Bamboo Standing Desks – Separating Truth From Fiction in Environmental Claims

November 23, 2022

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Bamboo standing desks

A number of online sellers of standing desks have been promoting bamboo desktop options in recent years, including Fully (Jarvis), UpLiftDesk, VWINDESK, UpRise (Ergoprise), Autonomous and StandDesk, among others. We set our research team out to investigate how these desktops are manufactured and to verify whether these sellers’ claims of bamboo’s environmental benefits are truthful or just greenwashing marketing spin. Let’s start with the basics…

Is Bamboo a Wood or a Grass?

Despite common marketing claims that bamboo is a wood it is actually a perennial grass, growing primarily in China. One billion people around the world live in bamboo houses, and bamboo has been made into everything from window shades and flooring to apparel, and of course food. In terms of “wood,” bamboo is processed into three different products that could be used in making furniture: thin veneer sheeting, plywood and lumber. Its unique character which separates it from real wood is its long fibers, which give it a supple flexibility unlike wood.

The consequence of bamboo’s flexible nature is that in order to turn these long fiber strands into wood an extraordinary amount of energy, water, glues and laminates are required, in a weeks-long process involving drying out the moisture, converting bamboo tubes to flat sheets, separating those sheets into thin sheets or strands, stacking the sheets with glue in between and compressing them under great force and temperature. Once turned into something resembling wood up to nine additional finishing processes ending in UV coating or some other lamination are required before this grass can be turned into something comparable to a hard wood.

There are over 1,000 species of bamboo, but the kind used in making a desktop plank is known as moso bamboo.

Is Bamboo Really a Hardwood?

bamboo standing deskMarketers claim that bamboo is a hardwood (defined as timber species that drop their leaves in winter, so it’s not that) or harder than oak. The way bamboo is turned into a hard wood-like plank is by gluing together alternating horizontal grain and vertical grain players, again applying a massive amount of energy and chemicals in the process, routing and sanding it down to the desired desktop shape, and then laminating it with clear sealants to give it both rigidity and a nice sheen. Once enrobed in these final lamination stages the combined cross-grained plywood (as pictured at the top of this page) becomes a hard wood.

Bamboo has a naturally blonde color, and distinctive knots and joints that make for beautiful flooring and furniture. What is often marketed as “carbonized” bamboo is just a heating process that converts the blonde color to darker shades. This process adds no hardening properties as one might be led to believe by the term “carbonized.” Carbonized simply means darker tones.

An alternative method to making a bamboo desktop is to use a core of MDF and glue veneer tops, bottoms and edge banding to reduce the usage of highly-processed bamboo. The disadvantage of this method is that like any high-pressure laminating process or veneering process, the seams are exposed to air, moisture and cleaning chemicals, and eventually the glues dry out and the tabletop starts to peel at the edges. A third alternative is to enrobe an MDF core in thermofoil (also known as 3D lamination) that is imprinted with an image of bamboo. This approach is the least environmentally impacting because it involves no actual bamboo or clear laminates to hold the bamboo layers together and provide hardness.

What is the Environmental Impact of Growing Bamboo?

The process begins in China, where the vast majority of bamboo is grown. Bamboo farming employs millions of people—it is a huge industry. As detailed in this environmental impact study conducted by research scientists at Dovetail, “although bamboo forests provide considerable ecological and socioeconomic benefits, there are problems associated with their cultivation, including a decline in biodiversity, soil and water loss, decreased soil fertility, and water pollution due to intensive management using inorganic fertilizers and pesticides.”

As the Dovetail report elucidates, the sham marketing of bamboo as an environmentally superior choice started when well-intentioned bureaucrats decided to list bamboo as an environmentally preferable material for LEED certified buildings. They did so based on claims published in Scientific American, of all places, that “Bamboo’s environmental benefits arise largely out of its ability to grow quickly – in some cases three to four feet per day – without the need for fertilizers, pesticides, or much water... Bamboo is so fast growing that it can yield 20x more timber than trees on the same area.” These claimed turned out to be completely false but the genie was already out of the bottle. Hundreds of companies starting importing bamboo materials and hundreds more converted them into everything from flooring to furniture products, and exported them worldwide, all based on totally false information. It took too many years for the bureaucrats to reverse their mistake but bamboo was eventually removed from this list of approved materials in 2014.

Like many growth opportunities that China has seized the massive upscaling of bamboo farming in the country has wreaked widespread environmental devastation. Bamboo naturally grows in forests interspersed with trees that create a healthy mixed ecosystem for plants and animals. To increase production output, these forests have been denuded of any other species except for thickly packed bamboo, creating large areas of monoculture ecosystems, and leading to an unhealthy decimation of various plant, insect and animal species.

