School Chairs Buying Guide
If you frequently need to move chairs from one room to another, or if you need to store them out of the way, consider a chair that is easy to stack. Stackable chairs come either with separate backs and seats (two-piece) or with the seats and backs combined (one-piece). The difference is more aesthetic than it is functional.
School chairs usually come in one of three seat materials: soft plastic, hard plastic or wood.
Soft plastic school chairs, sometimes called polyethylene, polypropylene, K-resin or anti-static plastic, are lightweight and easy to move around the classroom. The relative softness of this seat material offers more flexibility and better contouring to body posture than other chair materials, offering a more comfortable seat for both kids and adults.
Soft plastic chairs tend to be a better bargain than hard plastic and wood chairs, and they have become the chief type of school chair in classrooms around the country. Though they may sometimes be susceptible to gouging or cutting, you can rest assured that the chairs will last for years without a problem.
Hard plastic school chairs, also known as resin or thermoset plastic chairs, are strong enough to handle all of the daily abuse found in a typical classroom. The mixed resin material won’t fade, warp or otherwise show signs of wear, though the durability comes at the cost of lesser comfort.
In general, hard plastic chairs are more expensive than soft plastic school chairs, but they do have a better resistance to cutting, gouging and other damaging activities.
Wood school chairs are very strong and look nice in your classroom. Wood school chairs are usually considerably more expensive that hard plastic and soft plastic chairs. Still, some prefer the classic look and durability of wood chairs.
Most school chairs have a chrome or powder-coat paint finish on the steel frame. Chrome is the shiny silver finish that most of us remember on school chairs that we once used. Powder-coat paint is sometimes available in several different colors, so you can best match the décor of your classroom. Both finishes are extremely durable, so your choice is a matter of taste.
Glides are typically either plastic or steel. Some people prefer steel glides for the chairs they use on carpet, but we find that nylon glides also work very well. Nylon (also called plastic) glides tend to be a little less noisy on hard floors. Glides keep your chair level and prevent scratches on linoleum or tears in carpet.
Sled bases – Some chairs are also available with sled bases that move easily on carpeted surfaces.
Cantilever chairs are a modern, sleek alternative to traditional classroom seating. These chairs glide easily over carpet and most provide ergonomic back support. A few cantilever chairs even provide the ability to moderately rock.
Many manufacturers offer optional bookracks (also called bookbaskets) that attach beneath the seat. They’re a great way to keep books off the floor and out of the aisles.Some manufacturers’ chairs are available with slightly shorter front legs that make them ideal for students playing instruments. This optional feature is called a “band pitch.”
Source: School Outfitters
Preschool Chairs Buying Guide
Seat Height & Recommended Grade Level
Consider seat height carefully when shopping for school chairs. A chair that is too small or too big is uncomfortable and distracting for students. Make sure to check the seat height and its compatibility with the ages and sizes of your students before purchasing. For example, a standard adult chair, which we recommend for 5th graders through adults, measures 17.5-18 inches from the floor to the top of the seat. Chairs are also available for the smallest students; a five-inch seat height is a great choice for children as young as one year old.
Use the chart below to determine the correct chair size for your students. If you’re unsure of which size to order, we recommend the larger size in the suggested range. After all, students continue to grow throughout the school year.
If you are buying a chair for a particular child and want a precise fit, measure the child’s leg from the floor to the bend at his or her knee. Get a chair with a seat height that is closest to this measurement.
Note: To ensure your new chairs work comfortably with desks and tables, order desks and tables with a tabletop height eight to 12 inches higher than the seat height of your chairs.
Stack Chairs are what people usually think of when they picture school chairs. These chairs easily stack one on top of the other, making it easy to store them. They also conveniently stack on top of desks, allowing easy cleaning of classroom floors. These chairs come in a variety of materials including polypropylene, steel and solid hardwood. They feature glides that prevent scratches on school floors.
Ladder Back Chairs are commonly found in libraries, but serve equally well in a classroom. Typically constructed of solid hardwood, these chairs feature horizontal bars on the back of the chair. Ladder back chairs generally do not stack. They complement the décor of many spaces, and lend a classic look to your classroom. Most ladder back chairs on this site feature environmentally-friendly natural finishes.
Rocking Chairs provide a great place to read a book or relax between lessons. Rocking chairs come with and without arms. Use rocking chairs in your classroom’s reading area.
Plastic — Most preschool stack chairs have an easy-to-clean plastic seat — polypropylene, polyethylene or plastic resin. These long-lasting materials make lightweight, durable seats that last for years. Polypropylene flexes as students move in their seats, improving comfort. Plastic resin flexes less, but its rigidity provides increased durability. Most plastic seats feature tubular steel legs.
