The most durable and cost effective variety of stacking chairs are those made from metal.
Stacking chairs are an ideal way of conserving space in the modern home. They are perfect if you entertain a lot but don’t have the room for the number of chairs required to seat all of your guests.
Some may think back to the plastic stacking chairs your high school used in the auditorium during a rally, but today’s stacking chairs are much more ergonomically sound and comfortable for long periods of sitting. They’ve been used, as I said, in schools, but today they find themselves in churches, clubs, restaurants, hotels or anywhere a sizeable crowd will gather for a lengthy period of time. Metal stacking chairs even find use in domestic settings around holidays and everyday use.
Today the stackable chair is much more than that uncomfortable meld of steel and plastic of twenty years ago. More and more stackable chairs are made from solitary sheets of molded plywood and come with cushions and/or upholstered arms, ergonomically designed for comfort while maintaining many years of durability. They still might come with metal legs but these are made of lighter weight materials and can stack without damaging the wood of the seat.
The History Of The Stacking Chair
With the advances of industrialization in the early nineteen hundreds steel and aluminum tubing became an inexpensive way to design furniture. Machinery that could bend this tubing allowed furniture designers an easy way to mass produce their designs while maintaining uniformity.
The greatest achievement was the stacking chair. Right away furniture makers saw the benefits of this space-saving furniture and by the 1940s they were growing in popularity. The Landi chair was one of the first popular models developed by Hans Corey in 1938. The fact that it was made from aluminum made it extremely lightweight and accessible.
Probably the most famous and most imitated design of stackable chair to date is the Arne Jacobson model. It came out shortly after WWII in the 1950s. You’ve seen this design before. It’s the single piece of plywood bent and molded to the form of a seat. It has two thin metal legs fastened in an X pattern on the bottom of the chair that provide a cushion effect when sat upon.
Today the market seems to lean toward banquet stacking chairs or the stacking office chairs you see in hotels and convention halls where weddings are often held. These are usually very inexpensive as they use easily produced materials such as the steel or extruded aluminum tube frames. They come in an assortment of upholstering but many use materials like vinyls or synthetic plastics.
The Advantages Of Stacking Chairs
Probably the single most advantageous aspect of the stacking chair is price. Often they are sold in bulk, as sets. The price, of course, depends on the materials used in the construction of the chair.
For example, vinyl stacking chairs can be as cheap as $30 per chair. These have metal legs and vinyl covered cushions. Think of conference room chairs. Designer aluminum chairs for your home can run up into the $600 range for a set of four, while one made of molded plywood can go for as little as $60 each up to $300 depending on the designer. Regardless of the price of a set of chairs, they are still far cheaper than standard seating.
The Dynamics Of The Stacking Chair Frame
Most commercial stacking chairs have metal frames. It’s an easier selling point for the manufacturer as the chairs can be mass produced and thus sold at a cheaper price. They will last longer than other styles as they can be made so that the legs stack without disturbing the plastics or upholstering of the seats and arms.
This is done by having the legs flare out at the bottom so that when stacked they rest on each other via protective stack bumpers without the touching the seat. The dynamics of this design also allow the chairs to be stacked upwards to a considerable height without falling over.
The Durability Of Metal Stacking Chairs
The fabrics of upholstered stacking chairs are typically given the Martindale Test of durability. In this test an abrasive is used on the fabric in an oscillating figure-eight movement until it wears through. The testing goes on until a noticeable change in the fabric appears. Usually this can go on for hours, sometimes days. The number of rotations is counted as cycles and a fabric that can withstand 20 thousand cycles is labeled “general contract upholstery”. One that can withstand 40 thousand cycles is labeled heavy duty.