Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Use Your Dining Chair as a Desk Chair

Whether you are starting to work from home, or you need a last-minute seating solution at your desk, you might be tempted to go for that dining room chair. 

After all, you just need a place to sit, right? 

But, is a dining chair a suitable solution for a desk setup? In this article, we’re going to break down why using a dining chair at your desk is probably not the best idea. 

If for some reason you are still convinced you should use your dining chair, we’ll still touch on a few ways you can extract the most comfort from a dining chair, though it’s not recommended. 

Key Takeaways

  • Dining chairs are typically designed around aesthetics and short-term seating. 
  • Proper office chairs are designed to be sat in all day and will have superior comfort and ergonomics. This is mainly due to their high level of adjustability. 
  • Dining chairs will be a poor solution for desk work, which will certainly be felt after one long day. 
  • We discuss a few ways to make a dining chair more comfortable if you really have no choice.

Ergonomics Is King

Ergonomics is everything when it comes to being comfortable at your desk. The wrong setup can lead to all sorts of pain and issues. Some of the pain will be immediate, and if you are using poor ergonomics for long enough, some issues will be long-term as well. 

Ergonomics-related discomfort has been studied for a while now. Here’s one paper that specifically discusses the discomfort found with poor seat features.

Bad ergonomics are so harmful that the US Department of Labor made it a requirement for employers to provide a “well-designed” chair for work safety and productivity. 

Ergonomics for me personally means everything. If it’s time for me to get to work, it severely works against me when my workspace is an uncomfortable place to be. You keep fidgeting in your seat, you have to take a break from typing because of your chair height. 

It keeps getting worse the longer you work in an uncomfortable position. With good ergonomics, you are not even thinking about comfort because your body is just satisfied. There is nothing bothering you. You get to focus and just do work. 

Proper seating is now part of the many OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) requirements for companies in the USA. You won’t get away with a dining chair at the workplace, and that’s for good reason. 

Let’s talk about the major ways dining chairs are not up to the task. 

5 Major Ways Dining Chairs Fall Short

There are more than 5 things wrong with dining chairs, but here are the major 5 that you will actually feel very quickly. 

Not Height Adjustable

Dining chairs don’t have gas springs underneath them. That would be quite an ugly sight. 

This means you cannot change your dining chair height to be in a comfortable position relative to your desk. It’s a huge disadvantage when your chair is not at the right height. 

Your entire torso can be affected negatively with the wrong height. 

Assuming you have a static height desk, ideally, your chair should position you such that your arms and hands are flat with the top of your table. Here is a quick visual

If your chair is too low, your wrists will have to reach up and over to get to your keyboard. If your chair is too high, you will have to bend your wrists backward to type. Neither of those are good for you! 

The other problem is that your feet ideally should be flat on the floor. If your feet don’t reach the floor, you can use a footrest. But if your chair is too low, there is no simple solution here. 

No Swivel

Sitting in a chair is a pretty static position already. Most of the time we are at our desk, we are using multiple things across our desk, turning left and right. 

Chairs with a swivel make these little movements effortless because the chair moves with you. You don’t have to use a significant amount of energy and strength to turn a chair that is on a swivel. 

It can rotate very effortlessly! Not to mention it also has casters so you can move anywhere effortlessly.

roller blade chair caster on Woood

The same is far from true with a dining chair. Dining chairs are typically designed around sitting straight for a short amount of time. Some dining chairs dip down and contour around your legs to keep you straight. 

Small movements in a static dining chair will require much more effort. You also will be pretty uncomfortable when not sitting straight in a dining chair. Think about how the edge of this dining chair would dig into your leg when sitting sideways:

Furmax Pre Assembled Style Mid Century Modern DSW Shell Lounge Plastic Kitchen, Dining, Bedroom, Living Room Side Chairs Set of 4, White

Subpar Backrest

Proper office chairs are made to contour your spine’s curve. Look at any proper office chair and you will notice the sweeping geometry of the chair’s backrest. 

Here’s one example:

SIHOO M18 Ergonomic Office Chair for Big and Tall People Adjustable Headrest with 2D Armrest Lumbar Support and PU Wheels Swivel Tilt Function Black

It’s clear the chair above goes inward at the arch of your spine and even includes an adjustable lumbar support system. You’ll notice similar features on most office chairs.

Back support is not just supposed to be a piece of wood that stops you from falling. It is made to actually contour and support your back’s shape. That’s what makes them more comfortable for longer periods of time. 

Look at the back support of a typical dining chair: 

Christopher Knight Home Roshan Farmhouse Acacia Wood Dining Chairs, White / Walnut 21D x 17.75W x 35.5H Inch

They don’t even try to support the shape of your spine. The lumbar support on a dining chair is just a dream, unfortunately. 

That’s because they were not designed for long-term seating. I know I sound like a broken record.

No Tilt Control

Tilt is another feature that is found in office chairs and leads to increased comfort. Tilting comes in a couple of places with office chairs. They are very adjustable (unlike dining chairs). 

You can tilt your entire chair, like a recliner. You can tilt just the seat pan to dial in the angle to your backrest. And you can also tilt the backrest itself. 

All this adjustability means you can make an office chair an ergonomic fit to you. They are flexible pieces of furniture. No wonder they cost so much. 

Dining chairs are the polar opposite. The only thing you can change is its location in a room. That’s pretty much it. 