Steel — While few seats feature steel chairs, most have steel legs. Steel legs provide durable structure and long-lasting support. Most steel legs also feature coatings for enhanced durability and rust prevention. Chairs on this site feature either powder-coated or chrome finishes. The thickness of steel is measured in gauge; the higher the gauge number, the thinner the steel.
Hardwood — Solid hardwood creates heavy, durable chairs that last for years and support plenty of weight. Attractive, natural wood finishes enhance the look of your space. Most hardwood chairs are either ladder back or rocking chairs.
Preschool chairs come in a wide variety of fun colors that you can mix and match to create a cheerful learning environment. Many chair colors coordinate with activity tables made by the same manufacturer. Create a coordinated look by purchasing preschool activity tables that match your preschool classroom chairs. Browse our selection of preschool activity tables.
Source: School Outfitters
Office & Task Chairs Buying Guide
When shopping for a new task chair, you’ll want to consider many different features and decide which are the most important to you. Here are some things to think about:
Soft Plastic – If you are looking for an affordable task chair for computer labs or student use, a soft plastic seat and back might be the best choice. Soft plastic is easy to wipe clean and won’t rip like upholstery can. A padded or upholstered chair is probably a better choice for all-day use.
Fabric Upholstered – A padded, fabric-upholstered chair not only looks good, it’s one of the most comfortable places to sit during long days in the office. Most manufacturers offer a good selection of fabric colors, so you can match office décor. Upholstered task chairs typically come with numerous adjustable features; read about them in the “Ergonomic Features” section below.
Mesh – Mesh fabric is one of the trendiest task chair materials. You’ll find some task chairs with a back made entirely of mesh. The mesh allows for air flow to your back, a welcome addition during long lectures or time at your desk. While it looks unsubstantial, the mesh is actually quite durable and provides good support. Mesh upholstery is also available on some task chairs. This fabric material has tiny perforations and provides good breathability without sacrificing aesthetics.
Some task chairs are available with a mid or high back. Both styles have ergonomic features, but the high back offers the best overall support. Mid-back task chairs are usually slightly less expensive.
Tension Adjustment – This feature lets the user rock back and forth without heavy pushing.
Adjustable Seat Height – This feature is especially important when task chairs are shared by many users.
Adjustable Seat Back – Adjustable seat back ensures that the user receives lumbar support where he or she needs it most.
Adjustable Seat Depth – A seat that does not fit properly can affect blood flow to the legs. An adjustable seat depth allows users to move the seat forward or back, creating a comfortable place to sit.
Adjustable Arms – Arms that adjust in width, depth and/or height accommodate users of all shapes and sizes.
Waterfall Arms – A waterfall seat refers to the slope at the front edge of the seat. This design allows for better blood flow to legs, as opposed to a flat front edge that can pinch blood vessels behind the knees.
Source: School Outfitters
Stool Buying Guide
Finding the just the right stools for your classroom or café can be tricky. It’s best to consider a stool’s height, material and features before you make any big investments. This will ensure that you make the very best purchase for your space.
Choosing the right stool height is critical. Before you make a purchase, measure the height of the counter or tabletop (from the floor up) where your stools will be placed and use our chart of standard heights below to determine the best stool height for you. A good rule of thumb is to leave about 9 to 13 inches between the stool seat and the counter/tabletop for maximum comfort.
|Table Height||Counter Height||Bar Height|
|Surface Height||28″ – 30″||36″ – 39″||40″ – 42″|
|Stool Height||18″ – 20″||24″ – 26″||28″ – 30″|
Stools are generally wood, plastic or metal, and may or may not have vinyl or cloth seat padding. Think about where your stools will be used before you choose a material.
- Wood – Highly durable, offers a more classic look.
- Metal – Exceedingly strong and versatile. Can withstand heavy use and gives an industrial look.
- Plastic – Lightweight, easy to clean and affordable. Not as durable as metal or wood.
- Vinyl seat padding – Resists moisture and food particles; easy to clean, and often comes in a variety of textures and colors. Will withstand heavy use for a number of years, but can be hard to repair if it cracks or tears.
- Cloth seat padding – Includes linen, microfiber, cotton and more. Generally soft, comfortable and available in a number of patterns and colors. Certain cloths require specialized cleaning or maintenance.
Generally speaking, soft plastic stools with vinyl seat padding are great for cafés and bistros, while solid metal stools are ideal for science labs and medical offices. Wood stools are excellent for art rooms, offices and classrooms.
