Finding the desk you need, for the price you want
It may sound like an impossible task when you see just how many desks are out there, but if you know what to look for, your perfect desk is out there just waiting for you to find.
Narrowing Down Your Options – Determining What You Need
As of writing this page, if you were to Google “office desk,” Google would serve up 6.8 billion results. There is a lot of information out there about desks. A desk is one of the most varied and customizable pieces of furniture you can buy.
A desk could be anything from a small folding table to a massive, imposing configuration of several work surfaces and an abundance of storage.
Narrowing down your options and finding the desk that best suits your needs is an exercise of solving three questions: what is the right configuration, how much storage do I need, and which finishes do I want?
Picking the Right Configuration
There are four common “shapes” for an office desk.
- One single rectangular worksurface
- Two rectangular worksurfaces joined at a 90-degree angle to form an “L”
- Two parallel work surfaces joined by a shorter work surface to create a “U”
- Two unconnected but parallel worksurfaces
How do you know which configuration is best for your workspace and work habits? Ask yourself these three questions to get a feel for which shape is best for your new desk.
- How much work surface space do you need?
- Will you host meetings at your desk and need a space for guests to pull up a chair?
- How much floor space do you have available for your new desk?
How Much Storage Do You Need?
Buying a new desk is the ideal time to take a step back and evaluate just how much storage you need. Do you work with paper documents very often? Do you have large bulky items that you need to discretely store at your workstation? How much of what you are currently storing in your desk needs to be within arms reach rather than the office’s centralized storage?
The most common types of desk storage we see customers using are:
- Under-worksurface pedestals
- These may be fixed (supporting the work surface) or mobile and usually store paper files and small personal items
- Over-head hutch
- Often the same length as one of your worksurfaces, a hutch, is used to store binders and books.
- A standing-height wardrobe will either contain one large storage space or will be subdivided to include both shelving and hanging space.
Finding Your Perfect Finishes
So you have decided on the size and shape of your new desk, as well as what storage components it will include. Now it’s time for the fun part… picking finishes!
There are practically endless ways you can combine the materials, colours and patterns of a desk, so let’s focus on the most popular options.
While you can buy desks made of steel or solid wood, almost all modern desks have a core of particleboard and an exterior finish of either laminate or wood veneer.
Wood veneer is a thin layer of live wood adhered to the particleboard core. Wood veneer is gorgeous but is also your most expensive and least durable finish option.
Laminate, on the other hand, is much more affordable, generally quite durable and is by far the most popular finish choice of our customers. If you want a more comparison, check out our article on the pros and cons of laminate vs wood veneer.
Keep in mind that if you opt for a laminate finish, not all laminates are created equal. A thermofused (TFL) laminate is your most cost-effective solution, but a high-pressure laminate (HPL) is a little more robust and durable. We have a full article dedicated to comparing TFL and HPL laminates if you want to dig deeper into this comparison.
If you have chosen a wood veneer finish, then your next choice will be in selecting the species and grain of veneer you want to use.
Laminate options are a little more varied. Many laminates do have patterns designed to look like wood grain, but you also have the opportunity to go with a solid colour or pattern.
The final aspect of your desk that you need to specify is the edging. Will you go with a flat edge (one of the most common choices) or a sleek-looking knife edge? There are plenty of options available, but here are the six most common edge styles:
- Flat edge
- Bullnose edge
- Comfort edge
- Ogee edge
- No-drip edge
Did you know that the edge of your work surface does not have to be the same material as the rest of your desk? In high-traffic areas, you may want to consider using a robust material such as urethane for the edges and corners of your new desk.
Common Concerns to Watch Out for When Buying a New Desk
With a product as customizable with a desk, most of the critical issues you should be aware of can be easily avoided with a careful need assessment and a properly configured desk.
For example, if you will be using monitor arms or a sit-to-stand accessory at your desk, will they require a grommet hole to be mounted or can they be installed off the rear edge of your work surface? If you are going to install them on the edge of the work surface, you need to make sure your modesty panel is not flush with your surface edge!
Another issue that is easily overlooked is handedness. If your desk has a fixed pedestal, then there will be less leg room under one side of the desk. When a desk is given to a new user or moved to a new location, this handedness may restrict the user’s ability to work effectively.
The final issue guard against is that of shoddy quality. A poor-quality desk will quickly dent, scrape, chip and crack. Ensure that whoever you are buying your desk from offers furniture with long-term warranties and is clear up-front whether that warranty will cover replacing the defective products or merely attempted repairs.
How Much Does a New Office Desk Cost?
Now for the question, you have been waiting for, just how much is this going to cost me? As with any office furniture, the answer is “it depends.”
While it’s impossible to predict precisely how much your desk will cost without answering all the questions we’ve already discussed, we can give you a rough range to budget as well as break down the primary reasons why the price can be so variable.
When looking to buy a new desk 6’ by 6’ desk (the most common size), we find that you should budget between $700 and $5000.
Where you land within this range (or if you will exceed this range) depends on two primary factors: how much storage you need and what finishes you select.
How Finishes Affect Desk Prices
Which finish you select for your desk can drastically affect your price. Most desks these days are laminate, which is much more reasonably priced than wood veneer. Electing to use a wood veneer finish for your desk could exponentially increase the price of your furniture.
Once you have chosen your material, you still need to select a pattern and/or colour. While the final pattern or colour selection will impact your price less than the material selection will, each manufacturer does still carry several “grades” of each material, each at a different price point.
How Storage Components Affect Desk Prices
Every piece of storage you incorporate into your desk increases the quantity of material used to manufacture your desk and, accordingly, raises the price as well.
If you are trying to keep your budget down, think long and hard about what storage you truly do or do not need. If you work with plenty of files but few binders, perhaps you can make do with only a pedestal unit and can lose the overhead hutch (or vice versa).
Have More Questions About Desks?
We are here to help. Our team has sold thousands upon thousands of desks to businesses from across Atlantic Canada and would be more than happy to answer any questions you may have, just reach out and ask!
Alternatively, if you don’t feel quite ready to speak to a member of our team directly, why not give our Office Furniture Buyer’s Guide a read? It answers many of the most common questions our customers ask about office furniture including what does it cost, how long does it take to receive my order, how do the warranties work and much, much more.