How to choose a desk

How to choose a desk

Whether you work at home or in an office, the desk is one of the key elements that determines the layout of your workstation (or gaming station) and the items you can store or keep on hand. Therefore, knowing how to choose the right desk for you can greatly improve your productivity and comfort while working or gaming.

Also, knowing all the desk options out there will help you make a better buying decision, as there may be options you didn’t know about or had no idea what they cost.

Below I will give you a list of the main things you should consider when picking a desk, and I will also give you some key tips on how to decide the right desk for you.

7 things to consider when choosing a desktop in 2024

1. Type of desk

Desks can be classified in various ways, according to their function, features or shape, but the lines that differentiate one from another are very blurred and sometimes intermingled. However, one classification that defines them quite well is as follows:

Writing desks

Writing desk, with a laptop on top and located in a room at home.
IOTXY Writing Desk (View on Amazon)

These are simple desks that usually have only a shallow top and legs. Although they may have small storage spaces, they usually do not have large drawers or shelves, as they would be considered secretaries (see below).

Their legs are generally thin and they are not set up to support too much weight. But don’t worry, they can usually perfectly support a laptop, an all-in-one computer such as the iMac and a few other items (books, lamps, etc.), just be aware of the limitations indicated by the manufacturer.

These desks can be made of any material, so their strength, stability and price can vary a lot from one product to another, ranging from $80 to over $1,000.

Are writing desks worth it?

These types of desks are very appropriate when your space is limited and, at the same time, you want to maintain an uncluttered aesthetic. For example, they are a good option when you need to place your desk in the living room, or when the dimensions of your office are limited. That said, they are very limited in terms of storage, so keep that in mind.

Best-selling writing desk prices

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Secretary desks

Secretary desk with two drawers and a shelf. On it there is a monitor, a keyboard, a mouse and other common elements in a workspace.
Homidec secretary desk (View on Amazon)

These are writing desks that include various storage elements, such as drawers, cubbies and shelves prepared for storing large items such as books, document folders, headphones, etc. The drawers can be part of the desk or come in a separate drawer unit.

Because they are designed to store large items, secretaries are generally sturdier than writing desks, although it all depends on the quality and material they are made of, which will also determine their price. The prices of secretaries are usually around $100 and can go up to more than $1,000.

Are desk secretaries worth it?

This type of desk is ideal if you need space to store bulky items you need to keep on hand, such as reference books or document folders. However, if you work with multiple monitors or a lot of computer accessories, you may want to take a look at computer desks.

Prices of the best-selling secretary desks

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Computer desks

Eureka Computer Desk (View on Amazon)

These desks differ from secretary and writing desks in that they have elements specifically designed for computer use, such as monitor risers, spaces to hide cables, connection ports or hooks for hanging accessories.

They can be narrow or wide, to make room for a monitor, printer or other computer accessories. There are simple ones and those with drawers and shelves, like secretaries. Their legs are usually made of metal, and they are designed to withstand the weight of computer equipment.

Their prices vary widely and mainly depend on the materials and the accessories or amenities they incorporate. That said, you can find some for little more than $80 and go up to more than $1000.

Gaming desks

Within computer desks we find gaming desks, which, in addition to all that the latter offer, typically incorporate accessories and storage spaces specifically designed for video game players. Thus, we can find gaming desks with neon lights, hooks, or drawers to store the controllers and even with specific cubicles to place large desktop PCs or game consoles.

You can find a good sample of gaming desks in our guide to the best L-shaped gaming desks.

Are computer desks worth it?

Computer desks are best suited for working with a computer. Many have monitor risers, keyboard trays and space to hide the cables of your devices. In addition, some of them are simple, like writing desks, and some have drawers and shelves, like secretary desks.

Best-selling computer desks prices

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Executive desks

Executive desk with a laptop computer, table lamp and paper tray on it.
Sauder Executive Desk (View on Amazon)

Executive desks are those that are designed to be able to meet with other people if necessary. They are usually wider, to leave space on the table for both people. They may or may not include drawers, monitor risers and spaces to hide cables.

