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7 Factors to Consider When Purchasing Chapel Chairs

You’re eagerly anticipating the unveiling of your new church makeover to the congregation and community. But your committee is hung up on chairs.

You’ve done your research and the team is ready to re-home the hard, space-hogging pews that have been hanging around for decades. They’re homey and traditional, but you know that the modern congregation is growing and thriving better with church chairs.

So you hop onto a few church chair online stores, scroll through some products, and realize you don’t know exactly what to choose. You might already have a color scheme picked out, but you quickly discover that there are more details to this shopping project.

Do you choose the 18.5-inch chairs or the 21-inch? Would it be better to buy wooden frame chairs or metal frame chairs? Your head starts spinning with the array of options.

Then there’s quality to consider. What if you find an amazing deal only to be completely disappointed by the quality of the chair that is delivered? You know that shopping online offers some of the best deals, but it also means that you can’t try before you buy.

All of these worries plague church purchasing teams, so we put together a guide of things to consider when you’re choosing chairs for your chapel. Here are 7 factors to consider to help you get you started!

1. Frame Material

When it comes to commercial-grade church chairs, your frame material is typically a choice between metal or wood. So many flock to the idea of a wood finish, with its traditional appeal and rosy warm feel.

If your congregation is transitioning from long-time use of pews to church chairs, wood might be the right choice. It can help bridge the change in a way that won’t ruffle feathers quite as much.

Metal chairs are a great option if you want a rugged frame that can hold up to lots of movement. Wood chairs will scratch and also tend to not stack as high. Metal chairs, on the other hand, are made to be stacked and moved around often.

If you choose wood chairs, they probably are best if you plan to leave them in the sanctuary in place most of the time. Also be aware that they tend to be more expensive than metal chairs.

2. Chair Construction

When shopping for church chairs, you always want to keep an eye on quality. Don’t be sucked in by an “incredible deal” that will deliver chairs that will deteriorate quickly. You want the chairs to last ten to twenty years for the best return on investment.

Always choose metal chairs made from 16-gauge steel with a powder coat finish so they can withstand rugged use. You will likely be stacking them often, which will put more stress on the frame. Make sure their craftsmanship is good quality and sturdy.

Plywood is the preferred material for chair bases and seat backs, as the layers of compressed wood are more durable than just a solid piece of wood. Always check to see that the chairs are constructed with t-nuts instead of wood screws. They are far stronger and will keep the frame tight and secure for years to come.

3. Fabric

While you often can send in your own fabric for use in the chairs, it is not recommended. The fabric created specifically for commercial chairs is made to last for many years. Most fabric that you might come across in a fabric store won’t last as long and you’ll need to reupholster everything again in the near future.

The special weave of the commercial chair fabric ensures that you won’t have to worry about their rugged use day in and day out. It’s made to resist stretching, fraying, and becoming threadbare too quickly. It’s also colorfast so the color won’t bleed onto light colored clothing. Often, you can have the fabric treated to resist stains, as well. The fabric should be thoroughly tested to demonstrate its strength and longevity.

Read our in-depth guide to selecting the perfect fabric for your church furniture.

4. Color

Church chairs are anything but boring. With a sea of colors available, you can easily find what you need to match your new sanctuary decor. Order a fabric swatch and study it in the church lighting next to your carpet swatches and paint chips. With so many shades to choose from, you can decide exactly which tone you want the church to have. It doesn’t matter if you’re going for a more modern look or a more conservative feel, color will help you achieve exactly the right ambiance.

If you need help figuring out what looks good in your space, you can bring in a church decor consultant who can help you decide what look will convey the right tone to grow your congregation. You can also reach out to chair companies themselves for advice on what could be the right fit for you.

5. Size

You know your congregation better than anyone, which means you’ll also have a good idea of the kinds of chair styles that will work best for them. You can choose more conservative chair sizes, at about 18.5 inches wide, to fit more seats into the space. Or jump for a luxurious chair experience by choosing a chair that’s 21 inches wide.

If you think your congregation would prefer wood chairs, they’re in for a treat with the 20.5-inch wide medium oak finished chair. They’ll bring a warm glow to your sanctuary that will be irresistible to congregation members.

6. Comfort

One of the biggest perks to switching from church pews to church chairs is the increased comfort. Hard wooden benches just can’t be made comfortable, no matter what you do to them. Chairs, on the other hand, can be very comfortable. If you choose a chair with at least a medium-wide seat, ample cushioning, and proper positioning of back support, you’ll have congregants who are happily listening to the speaker instead of contemplating their aching back.

For the highest quality materials, choose chair padding that is at least 4 inches thick for the seat and 1.5 inches thick for the chair back. The seat should use 2-pound and the back should use 1.8-pound 100% polyurethane foam, and neither one should contain any fillers. The foam should meet the California flame retardant specification (CA117) for safety.

When it comes to back support, the seat back should be built properly. Some chairs claim to be comfortable, but they are not the proper height and the cushioning hits the back at all the wrong places. This would wreck havoc on the backs of your congregants who are elderly or have back troubles. Make sure that the chair support hits the lumbar portion of the back for the highest level of comfort and support.

7. Durability, Testing, and Warranty

You should know exactly how the chairs have been tested, how they are rated, and what kinds of warranties they offer. If the chair company doesn’t readily offer this information, you can be sure that the chairs aren’t going to be of a great quality.

The fabric should be put through the Wyzenbeek test, which is a minimum 100,000 double-rub test for commercial church chairs. The chair itself should be safety-tested to 600 to 800 pounds, depending on the size of the chair. Always check warranties on the chairs to make sure that companies back up their workmanship. A good company will be confident that their chairs will last a long time.

You also should buy chairs that are factory assembled. Putting church chairs together yourself is a huge pain, takes a long time, and you just won’t be able to tighten and stabilize fasteners the way that commercial-grade tools can. Save yourself the pain, hassle, and danger of putting together the chairs yourself. You’ll be glad you did.

Church chairs are a practical and comfortable choice to furnish the modern sanctuary. They’re flexible, affordable, easy to maintain and provide long-lasting comfort to congregants. You can hold church services on Sunday, then quickly clear the floor for an event. Chairs are a smart investment for any growing church, especially if you know exactly how to choose wisely. Taking these seven factors into consideration when shopping will help you select quality chairs that will last for many years to come.

When you need excellent quality chairs at the best prices, we’re here to help. We can support you through the process of deciding which chairs will best fit your space, choosing the perfect colors for your chairs, and figuring out exactly how many you’ll need. You can find us online at and by calling (844) 474-4945.

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