With more people than ever working from home nowadays, proper home office equipment has become a hot commodity. Whether it’s a great chair or a great computer monitor, you need gear that is going to make your eight-hour workday productive and non-detrimental to your health.
In that vein, if you’re looking into buying an adjustable sit/stand desk, you may have come across the Ikea Skarsta. Since it has a very palatable price, as well as that sleek, modern design Ikea is known for, it might seem like it’s what you need. In this Ikea Skarsta review, we’re going to lay out all the good stuff (and all the not-so-good stuff) related to this adjustable desk.
About this Ikea Skarsta review: We purchased and assembled the Skarsta ourselves for this review. I used it as my workday desk for three days during the review period.
Ikea Skarsta review: Who is this desk for?
It’s a well-known fact that sitting in a chair all day is bad for your health. There’s a popular colloquialism floating around: sitting is the new smoking. While smoking is probably still the worse thing for you to be doing for eight hours a day every day, sitting is pretty bad, too.
If you are concerned about your overall health and have a job that keeps you glued to a desk, an adjustable sit/stand unit like the Ikea Skarsta is what you’re looking for. It allows you to use it as a “normal” sitting desk when you need one and then quickly convert it into a standing desk when necessary. It’s the best of both worlds!
Keep in mind that there are other desks out there that are just for standing. If you want to go all-in on the idea of eliminating sitting from your life, you don’t need a hybrid unit and could possibly save some money by getting a non-adjustable desk. We have a good roundup of different standing desk options here.
As usual with Ikea, assembly is required
Aside from a very limited selection of items, all Ikea products require some at-home assembly. That is certainly the case with this sit/stand desk.
For this Ikea Skarsta review, Android Authority purchased the desk directly from Ikea and had it shipped to my home. It arrived in two boxes: a thin cardboard sheath that covered the desktop itself and then a smaller, incredibly heavy box that held the legs, bolts, crank, and other hardware.
The smaller box was so heavy that the cardboard had ripped to bits on the bottom. Someone at Ikea had taped it all up to prevent things from falling out. I highly recommend getting some assistance when moving this smaller box around, whether that’s another set of hands or some sort of hand truck. Believe me: it’s heavy.
You will need to assemble the Ikea Skarstra yourself. It’s not hard, but if you hate doing it, you can always pay Ikea to do it for you.
There are lots of folks out there who absolutely hate assembling Ikea furniture, but I quite like it. It’s almost akin to putting together a Lego set. With that in mind, I had no problem assembling the Skarsta; it took about 30 minutes. You simply put together the legs, attach them to the crank system, and then attach all that to the desktop using the provided Allen wrenches and your own screwdriver. It’s very straightforward, but your mileage may vary, of course.
However, remember that the parts are heavy. If you do put it together yourself, have a friend around to help you move the finished unit to where it needs to go, or simply do your best to assemble it in the area it’s going to live. This is not at all a desk you should be moving by yourself!
The build materials aren’t the usual Ikea fodder
As you may have guessed from the previous section, this desk is not the classic flimsy particleboard we associate with Ikea products. The desktop itself is a particle board construction, yes, but it is very, very dense, almost to the point of feeling like a solid piece of wood. In other words, this is much better quality than that $20 bookcase every dorm room has.
Other than the desktop itself, everything about the Skarsta is metal. This gives the whole desk an extremely sturdy construction that looks and feels premium. I would have no fear of getting on top of this desk and standing on it with my full weight. It’s incredibly sturdy.
The weight of the desk is also distributed very well. Once it’s placed wherever it’s going to live in your home, it’s not going to easily be moved. You can lean up against it, put your feet against the table legs and base, or even lay your head on it if you’re having a particularly rough day. It’s not going anywhere.
How do you adjust the desk?
Some sit/stand desks have electric motors that raise or drop the top for you with some simple button presses. The Ikea Skarsta doesn’t have any electronics, though. Instead, you use a manual hand crank to raise or drop the desk (see video above).
The crank snaps into a locking clip when not in use, so you don’t even see it unless you go looking for it. When you want to adjust the desk, you snap the crank out, pull it towards you, and then turn it over and over until you reach the desired height.
There are no electronics here. To raise or lower the desk, you’re going to need to do some cranking.
Hopefully, you like cranking, because it takes quite a lot of turns for the desk to go from its lowest to its highest state. This may seem inconvenient, but it’s actually a good thing. All that cranking allows you to be more precise with the desktop height. Plus, you get some exercise, so no harm there.
