How Much Weight Can A Desk Hold?

It’s always a good idea to know what your desk can hold. Will you feel safe leaning on it? What if you need to stand on it randomly? Can you place a heavy package on top? 

Knowing your desk’s weight capacity can give you peace of mind with daily use. If you are in the market for a desk, here is everything you need to know about a desk’s weight capacity. 

We’ll cover the capacity of popular desks, what makes them strong, and what a typical load on a desk actually is. Let’s get started.

Key Takeaways

  • The average desk should be able to hold around 150 pounds or 68 kg
  • Desks have a wide range of load ratings. The desks we cover have load ratings from 80 pounds to over 350+ pounds (36kg – 160+kg ).
  • A desk’s tabletop material and leg type usually drive the desk’s weight capacity.
  • A desk sees less than 50 pounds with a typical computer setup, which is well under the average desk’s max weight capacity.

Understanding Desk Weight Ratings

Just because your desk might be rated to 150 lbs, doesn’t necessarily mean you want to place a single 150-pound weight on it.

All desk weight capacity numbers should be treated as an “evenly loaded” weight. That means you can safely reach the recommended maximum capacity if you spread the load evenly across the desk. 

Here’s the difference between an evenly loaded desk and an unevenly loaded desk:

Of course, we don’t need a perfect weight distribution across our desks. That’s pretty unrealistic.

Just know that if you load all your stuff at the center of the desk, you can risk your desk’s structural integrity. The center of the desk is the weakest part of a desk as it is furthest from the legs and the most exposed to unsupported loading. 

Weight Distribution

Placing heavy items at the center of your desk, even if it’s under the weight capacity, can still lead to desk sag. Here is what desk sag looks like, highly undesirable. 

If you have heavy items, try to place them as close to the table legs as you safely can if you’re worried about desk sag. 

Weight Capacity Of Different Desk Materials

We’ve compiled data on different types of desks, their material, and their weight capacity. Check out the different types and capacities to get a good sense of what weight desks are capable of holding. 

Particle Wood Desk Capacity

These particle wood desks are the more affordable line of desks. Their holding capacity ranged from 80 lbs to 200 lbs. The average weight capacity of particle wood desks is 158 lbs. 

DeskTable Top MaterialWeight Capacity
OFM 2-Drawer Office DeskParticle Wood200 lbs
Lavish Home Office DeskMDF Wood80 lbs
Engriy Writing Computer DeskParticleboard200 lbs
Amazon Basics DeskEngineered Wood110 lbs
ODK Computer DeskEngineered Wood200 lbs

Solid Wood Desk Capacity

Solid wood desks are going to be more expensive and come with a higher weight capacity. The capacity ranged from 100 lbs all the way to 333 lbs.

The average weight capacity of solid wood desks is 246 lbs. Almost 100 lbs more than particle wood desks! 

DeskTable Top MaterialWeight Capacity
Minimalist Nordic DeskPine330 lbs
Mid-Century DeskPine100 lbs
FirsTime & Co. Compact DeskMango Wood300 lbs
SimpliHome Sawhorse DeskPine333 lbs
SimpliHome Avalon DeskPine150 lbs

Standing Desk Weight Capacity

minimal desk setup flexispot E7 standing desk

Standing desks come with different table tops and also have the weight limitation of their height-adjustable legs.  The desk capacities ranged from 145 lbs to a whopping 355 lbs. 

They can hold a good amount of weight due to the mechanisms used to go up and down. Here we talk all about how standing desks work.

The increased weight capacity here likely comes from the fact that standing desks don’t simply have legs, but instead have an entire base frame.

The frame can easily add more support to even weaker material table tops. The average standing desk weight capacity stands at 198lbs! 

DeskTable Top MaterialWeight Capacity
Mopio Solid Wood Standing DeskSolid Wood154 lbs
Uplift V2 Standing DesksVarious355 lbs
Vari Standing Desk (72×30)Various180 lbs
FEZIBO Height Adjustable DeskParticle Board155 lbs
Furmax Electric Standing DeskEngineered Wood145 lbs

If you are considering a standing desk, you probably noticed the high price tag. Check out our article on whether standing desks are actually worth it.

If you already have a standing desk, check out these effective standing desk storage methods.

What Is A Typical Load On A Desk

With all this talk of desk weight capacity, we have to ask, what is actually on the average desk? How much weight do we actually put on a desk?

For those minimalists, if you only have a laptop on your desk, you have nothing to worry about in terms of weight capacity.

If you are a power user with multiple monitors, a dedicated PC tower, and some speakers, how much does all that weigh? 

computer tower hidden on neighboring furniture

Let’s quickly add up what is on a relatively packed desk:

  • Ultra Wide Monitor – 31 lbs
  • Desktop Computer – 16 lbs
  • Proper Speakers – 15 lbs
  • Monitor Shelf – 6 lbs
  • Miscellaneous: phone, keyboard, mouse, etc –  10 lbs

I’m sure I can add a lot more to that desk loadout, but I think that’s a decently heavy setup already. That heavy setup totals just under 80 lbs! 

Every desk we specified in this article has a weight capacity that meets or exceeds this setup weight! This goes to show that weight capacity is not as much of a deal breaker these days for the average setup. 

Nevertheless, it’s always good to know how much weight your desk can hold. If you want to know the specific capacity of your own desk, check the user manual or the online specifications. That will be the best way to get the most accurate info. 

