the shape of leadership

A Guide to Buying Church Chairs

Features to consider when shopping for sanctuary seating

Tom McElheny on December 10, 2018

Many churches are moving from pews to chairs for seating in their sanctuaries. If you search for church chairs online, you’ll see that there are many different styles available. With all those options, how do you know which model is right for your congregation?

The most important thing you should look for is quality. Everything else is a matter of preference, but a high-quality chair will provide comfortable seating and last for years.

Before you begin shopping, you should understand the most important features to look for in a chair. Here are some major factors to consider:


Look for chairs that offer lumbar support and padded or cushioned seats. If in doubt, ask for a sample chair so you can try it out for yourself. Remember that your members will be sitting in these chairs for an hour or more at a time, so comfort is essential.


Church chairs are a big investment for your congregation, so you’ll want a product that will last. Beware of cheaper models that will wear out quickly. Look for evidence of solid construction, such as a 16-gauge metal frame (the higher the gauge, the weaker the steel) and industrial quality plywood, or high-quality injection molded seat foundations (not strand board or artificial composites).

Quality T-Nut Fasteners

Again, be sure to ask for a sample before buying. Any reputable church chair manufacturer will be happy to provide you with a free sample before you purchase. Inspect the sample carefully for evidence of solid construction. Get the manufacturer’s guarantee in writing that the chair you sampled is the chair you’ll get once you make a purchase.

Portability and Storage

Do you plan on moving and rearranging your chairs often? You’ll want to choose a model that is lightweight and portable. If storage is a major concern, you can’t go wrong with stackable or folding chairs.

Metal or Wood Frame

While some chairs are made of plastic, most quality church chairs will have a sturdy wood or metal frame. You may be wondering which option is right for you. Part of it is simply a style preference.

Once you have an idea of the style of church chair that is right for your congregation, you will be well prepared to start shopping.

Wood has a warm, traditional feel, while metal is sleek and modern. Both materials are durable, although metal has a slight advantage over wood. Metal is also easier to clean. However, wood is a more sustainable option if you wish to make an environmentally friendly choice.

Fabric and Padding

For maximum comfort, invest in a padded or cushioned chair for church services. Metal folding chairs work well for events, with their light weight and portability, but a weekly worship services require members to remain seated for longer periods of time. It is well worth the extra investment in padding.

You can customize the look of your church chair by choosing a fabric that complements the setting. There are many different colors and styles available.

Ask whether the chair fabric is commercial grade with a certified double-rub test above 100,000 double rubs. (The double-rub test simulates sitting and standing by passing a piece of canvas back and forth over the fabric using a mechanical arm. Each back-and-forth motion is one double rub.) The double-rub measure tells you whether a fabric is durable enough to withstand regular use.

One of the most important aspects of a chair is the foam underneath the fabric. Beware of manufacturers who try to sell you a church chair with poor-quality foam; when you sit on these chairs, you’ll be able to feel the frame beneath. The best manufacturers use commercial-grade virgin foam for maximum comfort.


This option offers extra comfort by providing a place for members to rest their arms during the service. If you want this feature, look for strong and supportive chair arms.

Interlocking Chairs

Interlocking, or ganging, chairs have hooks on the sides so you can connect them for a continuous, pew-like seating arrangement. For that reason, these chairs are often called pew chairs. These are great if you want to give your church a more traditional look. Interlocking your chairs also keeps the spacing consistent, which may save room in your facility.

Multipurpose Functionality

Although your primary use for these chairs is the weekly worship service, your church has other events and functions. A multipurpose chair will likely be stackable or folding for easy storage and portability. It may also look less like a traditional church chair. These chairs may be ideal for your church if you have a lot of events, or if you plan to rent out your space.

Once you have an idea of the style of church chair that is right for your congregation, you will be well prepared to start shopping. You can go into this process feeling confident enough to make the best decision for your church.


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