Poor Padding

Padding might be the worst part when trying to use a dining chair at your desk. Look at how much padding is available on this chair:

International Concepts Set of Two Double X-Back Dining Chair, 19.9"W x 22"D x 41.3"H, Wood Unfinished

Exactly, none! Many dining chairs look like this, it’s a pretty classic type. Even if you do have some padding, it’s probably not in the right shape. 

Notice the shape of the seat pan on this Steelcase Series 1. It’s a substantial amount of padding and a supportive curved shape to it. This is a highly-rated brand of chairs. 

Steelcase Series 1 Work Office Chair - Licorice

Now look at the shape of the seat pan on this padded dining chair. It’s flat and super thin. Pretty much how I would design some short-term seating! 

Christopher Knight Home Abrielle Mid-Century Modern Fabric Dining Chairs with Natural Walnut Finished Rubberwood Frame, 2-Pcs Set, Dark Grey / Natural Walnut

5 Ways To Make A Dining Chair Work

I hope I convinced you that you shouldn’t rely on that dining chair for a comfortable desk experience. I do understand that not everyone can go out and buy a brand-new office chair though. 

So if for any reason you have no choice but to make do with a dining chair, here are some tips that will alleviate a few of the issues. We can’t fix all the issues. That would pretty much just require a new chair. But we can address some. 

Seat Cushion

First and foremost, if you have a solid top dining chair that you are trying to use, please get yourself a seat cushion. This will make a world of difference for your butt. 

The worst feeling is having your sit bones hurt from sitting on a hard surface all day. 

Cushions are pretty affordable. Here is a highly-rated option on Amazon. 

TushGuard Office Chair Seat Cushion

This office chair seat cushion is made of 100% pure memory foam with an ergonomic "U" shaped hollow design for superior comfort. It is machine washable and has a non-slip rubber bottom and a built-in handle for easy transport.

Check Price on Amazon

Lumbar Support Pillow

Lower back support is very important. We have to address the fact that dining chairs come with absolutely nothing for your lumbar spine. 

The solution here is another cushion that follows the typical curve of your spine. We need to actually support the spine’s shape. This is specifically laid out in the OSHA workstation requirements.

My advice is to get a lumbar cushion that has a strap at the back. The strap not only helps the cushion stay on your chair when you get up, but it also lets you keep the cushion in the right position. 

Everyone’s body is shaped differently, so they will need lumbar support in different locations. 

SAMSONITE Lumbar Support Pillow For Office Chairs

This lumbar support pillow features high-grade memory foam that holds its shape and provides just the right support for most adults. It helps to improve posture and is designed for use in the office, car, home, plane, or wheelchair. It has an adjustable strap that helps keep it in place at all times.

Check Price on Amazon

These come in both short and long versions. Choose the long version if you want a more complete back support solution. The shorter ones focus more on your lower back. 

Long Lumbar Support Pillow for Office Chairs

This lumbar support pillow is ergonomically designed to relieve upper, mid, and lower back pain and tightness, with high-density memory foam that retains its density and never flattens out. It has two adjustable straps to hold it firmly in place on any chair and is suitable for use in the office, car, home, etc. The size of the pillow is 18”(longest) x 15.5”(widest) x 4.7”(thickest).

Check Price on Amazon


If your chair is too high and your feet are not reaching the floor, use a footrest. A footrest supports your feet so your legs are not just hanging off the edge of your dining chair. 

When my legs hang off of a hard chair, it cuts off my circulation and gets uncomfortable quickly. I use this footrest at the moment:

CushZone Under Desk Foot Rest

This CushZone footrest provides a comfortable sitting position, it elevates your legs which can improve blood circulation in the legs. It features an adjustable height, high-quality foam, and a non-slip and machine-washable cover.

Check Price on Amazon

Keyboard Tray

If your desk is too high for your dining chair, you probably notice your hands have to reach upwards to get to the keyboard and mouse. If you use a keyboard and mouse for the majority of the day, consider a clamp on the keyboard tray. 

This positions your keyboard and mouse a couple of inches lower. This relieves your wrists of strain from mismatched chair/desk heights.  

Plus, you don’t have to drill or screw anything onto your desk. Just clamp it on, and unclamp it if you don’t like it. 

VIVO Under Desk Pull Out Keyboard Tray

This under-desk keyboard tray saves desk space and holds your keyboard, mouse, and small accessories below your desk. It easily slides in and out, extending a maximum of 8.5" from the edge of your desk. The tray is attached with C-clamps that hold everything in place and are easily adjustable. (The tray is not compatible with desktops that have beveled edges.)

Check Price on Amazon

Highly Consider An Office Chair

Before you go, I do want you to highly consider using an office chair in place of a dining chair. You can try out the dining chair to start, but in the meantime start saving up for an office chair. 

You might not have to save up long. Our article on office chair costs talks about the huge price range. But there are definitely affordable options out there. 

If you are working from home, your company should be offering a solution here. Whether that means taking your work chair home, or them buying a proper chair for your work-from-home arrangement. 

Either way, you deserve to be comfortable at your desk. Don’t settle for that dining chair.

Photo of author


I'm a big time workspace enthusiast who is constantly experimenting with my setup. Sharing along the way to help people make their own desk setups more functional and inviting, whether it be for productivity or play!