The Dovetail report states about the impact on China’s environment:

Encouragement from the authorities, coupled with the obvious financial gains from planting and harvesting bamboo, has led to widespread over-harvesting and intensive monoculture plantations in many parts of southwest China in recent years. Unbeknownst to many locals, this has resulted in serious negative effects on local ecosystems, worrying environmental and scientific observers…. There is an urgent need to demonstrate long-term technical and policy strategies to halt and restore the degraded biodiversity and the natural productivity of the damaged forests. The trends of monoculture forests lead to biodiversity loss and ecosystem service decrease. Local communities believe that monocultures can bring more income. To change this strong belief is the main challenge.

In addition to poaching, deforestation is one of the main threats to the endangered red panda.

There is massive damage being done to China’s water sources as a consequence of the booming market for moso bamboo, as well:

“Some farmers have begun returning farmland to bamboo forest in the pursuit of higher profits, which may constitute a potential threat to China’s food security and therefore merits concern. Perhaps more importantly, in mountainous areas, some other types of forest have been clearcut to plant bamboo for current economic benefit without considering the site condition and future market changes. Moreover, most bamboo forests are located in the source regions of China’s main rivers and water systems, where inappropriate forest type changes and management often leads not only to biodiversity loss, but also to heavy soil erosion and subsequently excess transport of N and P into surface waters via surface runoff, thereby exacerbating surface water pollution and eutrophication of downstream.”

And all this is before we even look at harvesting and processing. Harvesting is often done by poorly-paid workers under extreme working conditions. If you avoid buying Chinese apparel made in sweatshops, you should keep this in mind when considering any bamboo product.

The Dovetail report was commissioned by the forestry industry, so it doesn’t even encompass any of the environmental impact of processing the grass crop into wood products. But just as far as the impact from farming bamboo, this highly-detailed scientific report boils down to its summary statement:

Bamboo is a marvelous resource that provides a myriad of benefits for billions of people. Development of bamboo resources is economically assisting impoverished people while at the same time stabilizing erodible slopes and flood-prone watersheds. The ability to substantially accentuate rapid growth through intensive management for commercialization purposes magnifies its many benefits. The benefits, however, come at a high environmental cost. Degradation of natural forests, tremendous biodiversity loss, widespread use of fertilizers and pesticides, loss of resilience in bamboo resources, and increased social and environmental risks linked to large-scale monoculture agriculture are among the costs.

The rapid renewal capacity of bamboo is a reality. But reality is replaced by fantasy when rapid growth is equated to environmental superiority without serious consideration of practices employed to achieve rapid growth. Fantasy becomes even more fantastic when completely unfounded claims are accepted without question. Bamboo products should never be designated as environmentally preferable materials without at the very least requiring careful consideration of environmental impacts throughout the entire supply chain. It is time for all players in the green building arena to replace rapid renewability credits with a bit of common sense.

What is the Environmental Impact of Converting Bamboo Into a Desktop?

When compared to harvesting timber from well managed and government-regulated renewable forests in North America bamboo is creating an ecological catastrophe in Asia right now, worsening as demand continues to soar and millions of workers and acres are being subsumed to satisfy the demand. There is also the impact on trade imbalance and loss of North American jobs, and the carbon coast of shipping these products halfway around the world to North American customers.

For the sake of another beautiful choice of grain for ones floor, walls, or tabletop, we’re paying a heavy societal price that is not incorporated into the relative low cost of bamboo wood products. Converting harvested bamboo into solid wood tabletops requires an immense amount of energy, chemicals, and mechanical processes that, together with the impact on farming it, actually damage the environment much more than conventional made-in-America tabletop options. Some furniture manufacturers that were early adopters of bamboo in their products have discontinued their use. See Dapwood’s corporate statement on why consumers should beware of bamboo furniture as but one example.

Dapwood’s statement points out among the many reasons they chose to discontinue making furniture out of bamboo:

In order to make a usable piece of ‘bamboo lumber’, lots of little rectangular pieces need to be glued together to make a panel. It takes a significant amount of glue and adhesive to bind the small pieces together. Because of long-term chemical exposure concerns for our customers, we ordered our bamboo panels to meet the stringent European urea formaldehyde emission standards (.13 parts per million (ppm)). Other importers of bamboo will specify the minimum regulatory requirement- US HUD standards (.30 ppm). We feel the US is far behind other governments in adequately protecting customers- even the Chinese share the tougher European standard! As a good first step, on July 7 2010, President Obama signed into law the Formaldehyde Standards for Composite Wood Products Act. Unfortunately, the act does not apply to bamboo panels but at least it will protect consumers of other wood products. Overall, we wanted to do the right thing with the glues but felt we were being wrongfully lumped in with all the other bamboos.

What’s the Bottom Line? Are Online Sellers of Bamboo Standing Desks Being Dishonest in Portraying Bamboo as Environmentally Friendly?

