Auditorium or theater style seating has seen a surge in popularity in recent years. Despite having a higher cost than pews or chairs. There are so many different choices available when it comes to auditorium seating. This means there are important questions that you should ask before making a decision. Church committees should use these auditorium seating tips before making a purchase.
1. Company: How much experience does the manufacturer have with churches? The design of most auditorium seating is for theaters and stadiums. Churches have unique needs that are not always understood by firms. Especially those with little worship seating experience. There are distinct advantages to working with a company that has a reputation for professional church project management.
2. Domestic Production: Is the product produced in the US? Does the company rely on foreign parts and assembly? The latter may be subject to political issues or shipping delays. Look for companies that source at least 75% of component parts domestically. As well as perform 100% of assembly in a US location.
3. Comfort: What materials are in the seat and back cushions? Does the shape follow the body contour? Does the seat substrate have a contour as well? Cold molded foam designed specifically for the seats and backs allows ergonomic contouring. It will hold its shape better than other foams over time. A contoured seat substrate will be more comfortable than a flat seat base.
4. Quiet Operation: Does the system rely on a mechanical (springs) lift? Or is it designed to let gravity retract the seat? Gravity-lift systems are quiet and will stay quiet. While mechanical methods tend to be noisier – especially after years of use.
5. Renewability: Is the design of the cushions made for easy removal? Is there provision for replacing the seat and back covers without the cost of a professional upholsterer? Can the various seating component parts be easily replaced if needed? The cost of ownership is much less if the answer to these questions is “yes”.
6. Flexibility: Can the seats align with aisles without the use of several different seat sizes? This affects the overall appearance. Are wider seats available for specific areas if you want to provide for larger people? Do you offer removable units? Can arms, drink holders, or other accessories be added later if needed? Many churches see their needs change over time. The auditorium seating should be able to grow with them.
7. Profile: When seats are in the up position, is the profile 19” deep or less? A slim profile provides for more standing and walking space. Slim profiles provide comfort that does not have to be sacrificed if the seats and backs are contoured with good quality foam.
8. Maintenance: How much maintenance will be needed or required? For seating systems with springs, some manufacturers require regular lubrication to maintain the warranty. This can be time-consuming if the mechanism is not easy to reach. Then adding cost to ownership.
9. On-time Delivery and Installation: Does the company have a reputation for timely performance? Have there been issues from time to time? Ask an architect who works on church projects in your area for input. Insist on reference installation locations.
10. Samples: Is the company willing to send a professional representative with samples? Will they simply ship them to you for inspection? Most churches have little or no experience with this type of seating. This makes it difficult to understand what they are seeing – and the samples cannot speak! Take the time to schedule a meeting with an experienced professional. They can provide the information you need. They are able to answer questions that inevitably arise.
There are a myriad of choices in the auditorium seating market. Asking the right questions can eliminate confusion. While also helping to narrow your search, and save time. Auditorium seating is a major investment. It is worth the effort to make an informed decision.