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Comparison of Mesh and Leather Chairs in the Office Space (Pros and Cons)
Jun 29, 2021
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Of all the office furniture used on a daily basis, the office chair is often the unsung hero in the office space. A good ergonomic office chair does not only make your workspace comfortable and enjoyable but also confers plenty of health benefits. For instance, an ergonomic office chair helps in posture support, preventing back pains, neck pains and enhancing blood circulation for enhanced productivity.

When it comes to choosing an office chair, there are several factors to consider, including price, colour and comfort. While these factors are important, your choice of office chair ultimately boils down to the type of fabric material. There are a wide variety of chair materials, but the most common options are leather and mesh. Mesh is the new kid on the block and has gained incredible popularity in the office furniture space in recent years. 

It can be remarkably daunting to choose between a mesh and a leather office chair. While leather chairs have that classy vintage appeal, they are pretty expensive. Similarly, mesh chairs offer outstanding ventilation for enhanced comfort but fall short of durability. In essence, both leather and mesh office chairs have their edges and downsides. 

If you're having a difficult time choosing between the two types of chairs, fret no more! Here's an in-depth comparison between mesh and leather chairs to enable you to make an informed decision. 

Mesh Chairs Overview 

If you're an office worker, you've probably already spotted a trendy mesh office chair or two in your workspace. They are very easy to spot, considering that the upholstery is made out of mesh-a net-like material, specifically the back support and the headrest. 

Mesh chairs came about as a revolutionary game-changer in the office furnishings space, gaining enormous popularity within a very short time. They offer the best alternative to the traditional fabric and leather office chairs.

Mesh chairs come with several pros and cons as below: 

Pros of Mesh Chairs  

Outstanding Ventilation 

The mesh fabric used on the upholstery facilitates impressive ventilation by allowing the free flow of air between the seat and the user's body. The ventilation offers outstanding relaxation and comfort to an individual who spends a great deal of time seated, especially in hot, humid summer months. Your skin would breathe better when sitting on a mesh chair as compared to fabric or leather chairs that lock in heat when users are seated for extended periods. 

Minimal Maintenance 

Mesh chair's minimalist design and construction make them pretty easy to maintain. In case of spills and stains, you can easily disassemble the mesh chair, clean the mesh upholstery and the other parts before reassembling the chair for a sparkling clean space.  

Lightweight 

 Mesh office chairs are less bulky and incredibly lightweight, thanks to their minimalistic design and construction. As such, they are pretty easy to lift and move around the office space. What’s more, the chairs are fitted with an easy-roll mechanism. You can easily pick something at one corner of the office without necessarily waking up from your mesh chair-simply roll it on its casters while remaining seated, or roll to and pick that file from the cabinet behind your office desk. 

Cost-effective 

Mesh chairs are much cheaper compared to other options such as leather chairs. Their simple construction and minimal components enable mesh chair manufacturers to keep the cost of production low. If you’re looking to furnish your office on a budget while still maintaining that professional and elegant look, mesh office chairs are your best option. 

Wide Availability 

The wide availability of mesh chairs in different designs, colours, and costs makes it ideal for offices. Mesh chairs also come in different combinations. For instance, there are mesh chairs with both the seat and back constructed of mesh or a mesh back and headrest combined with a vinyl, leather or fabric seat. With a mesh chair, the variety is incredible considering the extensive range of options and designs. 

Cons of Mesh Chairs 

Comfort 

While mesh chairs offer maximum ventilation enabling users to remain cool and comfortable, they are limited in terms of comfort. The upholstery isn't cushioned, with a lot of mesh chairs lacking paddings in the lumbar area. As such, their level of comfort cannot be compared to upholstery or leather chairs. 

Durability 

While they're cheaper compared to other options, mesh chairs are less durable. The mesh upholstery comes in constant direct contact with the user's body, which generates friction, and as such wears down faster with time. It also loses its tautness and firmness over time, and once it starts to sag, the chair’s functionality decreases. To say the least, the durability of mesh chairs is incomparable with the leather or upholstery chairs which wear down slower.

Leather Office Chairs Overview    

Leather office chairs have been around for the longest time. As such, they have that old-school charm and classy appeal. They are visually appealing and offer impressive support to the critical body regions, including the lumbar region, the lower spine and the hip region, accredited to their thick padding.

Most leather office chairs come with additional features, including adjustable armrests, seat depth and backrest to match users' height and body shapes. Leather office chairs come with great plushness and are pretty durable if well maintained. As such, they are a worthy investment for any office.   

