It’s no secret. Furniture that is installed in airports, waiting rooms, car washes, court houses and other public settings take a lot of abuse. Day in and day out they take the strain of steady streams of people sitting up and down in an almost continuous-use fashion. And it’s also no secret that people aren’t as careful with public furniture as they are with the furniture in their home. Who hasn’t thrown heavy luggage on a chair in an airport while waiting for a connecting flight? And who hasn’t conveniently forgot to run and grab a bottle of cleaner after accidentally splashing a little of their latte on a seat in the waiting room of their doctor’s office or at the laundry mat?

Under these circumstances, it’s important that facilities look for seating options that can stand up to this abuse and the dirt and grime that comes with it. One such option is beam seating – seats that can be connected together with pieces of metal or other material so multiple chairs become one secure unit.

But not all beam seating is built the same. Be sure that any beam seating you are buying has the following three attributes.

Strong beams and connectors

They don’t call it beam seating for nothing. This seating option features arms, legs and connectors that are often made of tubular metal. To battle constant use, and wear and tear, be sure to pick beam seating made of highly durable material. For example, the arms and legs on the Norix Furniture Boulder Beam Seating (photo, right) is made of 14 gauge tubular steel, while the steel seat supports are made of 11 gauge steel. For additional strength and support, the chair features a steel plate that is welded to the frame at each seat location. With this kind of design it comes as no surprise that Boulder can hold a static load of 1,000 pounds and stood up to a drop test of 500 pounds from 18 inches (two times BIFMA 5.4 15.4.2).

Durable seat that is easily cleaned

The seat of the chair is the piece of the product that most often comes in contact with those who use it. In other words, it’s the place where you put your behind and back. Most often on beam seating, this part of the chair is made of plastic or another material that is likely to fade. For these reasons, we recommend choosing beam seating that is manufactured to combat these challenges. Our Gibraltar Beam Seating (bottom right) features a seat that is made of rotationally molded, specially formulated, fire-retardant, high-impact polyethylene. It also is manufactured with ultraviolet light stabilizers that make the material fade resistant.  Additionally, the chair is chemically resistant to bodily fluids and other spills – like a latte – making it easy to clean and sanitize on a daily basis.

Built in options

Few facilities are built exactly the same and few have the exact same needs when it comes to furniture and seating. Choosing beam seating that comes with a variety of options can help facilities today and tomorrow as needs change. Both of our beam seating options can come as a single free-standing unit. But if you need more than single chairs, Boulder gives you the option of up to five connected beam seats, while Gibraltar lets you expand to four. These options allow for flexible configurability for facilities that might need two chairs in one spot, four in another or five sets of five chairs lined up next to each other. Additionally, both products can be installed as free standing units that can be moved for cleaning or as needs change, or can be bolted down to ensure that the product doesn’t move. Lastly, both lines of beam seating can incorporate end tables and divider tables between seats, giving facilities an additional option that provides surface space, and divider arms that assist in giving users personal space.

In closing

The most important thing a facility can do is ask questions to make sure the beam seating product they plan to purchase fits their needs. What testing proves it is durable? What flammability standards has the product met or exceeded? Who else has the product in their facility and what success have they had with it? What are the details of the warranty? Ask these questions and more. If the manufacturer doesn’t put your mind at ease, it’s time to look elsewhere.