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Updated Aug 9, 2022 5:45 AM

Whether you’re gaming, writing the next great novel, or working from home, your desk is your foundation. Picking the right one to help you focus and get the job done is important. If having a regular, stationary desk setup isn’t an option due to limited space, you may want to invest in one of the best folding desks.

A folding desk offers a perfect, albeit temporary place for you to get things done without adding too much extra clutter to your space. There are two main types of foldable desks; the one you end up choosing will depend on your own personal needs and home layout. If your dedicated work area is super tight, you may want to consider a foldable wall desk—which not only saves floor space but also gives you the option of having an additional shelf when not in use. On the other hand, if you have a little more space to work with, choosing a dedicated multi-level computer desk or a dedicated writing desk with cabinets might be the better selection for you. The best folding desks can maximize your workflow and complement your space. 

How we chose the best folding desks

Many of us here at Popular Science have worked remotely in some capacity at one point in our careers, from freelance stints to hybrid office life. Being at a desk so much means we each have a certain set of criteria for a space to do our best work. Some of us need built-in computer risers; others prefer something with lots of storage options. We looked at reviews, peer recommendations, and conducted heavy research—online and amongst ourselves—to find the best folding desks.

What to consider when buying the best folding desks

Once you’ve established that folding furniture is the way to go for your small space, there are a few factors to consider when it comes to choosing the ideal model for you. First of all, be realistic about just how much space you have. Is there enough to comfortably fit a standing desk or would a portable folding desk work better? Next, think about your budget. Can you afford to splurge or are you looking for a less expensive option? What about a desk that requires little to no assembly? Is the ability to quickly set up or store away your desk important? Keep reading to find out our top choices.

Looking for a foldable desk that’s easy to assemble?

At first glance, the Sleekform Folding Desk is beautiful, with its rustic tabletop and hairpin legs, but what really makes it special is its no-assembly required design. The firwood desk comes ready to use straight out of the box. All you have to do is carefully fold out the four metal legs and flip the table over, then fold up and slide it into storage when you’re done. That’s it, no tools or heavy lifting needed.

Would you prefer a computer desk or a writing desk?

A huge part of finding the best option is knowing exactly what you’ll be using it for once it arrives. If you’re looking for a great folding computer desk, then look no further than the Knowlife Folding Computer Desk. One of the biggest selling points for this desk is its ergonomic design. The 44-inch collapsible desk comes with a monitor riser, which allows you to position your monitor at the perfect height in order to prevent neck pain and eye strain. Meanwhile, the Tangkula Folding Writing Desk is great for literary types.

How much space do you have?

Another great way to maximize space is by picking up a small, wall folding model. Consider desks that screw into the wall and fold up. This desk is mounted to the wall by two large brackets. You’re still getting a lot of real estate, as well as integrated shelves for plenty of extra storage space. Plus, when the desk isn’t being used, you can fold it flat onto itself while still keeping the shelves on display.

Are you constantly on the move?

Lap desks offer the best of both worlds in a sleek and stylish form. As the name suggests, you can use this model while lounging on the couch, but it can also be a great travel desk to take with you. The ability to customize the height and viewing angles also makes the desk more ergonomic—which is always a plus when working long hours. Finally, this folding lap desk takes up very little space and can easily be stored in a closet or under your bed until the next time you’re ready to use it.

How much do you want to spend on a folding desk?

When you hear the term “budget-friendly,” you might be quick to assume that the item will be poorly made and you’d be better off with a more costly option. However, there are quite a few decent budget-friendly folding desks on the market, like the Cubiker folding desk, which is also easy to assemble.

When selecting a budget folding desk, you shouldn’t expect too many frills or extra features as compared to a folding computer desk. These cheaper desks are usually fairly simple in their design and offer basic functionality. Another drawback with a desk in the lower price range is that you may not be getting the best quality of wood. However, if you’re careful and you don’t plan on using the desk outdoors, you should be fine with a less expensive model.

The best folding desks: Reviews & Recommendations

The best folding desks combine fashion with function—they should be stylish, but not so stylish that they’re more aesthetic than practical. Plus, they should be easy to fold, stash, and stow away. Our choices are just that.

