisticated height control panels feature programmable heights so you can store your sitting and standing positions.

Our state-of-the-art controller has won a Red Dot Design Award-winning, the high-tech control panel brings a host of features – memory positions, a light reminder function with display and Bluetooth connectivity. Double-tap the control panel upwards or downwards, and the automatic drive function simply moves the desk to your favourite pre-set positions. The App stores up to four height preferences per user and can be programmed to remind you to stand and sit, by gently moving at pre-set intervals. The panel will also display blinking coloured lights as a reminder whenever it’s time to move.

branded control panel
Crank desk

Crank desks – While the majority of sit-stand desk users prefer the convenience and speed capabilities of an electric height adjustable desk, crank wind-up desks are nevertheless a great alternative to consider if you are on a tight budget.

Assembly – Once delivered, most frames will need assembling, the time this takes and the complexity varies considerably. Make sure you have clear step-by-step instructions. It also helps if videos are available showing the complete assembly process from start to finish.

All desks featuring the Skyflo and Airflo frames are delivered almost pre-assembled (apart from 1800mm desks) making the whole assembly process quick and simple. This means the typical build time is down to 10-20 minutes with no specialist tools required and minimal DIY experience.

We also offer a white-glove delivery service for those customers that would rather have a completely hassle free process. This is an ideal service for customers with stairs to climb, time constraints or need to be rid of all packaging including moving the desk to set up without any hassle.

Flomotion delivery with assembly service

Airflo and Skyflo frame specifications

The chart below details the specifications of our two most popular frames, Airflo and Skyflo. This can be easily used to compare with other suppliers as part of your research.

Airflo Skyflo frame comparison

Interesting research from a Washington University found that volunteers who were standing during the session were more likely to share their ideas, the study also found that the standing volunteers were more physiologically excited during the process. Approximately 20-30 minutes is the ideal time to get the most out of a standing meeting. Stand-up meetings also encourage productivity and dynamism, with less time-wasting and more concise conversations.

C shape frame – where the leg columns are offset to the rear of the desk. This means there is more space under the front of the desktop. The Quadro has a modern design aesthetic, which includes cylindrical leg columns.

With an integrated cable tray, bevelled edge desktops (with a paint and clear lacquer finish) and 20mm radius corners. Desktop options include: rectangular, full arch, stomach arch and side return.

Please note Quadro desks are shipped directly from our supplier in Denmark.

L shaped corner standing desks

Corner or L-shape standing desks – A larger desk option for those with the space. Available with either a left or right hand return, the three column frame is rock solid at any height .

Our Fika corner standing desks feature the three leg Skyflo frame with the option of rustic timber, grey Nabraska and crisp white desktops.

Bench or back-to-back desks – The bench desk is a corporate solution where space is at a premium and the number of workstations need to be maximised. Accessories include acoustic screens and cable trays. With four leg bench desks are a very stable system. The disadvantage of a bench system is the lack of positioning flexibility and price when compared to two individual desks.

Our Fika bench offers a range of laminate desktop options: white, light grey, medium grey, charcoal grey, black and oak, with veneer options in maple, ash, beech, cherry, oak and walnut.

Bench desks
4 legged desk

Height adjustable standing desks and tables with four legs – Larger meeting tables and extra wide desks need a four leg frame for stability. Increasing evidence points to the fact that standing meetings are shorter, more efficient, and more focused than meeting where everyone is sitting. Adjustable meeting tables are becoming increasingly popular in office workspaces, not just because of the numerous health benefits but also because they allow more expressive gestures and dynamic body language in communicating ideas.

Our four leg Maribo frame features LINAK leg columns and height control panel with metal framework made in the UK. Dual motors and two-stage leg columns. Maribo is again one of the smoothest, quietest and quickest height adjustable frames on the market.

  • World-renowned Danish columns and control panel
  • 5-year warranty
  • 240kg heavy-duty lift capacity
  • Award-winning height control panel with auto-drive via app
  • Telescopic beam width options – 1164, 1364, 1464, 1564 and 1764mm
  • Three depth options – 841, 1041 and 1241mm
  • Height range 693-1193mm
  • Dual motor, 2 stage leg columns

Desktop options – Of course no frame is complete without a desktop and there’s a huge choice of materials to suit all budgets. The most economical option would be to reuse your existing top. There are lots of reasons why that may not be possible, so the cheapest alternative would be to look at laminate desktops which are probably the most popular because of price. All our standing desks with laminate desktops can be found within the Fika range.

We specialise in standing desks with premium quality solid wood desktops including walnut, oak, ash, cherry and reclaimed wood. Plywood is also a versitile material that looks great in its natural state.

Desktop solid wood

Explore our Sisu range of solid woods here: https://flomotionstudio.co.uk/sisu-solid-wood-standing-desks/

Explore our Fika laminate range of solid woods here: https://flomotionstudio.co.uk/fika-laminate-standing-desks/

New materials are being brought to market, driven by the climate crisis and the need to reuse, recycle and repurpose. This is necessary for us to help protect and look after our precious resources and use environmentally-friendly materials and production processes.

Desktops can be made using acrylic and concrete and more eco, recycled materials, including sea plastic and cork. You could also source your own wood from a timber merchant or local reclamation yard to make it yourself or commission a local carpenter.

Finishes – If opting for a solid wood desk it’s important to consider the finish and ultimate durability of the desktop. Both lacquer and hardwax oil add a layer of protection to the wood; it is a matter of personal preference when choosing between the two.

Our quick ship solid wood desks are finished with lacquer as standard because it provides a hard-wearing surface that doesn’t need reapplying. Oil finishes will need reapplying when the wood looks to be drying out.

Share this article