Every purveyor of bamboo standing desks we’re aware of is buying their finished product from an Asian factory, where it is produced without the kind of EPA governance that we have here. This may change soon, but hasn’t yet. Currently there are bamboo farms being planted in Alabama and Louisiana, and there are factories being built to produce the same products here in the USA once the crops have reached maturity (4 to 7 years). While our domestic labor, land and environmental compliance costs are significantly higher, the American-made bamboo wood products promise to deliver on the original claim of its environmental superiority, albeit at a significantly higher end-cost to the consumer. Desk manufacturers like our sister company, iMovR, are waiting for these products to reach the market before offering real bamboo wood products to their customers.

Layers of criss-crossed bamboo slats are glued together to form tabletops.

In the meantime, however, desk sellers like Fully (Jarvis), UpLift (TheHumanSolution) and others have continued to parrot claims of bamboo’s environmental superiority without a shred of supporting evidence. In an ongoing brinksmanship each is coming up with even more compelling arguments for why their bamboo standing desks are superior to their competitors’. Here are some examples of top-flight marketing spin that we found in a recent scan:

From UpLiftDesk.com (TheHumanSolution)
  • Bamboo is a beautiful, fast-growing, and sustainable grass most famously found in Asia. Our bamboo desktops are 33% thicker than our competitors, giving you something truly special and still eco-friendly (UpLift).
  • We avoid using harsh agents and chemicals in finishing our desktops, protecting not only your desk but your indoor air quality.
  • So you’ve had your eye on our adjustable height desks – don’t forget about our environmentally friendly and renewable Stand Up Desk with 1″ Thick Bamboo Top by UPLIFT Desk. At almost twice the thickness of our competitors’ bamboo desks, you’ll have a cost-effective workstation that’s as durable as it is beautiful. The desktop is UV-cured using a clean, energy-efficient process with no VOCs or pollutants, making it one of the healthiest standup desks on the market today. With a weight capacity of 355 pounds, you can be sure your monitors and desk equipment will have a stable new home base for more productive work instantly.
  • Fun fact, one of our long-wearing, great looking hardwoods is actually a closer cousin to a manicured lawn than a grand old oak. It’s true—bamboo’s a grass, not a wood. But that’s what makes it so green…environmentally speaking anyway. Aside from keeping pandas looking black and white and cute all over, bamboo’s natural lightning-fast growth rates (seriously, one inch in under an hour) make it one of the most renewable materials this side of a wacky sitcom premise.
  • Even though bamboo hails from the grass family, it is 40% harder than oak and will provide a strong and durable work surface. At a whopping 1″ thick, your bamboo desktop won’t sag under the weight of your desktop items.
  • Bamboo is a species of grass, and as you know from having to cut your lawn weekly, grass grows at an alarming rate. Therefore the bamboo that is harvested to make our bamboo tops is pretty readily available as compared to our reclaimed or solid wood desktops and we can offer you a beautiful, durable desktop at a low price!
  • And the one that really pins the needle on marketing spin… Some people may think of bamboo as rickety tubes held together by string, or worse, panda food, but believe me when I say that this desktop has a lot more going for it than meets the eye. See, our Premium Bamboo tops have something like a secret superpower. Unlike the lamps and flooring you may be used to, our desktops are made with a younger Moso bamboo, which actually acts as a natural air filter for the room. Soaking up small amounts of pollution and creating a cleaner breathing area. Pretty cool right? No? What if I told you it’s also super durable. Would that sway things a bit?
    We would find it laughable if it wasn’t so patently deceptive that TheHumanSolution claims that its UV coated bamboo desktop is a natural air filter for your room. How exactly are molecules supposed to penetrate the UV coating??
From Fully.com (Jarvis):
  • [The Jarvis Bamboo Desk is the] Best standing desk for (and on) the planet. Designed to keep you moving and the earth spinning, Jarvis Bamboo is the perfect adjustable height desk for both environmentally and aesthetically conscious standing desk users. For the desktop we use sustainable bamboo harvested without pesticides or fertilizers, and its beautiful color comes only from the kiln, not from any chemical dyes or stains.
  • The beauty of bamboo. Where to begin. Not only is bamboo a fast-growing grass that matures in just 5 years, making it an incredibly sustainable resource, but it releases 35% more earth-healing oxygen than equivalent trees.
  • Going bamboo means that you are pro-sustainability. From the harvesting process to the construction techniques, our bamboo desk tops meet and exceed what it means to be eco-conscious.
  • When designing the Jarvis, we sought out construction companies who uphold high environmental standards. Our bamboo is sourced from, what is described as a ‘Forest City’ in rural Zhejiang, China. There, optimal cultivating conditions allow for the bamboo to reach its full height of 98 feet in just one month; this sustainable resource grows 3+ feet every day! And it spreads like wildfire, thus replenishing itself after harvest. Trees, simply, will never regenerate that quickly.
  • Whether you are pro-environment, pro-quality, pro-aesthetics, or all three, Jarvis Bamboo’s got you.
From UpRise (Ergoprise):
  • A bamboo tabletop offers versatility along with distinct beauty. The understated grains and colors of the tabletop will never go out of style! The desk top is extremely durable. This particular bamboo is made from Optimum 5.5® Moso (Phyllostachys pubescens). It has been sustainably harvested at a level of maturity between 5½ and 6 years for maximum stability and hardness. The end result, our bamboo desktop is 25% harder than oak and 12% harder than maple.