There are several features to consider before you purchase stools. Would you like your stool to have a foot ring, or an adjustable back rest? These features are ideal if people will be using the stools for long periods of time. Locking casters are especially useful if people need to move frequently throughout a space. Plus, stools with casters can be easily rolled under tables to save space.
Student Lounge & Common Area Seating Buying Guide
Great student lounge and common area seating should not only be comfortable, but functional and flexible. Thinking about the type, the material, and the features of your lounge furniture before you make a purchase will ensure you make the right investment.
Lounge or common area seating typically consists of sofas, chairs, love seats and end tables. Beanbags, pods and other modular seating systems can be used as well.
Whether you invest in sofas or oversized pods, seating that is comfortable, mobile and streamlined with technology is key. Studies have shown that this type of seating (that is, adaptable and mobile) promotes student creativity, focus and group discussion.
Typically, lounge and common area furniture is leather, vinyl or fabric.
- Leatherlends a luxurious look and feel to your space. It’s highly durable and often has extra padding, so it’s comfortable to sit on for long periods of time. You’ll pay more for leather than vinyl or fabric upholstery. High-end leather will develop a distinctive look and smooth feel as it ages.
- Vinyl is affordable and often available in a variety of textures and colors. It’s easier than leather to maintain and keep clean. Vinyl isn’t as durable as genuine leather, but it will withstand heavy use for a number of years. It’s great for student-heavy areas or spaces with food and drink, but can be hard to repair if it cracks or tears.
- Fabric upholstery includes linen, microfiber, pure cotton and more. It is generally soft, comfortable and available in a variety of patterns and colors. Be sure to double check the type of fabric on your lounge furniture; certain types may require specialized cleaning or maintenance.
Consider what types of features you’d like your student lounge furniture to have. Do your chairs need locking casters, so students can easily move about the space and collaborate on work? What about arm tablets? Lounge chairs with arm tablets give students a space to write, plus long-term comfort. End tables, chairs and even soft seating with electrical and USB outlets is another great option for lounges. This allows students to plug in and charge their devices on the spot.
Computer Carts Buying Guide
Selecting the right computer carts for your needs can be a tricky process. Remember to take the following information into account before buying:
Be sure the cart you choose is strong enough and large enough to hold the AV equipment you need to store or move. The monitor size is a good place to start. Measure your monitor diagonally, from the upper left corner of the screen to the lower right corner of the screen. We list the maximum screen size for computer carts in the specifications section of each product page.
Will your projector or monitor be used with elementary school students or high school students? Both? Your audience is an important thing to consider when shopping for computer carts. Some technology carts have adjustable heights so you can accommodate the needs of older and younger classes; others have a fixed height. It is best to keep very large and heavy equipment balanced and closer to the ground to cut down on the risk of the equipment falling and causing injury. Also, the larger the room, the higher you’ll usually want the monitor.
Most computer carts come in plastic or steel. Plastic carts are usually lighter, less expensive and weaker than steel carts. The rule of thumb is that the larger and heavier your monitor, the more likely you’ll want to choose a steel computer cart.
Generally, computer carts come standard with 4-inch casters and this type of wheel works well for most uses. Some carts that must hold very heavy loads, are pushed over rough ground or need to be maneuvered in very tight areas may work best with bigger wheels. Several of our computer carts are available with 8-inch pneumatic or semi-pneumatic wheels. Pneumatic wheels provide the smoothest ride, but you will have to fill them with air. Semi-pneumatic wheels are made of hard rubber and do not need air.
It’s a good idea to think about the size of the items that you will be storing and moving before buying computer carts. Does your AV equipment have several pieces that require numerous storage shelves in addition to the top surface? Carts with adjustable shelves are usually a good choice because they allow you to store a variety of different supplies and equipment.
Some computer carts have storage cabinets where you can lock away your expensive equipment after class is over. These cabinets usually feature heavy-gauge steel construction for extra safety.
You’ll also find computer carts that come standard with a power strip; others have a power strip option that can be added for an additional charge. Power strips cut down on the number of cords that you need to run from the equipment to the wall outlet.
Source: School Outfitters
Computer Tables Buying Guide
Height is one thing to think about when shopping for computer tables. Is your table for young students or teens and adults? Many computer tables have adjustable height so they can be moved to fit lots of different people. Be sure the computer table meets ADA requirements if you want students in wheelchairs to be able to use it.
Work Stations – Do you prefer each student to have his or her own table or would you like to save space and have multiple students work at the same computer table? Choose from many different configurations to best fit your classroom and teaching style.
