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Warning – The Dangers of Buying Used Church Chairs

A church a few miles away from yours just built a new sanctuary. They are now remodeling their old sanctuary for other purposes and as a result they have 200 church chairs they purchased 15 years ago available for sale. Your church has long considered moving from pews to chairs. Is this the cost-effective solution you have been waiting for? What are some factors you should consider as you contemplate this opportunity? Let’s take a look together.

  • D├ęcor Considerations: Yes, “retro” has it place. But do you really want to “update” your worship space with 15 year old fabric styles? I would suggest that if the same church was disposing of 15 year old carpet, you likely would never think about that being a great deal for your church. Be sure and think seriously about the appropriateness of the fabric on the church chairs for today’s culture.
  • Foam Issues: There are a couple of factors about chair foam that deserve your attention. The first is that foam only gets softer over time, never firmer. While the frames on worship chairs will normally carry at least a 25 year warranty, foam warranties will vary from two to ten years. There’s a reason for this. Those 15 year old chairs will likely have significant foam degradation. Also, it is possible that the foam in these used chairs will not pass inspection with your local Fire Marshall. Requirements for fire retardation have greatly increased across the country over past years. Purchasing church chairs that do not meet these standards might be ruled out of order for your general assembly space.
  • Additional Matching Chairs: If your church reaches the point where you would like to add another 100 church chairs to these 200, what are the chances they will be available in that style, finish and fabric? In our experience, the answer would be less than 10%. Under this scenario you would either face having chairs that do not match, or purchasing 300 new chairs that would make that “deal” you received on the used church chairs no longer such a great deal!
  • Price: Perhaps the reason that provides the greatest motivation for purchasing those used church chairs is the price. However, it can be surprising the amount of dollars churches may want for their used chairs. Here’s why! Most churches are going to base their asking price upon what they paid for their chairs 15 years ago. Our experience is that often that amount is significantly more than the going rate for new church chairs today, even with some inflation factored in. This may cause a church to have an inflated view of what their used chairs are worth.

The Bottom Line: With such great advances in the church chair industry over the past 15 years, my recommendation is that your church seriously consider purchasing new church chairs for a combination of the reasons listed above. So before you buy used church chairs be sure to consult with a church furniture expert. An expert in church furnishings can assist your church in bridging the dollar difference between the price you might purchase those used chairs for, and the amount it will take to purchase new chairs. Likely you will be surprised at how cost effective a new chair purchase for your church may be!

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