If you are reading this article, then you are probably in the market for some new bar stools for your restaurant. If you have purchased bar furniture in the past, you know how important it is to get good quality products that last. Let's say you are looking for a metal ladder back bar stool. It is one of the most common bar stools around. How do you know if you are getting a good quality bar stool or a piece of imported junk. Here are some questions that you want to ask whoever is trying to sell you metal restaurant bar stools.
1. How thick is the metal used on my bar stools?
One of the big differences in quality of a metal bar stool is how thick is the metal. Thicker metal is more expensive. It is also heavier and more expensive to ship. It also lasts longer and is less likely to bend or break over time. Thickness in most of the world is measured in millimeters. Thickness in the US is measured in Gauge. The lower the number, the thicker the gauge. For instance 14 gauge steel is thicker than 16 gauge steel. We use 14 gauge 16 gauge, 18 gauge, and 19 gauge depending on the product. 19 gauge is the thinnest that we use and it is still perfect for a chrome bolted bar stool frame.
2. What type of metal is being used to make my bar stools?
Most metal frames that you see are made of hot rolled steel. Hot rolled steel is the least expensive material option for furniture. It doesn't look that pretty without being polished so its not the best for chrome plating or brass plating. It is however perfect for powder coating. Most black frames are hot rolled steel. The next option would be cold rolled steel. Cold rolled steel is much cleaner looking than hot rolled. You can chrome plate it or brass plate it without polishing and still get a pretty good finish. Neither of these metals are good for outside. If you are planning to use your bar stools out doors, your choices are aluminum or stainless steel. If you aren't particularly concerned, you can use regular steel as long as it is properly powdercoated with a finish meant for outdoors. You want to make sure the whole thing is coated well or you will get rust.
3. Is the frame for my metal bar stool welded together or bolted?
We make both bolted frames and we weld frames. Even our high end metal frames have the footrest bolted on. We use thick steel for the foot rests and we use heavy gauge screws and bolts to attach our swivels and our frames. You might want to make sure your vendor is doing the same.
4. If the frame is welded, where was the work done?
Welded furniture coming from the United States and Europe tends to be much more expensive than welded furniture from China. Welding properly takes time and many companies in the United States use robotic welders. If the welds are not done properly or if there is not enough metal used for the weld, the frame my come apart.
5. What kind of finish is put on the metal?
There are many different ways to finish metal. You can plate it, anodize it, powder-coat it and probably lots of other things that I don't even know about. We primarily powder coat our frames black or brown. We primarily plate in Chrome but that doesn't mean we can't do other finishes for a special order. Our items are not done overseas. Depending on the finish, many items can be used outside even if they made of carbon steel.
6. Where will the finishing be done?
We use local Illinois vendors who follow EPA rules and do everything safely. Most items you find from "furniture manufacturers" are imported from overseas and there fore they get finished overseas. They get powder-coated and plated in some of the worst conditions you can find. Almost all of our items are finished locally. If we get an item powder coated we use S&B Finishing. If we get an item plated we use Imperial Plating or The Finishing Company.
7. What materials are you using to make the seat?
Most metal frame bar stools have a wood seat or an upholstered seat. If you are getting a wood seat, you want to know if it is solid wood or plywood. Solid wood is more expensive and usually better looking. Plywood is what most companies use. If the plywood seat is made in the United States, you probably don't need to be concerned about the type of glue used to make the plywood. If the seat is made overseas, it may not be CARB compliant. Now if you are getting an upholstered seat, you want to know where the seat is being made, what vinyl will be used, how dense is the foam, and what type of wood will be used. It will most likely be plywood or particle board. You will want to know the thickness of the wood. When it comes to upholstery, there is a huge difference between no name companies and companies like Naugahyde and Nassimi. Nassimi imports their vinyl but we have found it to be consistent in quality as we have used it for a decade. Naugahyde is made in Stanley Wisconsin and we have been using Naugahyde brand upholstery vinyl for 45 years. Many of the colors and patterns have been the exact same for 5 decades.
8. What type of glides will you use on the bar stool and will they scratch my floor?
Depending on the type of floor you have, you want to be concerned about the type of glides you get. Many ladder back style bar stools have hard plastic clear glides. Other types of metal frame bar stools have nylon grey glides, metal bottom glides, or nylon bottom glides. We get most of our glides from Carpin so you know we are using the best of the best. We have been using the same glides and glide suppliers for 40 years. If you ever need a replacement even decades later, we can take care of you.
That is a lot of things to consider when buying furniture. Sometimes it is just easier to trust your vendor. When you purchase Richardson Seating product, you don't have to worry about anyone substituting cheaper materials. We make our furniture the same way as we have for 45 years. When you go with us, you know what you are going to get. If there is a problem, we will be there working with you until it's resolved.