Most computer tables come with a laminate top which works well in most computer labs. Laminate is easy to wipe clean and resists scratches pretty well. The legs and frame of computer tables are usually made of steel. Keep in mind that the lower the gauge, the stronger the steel. For example, a 14-gauge steel frame is stronger and sturdier than a 24-gauge steel frame.
If you plan on frequently moving your computer equipment or rearranging your classroom, you should consider shopping for a computer table with casters. The casters make it easier for you to move an entire computer system instead of disconnecting wires and moving each piece separately. Glides adjust to keep your computer tabletop level and make it easier for you to move your table short distances across carpet.
Accessories help you create the best computer table for your situation. Be sure to check out which accessories are available with each computer table. Some accessories come standard, while others have an additional charge.
CPU Holder – A CPU holder attaches to the legs of your computer table and keeps your tower off of the floor and out of the way of feet and bags.
Surge Protectors – Keeps your computer equipment from shorting out when a ” power surge” occurs. Anything from lightning to the starting up of electrical devices can create a surge that, without a protector, can cause you to lose important files stored on your hard drive. You can add a surge protector to most computer tables.
Grommets – Pass cords from your computer system to the outlet right through the tabletop with a cord grommet. Some computer tables have multiple cord grommets.
Cord Management Bin – Messy computer cords can be annoying and dangerous. Cord management bins typically run the width of the computer table and are an inexpensive way to keep your cords organized.
Source: School Outfitters
School Chair & Desk Sets
It’s important to find the right workspace and seating arrangement for your classroom. Here’s some information to help you decide which desk and chair set is right for you:
Open-front desks feature a rectangular top with a book box underneath for storage. This style gives students easy to access materials and has no lid to bang or slam.
Two-student desks are designed to accommodate two students. These desks have a roomy top, so each student has space to get their work done.
Collaborative desks are also known as group-learning desks and come in a variety of shapes. These come in shapes made to group together, such as trapezoid- or boomerang-shaped desks that fit together in groups of six or eight.
Desk tops are made of either solid plastic or fiberboard. Solid plastic is more durable. Fiberboard is less expensive but still holds up nicely.
Book boxes come in either plastic or metal construction. Metal holds up longer under heavy use, but a plastic book box still provides years of use. If your classroom uses locker, cubby or cart storage, desks without book boxes may be the right choice for you.
Desk frames are made from tubular steel. Steel strength is measured by gauge; the lower the gauge, the stronger the steel.
Desk Leg Type
Casters are ideal for certain situations (such as labs or flexible classrooms) where students frequently rearrange their work stations. In those instances consider wheeled desks since they are easier to move.
Glides prevent excess noise when sliding your desk over a hard floor. Glides keep your chair level and prevent scratches on linoleum or tears in carpet. Cantilever desks are a modern alternative to traditional leg frames. They offer increased space underneath the desk for storing backpacks, books or other supplies.
Soft plastic school chairs, sometimes called polypropylene, or anti-static plastic, are lightweight and easy to move around the classroom. The flexibility of this seat material provides better contouring to body posture than other chair materials and offers a more comfortable seat.
Active learning stools work best for energetic students. The textured, non-slip rubber base is curved to allow a wide range of movement without disrupting the class.
Source: School Outfitters
Teacher Desks Buying Guide
A teacher’s desk should accommodate the teacher’s comfort level and organizational needs. Before you invest in a new desk, think about its style, material and features; this will ensure you find the best desk for your space.
Single-pedestal desks have one column of drawers attached to the fame. These desks are more compact than double-pedestal desks, but have less storage. They are typically not height-adjustable.
Double-pedestal desks have two columns of drawers attached to the frame. While these desks are often large and great for storage, they can be hard to move and are typically not height-adjustable.
Desks with no pedestal have no attached columns of storage. These desks are more often height-adjustable and mobile. They may or may not have a modesty panel.
Most teacher’s desks are a combination of laminate, wood and steel. Laminate is generally affordable, lightweight and easy to clean, while wood is durable and classic looking. Steel is exceedingly strong and can last for decades.
If you know your desk will be exposed to food, art supplies and other messy materials, laminate and steel is your best bet – these materials can better withstand spills and nicks and scratches.
If you plan on changing the layout of your classroom frequently, or need a desk that can quickly move from room to room, opt for heavy-duty locking casters.
Consider a central locking system – that is, a system that locks every drawer at once – if you feel theft or vandalism might be an issue.
If you have a computer, iPads, phones or other electronic devices to store at your desk, choose a piece with multiple grommets to keep wires organized and out of sight.
Source: School Outfitters