I’d spend all day working at an office desk. Then, I began noticing pain after sitting at the desk all day and wondering. Is my desk height a problem? It turns out that there’s a standard desk height. So, how tall is a desk that’s appropriate for me then? This will depend on my height and body type.
Standard Desk Height: How Tall is a Desk?
First, let’s examine what’s considered a standard desk height. Most desks are 28″ to 30″ for a sitting desk, with 29″ being the most common. To get the measurement of the desk, measure the desk from the ground to the top of the desk tabletop.
The problem is that this height is perfect for people around 5′ 10″ tall. The average man in America is 5′ 9″ tall. The average female is 5′ 4″. So, the average height is not the right height for many Americans.
Analyzing the Gender Gap in Workspace Ergonomics
The goal of the standard desk height is to fit 90% of the population. Notably, the standard desk size works well for most men. In fact, 95% of men are the correct height for the standard desk.
However, only 5% of women are in this height range. In fact, 90% of women are between 5′ and 5′ 7″. That’s right, ladies, that desk was made for men.
Despite all the advancements society has made concerning equality, the desk is in the past. It isn’t intentional oppression. It’s just that no one has bothered to take a look at the average desk height and whether or not it fits the majority of workers.
Child’s Desk Sizes: The Ideal Height for Young Learners
Children may also use desks at home or school. They are typically shorter than adults. So they will need a smaller sized desk or an adjustable desk. The typical size for a child’s desk varies based on their age and height:
- Preschoolers (2-4 years old) should have a desk height of 14-17 inches
- Kindergartners who are 4-6 years old should sit at a desk that is 17-19 inches tall
- The average desk for 6-10-year-olds in elementary school is 20-22 inches tall
- Middle schoolers aged 10-13 can expect a desk that is 23-29 inches in height
- Middle or high schoolers (13 or older) have a desk height of 26-30 inches
The Industry Standard: Are They Correct?
These are the standards in the industry. However, are they the correct sizes? Like adult desks, they may be too short or too tall, based on the child’s size.
When purchasing a desk for a child, focus on the height of the child and desk, not their age. Also, choose an adjustable desk, which allows height adjustment to fit the child.
Standing Desk Height
Standing desks have become popular in recent years. There’s no standard standing desk height, yet most are around 47″. This type of desk is more likely to be adjustable than a sitting desk.
Why Desk Height Matters
The nagging question is, “Does the height really matter?” The short answer is yes. It matters a lot. When a part of the desk height isn’t correct, we may contort our body to accommodate the desk.
The most common problems this causes are back and neck pain. It can also lead to elbow or wrist pain and headaches. Moreover, it can lead to serious problems, including permanent damage to your back or spinal disks.
Also, it can affect sitting posture. When sitting at our desk incorrectly, it will affect the spinal curve over time. It will lead to poor standing and sitting posture.
Determining the Correct Desk Height
The desk isn’t the only consideration as the chair height also matters. It’s common to adjust its height to fit the desk. However, this can still leave us in the wrong working position.
There are four aspects involved in determining if the desk is the wrong height. These are:
- Elbows and Arms
The feet should be flat on the ground. For a desk that’s too tall, adjust the chair height. However, this still won’t completely solve the problem. When the feet aren’t flat on the floor, it means the desk isn’t the correct height.
Elbows and Arms
The arms should comfortably rest on the desk while elbows should be at a 90-degree angle. Once the elbows are above 90 degrees, it means the desk is too low. When they’re below 90 degrees, the desk is too tall.
The knees should also be at a 90-degree angle. They should have a few inches of clearance from the desk as well. In case the knees are hitting the top of the desk, then it’s too low.
It should be level with the screen. The need to look down at the screen indicates the desk is too low. When looking up, it means it’s too high.
Keep in mind that the neck should be straight when looking at the screen to avoid neck pain. It’s often easier to notice the position of the neck than our eyes.
Desk Height Problem Solving
When buying a desk, we must purchase one that is the correct height. However, this isn’t always an option. So, what if our existing desk isn’t the right height? Do we have to live with it?
The good news is, there are some ways to adjust the desk.
Using a Footrest
An office chair offers an adjustable height. Most people will naturally adjust the office chair accessories to fit the office desk height. This puts our elbows, arms, and eyes in the correct working position.
However, now your feet are in the wrong position. It’s because they aren’t flat on the ground anymore. They may not even reach the ground, depending on the desk height and your height.
A footrest can correct this issue. It also offers a soft place to rest your feet. Most are adjustable. In addition to adjusting the height, you can sit them at different angles. Some offer massage functions.
Another option if the desk is too tall is a keyboard tray. The tray goes on the underside of the desk and slides out towards the lap. It’s installed under the desk, so it’s a few inches lower than the top of the desk.
Before purchasing a keyboard tray for the computer desk, make sure it’s not too low. Measure the height from the floor to the underside of the desk for an idea of the height.
Raising a Desk
When the desk is too short, the easiest solution is to raise the desk. If your elbows are pointing up when working, the desk is too short. Also, when your knees touch the desk, it’s too short.
Raise a desk with heavy-duty furniture risers. Also, use blocks of wood in a pinch. When sitting comfortably at the desk, and the keyboard or monitor is too low, get a desk riser. These are adjustable and often give the option of working sitting or standing.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is the Average Desk Height?
The average height of a desk typically falls within the range of 28 to 30 inches (71 to 76 centimeters) for a sitting desk, with 29 inches (74 centimeters) being the most common height. However, some variations can exist depending on the type of desk and its intended use.
Is 32 Inches Too High for a Desk?
A desk with a height of 32 inches can be too high for a standard sitting desk. The ideal height of a desk should allow for proper ergonomics and comfort. It usually involves having the feet flat on the floor or a footrest and the knees at a 90-degree angle when seated.
What Is a Standard Desk Size?
The most common dimensions for a standard rectangular desk are around 48 to 72 inches (122 to 183 centimeters) in width and 24 to 36 inches (61 to 91 centimeters) in depth. However, the standard desk height and size can vary depending on factors like the type of desk (e.g., writing desk, computer desk, executive desk), intended use, and desk design preferences.
How tall a desk is is not a trivial matter. It significantly impacts our comfort, productivity, and long-term health. The so-called “standard” height often fails to accommodate the diverse needs of individuals. So, it’s crucial to tailor our desks to our specific height and body type.