The Skarsta model we have here is the larger model. The desktop is 63 x 31.5in and a little less than 1in thick. At its highest state, the desk’s top is a little less than 4ft from the ground. At its lowest state, the desk’s top is 28in from the ground.
Looking for other features? What other features?
As I said, some other hybrid sit/stand desks have electronics built-in for raising or lowering. That’s not the only thing the Ikea Skarsta is missing, though.
The Skarsta is just a flat piece of wood that sits upon metal legs that go up or down. There is literally nothing else to it. There are no drawers or any other kinds of storage. The desktop does not have a hole for feeding cables. There is no obvious cable management solution for the desk. There is no power supply or even a space to put one.
It’s just a flat table. That’s it.
If you’re looking for other features with this desk, such as power supplies or cable management, you’re out of luck.
Now, this kind of minimalist approach might be exactly what you’re looking for. If you have a sleek, modern home, this will fit right in. However, the lack of these features, for me, make the Skarsta much less useful. Since there’s no power supply, I either need to work with my not-plugged-in laptop (which would not make it through a full workday) or run my power cable to the nearest outlet. Not only would that second option be an eyesore, but if you have one of those laptop power supplies with a big box in the middle, that weight is going to be dangling when the desktop is in its highest state. This will pull on your laptop which is obviously not ideal.
If you want to permanently set up shop here with a desktop PC or even a permanently-plugged-in laptop, good luck making it look any good. Since you’ll likely be raising and lowering the desktop, you’ll need plenty of cable slack, which will make cable management an absolute nightmare. Since the entire structure is metal, you’ll most likely need to use tape or other sticky stuff to attach the cables to the thin legs.
Even if you don’t care at all about cable management or power, there’s not even a drawer here. That means you’ll need a separate system for storing your cables, pencils, papers, etc., which a lot of people expect their desk to do.
The bottom line here is that the Skarsta might be too basic for its own good.
It looks great, but will it last?
As I’ve said a few times now, the high-quality build materials of the Ikea Skarsta give me the impression that this desk as a whole will stand the test of time. However, I can’t say the same about the desktop itself.
The off-white/gray tabletop is simply matte paint on sanded particle board. Iced coffee in one of those plastic Starbucks cups would likely leave a condensation stain on the desk if left there for a while without a coaster. Also, if you’re resting your wrists and arms on the table in the same spot each day for several months, eventually your sweat would likely stain the top.
In other words, you will need to take extra care of the desktop to keep it looking great, which means regular cleaning and being mindful of what you put there.
I have no qualms about the durability of the rest of the Skarsta. The painted metal will probably last for years before it gets chipped or worn down, and even then it will still function as normal. The desktop, though, could need a refurbish or even replacement down the line if you don’t treat it with TLC.
Ikea Skarsta review: Should you buy it?
The Ikea Skarsta is a terrific desk if all you need is a flat table that goes up and down. For me, personally, I need a desk that does a lot more than that. I need power supplies, cable management, and storage. I want a desk that’s going to be functional but not look sloppy because there are cables dangling from all areas and the top is covered with stuff that should be in a drawer.
However, what might entice you to look past those flaws is the price. The Ikea Skarsta starts at $239 for the smaller model (with a 47.25 x 27.5in top) and even the larger model (reviewed here) is only $269. Those aren’t bad prices considering more fully-featured products can blow past the $400 mark.
This wouldn’t be a good ‘forever desk’ purchase. But if you need something simple that won’t break the bank, this is a fine choice.
Once again, though, this is Ikea we’re talking about. Chances are good that if you are thinking about an Ikea desk you are aware that it’s not going to be perfect and it’s probably not going to be your forever desk. If that’s the case, then the Skarsta is a fine purchase as it will get the job done and likely won’t fall apart on you in a year.
Ikea Skarsta Sit/Stand Desk A cheap entry into the sit/stand desk world.
If you need a table that goes up and down, allowing you to either sit or stand while working, the Ikea Skarsta will do just that! Granted, it won’t do much more than that, but the price can’t be beat.
If you want something that has all the features the Skarsta is missing, we recommend building your own FlexiSpot desk. The motorized base model costs $300 and there are plenty of accessories you can buy to help with cable management and storage if you need them. If you want something more premium, check out the Vari Electric Standing Desk, which starts at $550. There are also loads of accessories for that model that will help with storage, cable management, monitor mounting, etc. For our Canadian friends (or those who don’t mind shipping from Canada), MotionGrey also creates some terrific motorized sit/stand units starting at $475 CAD (~$360).