Used Chairs vs. New: A Comparison Analysis

When it comes to the old new vs. used chairs debate, which one comes out the winner?

Well, we think victory is in the eye of the beholder.

Each option has their own set of advantages and disadvantages (which we list below), but in the end it all comes down to the priorities of the buyer. If affordability is your bottom line, then you can’t miss going used, especially since there are so many retailers like Arnolds that offer like-new or refurbished pieces from well-known manufacturers.

But if you like having more of a selection, the ability to customize your chairs and not having to worry about missing parts or broken pieces, then buying new is a better fit.

When it comes to other factors like ergonomics, buying either new or used could work. As long as seat adjustments can still be operated and the seat and/or cushion is still comfortable and supportive, you can find great deals on ergonomic chairs as well by going used. Of course, maybe you’d prefer not to have spend time sitting on each and every chair candidate to test these things out before you purchase it, in which case buying new might be less of a pain in the neck.

If you’re still on the fence about whether to buy new or used, read on. Here’s what you need to know:

Used chairs

Buying used is your best bet for going green.
Buying used is your best bet for going green.

Cheaper: This is perhaps the number one reason to buy used instead of new. Businesses and individuals can save significant amounts of money on used chairs, up to 70 percent or more off the list price of a new chair, which adds up to a lot of cash, especially if you’re a startup with limited funds or trying to outfit a large office. Keep in mind that in some cases that’s 70 percent off of high-quality, name brand chairs. Just because you’re pinching pennies doesn’t mean you have to skimp on style, or comfort for that matter.

Faster: If you’re hoping to furnish your office in a hurry, then used furniture that you can purchase and take home from the store on the same day is your best bet.

Greener: Did you know that, according to the EPA, 9 million tons of usable office equipment ends up in the landfill annually? You can do your part to stop needless waste by purchasing used chairs. What’s more, you’re helping lower the demand for new furniture, which uses natural resources and energy to produce.

Healthier: Used chairs are not only healthier for the environment, they could be healthier for your office. You know that new headache and nausea-inducing new furniture smell? That’s actually the slow release of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) found in things like finishes, adhesives and upholstery in new office furniture. Over time, these VOCs off gas and the furniture is safer to use. The advantage of used furniture is that it’s already gone through this process by the time it reaches your office, unlike new furniture.

Damaged: From missing wheels to broken armrests, your used chair could have a flaw or two. Make sure to fully inspect whatever piece you’re purchasing to make sure that any damaged pieces are at least fixable and that missing parts are replaceable. If you want to buy used but don’t feel like making repairs, look for retailers that sell refurbished furniture.

Worn in: Even if the chair isn’t technically broken in anyway, chances are it will be more “lived in.” This means the seat cushions might not be as firm or the armrests could be more dinged up from years of scrapping the undersides of desks or the upholstery can be threadbare in places. Again, some used furniture retailers offer refurbished pieces that address these problems, or you can try to freshen them up yourself.

Harder to match: If you’re trying to furnish a whole office, you might have a more difficult time finding matching chairs or chairs that fit your office aesthetic when shopping used versus new.

New chairs

If you're looking for the latest, high-style pieces, then you probably want to buy new.
If you’re looking for the latest, high-style pieces, then you probably want to buy new.

Brand new: Who doesn’t like shiny new, unbroken, immaculate things? The best part about buying new is that you are the first person to use the furniture, which means you get all the advantages of firm cushions, functional adjusters and fabric unstained by spilt coffee.

Bigger selection: When you buy used, you’re at the mercy of whatever’s listed on Craigslist, in classifieds or at your nearest retailer. While chances are, you’ll still find a pretty good selection, you might not find pieces that totally match your needs aesthetically or ergonomically. But the sky’s the limit when you’re buying new.

Easy to buy en masse: If you’re trying to furnish a large office, you’ll need a lot of furniture, and we imagine you’d prefer that furniture to match. If you shop used, you could end settling for pieces that look similar, but don’t match or even pieces that don’t go together at all. Buy used, and you’ll be able to order the number you need from the manufacturer without worrying about whether there will be enough of a certain model.

More expensive: If you’re shopping for high quality chairs that were built to last, you’ll pay a premium for them, especially when you’re buying new. A brand new Humanscale Freedom Task Chair can retail for more than $1,335 (used at Arnolds is just $325). While you might be able to justify dropping that amount for a few chairs in a small office, it can get expensive fast if you’re a larger business.

Lag time for orders: Depending on how much furniture you’re purchasing and where you’re purchasing it, there can be a lag time between the time that you order the furniture and when it’s actually delivered to your office. This can be weeks or even months, which should be a big consideration for companies who are growing quickly. When buying used, you already know what’s in stock and you can most likely have it in your office the same day you bought it.

Photos courtesy of vixs/Stock.Xchng and csongor/Stock.xhcng