Autonomous does not offer any information on its bamboo desktop, not on their website and not when we asked on live chat with a sales rep. StandDesk can be commended for refraining from the hyberbolic environmental claims its competitors make, limiting themselves to saying only that “Choose the Bamboo Standing Desk and move into a more sustainable existence that starts with not only taking care of your body but the environment as well.”

How Does a Bamboo Desktop Compare in Durability to Other Options?

Marketing claims are all over the map, but a consistent user complaint regarding bamboo tops is eventual delamination due to contact with the air, moisture and sunlight. This makes a once-beautiful desktop worthy for the trash bin. Perhaps this is why desk makers like Fully, UpLift, Autonomous, Ergoprise and StandDesk offer no warranty on their desktops.

This concern over delaminated has also been voiced to use repeatedly over the years by bamboo resellers, who also struggle with constant supply issues. Because bamboo demand continues to outstrip supply it is common for standing desk resellers to show out of stock on their bamboo tops, or add a significant upcharge, of up to $250, during certain periods when supply is low.

All this is in sharp contrast to higher-quality producers like Humanscale and iMovR (full disclosure: our sister company), that provide five-year warranties on all their desktops. Humanscale uses traditional High-Pressure Laminate (HPL) on their tops, and iMovR uses and exclusive 3D-Laminate technology on their desktops.

We expect to see new options emerge over time in USA-grown bamboo lumber and veneer, as well as 3D-laminate offerings in various bamboo colorations, but as of this writing none of this are as yet available.

Bamboo Standing Desks

1. Fully Jarvis Standing Desk

Experts’ Rating: 3-Stars

An exclusive private-label desk offered only through a single ergonomics products retailer, Fully, the Jarvis is built on a commodity base frame made by Jiecang of China (see our separate lab test review of the Jiecang base). A minor modification of a heavier foot distinguishes it slightly from direct competitor UpLift Desk. Fully offers many choices for its desktops, including very cheap Chinese-made options and very pricey American-made alternatives. The standalone Jarvis base gets high review marks on Amazon from DIYers who use their own tabletops. Compares favorably against other Chinese-sourced bases like Uplift, S2S and Conset. For slightly more you can get an American-made base, if not an entirely made-in-America desk from makers like iMovR.

Price: $484

Read our full review Buy on Fully


2. UpLift V2 Standing Desk

Experts’ Rating: 3-Stars

It’s popular. Really popular. Not necessarily because it’s an awesome product but because it’s very heavily advertised, with hyperbolic marketing claims that don’t hold up to close inspection. The UpLift is probably the top-selling, Chinese-made commodity standing desk on the market in the sub-$800 price tier, now on its third generation design (the “V2”). The improvements over the last generation appear to be more behind-the-scenes in cost reduction moves than in tangible, valuable features that can benefit most users. After weeks of testing in our labs our reviewers detail the pros and cons of the new design.

Price: $599

Read our full review Buy on Amazon


3. Uprise Standing Desk

Experts’ Rating: 3-Stars

Ergoprise’s Uprise Standing Desk is a solid, mid-tier desk that stands at the crossroads of function and affordability. A quiet, sturdy base and a variety of table tops – including premium bamboo and hardwood – make this an attractive option for both standing-desk and treadmill-desk users.

Price: $788

Read our full review Buy on Amazon


4. UpLift V2-Commercial Standing Desk

Experts’ Rating: 3-Stars

The V2-Commercial carries over the standard V2’s negatives and adds a couple of its own—a crossbar, plus limited maximum height for taller and treadmill users. Outside of a few very specific scenarios, there’s no reason to pick the V2-Commercial over the standard V2.

Price: $679

Read our full review Buy on Amazon


5. StandDesk Standing Desk

Experts’ Rating: 2.5-Stars

The StandDesk was created by millennials, is marketed straight at millennials, and has been gobbled up by millennials in impressive volumes. While it carries a ten-year warranty (the longest of any Chinese-made base), in this case it’s not necessarily a reliable indicator of the expected useful life of the lifting columns. But for the price, the StandDesk is a great lower-cost alternative to the UpLift, Jarvis and other Chinese-made desks. Despite its stability issues this is a far better product than the Autonomous SmartDesk or IKEA Bekant could ever hope to be, and a good value overall. It’s the mid-priced offering in the broad category of Chinese-made desks that is winning over customers from both its cheaper and pricier peers.

