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Helpful tips for buying school furniture

Seat height - The following graph helps you select the proper size chair for your students. Seat heights should be measured by calculating the distance from the floor to the top of the front curve of the seat. Measurements should not be taken at the seat’s side or rear. If at all possible, measure the heights of a representative sample of students in each grade prior to each school year. This will help you more accurately determine your specific seating needs as time goes by.

Other questions to ask yourself about Seating:

  • Do I need a 4-legged chair or a sled-based chair? Sled-based chairs feature a design that is ideal for carpeted surfaces. 4-legged chairs are designed to use on all other surfaces such as wood or tile. A sled-based chair is shown below on the left and a 4-legged chair is shown on the right.

  • What if I need to stack these chairs? Be sure to buy a chair that is meant to stack. Obviously some chairs stack better than others but as a general rule, 4-legged chairs stack more compactly than sled-based chairs.
  • What is the difference between a "soft-plastic" chair and a "hard (or solid) plastic" chair? Soft plastic chairs are made from polypropylene or polyethylene plastics. These are the most cost effective student chairs and can be quite durable giving many years of use in a classroom setting. However, nothing tops the durability of  hard plastic seats, backs and work surfaces. Hard plastic is made from a mixture of finely ground wood flour, melamine resin and various pigments which provide the vibrant, long-lasting look for which these chairs are known. Through a process of heat and pressure which takes place in a hard plastic press, a hard plastic piece is constructed. In addition to resisting stains, hard plastic is non-warping and remarkably chip-resistant.
  • Which color do I choose? Obviously, this is personal preference. Many times furniture buyers try to match school colors as closely as possible.
  • Should I buy a painted frame or chrome frame chair? All of our manufacturer partners use the latest in powder coat painting systems. A powder coat finish is far more scratch resistant than the old "wet" paint finishes used many years ago. However, it is important to know that no paint finish is scratch proof. The most durable chair finish is chrome and that is why it is the number one choice for classrooms all over the country.
  • Do I need a book basket on my student chair? Most of the time; no. The reason is most student desks include some type of storage (book box or back pack hanger) on the desk.

Student Desks

Just as seat height is important, so is desk height. That is why almost all student desks are adjustable height (the normal height range is 22"-30").

Here are the different styles of desks:

Open-Front Desk

Very popular in elementary schools, open-front desks almost always have a rectangular writing surface and either a plastic or metal book box. The metal book box units tend to be a little more expensive and a little more durable. The plastic book box units provide plenty of durability under normal use and are quiet in the classroom when students move things in and out of the book box.

Lift-Lid Desks

The lift-lid desks are very similar to the open-front desks with the exception of how you gain access to the book box. Lift-lid units have hinges to facilitate opening and closing. The writing surface stays up when opened and closes slowly so fingers don’t get pinched and writing surfaces don’t slam against the book box.

Chair Desks

The name says it all. These units combine a chair and a desk. This is often the choice with older students especially in high schools. Another version of the Chair Desk is the Combination Desk. This version offers a little more room between the seat and the work surface and tends to have a larger footprint requiring a little more space in the classroom. There is a sled-based version of a chair desk as well which is intended for carpeted surfaces and is perfect for right and left handed students. A traditional chair desk is on the left, a combination unit is in the middle and a sled-based unit is on the right.

Other questions to ask yourself about student desks:

  • Do I need hard or soft plastic seats, backs and writing surfaces? Please see above where we discuss the pro’s and con’s of hard and soft plastic.
  • Always make sure you are ordering a unit that will provide you enough work surface area. Many of the newer student desks that have come out in the last couple of years provide a larger work surface to hold a notebook and a laptop computer.
  • What colors are available? There are enough choices in color to work in almost any application but it does vary by manufacturer. Be sure to see your color choices on our web site.

Tables

We offer many different styles to fit almost any application. Here are the different styles of tables:

Activity Tables

These tables are offered in many different styles and shapes. An Activity table is one of the most versatile pieces of furniture used in schools. You will find them in classrooms, training rooms, work rooms, mail rooms, and computer rooms. They are adjustable height (standard leg height ranges from 22"-30" while a preschool height ranges from 17"-25"). You need to be sure to order the shorter legs for preschools. Also be aware that activity tables for a preschool environment come in lots of bright, fun colors. Activity tables also come with T-mold banding which protects the tables edges from being damaged if bumped. A sample of an activity table is shown below.

Library Tables

These tables are often made from all wood unlike other tables found in schools. This gives a traditional look to the library and often matches the circulation desk, book shelfs, etc.

Mobile tables, bench tables & stool tables

Mobile tables are remarkably versatile and easy to use. Your maintenance people will tell you that. They can also tell you how much set-up and tear-down time mobile tables save them. All mobile tables are designed to fold-up and roll away. Some versions even come with benches or stools attached to the table. The example on the left is a basic mobile table; the one in the center is a bench table and the one on the right is a stool table.

Folding Tables

Folding tables come in all different shapes and sizes and some even come with the ability to adjust the height. Here is a list of the most common types of folding tables.

  • Particleboard folding tables - These tables are often times the most economical and come with a high-pressure laminate top in a choice of colors. The downside to these tables is they are heavy and harder to move around a room.
  • Plywood folding tables - These tables use a plywood core and come with a high-pressure laminate top in a choice of colors. Plywood is lighter than particleboard and more durable but also more expensive.
  • Plastic folding tables - Over the last several years, plastic folding tables have really become the table of choice for many reasons. They are lighter than particleboard and plywood which make them easier to move around, more durable (they can be dropped and not have a crushed corner like wood tables), won’t warp because of moisture and they are perfect for indoor and outdoor usage. There are a few different types of plastic tables:
    • Blow-molded - These tables are the least expensive in the plastic folding table group and are very durable. They are made in a mold that is injected with plastic and sealed and are one piece of plastic. The same material that is used to make a plastic basketball backboard is used to make these tables. 
    • Heavy-Duty ABS plastic folding tables - These tables are the most durable in the plastic folding table group and more expensive. They usually have an inner core made out of plastic or wood to create a more durable table. They also can include such features as aluminum channels, corner protectors and/or metal leg attachment plates which are all sealed inside the table itself. You will find these tables used more in high usage areas such as banquet halls, convention centers, hotels, etc.