Thermal effusivity of different tabletop materials in relation to users' perception

Appl Ergon. 2022 Apr;100:103664. doi: 10.1016/j.apergo.2021.103664. Epub 2021 Dec 7.


Tactile interaction between humans and elements in the built environment, such as furniture, is often underappreciated. The aim of this study was to objectively evaluate thermal properties of ten tabletop materials as well as user perceptions of those materials after use. Sixteen participants tested ten materials in a randomised order. Infrared thermography was used to determine tabletop temperature distribution and change. Materials with lower thermal effusivity (wood-based materials) in general reached higher surface temperature differences after 15 min of contact and were rated as more pleasant to touch, more suitable for writing, and more liked for everyday use. Participants' sex and forearm mass had no effect on the temperature after contact. Participants gave the highest ratings to the appearance of oak-based materials. Surface treatment affected subjective evaluation of the materials. The tabletop made of lacquered solid wood had the most favourable thermal and user-rated characteristics.

Keywords: Ergonomics; Office desk; School desk; Thermal comfort.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Emotions
  • Humans
  • Interior Design and Furnishings
  • Temperature
  • Touch
  • Touch Perception*