Price: $754

Read our full review Buy on StandDesk


6. GeekDesk Stand Up Desk

Experts’ Rating: 2.5-Stars

A pioneer in electric adjustable height desks GeekDesk has not kept pace with the innovations and sheer spectrum of choices that newer manufacturers are bringing to the fore. Judging by site traffic readings, the lack of a phone number for customer service or sales, and the lack of availability through trusted channels like Amazon, it appears that GeekDesk is getting ready to sunset its offerings.

Price: $849

Read our full review Buy on Amazon


7. StandUpDeskStore Dual Motor Standing Desk

Experts’ Rating: 2.5-Stars

The Stand Up Desk Store Dual Frame Standing Desk solid wood desktops suffer from low quality and difficult assembly. The laminate versions don’t have those same issues but are unremarkable and aren’t worth picking over top competitors due to a lack of strong warranty, lack of Bluetooth connectivity and limited options.

Price: $899

Read our full review Buy on Amazon


8. StandUpDeskStore Solid Wood Standing Desk

Experts’ Rating: 2-Stars

Stand Up Desk Store falsely claims that this desk is made with “genuine” solid wood. The bamboo version is not a real wood, it’s an engineered wood made from grass strands in an environmentally hideous process. The fir version is made using reclaimed wood, hideously ugly and likely to warp or crack in no time. The birch tops are made by gluing together small staves of wood into larger desktops. Some of the desktops are made of thin veneer over plywood, again not “genuine” solid wood. Photos don’t match descriptions, and the Amazon listing photos don’t match the company’s own website photos. Squared-off edges offer no ergo-contouring as you’d find on higher-quality desks, with sharp edges only sanded down to 2-4mm instead of 1/4″-3/4″ are we usually see on real solid wood tops. Poor instructions which lack English, a total lack of pre-drilled pilot holes, desk instability, grease leakage on the lifting columns, problems with the digital controller, and non-responsive customer service frustrate a lot of customers. We include this product in our solid wood standing desks category only because of the label that the manufacturer has given it, but none of these desktops technically qualify. To top it all off, this desk comes with NO WARRANTY and if you try to return it the restocking fees and reverse shipping charge could run you in the hundreds of dollars. Red alert!

Price: $899

Read our full review Buy on Amazon


9. Autonomous SmartDesk Pro Standing Desk

Experts’ Rating: 2-Stars

The Autonomous SmartDesk Pro is an upgraded, dual-segment entrant to its line with specs that look impressive on the surface. However, stability is still a concern, a wide height range won’t accommodate short users and there’s a lack of attention to detail all around. Plus, this desk is not cheap. Autonomous has revamped their website, changed the names of many of their desks and increased prices in an effort to change their reputation. The SmartDesk Pro is definitely an improvement, but it still falls behind the competition.

Price: $649

Read our full review Buy on Autonomous


10. Autonomous Smart Desk Core Standing Desk

Experts’ Rating: 2-Stars

Autonomous has revamped their website, changed the names of many of their desks and increased prices in an effort to change their reputation. The SmartDesk Core helps in that effort with an improved warranty and more desktop options, though there’s still plenty of work to do to bring this desk up to the next tier of more durable, reliable, and higher value standing desks. Despite its new website’s impressive marketing polish, Autonomous still has both feet firmly planted in the “race to the bottom,” commodity-grade category of Chinese-built standing desks.

Price: $439

Read our full review Buy on Autonomous


11. ApexDesk Elite Standing Desk

Experts’ Rating: 1.5-Star

Our ApexDesk Elite Standing Desk review revealed that it is constructed much like the majority of its commodity-grade peers that are manufactured in China. While it does come with some decent perks like an included cable management tray and having decent height range for taller users, it suffers from a lower quality of materials and construction that is typical of desks sold at this price. If this is the desk you are going for, you will also likely get better customer service and return privileges if you order through Amazon. Inadequate packaging does lead to a fair amount of shipping damage, but they’re quick to send replacement desktops. The thinly-laminated, particle board desktops are probably the weakest aspect of the product. To keep the price down, like most desks in this tier, expect to do a lot more assembly yourself as compared to finer alternatives.

Price: $600

Read our full review Buy on ApexDesk


12. Autonomous SmartDesk 2 Standing Desk

Experts’ Rating: 1-Star

The company makes over-the-top marketing claims like “the highest-rated desk in the world” and maintains its bases are of “unparalleled technology.” As far as we can tell, the only things this company is “best in the world” at is their gift for marketing hyperbole, and finding the cheapest possible components to make a standing desk. Customer complaints on public forums number in the hundreds.

