What to Look for in a Height-Adjustable Workbench

The importance of having a good quality workbench can’t be emphasised enough. It should be the cornerstone of your workspace, letting you work comfortably and productively on any number of tasks, for any amount of time. Workbenches aren’t necessarily a one-size-fits all item, though — different environments, people and situations require different types of benches. That’s where height-adjustable benches come into their own.

What is a Height-Adjustable Bench?

As the name implies, height-adjustable benches are workbenches that allow users flexibility to alter the height of their work surface, whether that’s for comfort or for more efficient working. Extremely versatile, these benches can be used by everyone from craft hobbyists through to hardcore DIY-ers and professionals. Entry-level benches let you adjust the height by installing leg pieces, mid-level benches will have a manual hand crank for easy up-and-down and, at the high end, the bench height is adjusted electronically at the press of a button. Which one you choose will largely come down to budget and how often you need to adjust the height. If you only need to change working position very occasionally, then an electrically operated bench might be considered overkill.

Why Bother?

Why would you want to change the height of your workbench? There are a few reasons, some of which you might never have thought of:

  • Multiple studies have shown that one of the most common injuries in the workplace — musculoskeletal disorder — is frequently the result of poor posture, uncomfortable working conditions and straining or stretching. This applies to the home workspace just as much as the professional, and a height-adjustable bench can alleviate the issue, enabling you to work at the most comfortable height for your body and the job that you are doing.
  • Quality and productivity. A more comfortable working position, specifically tailored to your needs, allows you to work for longer, work more quickly and focus more intently on the quality of the finished task.
  • Stand or sit? Some jobs are better performed standing than sitting (and vice versa). Equally, some tasks require up-close, detailed work. Adjusting the height of the bench can let you work at the most appropriate position for the job at hand. Height-adjustable benches also allow users to choose to vary their sitting or standing — remaining in one position for a sustained period can cause aches and pains as well as longer-term health issues.
  • Shared workbench. If you share use of your workbench with someone else, then a height-adjustable bench is a must-have. You can set the bench at the perfect height for you then, when you’re done, the next person can quickly and easily set it up for themselves.

What’s Available?

Once you’ve decided that you need a height-adjustable workbench you need to look at a few other things. There’s no need to sacrifice any functionality with your new bench — modern height-adjustable benches are available with many of the more advanced features of classic-style benches.

Electrostatic discharge (ESD) Benches are built for people who work with delicate electronics and computer components. All the materials used in these benches are chosen for their antistatic properties, and the worktop itself is usually grounded to the earth to prevent a build-up of electrostatic charge that could cause damage to the components or products being worked on.

Heavy-duty Benches are capable of holding heavier loads than standard models. They can be great for people working on heavy items or who need to apply pressure to the worktop while working. Premium models will be able to handle loads upwards of 240kg, more than enough for the vast majority of users. A useful benefit is in lifting heavy items — position the bench at its lowest, place the item and then use the lifting mechanism to raise it up to working height.

Worktop materials are an important factor too. This will be informed by the kind of work you do: common options are laminate or hardwood, but height-adjustable benches can also be found with the more hygienic stainless steel option. If you work with corrosives, chemicals or heat (soldering, for example), you’ll need to bear that in mind when you’re making your selection and make sure you choose materials that can resist those substances and stresses.

Size is probably one of the most important features for the everyday user. You’ll want the usable surface to be as large as possible, while still fitting comfortably in your workspace. Bear in mind that you need space not only for working, but also for placing tools, components and any plans you need to reference. And if you want to make use of above surface storage like cupboards or louvre panels, be sure to take into account the space that they will take up as well.

Accessories are available to truly optimise your height-adjustable bench. Whether you need easy-access tool storage by way of louvres or pegboards or more classic and versatile drawer/cupboard storage, you can find above or below surface options to suit your specific needs. Lighting accessories are also a great addition — particularly for areas with poor ambient lighting or tasks that need detailed or precision work. Finally, you could consider adding a grippy rubber surface to your workbench, and don’t forget about anti-fatigue matting for the floor to make standing more comfortable.

In Conclusion…

The right workbench can make a real difference to the way you work. Having a comfortable, ergonomically designed working space can turn a chore into a pleasure, relieve strains and stresses and help with organisation and productivity. Modern workbenches are built to last — the bench you buy now should last for many, many years if used correctly and maintained properly. Make sure it’s the right bench for you so that you’re not stuck with something you’re not happy with.

Author Bio: First Mats started life as safety matting specialists, but have since expanded to become a complete industrial and commercial supplies company. The focus of First Mats is to provide safety-focused products that improve the wellbeing of staff through quality approved products, backed up by extensive knowledge. www.firstmats.co.uk