What Makes A Desk Strong?

With the huge range of desks and their different capacities, it’s clear that many factors can drive a desk’s max weight capacity.  Here are the main drivers that will dictate a table’s holding capacity. 

Table Top Material

The material of your tabletop has a huge impact on the capacity of your desk. Arguably the highest impact.

Most desks these days are either made from some type of particle wood or solid wood. Particle wood is found on more affordable desks while solid wood is found on higher-end desks. 

Here is a complete guide on how to choose a tabletop material.

corner of wood desk surface on top of ikea alex drawers

Particle Wood Tabletops

There are a ton of different names for particle wood. Here are some other names for particle wood:

  • Engineered wood
  • Particle board
  • Composite wood
  • Fiberboard
  • MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard)

The density of the particles or fibers is the main differentiator of different types of particle wood. 

Particle wood desks are made from wood chip scraps and are very cost-effective. The tradeoff is that they are typically weaker than solid wood. 

Particle wood itself is pretty sturdy but is not hard enough to withstand the wear and tear of a common tabletop. As a result, most particle wood desks are covered in a laminate material or a veneer wood. 

Veneer wood and laminate are simply outer surfaces of particle wood desks that provide a more wear-resistant top surface.

Veneer wood desks give you that wood texture on the top but have a particle wood core. This makes it a cost-efficient way to get a desk with a real wood surface. 

IKEA is unique when it comes to particle board table tops. Not only do they have particle wood desks with a laminate or veneer surface, but the inside is hollowed out too.

The hollowed-out center is filled with a honeycomb paper structure! This makes the strength-to-weight ratio pretty high. It also is a very environmentally friendly construction as it uses recycled material for the honeycomb filler. 

These desks work fine, but check out our article on how to mount monitor arms to these hollow center IKEA desks

Solid Wood Table Tops

Solid wood desks are stronger and hold up better in the long term compared to particle wood.

Because wood has to literally grow over the years and then be processed before being put on a desk, they are very expensive.  That’s how I was able to spec a $2000 UpLift desk in our last article on the cost of desks.  

Solid wood tables also stand the test of time much better than any particle wood. They can be re-sanded, stained, treated, and so on. 

e-reading desk lamp far under shot

I purchased a solid wood table top from IKEA about seven years ago.

The cost was a bit high upfront, but it still looks brand new today. I only had to sand and re-oil the table once in those six years of use.

Wood desks are pretty heavy, and that does make shipping a bit more expensive too. Check out our dedicated article on how much desks weigh.

For those who have the budget to go for a solid wood top desk, it’s definitely worth it.

If solid wood is not in your budget, particle wood meets the needs of most people for a computer desk. There’s a reason a ton of affordable particle wood desks still have fantastic reviews.

Material Thickness

Just because you have a solid wood tabletop doesn’t mean it is strong enough yet. A one-millimeter-thick wood table would probably break the second you placed a PC on top.  

That was an exaggeration, but it shows that material thickness is the second dictator of desk strength. 

Desktop Height being measured with measuring tape

A super thick MDF table can easily be stronger than a thin solid wood table. As we get into the weight ratings of real desks, you’ll realize why similar material desks have much different weight ratings. 

For example, hollow IKEA desks are able to hold pretty decent weight due to the thickness of those table tops. 

Table Size

The next driver of table strength is the size of the table itself. 

We previously touched on how it is helpful to place high loads as close as possible to your table legs. This is related to the reason smaller tables often have higher load ratings than larger tables. 

With small tables, your items are naturally closer to table legs than a large table. That means you have fewer unsupported loads on your table. Loading the center of your table is less risky on a compact table than on a super long table. 

Table Legs

Table legs are usually less sensitive to load ratings than the tabletop itself. This is because they are typically made from metal and can withstand a ton of load in the vertical direction. 

Here’s an example of table legs that advertise a load rating of over 800 lbs! 

SSS Furniture Metal Decory Triangular Desk Legs

This desk leg kit features an anti-rust coating, strong load-bearing capacity, and adjustable feet for stability. It is suitable for outdoor use and can support up to 800lbs.

Check Price on Amazon

Here’s an example of simpler cylindrical table legs that advertise a capacity of 220 lbs, per leg! That means all four can support almost 900 lbs! 

28 inch Adjustable Metal Desk Legs

These metal furniture legs are heavy-duty, with each leg supporting up to 220 lbs. They are adjustable, easy to install, and suitable for various furniture pieces like sofas, chairs, and cabinets. The package includes all necessary screws and mounting plates.

Check Price on Amazon

There are certain situations where the table legs will actually limit the load capacity of a desk. One example would be standing desk legs.

Standing desks are typically motorized or hand-crankable. This standing desk frame is rated to 176 lbs. Much less than our static leg examples above. 

Floating desks are a unique scenario. They don’t have legs, so you will have to depend on the manufacturer’s bracket-based load rating. These are sensitive to loads further from the wall.

If you want to learn more about floating desks, check out our article on floating L-shaped corner desks.

Assembly Quality

The last item I had to put on this list is assembly quality.

Assembly quality can add or take away from your desk’s weight capacity. This refers to how securely the legs or desk frame is attached to the tabletop.

To avoid desks that have poor assembly quality, simply purchase your desk from a reputable brand that people trust. 

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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!

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