Price: $399

Read our full review Buy on Autonomous


13. Autonomous SmartDesk Connect Standing Desk

Experts’ Rating: 1-Star

The Autonomous SmartDesk Connect standing desk has very limited color options in just two sizes. Designed to be used as a hot desk for flexible offices. Originally, the SmartDesk was designed for use with the Autonomous Office app, allowing you can book the desk for certain blocks of time. Autonomous indicated that no one other than the person who made booked the desk can unlock it, where the desk would sync with your saved height preferences through the app once you connect. We really love Bluetooth tech in standing desks. Autonomous provides a 7-year warranty for the frame and 1-year warranty on the top, with a 30-day trial period, which indicates a relatively low quality construction.

Price: $799

Read our full review Buy on Autonomous


14. Progressive Desk Economy Ryzer Standing Desk

The Economy Ryzer standing desk from Progressive Desk is the very cheapest standing desk you can buy from a Canadian company. Though, to be fair, it’s entirely made in China; no part of it is Canadian-made. A single-stage, single motor affair, it is severely underpowered, with a 155 lbs lift capacity (minus the weight of the desktop you choose) and a glacially-slow 1-inch-per-second transit speed. You’ll do all the assembly yourself. The only good news is it comes with a comprehensive 15 year warranty, the best from any Canadian standing desk company, though the website is inconsistent on what is actually covered. You’ll likely be tapping it, though, given the poor component quality of this desk. And if you’re not of absolutely medium stature this desk may sit too high for you or be too low when you stand.

Price: $555 CAD

Read our full review Buy on Amazon


15. Progressive Desk Solo Ryzer Standing Desk

The Solo Ryzer desk by Progressive Desk is their medium-level standing desk option, offering only minor upgrades in both transit speed and weight capacity over the Economy Ryzer brought by the upgrade to a dual-motor frame. Still, the Solo Ryzer comes with a cheap, commodity-graded MDF laminate desktop sourced from China and the added 1-1/2″ height does not accommodate taller users, so it is a disappointing second offering from Progressive Desk.

Price: $750 CAD

Read our full review Buy on Amazon


16. FlexiSpot E8 Standing Desk

While the FlexiSpot E8 has warts (stability and low-quality desktops), it’s a good entry point for users who don’t care about those downsides.

Price: $499.99

Read our full review Buy on FlexiSpot


17. FlexiSpot E1 Standing Desk

Starting at just over $200, the E1 is an entry into the bottom-tier of the market for standing desks. The specs are generally unimpressive, as you would expect for this price, but there are many different desktop options.

Price: $310

Read our full review Buy on FlexiSpot


Bamboo L-Shaped Desks

1. Jarvis Standing L-Desk

Experts’ Rating: 3.5-Stars

Fully used to make two different L-desk models — one with the lowest price point of any L-shaped sit-stand desk on the market ($1,145) using very inexpensive powder-coated desktops, which was recently discontinued — and this remaining desk that we review here, which utilizes slightly more expensive bamboo and high-pressure laminated (HPL) desktops.

Price: $1,399

Read our full review Buy on Fully


2. UpLift L-Shaped Standing Desk

Experts’ Rating: 3.5-Stars

The naming convention on UpLift’s three L-desks can be a bit confusing but we’re going to go with the labels that UpLift uses on their own website to keep things as simple as possible. The difference between these three versions all comes down to the sources and materials used for their desktops.

Price: $1,688

Read our full review Buy on Amazon


3. UpLift Curved Corner L-Shaped Standing Desk

Experts’ Rating: 3.5-Stars

Like all the other UpLift desk models, the Curved Corner unit is built atop a low-cost, Chinese made base. However, stability and lift capacity issues will be somewhat diminished in this desk rendition due to the fact that it incorporates three lifting columns instead of two. So although the base is a little less costly than a high-quality American-made standing desk base, you’ll in effect be paying 50% more for a third lifting leg.

Price: $1,399

Read our full review Buy on Amazon


4. FlexiSpot E4L L-Shaped Standing Desk

Experts’ Rating: 2.5-Stars

If you want to spend less than a grand on an adjustable-height L-desk then the Flexispot E4L is definitely worthy of your consideration. You’d just need to be OK with the significant effort required for installation, and with the very limited choice in configurations. The FlexiSpot L-Shaped standing desk starts at $959.99, comes in one size, has a weight capacity of 330 pounds and features a bamboo top. But that’s it for choices. Other height adjustable L-desks come in thousands of configurations, assembly with a fraction of the effort and use far nicer components and more recent technology – but cost substantially more.

