Church Chairs vs. Church Pews

church full of church pews

Many churches are replacing their traditional pews with chairs for a more modern and mobile option. However, we highly recommend keeping your pews instead of swapping them out with chairs. Pews offer an irreplaceable old-world beauty, long life span and high seating capacity.

If you’re trying to choose between pews and chairs in your church, you’ve come to the right place. Explore the pros and cons of both options below, and you’ll see why church pews are the superior seating choice.

Church Chairs

The main benefit of church chairs is that they’re typically foldable or stackable. This makes them easy to move and rearrange throughout the space as needed. Chairs come in various materials, fabrics and colors to match the sanctuary’s design, and many include interlocking features. They can also be reinforced with upholstery or padding to increase comfort.

However, this seating option isn’t without its cons. Here are four reasons you may want to reconsider chairs for your sanctuary.

1. They Are Nontraditional

Pews offer a timeless beauty and feel that church chairs simply can’t emulate. If you’d prefer a traditional seating option with a rich history, consider choosing handcrafted pews over chairs.

2. They Reduce Storage Space

You’ll need to put away any chairs that aren’t being used, which requires plenty of storage space. A smaller building may not have the space necessary for hundreds of chairs.

3. They Require More Maintenance Than Pews

Church chairs are designed to be stacked and moved around. This makes them more vulnerable to scratches, knicks and other abrasions. Since many church chairs are made of metal, they may also be more prone to dents and rust, unlike classic wooden pews. You might need to repair or replace chairs more frequently as a result. 

4. They Come With Higher Costs

Church chairs may cost less than pews upfront, but their maintenance and replacement needs can make them more expensive in the long run. Pews are intended to remain in one place. They are less susceptible to damage from being moved and knocked around, creating fewer upkeep and maintenance requirements.

5. They Have a Shorter Life Span Than Pews

When comparing the maintenance requirements of the two seating options, pews are more likely to outlive church chairs. Most metal and wooden chairs will last roughly 10 to 15 years when correctly cared for. Meanwhile, church pews can last hundreds of years, especially with proper maintenance and refinishing.

Church Pews

benefits of church pews

Pews are long benches with backs. They are typically made of wood, fixed to the floor and arranged in rows. They are the traditional seating style for congregations in churches and synagogues. Aside from places of worship, you can also find pews in courtrooms and live performance venues.

Here are the main disadvantages of church pews:

  • Limited mobility: Because church pews are heavier than chairs and often bolted to the floor, they are difficult to rearrange and transport. This can present challenges if you plan to renovate or remodel your church space.
  • Space requirements: Pews are large and long, occupying considerable square footage. They also can’t be broken down and stored away when not in use.
  • Expense: Pews can be a significant upfront investment. A new church pew can cost anywhere from $200 to $2,000 per row, depending on the size and craftsmanship. Used church pews generally cost around $30 to $175 per row. Churches planning to invest in new church pews should budget about $50-$60 per foot.

Despite these drawbacks, there are many benefits of church pews that make them a better choice than church chairs.

1. They Are Long-Lasting

A church pew’s life span primarily depends on how often it’s used and the maintenance it receives. However, pews can last a lifetime with sufficient care and treatment. In most cases, professional refinishing services will restore the wood to its original condition.

2. They Have Unmatched Sentiment and Beauty

Pews have been the seating of choice in houses of worship for several centuries. From their intricate woodwork and graining to their rustic beauty, they have a vintage charm that modern chairs can’t achieve.

3. They Have a High Seating Capacity

Church pews can comfortably accommodate many people, providing ample seating space. Depending on the size, a single pew can seat up to 14 or 15 people at a time.

4. They Are Comfortable With the Right Upholstery

Because wooden pews are hard, some congregation members may find them uncomfortable. However, you can easily reinforce the benches with padding or cushioning to boost their support.

Aside from upholstery, you can also enhance your church pews with many other accessories, such as:

  • Card holders
  • Joiners
  • Supports
  • Kneelers
  • Hymnal racks

Additionally, many people find comfort in pews since they can stretch out and enjoy some personal space. Pews are also ideal for young children who fidget during long services and don’t like to sit down for long.

When looking at the pros of church chairs versus pew furniture, it’s easy to see why pews are the clear winner in this seating debate.

How to Preserve Church Pews

As mentioned above, pews can serve your congregation well for many years with proper upkeep and maintenance. Here are some helpful maintenance tips for church pew cushions:

  1. Examine the labels: Check the cushions’ labels or the manufacturer’s website for cleaning recommendations.
  2. Vacuum frequently: Use the upholstery attachment on a vacuum cleaner to remove dust, dirt and other contaminants from the upholstery. Vacuum every area of the cushion for the best results. Consider using a vacuum with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter to trap small particles after vacuuming them up.
  3. Use an appropriate cleaning solution: A water-based cleaning spray works well for most church pew cushions. Spray the solution over the fabric and let it sit for a few minutes. Then, gently wipe the surface with a clean cloth. This is a simple way to remove any lingering dirt or dust particles. To reduce the risk of discoloration or staining, test the cleaning solution on another surface before using it on the cushions.

In addition to upholstery, your church pew’s wood will require care and treatment to maintain peak condition. If the benches start to look worn and aged over time, you can opt for professional refinishing services to restore their original warmth and vibrance. This is a simpler, more cost-effective alternative to replacing them entirely.

Contact The Keck Group to Learn More About Our Church Pew Services

contact the Keck Group to learn more about their church pew services

When weighing the pros and cons of church chairs versus pews, know that pews can offer years of outstanding performance with the right upkeep. Luckily, The Keck Group can provide the maintenance you need. Choose us for high-quality, affordable church pew refinishing and restoration services.

With over 40 years of expertise and an extensive project portfolio, you can trust us to deliver outstanding results every time. Contact us to learn more about our services or request a free quote today.