Because they are designed for people in executive positions, they are frequently made of quality materials and their legs, usually made of metal or solid wood, are designed to withstand a lot of weight. Consequently, their price is also typically quite high and often exceeds $500 and even reaches close to $5,000.

Are executive desks worth it?

In my opinion, executive desks are only practical for those who need to meet with other people and pass on a certain image of status, as they take up a lot of space and their price is usually quite high.

Best-selling computer desks prices
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2. Shape of the desk

There are desks with very different shapes for very different spaces. Today you can find desks of various lengths, L-shaped desks and even desks that can be divided into modules, so that you can have one part in one part of the room and the rest in another. The most common desk shapes are as follows:

  • Rectangular desks
  • Square desks
  • Circular desks
  • Semi-circular desks
  • Oval desks
  • L-shaped desks

Normally, the legs do not extend beyond the surface area of the tabletop, if you want to use the tabletop as a reference for calculating how much space the desk will take up in your room or office. But if the desk includes separate drawer units, they may protrude. In either case, the photos and specifications are available on our website.

3. The space it offers

Some desks are designed to fit a computer and keyboard of standard dimensions, while others can fit a computer, keyboard and multiple monitors, and even video game consoles or large PCs.

It is always advisable to take measurements of the items you are going to use on your desk to make sure you have enough room for them. Desks with additional storage, such as monitor risers and shelves, can help you get more out of the same workspace.

Storage space

Depending on the desktop model, you can find one or more storage elements, or none, in the case of the most basic desktops. In any case, these are the 4 main types of storage.

  • Drawers: Handy for storing things that you don’t want to be visible or that you want to protect from dust, sunlight, etc. You can store delicate objects, sensitive to damage or loss, such as external storage devices, chargers, headphones, or video game controllers. Some desks include lockable drawers for extra security.
  • Shelves: These don’t provide as much privacy as drawers, but are ideal for storing larger items, such as books or things you’ll use frequently, like headphones, document folders or reference books.
  • Cubbies: They are small open recesses, usually found above or below the desk surface. Because of their reduced size, they are typically intended to store your keyboard and mouse, a pair of glasses or small volume items.
  • Hooks: Hooks can be used to hang various things, such as jackets, hats, headphones, or video game controllers.
  • Monitor stand riser: In addition to raising the monitor, monitor stand risers often leave a space under the monitor, which is great for storing the keyboard and mouse, or a graphics tablet.
  • Cable management: Some desks include holes or panels that allow to organize and hide power strips, chargers and cables for computers, monitors, etc. Check out our guide on desk cable management ideas.

4. The materials

The material a desk is made of will determine, in part, its durability, its price and also the experience you will have on a daily basis, being in contact with that material.

Melamine desks

Melamine desk with a laptop computer and various accessories on the table top
Parma desk, melamine and wood (view on Amazon)
  • Melamine desks are usually less expensive
  • They resist a lot of weight
  • Lightweight
  • Easy to clean
  • They can be waterproofed
  • They can be manufactured in a variety of colors
  • Easily scratched when not sufficiently coated with varnish
  • The bonding edges tend to deteriorate after about 5 years

As the name suggests, these desks are coated with melamine, which is a mixture of plastic resins that can mimic the pattern of wood and other materials. Normally, melamine is used to cover a chipboard, that is, formed from shredded wood.

It is the most common material used in the construction of desks today because it is inexpensive to produce and, consequently, the desk retail price can be more affordable. In addition, it is a material that is quite resistant to weight, easy to clean, lightweight, can be waterproofed and can be manufactured in any color.

The main handicap of melamine is its long-term durability when subjected to daily friction with other objects, since, when it has few layers of protection, it tends to scratch and the joint edges to lift. It should also be taken into account that, in the worst quality melamine furniture, some cleaning products can deteriorate its color.

