Standing desks and do-it-yourselfers (DIYers) seem to go together like peanut butter and jelly. Building a homemade standing desk is natural fit for those who love to take on an exciting project. While some are made for this type of project, others only go this route to save money on a standing desk. If you are not a skilled, handy-person, what will your DIY standing desk look like in the end?
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I honestly think that DIY stand up desks can be a good thing. If you’ve never had a chance to use a standing desk, shouldn’t you test drive one before spending hundreds of dollars on a new desk? A DIY desk can be made from almost anything and for this type of scenario it doesn’t have to be perfect. Creating your own makeshift standing desk gives you a good idea if you are cut out for the standing desk world.
For those that are taking on this DIY adventure, with the plan of long term use, there are some problems you should consider first. While the investment in this type of standing desk might be less than a commercial product, your time is not free either. Let’s take a closer look at the top five problems with DIY standing desks and see if they are a good fit for your needs.
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1. Not Actually DIY
The first problem with DIY standing desks is determining whether or not they are actually DIY. I have found that there are a lot of users who purchase an electric standing desk frame and pair that with their own top, then consider it to be DIY. But the question of whether or not this is actually a DIY desk has to be asked.
When I consider something DIY, the entire project has been done by yourself. While I prefer the alternative where you buy a fully adjustable standing desk, I’m not sure this actually qualifies. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this, again, I wholeheartedly believe this is the best route to go.
This first problem isn’t to make those feel bad for calling this type of standing desk DIY. I apologize if I have offended anyone. I know that users that create this version of a DIY standing desk are very passionate about their desk. I just want to make sure that we clear up that my post is excluding this type of DIY standing desk. All of the remaining problems with DIY standing desks are surrounding the product setup, done by the user.
2. Lack of Stability
Having the opportunity to develop the VertDesk v3 alongside our OEM, has significantly increased my understanding of what makes an adjustable standing desk stable. So many different components of a standing desk are important when trying to create a desk that is stable at 40”+ tall. Standing desks are only as stable as their weakest design point. These weaknesses are exaggerated the higher your move the desk.
The amount of stability you get from a DIY standing desk will vary significantly. The term is so widely used, that you can expect the products that are DIY to be just as random. Over the years, I have seen products that are made from books and boxes. More recently, DIY’ers have become more advanced, creating fully adjustable models from wood. The issue is that unless you introduce a material like steel, you are likely to need a lot of alternative materials to create a solid desk. The taller the desk, the more cross bracing you will require. It’s important to look at all stability issues. Front to back, side to side, twisting and flexing of the desk surface are some of the most common.
By the time you have created your DIY standing desk, there is a chance you have made a mistake along the way. Will you continue to add structural components in an attempt to create more stability? While you can likely over build it to create more stability, will this give the overall look you had in mind?
3. Not Easily Adjustable
Standing desks have been around long enough that we have seen plenty of studies come out on the subject. These studies have come to the conclusion that sitting all day is bad for you. The same is true for standing, as movement is the ideal choice for better health in the office. While the most popular search phrase in this category is “standing desks”, it’s actually a bit misleading. As the industry has moved more mainstream, users have started to realize you actually want an adjustable standing desk. Making the switch from sitting to standing on a regular basis is the key to success with this type of desk.
Creating a DIY adjustable standing desk is not as easy as it sounds. For the most part, the DIY projects that i’ve seen that have adjustment are very cumbersome. Consider you have a desk full of items; monitors, computers, phone, etc. If your desk requires you to loosen or remove bolts, then physically move the desk, how likely are you to do that regularly?
DIY standing desk converters are made to set on top of your existing desk, giving you the ability raise the standard desk height. These units will tend to take up a lot of space on your desk, which is okay while in use. What do you do when you want to sit down? If you have a laptop, it’s probably not too hard to move that back and forth. If you have dual monitor setup, with a keyboard and mouse, this might get to be a bit annoying. With DIY desktop converters you also have to find a place for the converter when it’s not in use.
After 12 months of testing 20+ electric standing desks the results are in!
4. Not Very Pretty To Look At
While some of the DIY standup desks I have found online are gorgeous, the vast majority would have a hard time making it as the centerpiece of the living room. Would your significant other really let you have a bunch of 2 x 4’s nailed together sitting in the family room?
Unless you are skilled craftsman, with an ability to be a top notch finisher, the chance your DIY standing desk is beautiful is limited. Most are looking at function over beauty, so the final product tends to come out a bit crude. It doesn’t mean you should be ashamed of your work. It just means your spouse isn’t going to let you put it in the bedroom.
5. Time vs. Money or Money vs. Time
Time is money and money is time, but for most finding extra time can be difficult nowadays. Whether you’re busy with a tight school schedule, kids and/or work, finding time to really create a good standing desk can be tough. How much more money can be made at work versus struggling with a new standing desk.
If you’re looking to create a DIY standing desk that will be around for a long time, chances are you need to put some time into it. Creating something in fifteen minutes might get you standing, but chances are there will be a host of issues.
How many hours need to be invested in your DIY standing desk until you decide to look into a commercial made alternative, which could be a less expensive option? Considering some of the worst options on the market are still more stable than 90% of the DIY creations i’ve seen, maybe it’s better to open up to buying a desk that’s been manufactured in a factory.
At the end of the day, there is definitely a place for DIY standing desks. If you are skilled enough to make something you can be proud of, I get it. If your budget doesn’t allow you to make the leap to a commercial standing desk, I understand that too. To get the full health benefit of a standing desk, you need to be able to switch from sitting to standing. If your desk doesn’t easily adjust from a seated height to a standing height, you are going to create new problems.
If you are really serious about making the switch to standing during your workday, consider this an investment into something you spend 8+ hours at a day. You may spend more time at your desk than any other place, so it’s likely a good investment that you’ll get plenty of use out of. I’ve found that even the least expensive options available are better than most DIY creations. If you’re on the fence, try stacking up some boxes or books to get a good feel for standing during your workday. If it feels like something you will use, make the plunge and invest in a commercial grade product. You will be happy you did.