Meeting chairs – top buying tips

Meeting chairs range from basic four legged steel frames with fabric upholstered supports to quality leather upholstery on a wood frame, so you really do need to know what you want and your budget, before you start looking.

The unit price of the chair may seem low, but remember that you are going to need quite a few of them. Don’t be surprised if you find that the total cost of the chairs is more than the tables, as this is quite common.

A good quality barrel shaped meeting table can cost as little as £300, and accommodate up to 8 persons, but finding a meeting chair to suit the table for less than £38 will be impossible.

At this pricing level, your only choice will be a basic steel 4 legged chair with fabric upholstered backrest and base. These are more commonly used in basic reception areas or training rooms, where price is the most important factor.

They are reasonably comfortable but only for an hour or so, although there are different grades and thicknesses of upholstery foam available, which can make a big difference to the comfort.

So here are some tops tips to think about in order to get the best value for money from your purchase.

1)    As mentioned above, make sure you are clear about what you need the chairs for. Don’t get  lead astray with expensive light coloured fabrics  for an industrial environment. Equally don’t dismiss leather chairs as an option for hard use areas. They may be more expensive, but will last much longer, are easy to clean, and with age can actually look better than when they were new.

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2)    Make sure you know the dimensions of the chairs and your tables. Some meeting chairs are so wide that you won’t even be able to get the minimum recommended number of chairs around your table. Most office furniture dealers will be able to produce a scale drawing for you.

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3)    If you budget is tight, consider using a better quality tighter weave fabric on a cheap meeting chair. The effect can be quite astonishing.
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4)    If you really don’t need stacking chairs, don’t buy them. The frame on these chairs has to be designed to fit over another frame, which means the chairs look awkward and are uncomfortable.
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5)    If your meeting chairs have 5 star bases, make sure that you specify the correct wheels for them. There are castors, soft wheeled castors, self braking castors, load release castors, glides, and self centering mechanisms, all of which are suited to particular purposes.
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6)    If you can, go for cantilever meeting chairs over 4 legged ones. They look much nicer and are significantly more comfortable as the frame design gives a degree of suspension to the chair.
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7)    Leatherette, faux leather, and vinyl. These have their place in canteens, café, and breakout areas where the easy-clean feature of these fabrics is very important. Otherwise be very careful, as they are not particularly durable, and are very uncomfortable in the summer months. They also can be quite noisy when you move around in them.
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8)    Avoid light coloured star bases unless you really like them. They look good to begin with but very soon become peppered with black marks from shoes, making them look old and untidy in a matter of months.
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9)    Buy from reputable office furniture dealers. You will need some spare parts at some time, or have a problem, or may just a few more chairs as you expand. So make sure that you bear this in mind when thinking about the cheap Chinese import on Ebay.
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10)    If feasible, try to buy the same meeting chairs as you have  visitors chairs next to your desks. That way you only need to buy enough chairs for an average sized meeting, but could drag in a few visitor chairs for you bigger meetings.

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Taking these tips on board could make a big difference  to you and your budget