Best overall: Sleekform

Why it made the cut: The wood desk is sleek, simple, and stylish—all things a folding desk should be.

Specs

  • Weight: 23 pounds
  • Dimensions: 47.2 x 23.6 x 30 inches
  • Materials: Metal, wood

Pros

  • Comes fully assembled
  • Legs easy to fold
  • Wood is finished in a scratch-free material

Cons

  • Reviews note that a chemical smell lingers when taking the desk out of the box

Assembling furniture can be complicated, but you won’t have to worry about that with Sleekform’s no-assembly folding desk. As the best folding desk overall this model is durable, lightweight, and easy to put together in any room. Plus, the black metal hairpin-style legs of this folding desk also come with special rubber caps to keep your floors scratch-free while moving it around. The wood table is finished with a three-coat water- and scratch-resistant material, so you don’t have to worry about leaving water marks like other wood-topped desks. The desk measures around 47.2 inches by 23.6 inches by 30 inches of 100 percent real fir wood, and weighs only 24 pounds, which makes it easy to transport. Don’t let its lightness fool you—this desk can hold up to 110 pounds. This model is also large enough to accommodate a second person if you want to set up a simple co-working space. A chemical smell lingers when taking the desk out of the box, but it dissipates and disappears in a few hours.

Best for computers: Knowlife Computer Desk

Why it made the cut: This lightweight desk comes with a monitor riser to maximize as much space as possible.

Specs

  • Weight: 26.4 pounds
  • Dimensions: 47.2 x 23.6 x 29.5 inches
  • Materials: Wood, metal

Pros

  • Comes assembled
  • Waterproof wood finish
  • Hook for keeping headphones in a handy place

Cons

  • Reviews note fiberglass in packaging

Since you’ll be spending several hours at your computer every day, it’s important to find a folding desk that allows you to create a perfectly ergonomic setup. This practical and physique-friendly desk also comes in three sizes, so you can choose the one that best fits your space. On the side of the desk, you’ll find three large hooks where you can easily hang your headphones or keep your most used cords and accessories. And if your setup includes multiple monitors or other hefty devices, you’ll be happy to know that the Knowlife desk will support a few hundred pounds. The 44-inch collapsible desk comes with a monitor riser, which allows you to position your monitor at the perfect height in order to prevent neck pain and eye strain. Multiple reviews note that there is fiberglass in the packaging when the desk arrives, so open it outside and wear a facemask and gloves to prevent inhaling fiberglass and skin irritation. Also, wipe it down before bringing it inside. If you’re looking for more computer desks, find our other recommendations here.

Best for writers: Tangkula Writing Desk

Why it made the cut: Drawers mean you can keep important documents and novel outlines in an organized place, and the fold-down table makes this desk easy to stow in a corner.

Specs

  • Weight: 50 pounds
  • Dimensions: 20 x 41.5 x 29.5 inches
  • Materials: Wood, steel, PVC

Pros

  • Desktop folds for easy storage
  • Drawers open smoothly
  • Desk is on wheels for transport

Cons

  • Can be hard to assemble

Whether you’re a writer by profession or someone who just enjoys sitting down to journal every now and again, you can’t go wrong with Tangkula, the best folding desk for writers. This desk comes with three storage drawers—perfect for keeping all your writing tools nearby in case inspiration strikes. The desk folds in a way that allows you to use it as a nightstand or side table when you’re done writing for the day. The multi-functional feature is a huge plus if you like your furniture to serve several purposes—which ultimately helps save on space. Plus, it’s on wheels, which means you can push it to a new location to get a change of scenery in your own home. Reviews note that this desk takes time to assemble—some estimate it took them between 1-2 hours to put it together. However, you get an incredibly convenient desk once it’s built.

Best for small spaces: Haotian Drop-Leaf

Why it made the cut: Built-in shelves and a fold-down design make this desk blend into your home like a fly on the wall.

