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How Does An Office Chair Work?

How Does An Office Chair Work?

Office chairs can be found in almost all business offices and in a lot of home offices. They are durable, comfortable and the significant thing about them is that they are adjustable.

This is an important ergonomic feature especially for people who work long hours sitting down in front of their computer. If your chair is not at the right height, you could seriously hurt your back and neck.

If you’re reading this article, you may be curious about how office chairs work. How they move so fluidly up and down with just a simple push of a lever.

Today we’re going to find out exactly how they work. We’re also going to be diving in and taking a look in some detail at the different components of an office chair.

There are three basic components of an office chair. You may read more about office chair components and how to take them apart in this article.

The Gas Lift

The gas lift is the heart of any office chair. The entire chair is essentially built around this gas cylinder. It is what allows the height to be easily and fluidly adjusted with the touch of a lever.

Office chairs are sometimes called pneumatic chairs because of this gas lift. The cylinder is filled with pressurized nitrogen and a piston rod that moves up and down inside the cylinder.

When you push on the lever lock and put weight to lower the chair, the piston inside the cylinder is pushed down, increasing the air pressure.

As soon as the weight is removed and the lever is unlocked, the air expands inside the cylinder. This brings the piston rod and the entire seat upward.

The chair isn’t held up by the gas pressure but by the lever lock. When the lever is pushed, it releases the lock and allows the piston to move inside the cylinder.

When you let go of the lever, it locks the piston in place to prevent your office chair from constantly readjusting its height.

The inside of the cylinder is lubricated with oil so that the piston can move up and down very smoothly.

A standard gas lift will have enough pressurized nitrogen inside the cylinder to lift up your seat without any weight applied. If the pressure is too high, you may not be able to lower your seat without having to get help from someone to push it down.

Your gas lift has to be completely sealed in order for it to work. If your office chair doesn’t lift up and lower down smoothly, there may be a leak in your gas cylinder. Read more on how to remove the gas lift from an office chair.

The Seat

The seat is what makes an office chair comfortable to sit on. It consists of a few different pieces put together.


mechanism in the bottom of office chair seat

All office chair seats have a mechanism attached to the bottom of the seat. This mechanism is what connects the seat to the gas lift.

It also holds your chair adjustments such as the lift lever, recline tension knob and recline lock.

This mechanism is usually made from metal or other really strong materials because it takes the most abuse when you move around in your chair.

It is attached to the bottom of your seat by four large bolts.

Seat Base

The base of an office chair is where you rest your butt. This is usually padded with soft paddings so you can sit on the chair for many hours without any discomfort.

The base will have varying sizes depending on the chair you have. For extra comfort, it’s a good idea to get one that is wider and uses softer materials.


ergonomic office chair with lumbar support

Most office chairs have backrests to support your back while you sit in front of your desk.

Backrests are shaped in a certain way that helps to prevent you from slouching. The midsection of the backrest typically protrudes forward to support your lumbar and forces you into an upright position.

They are also padded with either foam paddings or soft mesh.


office chair armrests

Armrests are very important if you sit in front of your computer during work hours. If your hands are on your desk for most of the day without armrests, this will put a lot of stress on your shoulders and upper back.

To avoid suffering from shoulder and upper back pain, get an office chair with armrests. Adjust your armrests to be the same height as your desk. This is the most ergonomic position.

Neck Support

senior man relaxing with neck support

Neck supports are usually found in more expensive office chairs, executive chairs and gaming chairs. You can also get them as attachments sold separately.

They add extra comfort when you want to sit back and relax in your office chair. They also prevent neck strains when you’re sitting on your office chair for long hours.

The neck supports come in different shapes, sizes, and materials. You can read more about neck supports in our article here.

The Base

The base of the chair is where the casters are installed. The most common type of base is a star-shaped base with five arms attached to the center.

At the tip of each of these arms is a caster or wheel. These are fitted into the plastic sockets on the wheel base.

Budget office chairs come with plastic casters that do their job well but don’t last very long. You will have to keep cleaning them out every few months especially if you have dogs in the house.

This is because hair can get caught up inside these casters and cause them to stop turning.

More expensive office chairs will have rubber or metal casters that do not accumulate dirt or hair.

You can easily purchase better casters for your office chair and install them yourself. Read this article to find out how. You’ll find a lot of different types of high-quality caster to choose from.


We hope this article has enlightened you about how office chairs work and the different components that make an office chair what it is.

Office chairs have a very simple construction but they provide a lot of comfort to anyone who works at a desk for hours a day.

We hope that the next time you encounter an office chair, you’ll remember this article and be reminded of exactly how they work.