However, there are different types of melamine finishes with different qualities and layers of protection. The best melamine desks have several layers of protection and use a more resistant melamine, which can last more than 10 years without obvious signs of wear. The poorer quality ones, however, can start to show signs of deterioration after about 5 years of daily use.

Are melamine desks worth it?

The main advantage of melamine is that it gives you access to desks with beautiful designs at lower prices. In addition, these desks are light to carry and quite resistant, so you can place several devices on them without fearing that they will break, as long as you respect the manufacturer’s instructions.

Best-selling melamine desks prices

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Solid wood desks

Solid wood desk, with several books and a lamp on the table.
Rivet desks (view on Amazon)
  • It is a pleasure to be in contact with the feel of natural wood.
  • They are particularly beautiful
  • They convey quality
  • They are durable and resistant
  • They are usually carefully designed
  • As they are of higher quality, their price tends to be higher
  • If they are not properly varnished, they may get damaged.

Desks made of solid wood are sturdy and resistant. In addition, they convey quality and naturalness, both to the eye and to the touch. While there are melamine desks that mimic the look of wood, the feel is not comparable to real wood.

Quality wood desks are usually coated with several layers of varnish, which makes them very resistant to falling liquids and easy to clean. In any case, you should always consider re-varnishing every 3 to 5 years, depending on the intensity of use.

The surface of wooden desks can come highly polished or maintain its natural grain and imperfections. In the second case, you will enjoy a more organic beauty and feel, but keep in mind that sometimes the objects you place on it may not lay flat, or the grain may show when writing on a sheet of paper directly on the surface.

Are solid wood desks worth it?

If you want a quality desk that feels more organic and natural to the touch, the wooden desk is ideal. Plus, it brings a casual, yet quality aesthetic to any room or office where you place it.

Best-selling solid wood desks prices
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Glass desks

Desk with glass surface in front of a window, with a laptop, headphones and a cell phone on it.
Flash Furniture Glass Desk (view on Amazon)

Glass desks are generally made of tempered glass, a type of glass subjected to chemical or thermal processes that increase its resistance and make it shatter into tiny pieces in case of breakage to prevent further damage.

It’s a material that stands out for its aesthetic beauty, since it denotes quality, transparency and sophistication, both for its appearance and for its price, which is usually not exactly cheap. In addition, it is very easy to clean, and its appearance does not degrade over the years.

The main problem with tempered glass is its resistance. Although it is six times more resistant to mechanical and thermal stresses than normal flat or float glass, a blow with the edge of an aluminum computer or other blunt object can shatter it, due to the way it is made. That means that everything on it would suddenly go to the floor.

Other small problems are that fingerprints are often left on the glass and that its surface is often very cold when the ambient temperature is also very cold, which can be somewhat uncomfortable.

Are glass desks worth it?

A glass desk is ideal for those who prioritize the aesthetic beauty of this material and do not usually move heavy items on their desk, so the risk of accidents is low. It is not highly recommended if you have children playing around it, because of the risk of them hitting it with a toy or hitting themselves.

Best-selling glass desks prices
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Metal desks

Metal desk with a laptop, a mobile phone and some accessories on it
Clifton desk, metal with melamine top (View on Amazon)
  • They are aesthetically attractive
  • They are very resistant
  • They are very easy to clean
  • If they are of high quality, they will last for many years.
  • They are very cold in cold weather and very hot in direct sunlight
  • Depending on the material, they can be very heavy

If you are looking to create an industrial style environment for your office, metal desks are perfect. There are desks made entirely or partially of aluminum, iron or stainless steel, and all of them are characterized by their great resistance to weight, ease of cleaning and tremendous durability with very little maintenance.

Some desks have metal work surfaces, but generally metal is used in the structure, in combination with wood, glass or melamine tops. Depending on the latter, their price can vary quite a bit, as can their weight and strength.