Pros of Leather Office Chairs 

Appearance 

Leather office chairs have an impeccable visual appeal that oozes class and elegance. Most other office chairs don’t really achieve the class and distinction offered by a leather office chair. Leather office chairs project an image of prestige, authority, power and professionalism; thus are preferred by firms looking to showcase power and elegance. Traditionally, CEOs and Directors’ offices almost exclusively come with leather seat options.

Comfort 

Leather office chairs offer incredible comfort thanks to their characteristic thick padding found all through the seat. In non-conditioned office spaces or hot summer conditions, leather chairs remain cool to the touch and dry off sweat and precipitation easily, allowing your body to remain cool and dry. Alternately, on cold days, it will retain your body heat, warm up and keep you warm.   

Durability

Leather office chairs made from genuine leather are highly durable, lasting up to 10 years if well maintained. The leather material on the chair often outlasts the wheel castors and gas cylinder lift, especially in well-designed office environments with air conditioning and carpets. The high durability of leather chairs makes it a good one-off investment that can serve your office for years. 

Maintenance 

Leather office chairs require minimal maintenance considering the non-absorptive nature of leather. If, for instance, you accidentally spill some coffee or tea onto your leather seat, you can easily wipe it off, plus the liquid will not soak in. Leather has the ability to protect itself from liquid spills warranting minimal maintenance. 

What's more, the leather upholstery can easily be wiped or vacuum cleaned to remove dust and food crumbs to achieve a squeaky clean look. The easy cleaning and maintenance of leather chairs make it a suitable choice for offices with limited time for carrying out maintenance. 

Easy Cleaning 

Leather office chairs can easily be cleaned to maintain optimum hygiene. For instance, in a shared office environment, you can easily wipe off other users' sweat and unpleasant smell from the chair by wiping it down with a microfiber cloth damped in water or slightly soapy water, based on the manufacturer's cleaning instructions. You only need to give the leather chair a good quick rub down to eliminate the sweat and smell of other users. However, always clean the leather office chair according to the manufacturer's instructions- some types of leather such as the aniline-dyed leather office chairs get damaged when wiped down with mild soapy water. 

Cons of Leather Office Chairs 

High Cost 

Quality and luxury come at a steep cost. Leather office chairs are extremely costly, sometimes doubling the cost of other office chairs in the same category. However, considering the benefits offered by these chairs, including visual appeal, impressive comfort and high durability, the cost issue is not really an issue for those that understand their immense value.

The Problem of Fakes 

 When purchasing a leather office chair, it can be pretty difficult to differentiate between fake and genuine leather. Fake leather such as bonded leather, Bi-Cast and PU leathers are less durable and should be avoided at all costs. It’s vital to buy genuine leather since a leather office chair is a considerable investment that you wouldn’t want to get wrong. 

Leather is Prone to Scratches, Cracking and Bleaching Out 

Leather office chairs should be used in less stressful, low-pressure, element-controlled environments because leather cracks and bleaches out when exposed to too much sunlight and heat. Leather is also highly susceptible to scratches; therefore should not be used around rough objects. Once scratched, cracked or bleached, leather office chairs appear horrible and almost always warrants replacement amounting to more expenses. 

Ethical Concerns 

Animal rights activists have greatly highlighted the ethical dilemma that is killing an innocent animal to get leather used in making office chairs. Most companies will assure their clients that the leather used is a by-product from slaughterhouses, or animals that were already dead, which leads to a rabbit hole of ethical concerns. However, the overarching factor is that the quality or usability of leather stands unmatched. It's ultimately up to a person’s ethical code, the use of animal products or lack thereof. If you're against the use of animal products in manufacturing items, you can consider leather office chairs made from faux leather. 

Final Verdict 

 Both leather and mesh office chairs are outstanding office chairs that enable you to stay comfortable, healthy and productive behind your desk. Your ultimate choice of the two should be guided on your exact needs from an office chair. If you're looking for an office chair that offers excellent support and breathability while staying cost-effective, a mesh office chair would do. We highly recommend the Soutien Ergonomic Office Chair owing to its outstanding build quality complemented by ergonomic features. 

A leather office chair is a suitable option if you’re looking to showcase power, professionalism and elegance, or are keen on high-end comfort and durability. The Ergonomic Office Chair 9051 from FlexiSpot is a remarkable leather chair that takes comfort to another level, with a rocking function and rocking pressure adjuster. You can consider getting it for the ultimate office seating experience.