It’s really easy to build the “Desk” in “Treadmill Desk” for $39. It’s not as pretty as the $4,000 Steelcase Treadmill Desk, but with the$3,961 in savings, you can take your family on a Colorado skiing vacation.

Excellent photos that illustrate the simple $39 design: Anders Burvall Design Photos.

I used Anders’ photos as the guide for my desk design. The only difference is that I used 2″ x 12″ x 40″ planks of blue Styrofoam instead of the foam blocks that Anders used. Anders has a PhD in engineering, so his design is probably better than mine!

Only 3 items are needed to build your $39 Desk:
1) $11: 2′ x 4′ x 3/4″ White Melamine Particleboard from Home Depot. This is used as the desk. I just replaced my old 1/2″ birch plywood existing desk with this 3/4″ thick melamine particleboard. The Melamine Particleboard added more weight, and thus stability (and it’s cheaper!) You may need to cut the Melamine particleboard so that it fits your specific treadmill.

2) $23: 4′ x 8′ x 2″ blue Styrofoam panel (used in new home insulation). I cut this into 12″x40″ planks. I placed these planks across the handrails to raise my desk to a comfortable height.
The foam is not attached to either the treadmill or the desk. It’s just sitting there sandwiched
between the Melamine desk and the treadmill’s arms. Try to avoid the foam material that is made out of millions of little compressed balls. Of course, I first bought this type of foam from Home Depot with disastrous results. When I cut the white foam into the 12″ x 40″ planks, thousands of these little balls were released and were scattered into every nook and cranny of my office. Look for the blue styrofoam with the “Styrofoam” brand on the material. If you can’t find it at Home Depot or Lowes, ask the guys at a new home construction site if they’d be willing to sell you one sheet of it for $20.

3) $5 : Black water based spray paint. The blue Styrofoam planks were really ugly, so I painted them black. A great water based spray paint to use on Styrofoam: Krylon H2O Latex.

It’s a really simple design, but it works great. I’ve taken a virtual walk from New York City to California using this desk, and I see no reason to change it. It works!

4 thoughts on “The $39 Treadmill Desk

  • April 30, 2008 at 3:53 pm

    This foam also comes in a pink color – it’s found in the insulation section.

    Model railroaders have been using it (it’s light and easy to carve to shape) for ages now for scenery.

  • April 30, 2008 at 6:06 pm

    Anyone have any idea what it costs to run a treadmill like these all day (and all night, if you’re also a gamer) at 1mph?

  • May 8, 2008 at 8:51 pm

    I’d like advice on how to build this at the right height to avoid upper back and wrist injuries. I am short–5’3″–and just putting a board across the arms of a treadmill would be disastrous.

  • June 9, 2008 at 4:15 pm

    First, measure what height your “neutral” level is (i.e. about 1 or 2 inches higher than elbow height) while standing on the treadmill. Then you might have to build the desk as a “sling” in between the hand rails. Being able to secure the desk between the rails is going to be the most difficult part. You may need to have someone weld in support bars depending on your model of treadmill.

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