The main problem with a metal desk is that, if it gets direct sunlight, it can be very hot when you sit down to use it. The opposite is true if the sun does not shine on it, i.e. it can be very cold. However, not all metals are the same; those made of aluminum heat up less than those made of iron and steel. However, they are all equally cold when the ambient temperature is very low.

Are metal desks worth it?

Metal desks are durable and easy to clean, however, the fact that they get very hot in the sun and very cold if the sun doesn’t reach them can be a problem. Personally, I prefer a combination of metal frame with a glass or wood surface.

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5. Ergonomics

There is a whole range of desks that offer ergonomic adjustments. Most of them are height adjustable and then there are those that include drafting tables, where you can adjust the tilt of the table. In both cases, there are models that adjust manually and others that adjust by means of a small electric motor.

Height adjustable desks

Woka Electric Standing Desk (View on Amazon)

Height adjustable desks allow you to adjust the height of the surface according to the position of your arms and legs. Some have a small range of travel, so you can adjust the desk while seated, and others allow you to raise the desk to the point where you can work standing up.

You’ll find manually adjustable desks and others that do it by means of an electric lift system. The latter are more expensive, but if you’re going to be constantly raising and lowering the height of your desk, they’re much more comfortable.

Some even have a memory function, which allows you to save different desk heights. This is very handy if more than one person is going to use the desk and needs a different adjustment. Also, if you simply want to alternate between sitting and standing during the day, but don’t want to spend time adjusting the height each time. Of these, some include an anti-collision system, which detects solid objects on their ascent or descent, and makes the desk stop automatically.

However, if you are only going to adjust the height very occasionally, a manual lift system will save you some money and, in addition, because they do not have electronic systems, they are less likely to break down.

Are ergonomic desks worth it?

If you spend a lot of time at your computer, investing in an adjustable desk is a good way to improve your posture. Plus, if you buy an adjustable desk that allows you to work standing up, even occasionally, your legs and back will appreciate the extra physical activity.

Best-selling height adjustable desks prices

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Tilt adjustable desks or drafting tables

Drawing table with drawers and a stool, located in a room of a house.
Studio Designs Drawing Table Desk (View on Amazon)

Tilt-adjustable desks are often easier to find as “drafting tables”. While classic drafting tables barely had a tilting top on a stand, many current models are a mix of desk and drafting table that are adjustable, either manually or electrically.

Some models reserve some desk space, so you can place a laptop or other work tools outside the tilting table. There are also those with drawers and storage space, and some even include a stool.

Most drafting tables are designed for seated work, but some are also height adjustable, so you can work standing up.

Are tilt-top desks or desks with drafting table worth it?

These desks are obviously aimed at designers, architects, draftsmen, illustrators, etc. who need a drafting table and a desk at the same time, rather than two separate workstations.

Best-selling drafting desks prices
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6. Aesthetics

Decoration style

There are at least 9 styles of interior decoration and, although the same desk can fit in more than one style, it is relevant that you identify the style of the room or office where you are going to place the desk, so you can choose a desk that fits better with that aesthetic.

According to Decorilla, some of the most popular interior decorating styles are:

  • Minimalist style
  • Eclectic style
  • Contemporary
  • Scandinavian style
  • Modern style
  • Industrial style
  • Traditional style
  • Bohemian style
  • Rustic style
  • Industrial style


Today, melamine desks allow you to have desks in almost any color you want. Metal desks can be painted in a variety of colors, so you’ll also find a variety of options.

Solid wood desks, on the other hand, are usually only available in more or less dark wood tones. This color is given by the combination of the type of wood used and the type of varnish applied to the desk. Colors range from lighter colors, such as beech or oak, to dark brown or walnut, to the more reddish wood of cherry.

Most glass desks are usually transparent, but it is true that some can be found with tempered glass of a certain color. This is achieved by a chemical treatment that gives color to the glass itself during its manufacture, so it is part of the glass itself.

7. Price

The price of a desk is usually between $100 and $600. However, there are many exceptions, and you can find very simple desks for less than $90, and designer desks or luxury materials, even above $1000.

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