Canvas, textile, and microfiber chairs are pretty popular, but nothing can beat the comfort of leather and the versatility of mesh fabric.
These materials are widely regarded as the best materials when it comes to office chairs, but which one is actually superior?
I know that comfort is subjective and that what is comfortable for me may not be for you. But there is more to the argument between mesh and leather office chairs than just what is most comfortable on the first try. In this article, I’ll point out the main benefits and disadvantages of mesh and leather chairs to help you decide which material will lend itself to your professional environment best.
Leather Chair Characteristics
Elegant to the point of almost being regal, leather office chairs are often perceived as status symbols. Even chairs that aren’t made of leather can provide that same feeling when upholstered with it.
The robust leather pads can endure quite a bit of wear, but they’re especially vulnerable to tear, sadly. Leather is a synonym for comfort for most people, and as you probably already know, having something that looks, feels, and smells so great usually costs top dollar.
People that want their chairs to reflect their professionalism often opt for leather options. They simply look more refined and sophisticated, and that’s true for even the cheapest ones. Amazon Basics Office Chair is a prime example of quality while being available at a price tag under $100.
Leather is sturdier than most chair manufacturing materials. If properly stored and maintained, a leather-made office chair can be used for well over two decades. Speaking of maintenance, leather chairs aren’t too demanding in this field; whatever you’ve spilled on it should be easy to remove with a sponge and some alcohol.
Let’s say that you plan to change the aesthetic of the entire office. The furniture gets rearranged and the walls painted a different color, but the leather chairs still look the same, preventing your office from feeling fully renovated.
With leather chairs, you can easily buy and apply new upholstery to your chairs to suit whatever changes you make. The main issue with this approach is that upholsteries can sometimes cost more than the chairs themselves.
- Brilliant appearance – a leather chair is always the center of attention, exuding elegance and style.
- Impeccable sturdiness – leather-made chairs are normally built to last for years, if not decades.
- High comfortability – real leather feels gentle on the skin, offering natural cushioning and support.
- Unavoidable insulation – given that leather offers very little in terms of breathability, it tends to accumulate heat pretty quickly.
- Faux leather is commonplace – many brands offer low-cost office chairs made from artificial leather.
Mesh Chair Characteristics
I’ve mentioned that mesh is a ‘versatile’ material, and by that, I mean that it can cater to the needs of the majority of people if used properly. By itself, mesh fabric has numerous limitations, with the most notable being its lack of durability.
On the upside, smart office chair manufacturers build their chairs around the mesh, not simply ‘with’ it. They use special features to leverage its elasticity and optimize comfort levels. For example, mesh is super-light so manufacturers add deeper cushioning and padding effects. Here are some of the main elements of mesh office chairs:
One of the main things that separate mesh from leather chairs is ample breathability in the former and the lack thereof in the latter. Simply put, mesh allows air to pass through it seamlessly; this natural circulation ensures long-term comfort, as heat dissipates in mere seconds.
Mesh chairs are typically smaller and more compact than leather-made chairs. On top of that, they are lighter and thus much easier to transport from one place to the other. They’re practical to use in almost any setting.
Where leather chairs are elegant, mesh-made chairs are minimalistic and down-to-earth. They’re becoming increasingly popular among companies, as they help build a certain image for both the brand and the employees – humble, approachable, and smart.
While many low-end leather office chairs could pass the general tests of quality, the number of valuable mesh chairs is much higher. This phenomenon can be traced to the fact that mesh chairs are much simpler to make, and that quality mesh is easier to source than quality leather.
- Superb breathability – supporting natural air ventilation, mesh doesn’t allow heat to build up as quickly as leather does.
- Lightweight and flexible – unlike leather, mesh is remarkably light and easy to work with.
- High availability – there's been a surge in demand for mesh chairs lately, which propelled the manufacturers to boost production. This is especially true for low-tier mesh chairs.
- Pretty flimsy – by itself, mesh can’t hold a candle to leather in the field of durability.
- Demanding maintenance – be careful what you are using when you’re cleaning your mesh chair, it’s not as easy to handle as leather.
Objectively speaking, there are numerous advantages and disadvantages to both mesh and leather fabrics and most of them are either vastly diminished or amplified in certain situations.
For instance, if a person is working in a dominantly arid area without an air conditioner, it would be impractical to go for leather chairs, as they would get uncomfortable hot very quickly. On the other end, if a potential buyer values comfort and longevity, leather may be just the material to complete their office setup.
It’s up to you to decide which type of chair is ideal for your working environment. I recommend checking out my review of the top 19 Best Ergonomic Office Chairs, which is a list that encompasses some of the finest models across virtually all price ranges.
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