Price: $959.99

Read our full review Buy on FlexiSpot


5. StandUpDeskStore Electric Standing Desk

The Stand Up Desk Store Electric standing desk frame comes with dual-stage legs and has a fairly light weight capacity of 155 lbs. It has a height range of 25.25″-51.5″, giving it a pretty high maximum height, great for taller users. With only two sizes are available and only two colors to pick for the base, it’s nice they have six top colors, for some customization. The assembly looks to be what you typically get from Chinese products, requiring time, deciphering of confusing instructions, and maybe power tools to make it a little easier. It has a disappointing 5-year warranty for what you pay. However, it’s nice that it has casters you can put on for some extra height too.

Price: $579

Read our full review Buy on Amazon


Bamboo Standalone Tabletops

1. VWINDESK Bamboo Desk Tops

Experts’ Rating: 2-Stars

The VWINDESK bamboo tabletops are one of your many commodity-grade desktops that are found on Amazon. While there aren’t many tabletops that offer an 80″ size or curved corners, the quality isn’t any higher than any other cheap product made in China. And despite what their marketing says, the process of making bamboo products is quite harmful to the environment.

Price: $180

Read our full review Buy on Amazon


2. Autonomous Smartdesk Standalone Desk Tops

Experts’ Rating: 1.5-Star

Unless you’re just looking to replace a failed tabletop on your existing Autonomous standing desk we will have to recommend passing on these tops for your DIY standing desk project. They simply have too many negative aspects that aren’t counterbalanced by the few positives. These desk tops are delivered quickly and some models have ergonomic edges, but when all models are only covered by a 1-year warranty, you begin to question whether they have confidence in the longevity of their product. With so few choices in color or size and pilot holes that are only compatible with their own frames, all at a significantly higher price than most commodity-grade desktop manufacturers, you will likely find a better desk at nearly the same price or almost the same desk at a much lower price.

Price: $129

Read our full review Buy on Autonomous.ai


3. Uplift Standalone Desk Tops

Experts’ Rating: 1.5-Star

Uplift is one of the few desk manufacturers that have a decent number of options when it comes to size, color, or materials to get a desk that matches your workspace. However, when we see multiple independent customer reviews showcasing how they can delaminate, crack, chip, scratch, warp, or discolor, it is hard to recommend most of them over any other commodity-grade tabletop supplier. “15 year” warranty has extensive carve-outs that mean anything other than shipping damage on the way to the customer is likely not going to be fully replaced or refunded. Too many greenwashing marketing claims, especially on bamboo, rubberwood and “Eco” powder coat tops. Unless you’re replacing one of their failed tops on your Uplift desk, there are better places to go for finding a high quality top for DIY standing desk projects.

Price: $299

Read our full review Buy on Amazon


4. Fully Jarvis Standalone Desk Tops

Experts’ Rating: 1.5-Star

Fully’s offerings for their Jarvis standalone tops are quite limited. They are basically there for people to replace tops that already failed. And they probably failed for the same reason that these ones will. For the price, which is a bit higher than the average commodity-grade desktops out there, it is unfortunate to hear of so many that chip, delaminate, or discolor in independent customer reviews. However, their customer service is domestic, and unlike the majority of China-based tabletop sellers you’ll find out there, they will do their darnedest to fix any issues their customers have.

Price: $170

Read our full review Buy on Fully


5. Progressive Desk Standalone Desk Tops

Experts’ Rating: 1-Star

You’ve head the phrase “you get what you pay for.” You don’t pay much for Progressive Desk tabletops, and sadly the saying holds true. On the other hand, if you are focused on supporting a Canadian brand, Progressive is one of your few options, and at very competitive prices.

Price: $129

Read our full review Buy on Amazon


Bamboo Accessory Options

1. FluidStance The Level Balance Board

Experts’ Rating: 4-Stars

The Level by FluidStance has fluid 360-degree motion, stylish deck, eco-friendly high-quality design, and a bunch of certifications, (including Mayo Clinic’s NEAT certification). It neatly beats out most would-be competitors and only falls behind those that have more innovative movement. It is definitely worth the price if you appreciate aesthetic appeal, good quality, and believe caring for the environment is a good cause. It’s best for those who will use the board in shoes since the hard wood surface will be slippery in socks and hurt your feet overtime if you don’t wear shoes.

Price: $249

Read our full review Buy on FluidStance


2. Pono Ola 'Pono Board'

Experts’ Rating: 4-Stars

Pono Board is a great balance board for beginners. You don’t have to worry about extreme rocking or wobbling at all. And if you plan on using your board with socks or dress shoes, a grip sand version will keep your feet safely planted on the platform. You can change the level of bounce by deflating the PVC ball legs on the board, but don’t expect any challenge if you’re proficient with your balance.

