How long do Herman Miller chairs last?

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If you’ve got your eye on a Herman Miller chair, you might be wondering how long you can expect a Herman Miller chair to last.

It’s no secret these chairs don’t come cheap, so if you’re going to be forking out the cash you want to know whether your chair will hold up over time.

In this article, we’ll discuss how long Herman Miller chairs typically last, based on the warranty period as well as user feedback. 

As well, we’ll specifically cover the Herman Miller Aeron and Herman Miller Embody chairs, but the information will apply to all the popular chairs in the Herman Miller range.

How long do Herman Miller chairs last?

Herman Miller chairs are built to last at least 12 years of 24/7 use, with many users reporting chair lifespans as long as 20-30 years or more [1][2]. 

That 12 year minimum there wasn’t pulled from thin air! Herman Miller are confident enough in their chairs’ durability to offer a 12-year warranty

That means if there were any issues in that time, repairs would come out of their pocket and not yours.

Whilst Herman Miller chairs are designed for at least 12 years of heavy use, as mentioned, many users report their chairs lasting much longer with the right care. 

Given Herman Miller operates at the top end of the office chair market, build quality and durability are important parts of their brand. If their chairs broke down every few months, their brand positioning would not work. 

By contrast, many other chair companies offer a much shorter warranty period, often 5 years or less (particularly for fabric components in the chair). Typically, you can expect generic office chairs to need changing after 7-8 years, if not sooner for lower quality builds. 

What users are saying: do Herman Miller chairs wear out? 

One Reddit user reports inherited a hand-me-down Herman Miller Aeron chair from his father that was over 20 years old [1].  

Despite daily 8+ hour use by his father, it was still in good working condition. The user did note the lumbar pad was slightly worn down and the chair produced minor creaking when tilting.

Another user purchased a Herman Miller chair that was also 20 years old and still going strong.

The component in these chairs most susceptible to wear and tear is the mesh fabric, especially in the backrest. That’s because compared to the hard plastics in the frame and other components, the mesh is thinner and less resistant to friction over time.

The other thing to watch out for is damage to the armrests over time if the bottom of your desk rubs against them. Make sure your desk isn’t doing that to avoid damaging your armrests.

How long does a Herman Miller Aeron chair last?

As mentioned, Herman Miller provides a 12-year warranty on their chairs, including the Herman Miller Aeron chair. Therefore, you can reasonably expect at a minimum 12 years of regular use from your Herman Miller Aeron chair. 

Again, with proper care, users report these chairs lasting for significantly longer than that. 

As a user on Quora points out, given the build quality and lack of moving parts, there really isn’t much to break in these chairs.

That said, anecdotally, reports suggest that perhaps after the 10-year mark small signs of wear and tear (i.e. worn-down lumbar pad or creaking) can start to appear. 

If something does break down altogether, each individual component of the Herman Miller Aeron chair is replaceable. In other words, you can buy any individual part as a standalone item from the Herman Miller store or any number of resellers.

How long does a Herman Miller Embody chair last?

The Herman Miller Embody chair is also covered as part of the standard 12-year warranty. Therefore, you can expect at least that sort of lifespan from this chair.

If anything does fail in that period, Herman Miller will cover the cost of part replacement and sending a technician over to handle repairs.

You might have looked at the funky “pixelated” back design on the Herman Miller Embody, and wondered whether this design might be flimsier than some of the thicker frames on other Herman Miller chairs. 

Whilst this back design appears gimmicky, the build quality of this chair has scored highly across multiple review sites. As a side note, this pixelated design allows the chair to adapt to your back, rather than the other way around. So it seems to be about function (including durability) not form.

In terms of the chair upholstery (i.e. the fabric, not the hard components), the two main options (Rhythm or Balance) are both grade four fabrics and rated for 200,000 double rubs.

What’s a double rub? If something weird just popped into your head like it did mine, get your mind out of the gutter. 

Think of a double rub as essentially sitting down, then getting up again from your chair. With a rating of 200,000 double rubs, a Herman Miller embody chair should last many years. 

Users’ confirm this in the real world, reporting both the fabric and back in this chair holding up well even after a decade or so of use [3]. Of course, the Embody only came onto the market in 2008, so there are no examples of Embody chairs in the wild lasting 20+ years like there are for the Aeron chairs.

That said, with the warranty they’re offering and anecdotal evidence of these chairs lasting many years so far, durability isn’t something I’d be too worried about. 

Can Herman Miller chairs be repaired?

Yes, Herman Miller chairs can be repaired by coordinating with an authorized Herman Miller Dealer or Retailer.

If it’s a warranty repair, you’ll need information from the manufacturing label (i.e. product number, manufacture date, etc), as well as a description of the problem and a photograph. 

You can normally find the manufacturing label underneath the chair seat. Check out the customer service FAQs under ‘Repairing’ on the Herman Miller website for some great pictures of what to look for.

You’ll then need to reach out to the dealer or retailer you purchased your chair from and provide this information to arrange a repair under warranty. 

If your issue is to do with adjusting the seat height (i.e. the seat doesn’t come back up again properly), there may be an issue with your gas cylinder. 

If that’s the case, you could always try to replace the gas cylinder yourself. You can order a replacement cylinder from Amazon and check out this video to understand the steps involved:

How good is the Herman Miller warranty?

If you’re not sick of me saying it, Herman Miller provides an industry leading warranty length of 12 years of continuous use (the “3 shifts” in their warranty PDF refers to 3 x 8 hour shifts, or 24 hours of use each day). Compared to lower tier brands, this is a very strong warranty offering .

So what’s included in this warranty?

According to their website, the warranty covers both parts and labor. 

It does not include normal wear and tear, exposure to extreme environmental conditions or essentially “stuff that is clearly the customer’s fault” (my high-level phrasing there, not theirs!).

The warranty covers almost all the Herman Miller products including all the popular chairs discussed in this article. This includes the both the hard parts and the fabrics used in the Herman Miller Embody and Herman Miller Aeron chairs (i.e. Rhythm, Balance, Medley, Sync, and Pellicle fabrics).

For detailed information about specific warranty terms and the full list of exclusions, see the PDF document accessible via their website.

Note if you’re located outside of the US or Canada, refer to the international warranty, which is a separate PDF document. 

They both fundamentally cover both parts and labor, but there may be small differences in the fine print.

Final thoughts

With one of the strongest warranties in the market, and a brand that depends on build quality and durability, you can be confident most Herman Miller chairs will last for many years.

In general, you can expect at least 12 years of heavy use from a Herman Miller chair. With the right care, this can even stretch out to several decades.

I stumbled across this post on the ‘OfficeChairs’ subreddit recently, which illustrates the popularity of the Herman Miller brand:

Source (full link):

If you’ve got that many chairs in the line-up, you must be doing something right! 

Personally, this type of user “fandom” gives me confidence in the quality and longevity of Herman Miller chairs.  

I hope this article has been helpful if you’re considering one of these bad boys and want to know what sort of shelf life you can expect.