What to Know When Buying Sanctuary & Church Chairs

It’s estimated today more than 85% of seating purchased by American churches are stackable and upholstered metal frame chairs.

With competition to produce and market these chairs rapidly increasing, instances of poor quality products and shoddy sales practices are on the rise.

Here is what your church needs to know to protect itself!

Company History and Reputation

Finding the right company is more than just how the chairs look and feel. Knowing their business practices and level of customer service is important as well. Getting answers in writing is highly recommended as then you’ll have a record of their claims. Some of the questions you should be asking are as follows:

  • How long have they been in business?
  • Are they endorsed or recommended by national denominations and/or have multiple church references?
  • Is there any record of bankruptcy or financial impropriety?
  • Are they simply a reseller of an unidentified manufacturer or are they responsible for the design and quality the product?

Sample Chairs

Will the company offer a free sample chair for your inspection and certify in writing your purchase will match the same sample they sent you? While there’s nothing wrong with a company asking for sample shipping charges to be borne by the church and then refunded if a purchase is made, offering a free sample chair affirms they are not fearful of having their chair compared to competitors.

Evaluating the Comfort and Quality

Have multiple persons of different sizes and body types sit in the chair for periods of time that are similar to your services. Be sure to get the answers to all of these questions in writing as well.

  • Is all the foam in the chair commercial grade virgin foam (very important because remanufactured foam will break down in half the time or faster)?
  • Is the metal frame 16 gauge (the higher the gauge the weaker the steel)?
  • Is the fabric commercial grade with a certified double rub test above 100,000 double rubs?
  • Are the seat foundations industrial quality plywood or high quality injection molded and not strand board or artificial composites?
  • Are all the fasteners quality “T-Nuts”?

Potential Carcinogenic Dangers

The foam, fabric, foundations and paints of all manufactured chairs carry the real possibility of scientifically documented cancer causing fumes resiling from chemicals used in their manufacture. These include formaldehyde, lead, TDCPP and others. That’s why furniture used in Public Schools is required to be certified to have been manufactured to standards minimizing these dangers. Your church members deserve nothing less. Getting assurances in writing that the chairs have been tested and are safe is key to protecting your congregation should any problems arise.

  • Are the chairs certified by a recognized testing laboratory as safe from these cancer causing fumes?
  • Have they been manufactured to meet or exceed the standards established by The Federal Composite Wood Standards Act and certified CARB 2 compliant?
  • Have they been certified to meet the California Air Standards Emissions Act for TDCPP?

Warranties and Guarantees

Unfortunately, this is an area where some of the companies supplying sanctuary and church chairs have employed less than transparent and full protection while giving the impression of non-existent protection for customers.

  • Be sure to check the fine print to find out what components are and are not covered (in some instances fabrics are excluded).
  • Know what the remedy is for a defective chair (some require the chair be sent back to the manufacturer at church expense when it’s cheaper to buy a new chair thus assuring the church won’t use the warranty).
  • Check to see how long the warranty is for each major component and not just the frame.
  • Ask for the name and contact person of churches that have had warranty issues resolved (be sure to call at least two to see the quality of the service).

While the many advantages of stackable upholstered seating has made it the choice of most new church seating purchased in America, the rising popularity has also fed the growth of some inferior products, shoddy sales practices and untrustworthy companies.

By following these suggestions, you can help assure your church’s process and purchase of seating will be a positive experience and not one of ministry disruption and money lost.