Why Are Desks so Expensive? We’ve Got the Answer


Why Are Desks so Expensive

The price of desks runs the gamut from cheap particle board desks that you assemble yourself with an Allen wrench to desks that cost over 50 grand. The reasons for these unbelievable price differences are easy to determine when looking at the differences in materials, craftsmanship, and expected longevity.

Desks are so expensive because they are designed to be a piece of furniture that lasts for at least a decade or two. Expensive desks are made from solid wood pieces that are precision milled and joined with premium hardware. They have detailing and extra features that are not part of cheap desks.

There are a few good reasons why desks are so expensive, and a couple of reasons that are not so good. This article will explore the various features of high-end desks that inflate the price so radically in comparison with their budget-friendly counterparts. Keep reading to find out why desks are so expensive. 

Why Are Desks so Expensive? 

There are several reasons why desks are expensive that you should take into account when purchasing a desk: 

  • High-quality materials. Expensive desks are made from solid wood that is built to last for at least a decade or more.
  • Premium hardware. Expensive desks feature premium hardware such as drawer pulls and runners. 
  • Premium finishes. The overall aesthetic of an expensive desk is sleek and well-polished while still being durable and long-lasting. 
  • Built to last. High-quality, expensive desks are built to be sturdy and durable, with metals and wood that does not wear down easily over time. 


Many factors play into the high price tags of expensive desks. In some cases, expensive desks are not worth the extra expense, while others are worth the cost because of their superior design and high-quality materials and hardware. 

Expensive Desks Are Made from Solid Wood

Less expensive high-end desks such as ones in the three-thousand dollar range will be made with mixed hardwoods. The wood selected may have an impact on the ultimate price of the piece. Typically, the price rockets upward when a specific wood is used such as solid cherry wood or solid mahogany.

  • Desks made from rare woods such as sandalwood, ebony, or bubinga are rare and will cause a huge spike in the final cost because these woods sell for upward of $100 per board foot. 
  • Desks that are made from solid mixed hardwood pieces usually have a beautiful wood veneer that is made from a single variety of wood such as cherry wood. These veneers are beautiful and also very expensive, though they cost much less than a solid cherry wood piece, for example. 
  • Desks that are cheaper, or even remotely affordable for a person making an average income, are typically made from particleboard with a nice wood grain plastic veneer. They may be made from aluminum tubing that has a particle board and acrylic desktop that bolts on.

Just from a panel composition standpoint it is quite easy to see why high-end desks can get so expensive so quickly. Some middle price point desks, that are less than a thousand dollars, may have a solid wood piece here or there, and then mix it in with particle board pieces with wood veneers. 

Expensive Desks Have Premium Hardware

While a cheap desk may have a metal or wood runner that allows the drawers to scrape in and out and little plastic discs to keep drawers from banging, this is not the case on expensive desks. 

  • Expensive desks feature premium hardware for drawer pulls and runners in sturdy metals like stainless steel and solid brass. 
  • Floating drawers glide on heavy duty ball bearing runners for noiseless and smooth operation. 
  • Soft close drawers feature hydraulic slides that guide the drawers in and out smoothly, never allowing them to bang shut. These types of drawers need only to be pushed toward closing. They finish the final close gently and quietly on their own. 
  • Cheap desks usually have pot metal drawer pulls. This is a generic term referring to metal mixtures that are soft and cheap to mold into metal fixtures. They tend to break, lose their finish, and wear down very quickly.

These premium hardware pieces have two functions. Firstly, they make the operation of the desk smooth and easy. Secondly, the premium hardware ensures that other desk components such as wood panels do not receive constant jolts that loosen joints, creating additional wear and tear on the desk.

Expensive Desks Have Premium Finishes

Expensive desks are not made just for looks. The premium finishes on high-end desks serve a purpose that is both aesthetic and utilitarian. Cheap versions of desks often try to replicate these benefits and usually do so with limited success.

  • Some luxe desk models have leather worktops, or leather panels on certain sections of the desktop. This leather is softer and resists scratching from pens, making it a resilient writing surface. This is a throwback to dip pen writing days, but it is still a beautiful and functional desktop finish.
  • High-end desks are usually finished with a heavy lacquered writing surface to protect the beautiful wood grains and handcrafted inlay work that is present on the writing surface. This lacquered surface is usually intended to last for a long time. Some desk owners choose to add a layer of glass for added protection.
  • Cheap desks typically have an acrylic layer that has a wood grain inked into it. This surface can be very hard and last for a surprisingly long time, even though it does not look very nice.
  • Occasionally cheap desks incorporate a PU leather (faux leather) writing surface for looks. This is never a good idea. It is softer than real leather, and before very long the vinyl rips and the padding starts coming out, resulting in a writing surface that looks bad and performs worse.

The finishes used on premium desks usually require the hands-on application and skill of an experienced craftsman. Inlay work is not printed; it is hand set in wood channels and then the entire surface is finished. The same with veneer work. The veneer panels are hand-applied, sanded, and finished.

Expensive Desks Are Made to Last

The premium materials and hand-crafted assembly result in high-end pieces that are made to last for a long time. This results in an increased price for two reasons.

  • The buyer will probably not return for another desk for several decades. Buying a new desk is expensive, setting it up is expensive and laborious, and then moving everything into a new desk is not a fun task.
  • The company charges a premium based on the lack of return buyers. A happy buyer will refer additional buyers, and they may come back to the company for a different piece of furniture, but they will not repurchase the desk. Therefore, the manufacturing company charges a premium.
  • A regular desk that costs a couple hundred dollars has an expected lifespan of about 15 years. This means that some people will buy a new one sooner than 15 years, and others will use it for much longer. With premium desks, this will be decades, and could be an inheritance piece with a corresponding cost.

The exception to this general rule is pieces that are manufactured by well-known brands or celebrity designers. These pieces are more expensive due to the brand that is associated with them even though the materials may not warrant the premium price.

What is the Most Expensive Desk?

Now it is time to talk about the most expensive commercially available desk. There are possibly other more expensive desks to buy, but the prices are hidden behind personal contact walls. Here is the most expensive desk that is commercially advertised for sale, and unlike some similarly priced ones that did not have much to them, this one is pretty fantastic.

This desk is the David Michael Executive Desk that is available on Perigold. This beauty has a lot going for it, but it is still an eye-popping $52,584. What makes this desk so special? Here are the features that might warrant this massive price tag.

  • Solid Cherrywood. This desk is made of solid cherry wood panels that are finished with cherry wood veneers. That makes this desk solid. It comes in at a whopping 375 pounds. 
  • Hand carved detailing that includes gold leaf trim. Gold is expensive, and applying gold leaf is a pain. That does add some value in workmanship.
  • Ball bearing drawer runners. These typically come with hydraulic self-closing drawers.
  • David Michael. A premium furniture designer in Italy, all of his creations are luxurious and command a luxurious price.

Ironically, with the premium finishes, hardware, and wood, the manufacturer offers a full warranty for only one year. 

Conclusion

There are several good reasons for why desks can be so expensive. When the reasons for the expense include nice hardwoods that will last a long time, then the expense is well worth it. When the expense comes from a name brand that is using the same cheap materials as inexpensive brands, then the extra cost is not worth it.

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