The desk is probably the most annoying thing to buy in a treadmill desk setup, mostly because a low cost, adjustable height standing height desk is hard to find. Some people find that simply placing a piece of particle board across the bars of a treadmill is sufficient (as it gives a flat surface for a laptop) However, I need something that will support a workstation with 2 monitors. I wan to be able to do some real programming work on this thing.
The absolute cheapest option I can think of is to simply buy some cinder blocks and put a regular desk up on top of them. You should be able to find a combination of cinder block heights that would get it to your desired height, and it shouldn’t cost you more than 20 bucks. It’s probably going to be ugly, but on the other hand, it’ll catch the attention of anyone walking through. It’s crude, but if you’re strapped on cash and value your health, then it’s the only game in town.
At the other extreme are the expensive options. I feel that I don’t really need to go too far into recommendations for these types of desks since if you have 2k to drop on a desk, you probably won’t be wasting your time reading my little blog to find out what I think. However, if you decide to go this route, make sure that what you get is 1) Stable, 2) Large enough for your workstation, and 3) Is adjustable in height. Those properties are essential for a functional desk. The most popular standing desk on Amazon is the TrekDesk Treadmill DeskIt looks very nice in pictures, and I really like the “U”-ish shape. It has some pretty nice reviews. The only negative comments I found about this desk is that it’s a tad unstable. But if you prop it up against a wall or do some custom reinforcing, then it should work great.
The best option, and the one I recommend and am using myself, is to find a used Ikea “Fredrik” or “Jerker” desk off of craigslist or some used furniture place. For some odd reason Ikea discontinued these models, but they’re well known for being very good standing, height adjustable desks. They’re made such that a treadmill can fit nicely underneath (legs don’t get in the way). I was able to find one on Craigslist for 40 bucks (missing a shelf, but no biggie), and there was maybe 1 other desk in my area at the same time, so perhaps they’re not TOO uncommon. If you’re persistent, you can probably pick one of these up on the cheap and they work great. Here are some pictures of the setup I made from my Ikea desk.
As you can see, the legs are on the side and there is plenty of room for a flat treadmill underneath. (You’ll have to find a treadmill without the bars, or removable bars.) Here are some close ups of the connection points that make the desk adjustable.
I also like that the desk is wide enough to support 2 monitors. I have to put them at a slight angle, but it doesn’t really bother me at all. Here’s what I mean:
One thing that I’m noticing is that the desk (when the shelves are put up high) is kind of wobbly. I might be able to make it more stable by putting it on a hard surface, adding weight to it, or leaning it up against a wall (which is what I’m doing).
Alternatively, if you can’t find a used desk and don’t like the cinder block idea, there are lots of DIY Ikea standing height desks on the web. There are many examples of people putting together Ikea parts like the Expedit bookshelves and various Ikea legs and making a standing height desk that looks rather nice. The downside is that they’re going to be big, heavy, and non-adjustable. (Thus, you have to be of the correct height for the specific design or be creative with combining parts together.) These desks tend to be around $200-300 dollars + building time. They’re probably cheaper and better than the really expensive commercial options though. Here is a long (eventually) list of DIY projects for standing desks that I’m trying to accumulate. They’re not necessarily from Ikea parts, but those tend to be the most common.
And finally, if you don’t like the idea of walking at a desk, but still want to be moving somehow. There have been recommendations from visitors for the Fitdesk Compact Pedal Desk. It looks pretty nice for a laptop. But for me, I need a whole two monitors and a desktop.