Why buying cheap furniture sometimes costs you more!

01 March 2019

Have you ever bought cheap shoes and felt smug?  You’ve done the maths and you know you’ve saved. Then a month later they’ve got holes in their soles and you’re back shopping again. Sometimes you really do get what you pay for.

The same can be said for the tables and chairs used in your hall, marae, community facility or youth centre. What may seem cheap at the time can end up being expensive long-term ie. more repairs, more trips to buy new tables or chairs, or at worst accidents or safety issues.

We know community facilities get a workout! Catering for a wide range of public use is demanding and your furniture comes under a lot of pressure. The rigours of constant set up and pack down, differing levels of load and, perhaps when used by energetic types, the odd leap-frog or chair-flip to endure - this all takes a toll on the longevity of your chairs and tables.  We understand that you and your committee have spent time and energy fundraising for tables and chairs, you need that furniture to work as hard as you did to get it.

When your furniture has to work that hard, it needs to be tough and built to survive.  Here are some things to look out for so that your furniture doesn’t end up costing you in the long run.

  1. Domestic furniture v commercial furniture - This seems fundamental but it’s a common trap.  The cheaper folding table alternatives from discount retailers are designed for the odd backyard party, not high-use public environments.  Make sure that the products you are buying can withstand the type of use (and sometimes abuse) they will get.Warranties can be a good indication of the expected life of the product.

  2. Load capacity - make sure what you buy is designed to hold up the loads you need it to. Seating should come with a load capacity.  This is often tested by static loads (just how much weight it can take) and drop test loads (the load it can take with downwards pressure).  For tables, make sure you find out how many kilograms the tables can take without buckling the legs or table top. Ensure your furniture is literally tough enough to be able to cope with what you and your people throw at it!

  3. Materials - Think about your environment.  Is your furniture going to be exposed to lots of UV light or stored in damp environments?  Think about how your environment could impact the integrity of your furniture. Some cheaper plastic chairs are made from recycled or off-cut materials which are fabricated into lower cost chairs.  These types of chairs can however, discolour and become brittle and chalky. Look for plastic chairs that are made from virgin polypropylene or unmixed materials so that you get the strongest products.

  4. Moving parts - Think about the mechanism that makes your chairs fold or that clips the legs of your tables together.  Make sure they’ve been designed to hold moving parts together firmly. There is nothing worse that a table leg swinging out of the folded clip or a chair catching fingers in the folding mechanism.

  5. Stacking & storage - Your community venues are most likely hosting a huge range of functions with set up and pack down on your tables and chairs on a daily basis.  Make sure you have a table trolley or a chair trolley for both movement and storage not only to save space but to save strain on your people’s backs.

These are just a few things to look out for when choosing tables and chairs for your community facility.  Many times what is seemingly costly up front, is often cheaper to own in the long run. Your return on investment pays dividends over time and you won’t need to keep going back to shop all the time!   

Alloyfold is a commercial seating supplier. We’ve sold hundreds of chairs and tables to community facilities around Australasia. Check out our indestructible cube chair and our commercial grade, blow-molded tables specifically designed to withstand the toughest public- use environments.