Office Chair vs. Wheelchair – Part 1

Posted 2009.09.26 13.03 in Pointless Blather by Stephanie

Here on Planet Stephanie, office chairs are an important part of everyday furniture – even in the household. Office chairs allow one to roll back and forth from the desk to the cupboard, or from one side of the desk to the other. They’re the right height for working at the desk. The desk being another very important part of home furnishings – the most important, almost. (A good Sofa of Relaxation is also crucial.)

Unfortunately, the main benefit of the office chair, is also its biggest problem. The wheels.

They are made of this hard, unforgiving plastic. Probably ABS. On carpet, they crush the carpet fibres down, and on floor, they grind the top surface away. Even on a cement floor, those hard plastic wheels eventually crush and break up the top layer of cement, resulting in dust and a damaged floor.

Ok, yes, you can buy these floor / carpet protectors. We’re aware of them. They do not work. The carpet ones have all these nubbly bits that anchor them to the carpet. These eventually drill holes in your carpet, and merely slow the overall crushing of the rest of the surface. Plus they make it hard to wheel around, which is the main point of the office chair in the first place. The floor protectors don’t have nubbly bits but they also don’t do a damn thing to protect the floor. Worse, they can accellerate the damage should something get underneath the ‘protector’.

No, the problem is really those hard plastic wheels. I kept wondering to myself, why don’t they make a chair with rubber wheels. Or maybe I could get some rubber wheels and convert an office chair. Though that wouldn’t fix the other problem with office chairs – they’re typically cheaply made, out of more of that hard plastic.

Now granted, I’m sure you could get a top-notch office chair if you were willing to spend some significant money. I’m not. Office chairs around here are in the $50 – $100 range, and they last about a year. The wheels break. The tilty recliney thing breaks. Or something wears out. I know, cheap chair, no surprise. And mostly I’m thinking about those wheels anyhow. What to do… chairs with rubber wheels…

Then it hit me. There are chairs with rubber wheels. And they tend to be made of strong metal construction! Chairs with wheels? Wheel chairs! Would a wheelchair be suitable as an office chair replacement? Perhaps… and with all those nifty steel tubes, you could bolt things to them. Accessorize. Trick out the chair. Drink holder, maybe? I have a camera mount that’s designed to clamp onto tubing. ChairCam? Who knows what else could be done. So – where to get a wheelchair, without spending a fortune? I have heard they are expensive…

I checked eBay, and I checked craigslist. Not much going on there. I figured I’d stop by a medical place and check prices and selection and see what I could find. Before I did that though – serendipity. I was at the local Goodwill to pick up some coffee mugs and see if they had any old cameras, when I spotted it. A real, solid looking wheelchair, folded up. And only $50. Bargain! I could see that one of the foot-rests was missing, no worries, that will save me time since I’m going to remove the other one too. It has an IV stand which will probably have to come off. I didn’t even test-drive it, just made sure it had its wheels, and that was that!

Score!

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6 Comments

  1. Lezley says:

    OMG…. I have no words. It’s smart and weird. Is it comfortable?

    1. Joan says:

      Where can I buy one of these chairs?
      Joan

  2. Stephanie says:

    It is as comfortable as an office chair… which means it is ok but has its problems. The pokey-jabby things where the footrests would attach sometimes hurt my legs if I sit wrong.

  3. Jason says:

    I found a sport’s chair on e-bay for ~150 and it is awesome. Find one that fits( it should be like sliping in to a glove…) and you will never want to go back. I would suggest getting a Roho cushion ~$50 up on e-bay. It makes all the difference in the world

  4. Timothy says:

    AS I was looking for a new office chair, I came across your post here; I realize it’s 6+ years old, but I hope you are still getting notifications on this.
    First, if you want an awesome rubber wheel for you office chairs, check these out! The set on my chair (actually 4″ not 3″) just outlasted their second chair! And the chair roles so perfect with them: http://www.amazon.com/Rollerblade-Material-including-Hardwood-chairs/dp/B01B78SW5I

    Next, this wheelchair thing as an office chair. I do a great deal of work in the disability community and I know well about wheelchairs and how when they are built for the user, they are the perfect place to sit. The one you posted above would be horrible! Like Jason said, find a sports model. You may spend a few hundred bucks through ebay, or Craigslist, but you will love it in the end. I have been telling my wife for years that the people who custom build wheelchairs should custom build office chairs, life would be grand! However, I think if I replaced my office chair with a wheelchair, my wife would look rather oddly at me.

  5. Stephanie says:

    Hi Timothy,

    It’s actually not bad. I didn’t start using it full time immediately, but after a couple years it did become my ‘office chair’ full time. I use a folded up blanket to make it comfy, and I’ve removed the armrests and pretty much everything else. It’s just wheels, frame, seat, and back. Except the back panel is falling apart, because I slouch too much and am wearing it out.

    One odd difference that takes getting used to is on an office chair you can roll any direction. Particularily sideways. It’s like second nature to scoot sideways 2 feet to get to the filing cabinet next to the desk. But with the wheelchair of course, you can’t go sideways. Took me a little while to get used to having to steer it. 🙂

    Cheers!

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