Price: $299

Read our full review Buy on Amazon


3. Fully Floatdeck Balance Board

Experts’ Rating: 3.5-Stars

The Floatdeck from Fully offers a stylish option for getting some good movement at your standing desk while taking a break from typing. While it is very similar in design to The Level from Fluidstance (with their OG patented base design), customer complaints about a creaking noise make us question whether the quality of construction is as high. The bamboo surface is also concerning from an environmental standpoint. It definitely does what Fully claims, but like the Fluidstance, it’s not really an “ergonomic” balance board that will let you continue to type while you’re using it.

Price: $249

Read our full review Buy on Fully


4. Uplift Desk Bamboo Motion-X Balance Board

Experts’ Rating: 2-Stars

Balance boards can be a fantastic add-on accessory for standing desk users because they add dynamic movement to your static standing posture, but many are just not well designed to use while actually working at your desk, as you can see with the UpLift Motion-X Balance Board. There’s nothing particularly special about this board and it requires multiple additional accessory add-ons of its own to avoid some common issues. When adding in those costs you might as well upgrade to a true ergonomic balance board designed specifically for use at a standing desk.

Price: $89

Read our full review Buy on Amazon


5. Jarvis Bamboo Desk Drawer

Experts’ Rating: 2-Stars

Fully missed the mark on the Jarvis Bamboo Desk Drawer by failing to include a hardware pull and drawer slides.

Price: $129

Read our full review Buy on Fully


6. Office Oasis Monitor Riser

Experts’ Rating: 3.5-Stars

The Office Oasis Monitor Riser stands out on looks and weight capacity. The large size is one of the best options available for those with multiple monitors or a single large monitor/TV. The small size has a weight capacity that far surpasses any other monitor risers we’ve seen of similar size. Plus, it comes with a lifetime warranty.

Price: $39.95

Read our full review Buy on Amazon


7. Notadesk Elsewhere

Experts’ Rating: 3.5-Stars

We started the review process knowing the Notadesk Elsewhere wasn’t suitable as your sole work surface in a single position for a long period of time due to its ergonomics, but we left the review process surprised and impressed by the product’s versatility and novelty. It truly is not a desk, but instead a portable popup standing workspace.

Price: $268

Read our full review Buy on Notadesk


8. Cooper Standing Desk Converter

Experts’ Rating: 3.5-Stars

The Cooper is Fully’s debut into the competitive world of standing desk converters. While it doesn’t break any new ground, quality components and an eye-catching bamboo surface option make it stand out from the rest. Lack of ergonomic tilt on the keyboard tray means it doesn’t check all the boxes, and we have some concerns about reliability when coupled with the short two-year warranty, but overall the Cooper is a respectable choice.

Price: $299

Read our full review Buy on Fully


9. UpLift E7 Electric Standing Desk Converter

Experts’ Rating: 3-Stars

Despite excellent weight capacity and an attractive keypad for changing height, the E7 has drawbacks. It lacks flexibility in important ergonomic spots, is difficult to set up alone, and is outclassed by similarly priced (and cheaper) electric sit-stand converters.

Price: $449

Read our full review Buy on Amazon


10. Standee Bamboo Sit-Stand Workstation

Experts’ Rating: 2.5-Stars

The Standee’s low asking price may persuade those deterred by more expensive options to stand more at work. But without a height adjustment mechanism, Standee users risk different ergonomic maladies that can make their standing breaks uncomfortable and short.

Price: $99.95

Read our full review Buy on Amazon


11. Jarvis Monitor Riser

Experts’ Rating: 2.5-Stars

The Jarvis Monitor Riser looks good but is on the much pricier end of the spectrum compared to the bulk of the options in this category. It has a clamp-on installation, which is good and bad. It’s good because it will stay on your desk well and free up some extra space. It’s bad because it requires some assembly (minimal) and won’t work on real wood desktops. From an aesthetic appeal standpoint, however, at the end of the day this is a great looking add-on for a Jarvis bamboo desk, but an expensive clash for any other kind of standing desk.

Price: $139

Read our full review Buy on Fully


12. The Lunadesk Standing Desk Converter

Experts’ Rating: 2-Stars

The Lunadesk Standing Desk Converter Review is ideal for working at home if you don’t have a good desk and you’re shuttling your laptop to work in bed, on the sofa, on the floor or at a counter. This is not by any stretch an “ergonomic standing desk” in the usual sense but is the only product we’ve ever seen that works well for people who like working in various yoga poses (i.e. you need to be limber). Being made-in-the-USA is usually a good thing, but it is made from Chinese bamboo, which is anything but ecologically friendly, despite all the greenwash marketing. To be used in such places and postures the unit needs to be lightweight (10 lbs) but that also makes it structurally flimsy. The lack of warranty and the lack of market traction outside of a tiny successful Kickstarter campaign (88 units were sold) makes this one a questionable consumer value in terms of likely durability.

Price: $499

Read our full review Buy on The Lunadesk


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1 Comment

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  • Flood October 27, 2019

    Fantastic Article! This is a detail I will be looking out for in my current and future office setups.

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