Cost of Refinishing Pews vs. Buying New

Cost of Refinishing Pews vs. Buying New

Church furniture is important to the worship experience. Pastors and priests stand at their pulpit. Tables throughout the sanctuary hold various sacred items used during services. And of course, church pews give the congregation a place to sit, stand and kneel during worship. After decades of constant use, church pews can start to show their age. 

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If aging church pews are getting in the way of your congregation’s worship experience, you may be looking for an upgrade. But should you seek new or refinished church pews? How does the price of new church pews compare to the cost of refinishing church pews? The Keck Group is here to help you figure out which option is best for your church. 

Three Types of Costs to Consider

Cost may be one of the determining factors in your choice between refinishing your church’s current pews or replacing them with new ones. Most decisions end up being more complex than determining which option is the most affordable. You should consider the three types of costs associated with both solutions:

  • Monetary costs: This cost refers to the finances needed for the materials and labor. Refinishing and installing new pews both demand manpower and materials to get the job done. Your budget may favor one option over the other based on finances alone, but money isn’t the only factor to consider. 
  • Intangible costs: This is the cost that impacts you in ways besides money. This can include the appearance of your sanctuary, the layout of the pews and even the time it takes to complete the task. Both options will put your sanctuary into a transition period. This can be difficult for churchgoers as they adjust to a fluctuating worship experience. You can balance intangible costs with monetary costs as you make your church pew decision.
  • Environmental costs: These costs don’t come out of your pocket or affect your congregation. This type of cost has an impact on the Earth itself. Creating new wood products like pews requires the felling of trees, so it’s important to consider the environmental cost of purchasing new pews vs. refinishing your current ones.

Costs of Refinishing Pews

The monetary cost to refinish church pews is generally lower than installing brand new ones. This is because of the materials and manpower needed to complete the task. Removing old pews can be a difficult task that costs a lot of money. Choosing to restore your current pews allows you to avoid the expensive cost of removing old pews and purchasing new pews made with fresh lumber and all new hardware. With fluctuating lumber prices, the cost can be higher depending on the current market values. 

You also won’t need to rely on a large crew to rip out your current pews and install new ones. The Keck Group uses reliable transportation to move your pews to our workshop. There is no disassembly required. This makes the process easier on our crew to keep costs down for you. 

The intangible costs you experience may also be lower when you choose to refinish your pews with The Keck Group. We’ll take a few pews at a time and replace them with temporary seating so your worship services can continue like normal. Since we do our work off-site, you can enjoy a clean sanctuary free of dust and wood particles. Within 30 days, you can enjoy a sanctuary full of restored pews to elevate everyone’s worship experience.

Benefits of Refinishing Pews

Benefits of Refinishing Pews

Here are some of the benefits to restoring the pews in your place of worship:

  • Restore well-constructed pews: You should consider refinishing if your church has solid wood pews that are still structurally sound. Pews featuring strong construction that look worn-down from years of use fall under this category. This is especially true if your church has pews dating from the 1980s and earlier. These older pews use old-growth wood, which generates defined grain patterns that refinish beautifully in a variety of stain colors. Newer pews tend to incorporate new-growth wood, which you can still refinish, but the results may be less striking.
  • Make modifications to old pews: Your existing pews also have the potential for modification to bring them up to current standards. The distance between pews and the width of the bottom of pews has increased over the years. If members of your congregation are uncomfortable during services, you may want to consider modifying your solid wood pews. We can perform the modifications you need to bring your pews up to modern-day standards of comfort and spacing. 
  • Enjoy a patina aesthetic: Pews that show signs of wear are an attractive look in many places of worship, especially historical churches. You can enjoy the beauty of age without sacrificing structural integrity or a beautiful finish. You may find that something is missing in your church’s aesthetic if you choose to install brand new pews. You can embrace your church’s history by refinishing and restoring your pews. It’s a look that only time and care can achieve, and it can be worth far more than the monetary church pew refinishing cost. 

Costs of Buying New Pews

Though the cost of new church pews may be higher than the cost of refinishing, sometimes it’s the best or only option for your situation. Here are some of the main reasons we see churches choosing to install new pews over refinishing their existing ones:

  • Current pews are not solid wood: Cheaper woods and wood substitutes lack the longevity of solid wood. If your pews consist of material besides solid wood, your best choice may be to replace them with new pews. 
  • Current pews incorporate upholstery over particleboard: Pews made with upholstery and particleboard tend to fall apart as the years go by. These pews act as a “throwaway” option, keeping costs down at the time of installation, but typically not exceeding a 20-year life span. You should avoid spending your time and money on restoring such pews. 
  • The cost of modifications exceeds the cost of a new installation: Intangible costs are important to consider, but sometimes the monetary cost of a project is the ultimate deciding factor. If the cost of modifying and repairing your current pews is greater than the cost of getting new ones, you may opt to go with a brand new installation. 

Your congregation may enjoy the look of fresh, modern pews in your church. It can breathe life into your church’s appearance, especially if you’re trying to take a new aesthetic direction. Remember that new installs need on-site construction work. You may need to section off parts of your sanctuary or cancel certain church functions to allow the crew to do their work and keep churchgoers safe from breathing construction particles. 

Purchasing new pews will have an impact on the environment as well. After you get rid of your current wooden pews, they will either sit in a landfill or serve as fuel for a fire. Your new pews will have to come from newly felled trees, putting a strain on the environment. If your church emphasizes environmental conservation, you may find the environmental cost of removing old pews and installing new ones to be too great to justify.

Contact The Keck Group for Pew Refinishing Services

The Keck Group started small in the furniture refinishing business back in 1972. Now, we are the nation’s top pew restoration company. We’ve done high-profile restoration projects in some of the country’s most renowned churches and cathedrals. These include St. Patrick’s Cathedral and the Basilica of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral in Manhattan, the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston and the Trinity Church in Lower Manhattan

If you want to invest in your church’s history and restore the beautiful look of your solid wood pews, we’re the ones for the job. Contact us today to discuss refinishing your church’s pews and learn more about the services we offer.

Page updated on April 26, 2021

Contact The Keck Group for Pew Refinishing Services