The dining chair selection is the most important decision that can be made on a successful renovation or new construction project. When I worked for an operator as an interior designer it was the #1 item we spent on capital budget spending each year. Through-out my career I have researched dining chairs for many clients. As I tell all my clients, the choice has to fit your needs, every chair has its advantage and flaws. Below is an easy guide to use to find the best chair for your dining services.
· Metal Chairs – Metal chairs are great in memory care and heavily abused skilled buildings. You can get copper or bronze finishes that can blend with interiors and still present well in the market. Keep in mind some metal chairs are light and can easily tip over. Another issue can be that they are cold to the touch, which can take away from the feel of home or a hospitality environment. Scratches and dents may show after severe wear. These chairs can cost low to mid-level depending on fabric.
· Faux Wood Metal Chairs – These chairs are newer to the market and are a nice option for a mid-level priced chair. They have foam insulation in the construction that takes away the cold metal feel. They are available in several styles, and can come with padded arms. Scratches are resistant and hidden with the finish technology. They resemble wood, but are still not the real deal. Sometimes finish options can be limited.
· Faux PVC Engineered Chairs – The famous chair has been in the market a long time, and has proven durability. The manufacturer has updated the finish and style options for a more trendy market. You will get tired of the fabric you select on this chair, before it ever shows wear. The chair offers many options, so you can customize without paying a custom price. The chair can wiggle when seated which can scare dementia residents. Some of the finish selections have a gloss that can make the chair look like plastic in some lighting, which can be a turn-off in some markets. Chair can price High in the market, but will last forever.
· Wood Chairs – The wood chair is still the most home-like in the market. Look for wood chairs that have dowel joint construction. Make sure the arm and leg is one continuous piece of wood for stability. Chairs where the arms are connected separate will break with continuous stress from residents. Add casters to the front legs, for assistance in pulling up and from the table. Look for a finish that is catalyzed to show fewer scratches. Most wood will show scratch marks, but can easily be hidden with a furniture repair stick. If investing in a wood chair, expect replacement or repair in 7 years. Wood chairs are best used in higher end assisted living and independent living. Wood chairs can be priced Mid to High depending on fabric, style, and brand.
The important thing to remember when selecting a chair is to know your market.
· Will the look and style help sale your building to future residents and guest?
· What will be the safest for your residents while promoting independence?
· Request a sample chair for residents to try before investing in a huge order.
· Ask your interior designer questions about construction, warranty, and comfort of the chair. Look for an 8 year warranty or better.
· How easy will the chair be to clean for staff?
· Will the residents be comfortable while dining? Will they want to stay and socialize in the chair? Can they get in and out of the chair on their own?