How To Choose The Best Frames To Build A DIY Standing Desk
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How To Choose The Best Frames To Build A DIY Standing Desk

|Nov 24, 2019

You’re interested in a standing desk for your office, but you’re a handy person and don’t want to just go out and buy some prepackaged desk that everybody else has. We get it, so we’re going to take a look at how to choose the best frames to build a DIY adjustable standing desk that you can be proud of.

The desk frame is the foundation of the workspace that you’re creating, so it’s crucial to consider the different aspects of a frame and how it will impact the way you work, not to mention how you feel while you work. The coolest looking desk isn’t always the most functional, but we can help you find that perfect middle ground between design, customization and functionality.

7-step guide to the perfect standing desk frame

When you are considering which are the best frames to build a DIY standing desk, think about the type of work you do most frequently and for how long you do these tasks. Are you stationary most of the day or constantly moving in and out of your desk area? Do you lock in and type for hours or are you on and off the phone most of the day? Each of these scenarios plays a role in helping you choose the right frame and design.

SmartDesk DIY Kit with a modern desktop finish.

Through our own research and interactions with customers, we’ve found that most people don’t just do one thing the exact same way all day long. There are always variations, big or small, that impact what type of desk would be ideal for any given person. This is why we created an electric standing desk frame that gives you a sturdy and flexible foundation to build upon, but we’ll talk more about that later. First let’s start with why that flexibility matters so much, then we’ll dive further into other important steps to help you create the perfect frame and build the best standing desk for your office.

1. Ergonomics

This is arguably the most important thing to consider when it comes to choosing the best frame for your DIY standing desk. If the desk isn’t at the right height then your monitor might not be either, which could lead to back and neck pain.

A height adjustable DIY standing desk with perfect ergonomics.

The frame height also impacts the angles that your elbows and wrists are working at throughout the day, and you’ve probably heard about people with carpal tunnel syndrome in their wrists from years of typing at poor angles. Then there’s the potential for bursitis and tendonitis; frankly, anything ended in “itis” is probably something you want to avoid.

This is why it’s important to take both style and functionality into consideration when choosing your frame. And these ergonomics apply to other office items as well, from chairs to accessories, which you can learn more about in our modern office furniture feature story.

2. Height adjustable

To get the most out of your standing desk, you can’t just stand in front of it all day. The key benefits that come from using a standing desk, such as increased circulation and energy, actually come from a ripple effect of using such a desk: movement.

Standing all day isn’t that much better than sitting all day if you’re standing like a statue for hours on end and barely moving a muscle. This is where reality hits home a little bit for those of you who might have an awesome standing desk idea in your head built with a solid steel base like the one pictured below. It will be rock solid and never move an inch, you think. But wait, what if it actually needs to move so that you can move? Ah, conundrum.

Infographic on how to sit and stand with ergonomic office furniture.

The best frame to build a DIY standing desk on is one that is adjustable and can easily transition between sitting and standing heights throughout the day. This keeps you moving and avoids too much stress or tension from building up like it would if you were locked in one single position all day. Just make sure the DIY desk frame you choose can go low enough for a proper seated position and high enough for you to work comfortably while standing.

3. Desk frame materials

Now we’re getting into the nitty gritty stuff. The obvious but still so very important stuff. A standing desk frame that wobbles while you work just won’t cut it. You need something sturdy and durable, a frame you can rely on for years to come. 

So, is wood best? Or steel? Or some sort of futuristic plastic? Then what about the materials used to put the desk together? And in the case of an electric standing desk, are the mechanisms used made from materials that will last?

A solid standing desk but not height adjustable like the SmartDesk DIY Kit.

Good quality materials are the lifeblood of your desk and when you’re actually building it yourself, customized just how you like it, then you want to ensure you’re using the best materials possible.

For our money, the best desk frame is one that takes a solid durable material, such as steel or aluminum, and combines it with a flexible design. In the example above, a crafty individual built what looks like a very solid standing desk, complete with a shelf for added storage which looks like it might also be used to sit and work at. However, it looks awfully heavy and it certainly isn't adjustable, which limits its functionality.

4. Desk frame reviews

When looking at reviews of which are the best frames to build a DIY standing desk, make sure to dig beyond the initial product website and look for feedback across multiple respected outlets that compare and contrast the different aspects of the product. 

You could also reach out to customers on social media who’ve posted their own reviews of a product. Sometimes these posts are paid advertising by the brand in question, but other times they are not and you may get some good, honest feedback if you send an inquiry. 

This is also a good way to compare what several real individuals think about a given product across different types of workspaces and to see if you can come to a consensus on the best desk frame based on people doing similar work as yourself.

5. Desk surface area

Be sure to measure your workspace before you shop. Your quest to choose the best frames to build a DIY standing desk will come to a standstill if the top doesn’t match the frame. 

Beautiful custom desktop built on a SmartDesk DIY Kit standing desk frame.

Think of all the items that you might like to have on your desk. Your monitor, or multiple monitors, keyboard, mouse, extra space for writing or sketching. Once you map out the right amount of desk space you need, and maybe add a little extra for good measure, you can accurately plan the right desk frame to match it with and there will be no bad surprises later on!

Another quick thing to consider is how the desktop will connect with your frame. You want this to be an easy and strong connection, so it’s often best to choose a solid, high quality wood that you can screw your frame into without any issues.

6. Aesthetic appeal

Certainly, how something looks should come secondary to the way in which it serves you. But it is important that your workspace is one that inspires you to be your best rather than a place you kind of dread going to, and a great looking desk can definitely help in that regard.

DIY standing desk with cool design but limited features.

Consider the decor of your office or home. Would you like a more utilitarian look? If so, one of the classic black steel-framed options will be just fine, and also very sturdy. To brighten things up, go with a white frame and a colorful top.

Also consider how the design of your desk frame and top will impact the overall look of your office. For a modern, clean workspace you’ll need a frame that offers that same visual, something simple and sleek, without too much clutter.


If you’re going back and forth on whether you want to build your standing desk frame yourself or simply buy one, we just might have the answer for you.

The Autonomous SmartDesk DIY Kit is the perfect hybrid solution for anybody that wants to create their own standing desk but maybe doesn’t have the skill set or even the time to build the entire desk from scratch. 

You get a solid, adjustable steel frame that offers everything you need in terms of style, functionality and durability, and from there you have your foundation to get creative and add whatever type of desktop your heart desires! Just something to think about.


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