How to choose church seating

Best sanctuary seating options

We recently spoke with Steve at K-Bilt Worship Furniture to find out what questions a church should ask when choosing auditorium or sanctuary seating. All churches desire to be good stewards of their budget; with so many different types of seating available, how do they make the best decision? Here’s what Steve said.

Pews, chairs or theatre seating?

Q: What factors should a church consider before deciding to purchase pews, chairs or theatre seating?

A: Different styles of worship require different styles of seating. The most important factor to consider is that different styles of seating require different spacing, and this will affect the total seating capacity of the room.

  • Traditional Style: Pews can be used throughout, but can be combined with wood framed chairs
  • Contemporary Style: Theatre style seating is especially designed for the worship market and can be mixed with interlocking chairs to match. If all non-fixed seating is required in your sanctuary, using only interlocking chairs is also appropriate for this style.
  • Multi-Use: Chairs that are interlocked for your formal services can be repositioned and used together with tables for a banquet style setting. For frequent multi-use setups, we recommend using a metal frame chair as they are more resilient than wood when moving and stacking repeatedly.

When a worship style has been determined, you can then work with different seating configurations which will help determine your final seating capacity.

Types of chairs

Q: What are some of the different kinds of chairs available?

A: Metal frame chairs and wood frame chairs are available. Look for designs that ensure maximum support and that suit your specific needs. This could include chairs for your sanctuary, clergy or platform, choir, classroom, chapel, banquet hall, café and social gathering places.

Chairs and sloping floors

Q: Can chairs be installed on a sloped auditorium floor? 

A: Yes, chairs can be used on sloped floors, but it will depend on the degree of slope. If the slope is more than approximately 3% (3″ vertical for every 100″ horizontal) then the back legs will need to be modified at the manufacturing plant.

Church seating warranties

Q: Realistically, how long can a church expect seating to last? What are some typical manufacturer’s warranties?

A: The “lifetime” of church seating will depend on the overall usage per week. Realistically a church can expect their seating to last:

  • Pews: Upholstered – 20-35 years
  • Pews: All wood – 50-100 years
  • Auditorium theatre seating – 10-20 years
  • Chairs: Metal frame – 15-25 years
  • Chairs: Wood frame – 20-25 years

Make sure you ask the supplier what “lifetime” means. You may be surprised to learn that a “Lifetime Warranty” only covers the expected lifetime of the product. If the product has an expected life of ten years than that “Lifetime” warranty is only good for ten years.

Typical Manufacturer’s warranties

  • Pews: Upholstered – 25 years; Foam & Fabric 15 years
  • Pews: All wood – 25 years
  • Auditorium theatre seating – 10 years
  • Chairs: Metal frame – 25 years; Foam & Fabric 10 years
  • Chairs: Wood frame – 10 years

A Manufacturer’s Warranty will typically cover all defects in material and workmanship under normal usage during their warranty period.  Keep in mind there will be normal wear and tear during your weekly and sometimes daily usage.

Seating and sustainability

Q: For a church that wants to make sustainable choices, what seating products should they consider?

A: The first and most important consideration is to find a company that employs sustainable practices. This starts with a commitment to stewardship and it means the company actively seeks to conserve, recycle and act with respect toward the environment.  This could include, but is not limited to, sourcing of raw materials and recycling. Some manufacturing companies will operate co-generation plants where they convert wood scraps to electricity.

Need more info?

While this general overview is a good place to start, if you’re serious about purchasing new seating for your church we recommend you get in touch with an expert who can help you make the best decision. Need more info? Feel free to send us an email or leave a comment below.

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One Response to Q&A: Choosing church seating

  1. We had a few funny suggestions from some of our Facebook friends, including bean-bag chairs, and giant jolly-jumpers! Which would you prefer?

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