School Desk Buyer's Guide

Find the perfect School Desk for your classroom

What Should Be the Major Factor When Deciding to Buy School Desks?

To be the most effective, school desks need to appropriately match the type of learning happening in the classroom. Factors for consideration are:

  • Size and age of users
  • Conduciveness for learning
  • Comfort
  • Usability
  • Storage
  • Space available in learning area

By fully considering these elements, it’s easy to find the right type of desk to fit any learning environment.

What Are the Common Styles of School Desks?

School desks come in many forms:

  • Open front, allowing easy access to classroom materials
  • Lift lid, making it easier for students to see everything inside their desks without being able to play with items during class
  • Tandem, which accommodates more than one student at a time
  • Desk and chair combos, which reduce the overall number of furniture pieces in a room
  • Collaborative, facilitating group activities
  • Purpose-driven, to accommodate specific subjects, such as science, art, and computers
  • Stand-up, allowing students to work off extra energy without being confined to a chair
  • Teacher’s desks, for classroom planning, grading, and other instructor activities


What is an Open Front Desk? 

Open front desks are the most popular in the elementary classroom because of their versatility. Features include adjustable legs and convenient storage under the desktop. Tops are generally rectangular and can have a laminate or solid plastic writing surface. The book box can be metal, plastic, or clear view (allowing no hidden objects). Clearview open front school desks feature metal framing for students to store books but does not allow for easy storage of small items like erasers.

Open Front School Desk examples with bookbox storage

What is a Lift Lid School Desk?

A lift lid desk allows students to have a better view and access to the contents inside the desk without removing the materials because the tops are hinged and lift easily. There are benefits and drawbacks to the lift lid school desk configuration. The plus is that students will not be able to play with items stored in their open-front desks during lecture because there is not an opening. Current models also prevent small fingers from becoming caught between the lid and compartment. The con is that students may disrupt others’ constantly lifting and closing their desk lid repeatedly during class.

Lift Lid School Desk examples with hinged tops

What is a Combo School Desk?

Combo chair desks often used in high school or college settings to create neat rows and minimize the overall furniture pieces required in a space. While more difficult to move, these desks can also be arranged at will for collaboration in the classroom. The writing surface on the combo unit is larger than that of a chair desk providing more flexibility for student work in a classroom setting.  Options for the combo school desks are sled based, and double entry used for both right and left-handed students. Construction of both types of desks can be laminate tops and soft plastic seats or solid plastic tops and seats. There are many variations of the combo and chair desks units.

Types of School Combo Desk Chairs

What is a Collaborative Learning School Desk?

Collaborative learning environments are creating the need for desks that can be used individually, in pairs, small groups, semi-circles, or full circles as the lesson plans dictate.  The lightweight designs allow for most students to easily move their desks as necessary. Innovative designs that have recently come out include dry erase tops for collaborative school desks. Encourage students in groups to brainstorm together with dry erase markers on their desks. Some designs feature desks will fit together perfectly into a singular table for work, unlike other break-apart collaborative designs.

Examples of Collaborative School Desks

What is a Classroom Science Workstation?

Depending on the needs of your science class, there are a number of different options for student desk setups. From wheelchair access to single person and collaborative desks with sinks and faucets, there is a science workstation that will fit the needs of your students. All science workstation surfaces are made with chemical resistant finishes to protect workspaces while students explore the world of science. Younger students may benefit from adjustable height science desks that are also resistant to chemicals.

Science Workstations as lab student desks

What is a Student Stand-Up Desk?

Stand-up student desks have had some success stories in the younger school classrooms where excess student energy can cause a problem. The standing height desks allow students to expel energy without having them lose focus on their studies. Stand-up school desks are also popular in office workspaces where employees find back and neck relief while performing certain tasks at a standing position.

Stand-Up School Desks help students focus

What Is the History of School Desks?

Since education was rare early on, school desks didn’t start to appear until 1880 with the invention of the fashion desk, which featured a chair on the front and a writing surface on the back, allowing students to work in rows. Over time, desks developed different configurations and storage options – there were even standing desks in 1899! In modern classrooms, more desk options are appearing, such as collaborative options.

Historic School Desks in 1899 Hampton Geography Classroom

What Are Common Accessories for School Desks?

To better accommodate students, school desks have several accessory options:

  • Cubbies for storage
  • Detachable book trays
  • Backpack hooks
  • USB outlets
  • Extra storage shelves

As time goes on, and more classroom discoveries come to light, it’s likely more school desk accessories may enter the market, including regular technology and computer accommodations.

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