Specs

  • Weight: 28 pounds
  • Dimensions: 18.9 x 35.43 x 14.17 inches
  • Materials: Engineered wood

Pros

  • Saves space
  • Stylish and functional
  • Sturdy

Cons

  • Needs hung properly
  • Assembly required
  • 44-pound load limit

If you’re looking to hold on to every inch of space you possibly can, the Haotian folding desk is a good choice. Since it mounts to the wall, you don’t have to worry about taking up too much room on the ground and there’s the added bonus of having multiple shelves to keep your work tools neat and organized. At 28 pounds, it’s on the heavier side, which means you should ensure you hang it properly and securely, or else it will end up on the floor. Instead of folding up, which would hide the shelves, it folds down to moonlight as a piece of decor. The desk has a 44-pound load limit, so don’t overload it with monitors or heavy decorative knick-knacks. Assembly is required, and It takes around 1-2 hours to build, per shared user experiences.

Best for laps: SAIJI Lap Desk

Why it made the cut: Work from your bed, couch, or floor with this handy adjustable lap desk. You can also use it to transform your current desk into a standing desk.

Specs

  • Weight: 10 pounds
  • Dimensions: 23.62 x 17.72 x 11.02 inches
  • Materials: PVC leather, steel, aluminum alloy

Pros

  • Easy to adjust
  • Incredibly storable
  • Lightweight to take anywhere

Cons

  • Latch on left side that locks the tray tilt blocks drawer from opening

Whether you’re lounging at home or on the go, the SAIJI Lap Desk makes working that much more comfortable with its ergonomic features and stylish design. The desk also features a foldable bookstand, a storage drawer ideal for your mobile device, and a non-slip textured design to keep your laptop in place. It’s also height-adjustable and features two auto-lock buttons on each side to seamlessly switch between five different height levels to find your ideal viewing angle. You can also use it as a cost-effective way to turn your current sit-down desk into a standing one. Simply stow it under your couch or in a closet when you’re done using it for the day. The latch on the left side of the desk that locks the tray tilt also blocks the drawer from opening, reviews note. If this desk doesn’t tickle your fancy, check out our other laptop-friendly desk recommendations.

Best budget: Cubiker

Why it made the cut: This desk is easy to assemble, easy to transport, and easy on your wallet. Talk about a triple threat.

Specs

  • Weight: 23.6 pounds
  • Dimensions: 20 x 40 x 30 inches
  • Materials: Wood; metal

Pros

  • Easy assembly
  • Lots of color options
  • Lightweight

Cons

  • Tabletop doesn’t attach to metal frame

The Cubiker folding desk will give you everything you need without emptying your wallet. Although you won’t get extra features, you will get a well-built, sturdy desk that’s easy to set up and store when not in use. The desk also comes in four color options, including black, brown, and white. Plus, it takes less than 5 minutes to assemble—all you need to do is open the frame and plop the tabletop on top. Because of its weight and transportability, this desk is a great option for college students who are hopping from one on-campus living situation to another, or for transient working post-grads. However, if you’re worried that the tabletop will fall off the frame, or want to use this desk in your permanent workspace, you might need to attach Velcro strips or something to secure the tabletop to the frame.

FAQs

Q: How do I choose a folding desk?

Choosing a folding desk all comes down to your personal preference and lifestyle needs. Take a moment to consider how you’ll be using your new piece of office furniture and how much space you have to accommodate, then make your decision based on those main factors.

Q: What material is best for a folding table?

Hands down, the best material for a folding table is wood. This could be high-quality hardwood or something more affordable, like particleboard. One thing to keep in mind, if you’ll be using your folding table outside then you’ll want to stick with solid woods as particleboard is susceptible to moisture.

Q: How much weight can a folding desk hold?

The amount of weight a folding desk can hold will vary depending on the type of desk and the material used to make it. For example, a solid wood desk, like the Sleekform option listed above, can hold over 100 pounds.

Final thoughts on the best folding desks

There is no one-size-fits-all approach when choosing the best folding desk. It all comes down to what you’re looking for, and how it can best fit into your lifestyle and routine. Ideally, you want your folding desk to enhance your overall work experience, without adding extra clutter in your space—whether that’s reducing neck and back pain or allowing you to relax on the couch during your next Zoom meeting.