Church Chairs vs. Pews

Not long ago if asked to picture a church many people would have responded with an image of a perfect white wooden building complete with a steeple, rows of pews, and an organ. In today’s times, much has changed in church design trends.

Today, it’s estimated that more than 85% of new church seats purchased are upholstered and stackable metal chairs. And, for good reason too. With stackable chairs, it is easier for churches to create multiple purpose spaces. Of course, many people still prefer the traditional look and feel of pews as well. If you’re debating what seating option to choose for your sanctuary, here is a comparison of church chairs vs. pews.


Seating Capacity

Research indicates the average pew user takes up 24 inches of lineal seating space due to their tendency to leave more personal space than is necessary. The average worship chair is 20 inches wide. This nets a 20% increase in available seating. Chairs also provide increased handicapped seating access since they can easily be moved out of the way to accommodate wheelchairs.

Most of the time, pews are not used beyond 80% of the manufacturer’s claims. With church chairs, you know that each chair sits exactly one person, so you don’t have to guess how many people can fit inside your sanctuary, banquet hall, or multi-purpose room.



Chairs are priced in the mid $30’s to $50’s per 20-inch seat, while pews typically cost $65+ per lineal foot with 20% fewer available seats per application. In terms of cost, chairs usually have the advantage


Personal Space

People may feel more at ease in pews, since they have the perception of being able to spread out. Americans in particular value their sense of personal space, and may perceive chairs as providing less room. The reality is, chairs come in a variety of widths for maximum comfort. Each congregation maintains complete control over the spacing between individual chairs, and rows of chairs.


Overall Comfort

Quality worship seating contains 3 inches or more of virgin foam with the back pitch generally more relaxed than most pew backs. Pews may only have up to 2 inches of foam support on the back.



Rather than focus on only a Sunday gathering space, churches have moved to view their building as a space for a variety of activities. These versatile buildings can host concerts, banquets, bible studies, children’s carnivals, as well as a variety of other events.

Chairs allow for flexible configuration of space for a variety of uses and worship applications which can expand the utility of existing space and/or eliminate additional construction requirements and costs. They are easier to use, move, and rotate to minimize wear and tear. Pews, on the other hand, are fixed in place. Although it’s possible to host other events in a pew-filled room, you must work around the fixed seating configuration.


Accommodating Additional Seating

Chairs allow for easy expansion or reconfiguration of seating arrangements as needed. Tables can easily be added or extra seats when services are incredibly full. Pews must be installed ahead of time, so it’s very difficult to accommodate last-minute visitors.



For many churchgoers, pews hold sentimental appeal. The older members of your congregation likely grew up sitting in pews and may view them as a more traditional option than individual seats.


Appealing to Younger Families

A major concern for many churches is attracting millennials. Younger families and people new to church appreciate the appearance, comfort and flexibility of chair seating over pews. Pews have served churches well for years and many still appreciate their tradition and beauty. But overwhelmingly, American churches are selecting the practical advantages of worship chairs over pews.


If you’re looking to refresh your sanctuary or replace your current seating, ChurchPlaza offers a wide selection of durable chairs for your church or multi-purpose facility.

When you’re ready to purchase, our service team will guide you through the process from start to finish.




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