Last year, before taking on a new franchise client, my wife and I felt compelled to visit one of their stores and see how their furniture was doing. They have a range of metal furniture, wire, powder-coated stuff, that they used both indoors and outdoors. The outdoors items were packed up every night and brought inside. Despite only being about 6 months old I noticed quite a lot of chips and scratches on and around the legs. Being a coastal location I knew that they were going to rust pretty severely and pretty quickly.
So, I thought there might be some out there who would benefit on three quick tips, or considerations, for metal hospitality furniture design.
1. Seat Pads
Seat pads aren’t just about comfort and style, there is another practical element to them. Ask any girl who likes short shorts or miniskirts…. wire chairs leave marks! Sitting for a meal or drink for any amount of time will leave wire marks on the back of your clients’ legs. The simplest way to prevent this is to add seat pads.
Pads can come in a variety of styles but make sure that if it is for an outdoor piece you get something that will be water resistant or easily replaced and dried. Quick dry foam with a water resistant fabric works best and doesn’t have to be expensive (ask us for options).
Thin pads as pictured can be velcro strapped-on and are easy to replace. Buying a few extras isn’t going to break the budget either. A simple colour change can also help to mix things up a bit.
2. Stackable Metal Chairs
If you are purchasing your metal furniture for outdoor use and intend to bring it in in the evenings, you would do well to consider a stackable design. Of course, this will make pack-up time quicker and smoother and save room if you only have a small internal area, but it does have some disadvantages.
Stacking chairs will result in banging and clashing. I’m sure your staff are super considerate and will always look after your property but let’s face it, when the last thing to do is pack up the chairs and they want to get out of there as quick as possible, there are bound to be a few chairs banged.
Some simple design features can help here. We often place little replaceable stoppers under the chair seats and wrap around transparent guards where the legs “interact”. You can also make sure the design accommodates for stacking with the seat pads on providing a little extra cushioning.
3. Zinc Dip vs Zinc Plating
For outdoor metal items (except aluminium) you want to protect them from rust. The best way is to galvanise them, which is essentially coating them in zinc. There can be some confusion, particularly in translation around the method of zinc-coating so it is important to know the difference between zinc-dipping and zinc-plating.
The term “galvanise”, even in English can be interpreted differently by different people. In China, the standard tends to be electro-galvanising or zinc-plating. Basically this puts a thin layer of zinc over your furniture piece. This can be fine and if it is all you need then that’s not a problem. But if you want zinc-dipped, which is going to protect your items from rust much better, be sure to specify that loudly, clearly and repeatedly, especially if the representative isn’t a native English speaker.
I hope these tips help and as usual feel free to contact me at [email protected] if you have any questions or need any furniture.