With high intensity usage, hard knocks, constant spills, heat, steam and even attacks from natural elements, such as sunlight, it won’t take long for your beautiful contract furniture to start showing the signs of wear and tear. Once pristine areas can quickly begin to look tatty and unappealing, at best (and downright dirty at worst). Neither of which is likely to encourage customers or enhance their experience in your premises.
This problem is especially relevant for businesses working in the hospitality sectors: restaurants, cafes, bars, pubs – even hotels, theatres and cinemas – all see the kind of high customer traffic and occasional messy accident that can take their toll on even the most practical of furniture choices.
Whilst choosing hardwearing, sturdy contract furniture can help, knowing the best way to maintain your furnishings is a great idea in terms of keeping them looking great and getting the most out of your investment. Consequently, we’ve composed some ideas and suggestions on not only keeping your furniture in great condition, but also some handy cleaning hints, should disaster strike. Finally, we’ll also be looking at your options around repairs vs. replacement when your contract furnishings have finally reached the end of the road.
General Contract Furniture Maintenance Tips
Keep It Tight: Regular use can quickly loosen joints, fixings and screws on a variety of items – especially when it comes to tables, chairs and other seating arrangements. Constant movement and rearranging also subjects these to pulling and pushing stresses which can weaken their stability. Make it a point to check chairs and tables for signs of excessive movement and tighten any fixings that are starting to loosen. Wooden joints may need to be re-glued or even reinforced.
A Stitch In Time: Check furniture for tears or rips in their upholstery. Any damage should be dealt with immediately – before the problem has a chance to become worse. Caught in good time, smaller rents and torn seams can be easily mended by professional attention – sometimes even providing an almost invisible fix at a fraction of the later cost of replacing the entire item!
Keep Things Moving: Rotating contract furniture from high traffic areas to less used sections helps to spread the distribution of wear more equally amongst a larger number of items. Bringing these ‘reserves’ out to relieve the battered front lines of your contract furniture – as well as having a regular cycling of furnishings in your public areas – assists in keeping things looking better for longer. This also applies to items which may spend long periods in bright sunshine where the damaging UV rays will fade fabric, wood and leather.
Long-lasting Doesn’t Mean Dull: When choosing your contract furniture consider the amount of wear and tear it’s likely to be exposed to. Beautiful solid wood and colourful laminates are extremely hardwearing when it comes to tables. Metal table legs and chairs are also hardy enough to endure a high usage environment, whilst still looking good and requiring minimal maintenance. Faux leather and the real thing are also tough customers when it comes to luxurious seating that can withstand the test of time.
Commercial Furniture Cleaning Hints
Dirty or soiled items and a generally unclean area will send customers running for the hills, or at the very least, unlikely to return for a second visit. However, in any business environment where food and drink are being served there is the certainty that an accident is going to happen sooner or later. So, what’s the best way to keep your contract furniture looking spick and span?
Wooden surfaces should be cleaned regularly using a dry or slightly damp cloth and, occasionally, ordinary furniture polishes – especially those containing natural waxes. For larger spillages, cleaning with a cloth, some warm water and a mild detergent will quickly deal with most problems. Minor physical damage, such as a scratch, can normally be easily ‘buffed’ out, again using beeswax. Abrasive cleaners should never be used on varnished or lacquered wood surfaces.
Over time leather can dry and crack. Avoid this by applying a leather conditioner – this can be worked easily into the surface and polished to a high shine, thus accomplishing the dual roles of cleaning and caring for this expensive material at the same time. Leather should never be soaked in water – even if trying to remove a stain. Avoid detergents, solvents, ammonia, bleach and furniture polishes – all can cause irreparable damage. Instead use only cleaning products specifically designed for use on real leather.
An excellent, hardwearing material vinyl is both easy to clean and care for, needing only a moist cloth and some mild detergent to deal with the majority of dirt and grime. However, oils should be avoided as these tend to harden the vinyl causing cracks and brittleness over time.
Stains and spills on upholstery fabrics should be quickly blotted with paper towels or a dry cloth before washing with clean, warm water and a mild detergent. Ensure that the area is then dried thoroughly.
Repair or Replace?
There comes a time when even the most hardwearing and sturdy of contract furniture items must be replaced. Whilst repairs are a good idea for commercial furniture which has only sustained minor damage or still has plenty of life ahead of it, eventually replacements must be considered. In such instances it’s likely that the chairs, sofas, tables and other business furniture in your venue may be approaching the end of their life spans at approximately the same time, in which case replacing them with new items can actually be a very positive decision – allowing businesses to reinvent their interior decoration, layout and even theme. A fresh start, with beautiful new contract furniture, can serve to reinvigorate the entire direction of your commercial enterprise.
By choosing attractive, long-lasting contract furniture and caring for it as outlined above you can be assured of a lifetime’s faithful service.
