When considering what furniture to buy for your school or college you doubtless already know that you will need something strong and durable that can withstand constant, heavy use. Wear and tear is generally expected and planned for but unnecessary misuse and vandalism is often a problem that can be difficult to control but should be thought about and minimised where possible.
Keeping costs down and finding furniture that will provide good value for money is a delicate balance and can be quite a challenge. It’s easy to find cheap furniture but if your priority is cost effectiveness then the cheapest available products are not the solution as they will require frequent repairs or replacement. This doesn’t mean that your new furniture needs to break the bank, only that in order to get the most for your money, an equilibrium needs to be found.
Throughout this blog, we aim to help you to plan the most appropriate furniture for your requirements and give you tips on how to make your items last.
Firstly, it is a good idea to observe and consider how your students interact with any existing furniture. For example, do they sit on the backs of sofas, climb over furniture or jump/sit down heavily on existing seating? Are there items of furniture that frequently require replacing and is there a possible alternative to these items? From this you can work out what types of furniture may best suit the intended environment and users, as well as how durable the items need to be.
Another great way to determine which furniture would work for your space is to ask the students themselves. By providing this kind of inclusion, students feel listened to and are more likely to respect the new furniture.
Modular furniture is always a great option for high use areas, especially in environments where misuse is a possibility. This is because it is simple to replace a single module and often much cheaper than buying a whole new unit just because part of it is damaged or has been vandalised. Modular furniture also provides great value for money as it has a range of uses and can be easily reconfigured at will to suit many different requirements. In educational areas this is particularly helpful for aiding in dynamic lesson plans or function/assembly seating needs.
Loose cushions and single items of furniture such as small stools are easy to throw around, damage or lose. Because of this, it is generally best to avoid these items where possible, particularly in common room type environments. It is advised that the upholstery of your modular furniture should be dark as it will show less wear and tear and damage from spillages and stains. It’s easy to add brighter colours into the space by painting the walls in a washable paint that marks can easily be removed from. The darker upholstery also means that if there is a need to redecorate, the furniture will still tie in with the next colour scheme you choose.
Skid base chairs are often a better option than four legged chairs as they are harder for students to lean back and rock on. They are also less damaging to flooring as there are no bungs that can be removed which is what causes the scratching, marking and denting from four leg chairs. The frame of a skid base chair is also sturdier and harder to bend which adds to the product’s longevity.
In dining areas, it is best to opt for hard shell furniture as it is easy to clean and won’t stain as easily as upholstered furniture. They type of base you choose for your dining tables is a matter of choice. Four leg frames are generally sturdier and harder to knock/tilt which helps to avoid spillages in busier areas. However, trumpet base tables can fit more students around them as there are no legs to obstruct sitting space. Matt finishes are advised on either base as they show less scratches and marks than silver or chrome frames.
High pressure laminate table tops are a good choice for use in schools and colleges as this finish can withstand scratches, pen marks, heat and moisture. They are also easy to clean which keeps them looking new for longer and provides a hygienic eating & work surface.
It is a good idea to avoid using gas lift chairs in working environments, particularly those that are unsupervised. This is because the gas lift mechanism can be easily broken and the individual components of these types of chairs are easy to separate and damage. Hard shell chairs are a good alternative as they are harder to break and are cheaper to replace if needs be. There are plenty of ergonomic options on the market to ensure that student’s well-being is still catered for.
Vinyl flooring is quick and easy to clean compared to carpeted areas. However, try to think about what the area you are re-flooring will be used for as a darker coloured carpet may be more appropriate. Vinyl flooring can be easily marked or scratched and it can sometimes be easier to replace a section of carpet than repairing or replacing vinyl flooring.
Hopefully you now have a clearer idea of the type of furniture you require and how you can make the best choices to improve value for money. If you require any further help with your project, please contact us and we will be more than happy to advise on furniture and space planning, as well as any refurbishment work you may require.