The Height Of A Standard Desktop – Read This Before Buying!

If you saw our article on the average desk dimensions, you’ll notice that some of the most popular desk heights range between 28 and 30 inches. I’m not sure who decided on this being the height, but it’s just a fact of what’s on the market. 

However, if you find that your feet are not touching the floor, or your elbows are not level with your desk, your desk is not the correct height. Desks are not perfect for your own height most of the time, they are just made for everyone. 

Today we’re diving into what the standard desk surface heights are, why they may not be ideal for you, and how to find the perfect desk height. If you are a tall individual, you may be interested in our article on desks specifically for tall people

Key Takeaways

  • The average desktop height is between 28 and 30 inches (or 71 to 76 cm)
  • However, desk height should be based on your own height. As a result, the average desktop height is ideal only for a slim range of people.
  • If you have a height adjustable desk, you should calculate the correct desk height for your height using the resources below. 
  • Make your current desk work by adjusting your chair height and using footrests as we instruct in this article. 

The Average Desktop Height

Do you know what just doesn’t make sense? Desks heights fall into such a slim range of two inches. The height of us humans has a much larger range. 

The world population review website shows the average male height is 5′ 10″ ( 178 cm) and the average female height is 5′ 4″ (163 cm). Average means there are roughly half above that value and half below. That’s a huge range of heights! 

You can’t expect a 5 foot tall person to have a similar desk height as a 6 foot tall person. Yet the market can only offer 28 to 30 inch tall desks. It makes no sense at all!

This is important to know because it likely means the desk you are using right now is not a perfect fit. An incorrectly sized desk works against ergonomics and can lead to long term issues.

The truth behind the desk size issue is that we can’t expect every desk manufacturer to make a ton of desks in half inch increments for each product. They rely on us using other devices such as height adjustable chairs and footrests to obtain an ergonomic setup. 

Don’t worry, we will help you find your ideal desk height anyways, and even how you can work with your current desk. 

Your Ideal Desk Height Is Different!

So, what is your desk height actually supposed to be? Fortunately for us, smart people put together online desk height calculators! This calculator is my favorite. Other websites like Uplift have a desk height calculator as well. 

Here’s how you can measure your desk and see how far off you are.

If you don’t want to use the calculator and just want answers, here is a chart of the ideal desk heights based on the above calculator. 

Note: This calculator outputs a small range of desk heights for each height. I simplified it and just presented the average of the two height numbers. 

Height vs Desk Height Chart

Desk Height Chart

You can tell from the table above that about every two inches of human height increase corresponds to one inch increase in desk height. 

You will also see that the standard desk height of 28 – 30 inches corresponds to those with a height of 5’10” to 6’2″. That’s a super narrow part of the population. There are a ton of people below that height and above that height. 

So what’s the purpose of knowing your correct desk height if all desks are between 28-30 inches in height? Well, there are ways to work around your current desk height. In the next few sections, we’ll tell you how to make your desk work for your height.

Also, if your budget allows, adjustable height desks are getting more and more common these days. If you already have one, adjust the height based on the chart above! 

Desktop Height Is One Part Of Desk Ergonomics

Desktop Height (2)

Though desk height is important, there is much more to proper desk posture. Here are other ergonomic heavy aspects you should be paying attention to:

  • Chair Height
  • Foot Placement
  • Monitor Height
  • Desk Peripheral Reach

Let’s dive into these really quickly. 

Chair Height

The height of your chair dictates a lot of your comfort at your desk. Chair height might be the most important dimension in your setup considering most desks don’t change in height. 

Your chair height dictates your wrist and arm positions which can in turn influence your shoulder position. When your shoulders are in the wrong position, it results in an entirely poor posture overall.

The rule for setting your chair height is simple. Raise or lower your chair height so that when your arms are at your sides with your elbows in a 90 degree angle, they are level with your desktop. 

Your chair height should result in your posture looking something like this.

Foot Placement

If you have a static desk height, chair height is the first thing you should change so your relaxed arms are level with your desk. After you do this, if your feet are able to rest flat on the floor, you’re done! 

If you’re like me and your feet don’t touch the floor with the correct chair height, you require a footrest. 

The footrest ensures your feet are not dangling off your chair.  Dangling feet results in unnecessary pressure on the underside of your thighs, resulting in poorer blood circulation. 

Monitor Height

We’re almost done. Once our arms and feet are at the right position, we have to start worrying about our neck. 

If your monitor is too low or too high, you are going to feel the neck strain after a short amount of time. It will be difficult and even dangerous to work with neck strain for long hours. 

To relieve this, you should raise your monitor so that the top or middle of your monitor is level with your eyes. This should naturally result in better posture and minimize neck strain. 

Overall Ergonomic Desk Setup

If you want a quick three minute video that summarizes the essentials of desk posture, check out this video from the Wall Street Journal.

They brought in an ergonomics expert Jon Cinkay, and made a short and sweet video on the basics of desk ergonomics. Including the desktop height issue we talked about earlier. It’s worth a watch!

How To Make Any Desk Height Work

So by now you know what desk heights are commonly available on the market, and how to set up the rest of your desk. Now let’s talk about what you can specifically do if your desk is too high or too low. 

Is Your Desktop Too High?

If your desk is too high, you will have to raise your chair as we talked about earlier. Reference this ergonomic desk setup animation. Raise your chair until your arms at a 90 degree angle are level with the desk’s top. 

Now you will notice that your feet are not touching the floor anymore. This is where a footrest comes in handy. I use the footrest below.

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.

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It has two sections. You can use both for a tall footrest, or remove one section for a shorter footrest. If only desks had such a significant height adjustment available…

Voila! Your raised chair along with a footrest now makes your setup work with your current tall desk. 

If your chair does not go high enough, you may have to invest in another chair unfortunately. Or you can look into a small seat cushion if the height difference is small. 

Is Your Desktop Too Low?

If your desk is too low, the main way to deal with this is by using desk risers. We have a dedicated article on making your desk taller here

Essentially we talk about a few painless products that can be placed under your desk to give it a boost in height. Here are a few desk risers mentioned in the article:

Stackable Furniture Risers, Set of 8

These interlocking risers are made of solid oak wood and offer customizable height options (1", 2", or 3"). They feature a non-slip recessed hole to securely hold furniture feet up to 2.6 inches wide and come with 8 risers and 8 connectors for multiple combinations.

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If you keep finding that even with risers, desks are too short, check out our article on desks for tall people. We uncover the huge benefit of fully height adjustable desks. 

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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!