Outdoor or ‘Al Fresco’ dining has long been a popular element of the hospitality industry. Restaurants, cafes, hotels, pubs and bars are all businesses where customers are likely to enjoy eating and drinking in the fresh air – meaning that commercial outdoor furniture can be a key element of any venue’s furnishings.
However, with a vast selection available in a number of materials, businesses may struggle to understand which types of outdoor furniture are most suitable for their needs. To help you make the best choice we have outlined below the Pros and Cons of a number of outdoor furniture materials – enabling you to not only understand which type is more suitable for your business, but also make the best decision when it comes to getting great long term value from your investment in contract furniture.
The Main Materials & First Considerations
Firstly, let’s look at the primary materials that high quality outdoor furniture is most often constructed from. There are many differing types within each category but we will address these individually later on.
The main materials are metal, wood, rattan (or wicker) and plastic (in the form of polypropylene). Each of these has their own merits, as well as drawbacks, in terms of their use in commercial outdoor furniture. As a business, choosing the correct fit for your needs and trading environment involves weighing a number of factors beyond their physical properties.
For example, knowing your target market you probably already have a good idea of, not only the look and feel of your venue, but also the competition’s outdoor furnishings. In a highly competitive market place, such as the hospitality industry, your choice of metal, wood, rattan or plastic outdoor furniture may well be based on a desire to either differentiate yourself from the competition or tap into an existing customer base by choosing contract furniture that reflects the overall style of the businesses around you.
Metal Outdoor Furniture
A popular choice with many businesses for outdoor hospitality areas, metal contract furniture often comes in three types: Stainless steel, wrought iron and aluminium. Metal tables and chairs are ideal for resisting the onslaught of both wind and prolonged sunshine, making them highly suitable for outdoor use in certain conditions. In particular, both stainless steel and aluminium outdoor furniture are still light enough to be easily rearranged as required – making these a perfect choice for quick set-up and storage. Aluminium and steel will also stand up extremely well to rain and high levels of moisture. Wrought iron is the true heavyweight of outdoor furniture: robust and designed to stay exactly where it’s put!
The drawbacks of metal outdoor furniture tend to be fairly obvious: Firstly, wrought iron (or any form of untreated metal) is prone to rusting, making it highly unsuitable for seaside or coastal use. In addition, it’s very heavy nature makes moving tables and chairs difficult. Lightweight aluminium chairs, whilst able to deal with normal breezes, are likely to be scattered in gusty or windy conditions.
Wooden Outdoor Furniture
Available in a wide variety of types, wooden outdoor furniture is often constructed from hardwoods, such as teak, pine, cedar, oak, eucalyptus and redwood. A highly versatile and attractive choice, treated wooden tables and chairs stand up well to the worst that the British weather can usually throw at them. Needless to say, the choice of finishes, varnishes and paints enable them to fit in easily with a huge range of styles and decors – From the classically elegant to the most modern and chic of eateries.
Depending upon the style and type of wood chosen this type of outdoor furniture can vary in terms of being easy to rearrange, with heavier chairs and tables representing more of weighty problem.
The obvious cons of wooden outdoor furniture tend to revolve around the high maintenance often required to keep it looking in absolutely tip-top condition. Decay and rot through very wet conditions, as well as fading through the action of intense UV light, can present on ongoing cost.
Rattan Outdoor Furniture
Sometimes also referred to as wicker, rattan is a strong, flexible type of vine used to create this highly attractive, stylish and lightweight type of outdoor furniture. Extremely easy to rearrange and surprisingly resistant to fading in the face of bright sunshine Rattan is an ideal choice for warmer environments or summer use. The basket-like weave of Rattan chairs, with its natural suppleness, is also very comfortable – without the need (or additional cost) of cushions or padding.
However, being an organic material rattan can be vulnerable to both rot and mildew in wet conditions making it unsuitable for all year round use in areas that cannot be covered quickly in inclement weather. It’s very lightweight nature can also make rattan outdoor furniture a problem in windy conditions.
Polypropylene Plastic Outdoor Furniture
Robust and water resistant, Polypropylene, is highly versatile and sees popular use in many outdoor areas. Available in an almost dizzying choice of styles, colours and finishes polypropylene outdoor furniture is the ‘go to’ option for many businesses looking for tables and chairs which represent an excellent balance of durability, availability, choice and value for money.
Highly impact resistant, lightweight and completely unmoved in the face of the heaviest downpour, plastic chairs are also one of the easiest types of outdoor furniture to clean – while their robust nature means Polypropylene chairs and tables offer a long service life with little to no maintenance required.
Plastic outdoor furnishings do, however, suffer from somewhat of an image problem – often being seen as ‘cheap’ or more for use in airports and schools rather than high-end hospitality areas. However, this is gradually changing with superior, modern designs and innovative finishes showing that Polypropylene can compete with more expensive options. Plastics may also fade and crack over long periods if exposed to intense sunshine, so be sure to choose one with UV stabilising polymers.