2017 Standing Desk Buyer’s Guide & How to Get Started Standing Up

I’ve used a standing desk for about four years and every couple of days someone asks me if I like it and how to get their own standing desk. The answer is, I love it, and here are my recommendations as of January 2017.

Note that all Amazon links on this page are affiliate (referral) links.

Standing Desk Starter’s Guide

The easiest way to try out a standing desk is to put something on top of your existing desk to elevate your monitor(s), keyboard, and mouse. This is even simpler if you’re using a laptop (though you may find the screen too low for long term use).

This may seem obvious, but not so long ago, there weren’t a lot of good ways to turn a sitting desk into a standing desk without some DIY construction. I’ve seen a lot of DIY standing desk solutions: stacks of books, boards on top of paint cans, wire shelving units, plastic crates, and even a few IKEA coffee tables or book shelves with shortened legs. But unless you are handy with woodworking or furniture construction, the end result is often little wobbly and not very professional looking.

When I started this site, there weren’t nearly as many options. My first several standing desks were all DIY, mostly IKEA parts supported by shelf brackets and bed risers. Nowadays, you can get anything from a portable travel-size standing desk shelf to a a fully automatic convertible sitting-to-standing desk.

Standing Desk Buyer’s Guide

New for 2017! The StandUp by Jaswig is a Kickstarter darling that won hearts with its all-wood frame and work surface and IKEA-like design sensibility. Its look is clean and simple, yet at 32 lbs it’s sturdy enough for daily use and it comes in three sizes, including a children’s size. If there are any drawbacks, it’s that this desk is rather narrow for its price. They make a wider version, but it’s pricey and you can get more bang for your buck with one of the (much larger) desks featured in this article.

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For an all-in-one standing desk solution that is both functional and stylish, the Ergotron WorkFit-D sit-stand desk is the one you want. The Ergotron is sturdy, easy on the eyes, and its lift mechanism is one of the best ones I’ve seen: the desk slides into sitting and standing height positions without any motors or cranks. The desktop even comes in three colors: birch, white, and walnut brown. Ergotron offers an optional keyboard mounting arm for those who like their keyboard a bit lower than their desk.

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The Ergotron WorkFit-D is the Cadillac of standing desks.

For turning your current desk into a standing desk with the option to easily switch back, you want the VARIDESK Pro Plus. It sits on top of your existing desk, and it’s easy to convert it to a standing desk: just squeeze the handles and lift (don’t worry about the weight – the lift is spring-assisted). The Pro Plus has room for two monitors, keyboard, mouse, and notepad. It supports multiple heights up to 15.5″, but users over 6’2″ may find it too short. No clamps or screws to mess with – the rubber feet keep it stable and sturdy on top of your existing desk.

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The VARIDESK Pro Plus sits on top of your existing desk and easily converts between sitting and standing modes.

If you just want to turn your existing desk into a standing desk without the option to convert back and forth, you want a Stand Steady Standing Desk. The company makes a variety of these, including The Original Stand Steady Desk which is only wide enough for one monitor and The Executive Stand Steady Desk which at 32″ is big enough for two 20″ widescreen monitors. (And if that’s not big enough for you, try the Mega Stand Steady for a 47″ wide surface – that ought to be wide enough hold your tri-monitor or extra large displays.)

The adjustable legs are a nice feature, and who wouldn’t enjoy the extra desk space freed up below the stand? Both Stand Steady desks can be between 11.25″ and 15.5″ tall.

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The Executive Stand Steady is 32″ x 22″, large enough for two monitors with plenty of space below. Set it on top of your existing desk and watch it go!

For a small-footprint, portable, and budget-friendly standing desk you want the TECHNI MOBILI Laptop Stand. It’s on wheels so you can take it with you around the house, office, classroom, etc. Use it as a podium or an extra desk around your work site. We had one of these TECHNI MOBILI laptop stands in a class I recently attended, and the desk was surprisingly sturdy and looked great, especially for its price.

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Techni Mobili laptop stand is portable but sturdy.

If you need a travel-size stand-up desk solution, you want the Traveler Folding Stand Up Desk by Stand Steady. It’s meant for laptops and adjusts between 9.25″ and 12.8″ tall. The collapsible legs  allow it to fit into carry-on size bags, and you can even tilt the desktop surface towards you for even better ergonomics.

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Stand Steady’s collapsible, carry-on friendly laptop stand turns any desk into a stand up desk – anywhere.

Recommended Standing Desk Accessories

A standing chair. I use and recommend the Boss Caressoft Drafting Stool for your standing desk chair needs. If you go with a standing desk solution that cannot easily convert back into a sitting desk, you may soon find yourself yearning for a chair. It’s not that you don’t love your standing desk, it’s just that after several hours it is actually good to take a break from standing sit for a while. (Plus, it’s nice to have a chair when you’re feeling under the weather or pulling a late night.)

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The Boss Caressoft Drafting Stool is a solid choice for your standing desk chair

This is a comfortable chair and I like the little foot rest. I think of it as my “good posture” chair, since there’s no cushy back to slouch against and no arm rests to lean on.

An anti-fatigue mat. Standing on a hard floor all day can introduce its own aches and pains. For standing desks, you want the CumulusPro. Yes, there are cheaper anti-fatigue mats, but this one is much higher quality. Most anti-fatigue mats are a “sandwich” – a thinner, supportive core material encased in a shell of foam material. The Cumulus, however, is just pure core all the way through. The beveled edges won’t curl and it won’t lose support over time. And, even if something does go wrong with it, it’s got a 10 year warranty.

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Rugged and well-designed, the CumulusPro is the best anti-fatigue mat for use with standing desks.

Starting Out with Standing Up

The ideal height for your standing desk is about the height of your elbow when you stand with your arms bent 90 degrees. (Read our guide to measuring yourself for a standing desk here.) The height of your keyboard will affect your final desk height by an inch or so, so just use the elbow rule as a starting point.

Oh, and you should probably ease into it – don’t do like I did and spend your first day with your standing desk standing the whole day. (Unless you’re a total badass. If you are, carry on.) Stand for a few hours and then feel free to return to sitting. Your knees and feet will [probably] thank you.