In Part One of this series, we discussed the three types of seating options to consider when you’re working on a church design or remodeling project. Pews are the traditional choice, but they have a number of drawbacks, including the cost of refinishing old pews and the fact that you can’t rearrange them to use your worship space for a dinner or other type of event.
Another seating option that’s very comfortable, but also very expensive and not movable, is theater seating. Theater-style seats require a sloped floor or risers, and are usually only used in a large, dedicated worship space.
By far the most popular seating choice among our clients is chair seating, which is why this second part of our two-part series provides an in-depth focus specifically on this option.
Integrate Chair Size and Style into Your Church Design
When opting for chair seating, the first thing you need to decide on is the width of your chairs. The standard chair seat is 20 inches wide, but we encourage our clients to choose a 22-inch chair because it’s more comfortable and helps people feel like they’re sitting next to each other rather than on top of one another.
Naturally, those extra two inches add up, meaning that you only get 10 chairs in a space that otherwise could hold 11. So you’ll need to carefully manage your church design concept to make sure you can fit everyone into the space!
Details matter when it comes to choosing chairs, and there are a lot of elements to consider. Do you need a book rack, or a cup holder? Do you want arms on any chairs, to help people who might need some assistance standing? Do you want to pay a slightly higher price in order to have fully upholstered backs? Those will look nicer when you enter the worship space.
Another important consideration is finish—do you want wood or metal? Wood can look nicer, but it’s more expensive, although it is a good option if you’re transitioning from pews or mixing chairs and pews in the same space.
You will also want to consider going with a heavy-duty fabric for your chairs—the patterns may not be as attractive but they will have a long life, which is important to your investment.
Dare to Compare
Sitting on those chairs is a very important part of integrating the right one into your church design. Manufacturers will typically send you a sample chair for free or for a nominal charge that can be credited toward a future purchase. Get those sample chairs and try them out in a well-used meeting or class room so that your leadership gets to try them out for an hour at a time, not just a few seconds in each chair.
Don’t just compare how each chair feels. Take a good look at how well they are put together. Does the fabric fit well? Is there any warping? Are the glides on the bottom of the chair legs strong enough to protect your flooring? Are there air holes underneath the seats that allow the foam to breathe? This will increase the life of the foam.
Also, consider asking for large swatches of each fabric you’re considering, rather than the typical one-inch squares, so you can drape them over the seats to see what each option will look like.
And don’t forget to compare warranties. The frame and structure should have a 25-year warranty, and the foam a 10-year warranty. The warranty should be in writing.
Pre-Planning and Delivery
It’s a good idea to be doing all of this early in the church design and building process. To get the fabric and finish you want, you may have to order them rather than selecting from a limited in-stock inventory. Be sure you know the lead-time of your order and where the chairs are manufactured and assembled. Some companies get parts oversees, so be aware of potential delays.
You also want to double-check whether delivery includes unloading. (It would be tough for whoever’s at church on delivery day to have a truckload of chairs suddenly arrive, only to have the truck driver say, “It’s not my responsibility to unload them!”) On the other hand, if a fee is charged for unloading, you could assemble a crew of volunteers on delivery day and save yourself that cost.
As you can tell, we’ve had the seating discussion quite a few times with our clients. If you’d like to learn more from our experience, visit our website today and sign up for our i3 webinar series. It’s free!