As I begin this review, it is important to share that our ministry provides both of the above chairs to churches across the USA. As a result, this is not an article attempting to persuade you to purchase one chair over the other, because we sell one chair and not the other. Rather, the purpose of this article is two-fold:
- First, I want to provide a detailed resource that we can pass along to churches which will be more complete than what generally can be covered during a phone conversation.
- And second, I also wish to provide churches an understanding of the primary differences you may expect between a third-party importer of church chairs and a genuine manufacturer.
- From Advantage Church Chairs we utilized a chair from their PCCF Series. This is the same chair as their PCHT Series, only the seat cushion is cold-cured foam versus standard foam.
- From Comfortek Seating we utilized a chair from their Summit Series, the SS-7701X which also has a cold-cured foam seat cushion and a cold-cured foam seat back cushion.
- Advantage Church Chairs is an importer of church chairs from China. “Advantage” is more the name of a chair line than a manufacturer. In the industry, we use the term “third-party importer” to denote an American Company that purchases chairs from a variety of Chinese Factories and places their trade name on those chairs. That American Company has little to do with the production of the chairs and sometimes are referred to as “pretend” manufacturers in that their verbiage would lead the average church to think they actually produce church chairs, when really they just import them from a third-party and market them.
- Comfortek Seating is a long-time manufacturer of church chairs with corporate headquarters and warehousing in Alberta, Canada, a large factory/warehouse complex in Virginia and an overseas factory. They manufacturer their own chairs and have done so for the last couple of decades, thus there is no “third-party” involved.
When reviewing church chairs, there are some factors that are obvious and some that are more hidden. I will highlight the more visible differences first and then move on to the differences discovered only by disassembling each chair. With each I will share my verdict of those differences.
- Back Frame: The Advantage Chair has two metal uprights extending vertically and terminating at the top of the seat back. The Comfortek Chair also has two vertical uprights but instead of terminating, they continue horizontally and create a continuous connection of the right side of the chair to the left. Verdict: The more lateral stability a chair frame has, i.e. number and strength of cross-members connecting the two sides of a chair frame, the better. The continuous seat back frame on the Comfortek Chair adds strength to the Comfortek Chair that the Advantage Chair lacks.
- Under-Chair Supports: The Advantage Chair has one cross-member connection point beneath the seat cushion. The Comfortek Chair has two cross-members beneath the seat cushion connecting the right side of the frame to the left side of the frame. Verdict: Both in quantity and in substance of these cross-members, the Comfortek Chair demonstrates a higher degree of lateral stability.
- Thickness of Foam: With a tape measure, the seat cushion of the Advantage Church Chair measured 2.5” thick. The Comfortek Seating seat cushion measured 3.0” thick. For the seat back cushion, the Advantage measured 1.0” thick and Comfortek 1.5” thick. Verdict: Regarding the thickness of the cushions, Comfortek provides a higher level on both cushions.
- Fabric Card Pocket: The Advantage Church Chair has nothing added the back of the chair between the vertical metal supports. The Comfortek Church Chair has a sewn fabric card pocket that measures about 5” x 5” for offering envelopes, welcome cards, etc. Advantage does offer a plastic card pocket that can be purchased and added to their chairs (more on this later). Verdict: The presence of a fabric card pocket for no extra cost on the Comfortek Chair is a clear positive for Comfortek over Advantage.
- Plywood Thickness: The Advantage Church Chair utilizes ½” thick plywood for both the seat and the seat back. The Comfortek Church Chair utilizes 5/8” thick plywood for the seat and ½” plywood for the seat back. Verdict: The thicker plywood used for the seat on the Comfortek chair adds strength to their chair over the Advantage chair.
- Screw Size: The Advantage Church Chair used the same sized screws for both the seat and the seat back. Comfortek uses one size of screw for the seat back and a large size for the seat. Verdict: This one is minor, but the larger screws seem to maximize the full grab of the t-nuts on the Comfortek Chair.
- Seat Softness: At the outset, the Advantage Church Chair seemed to our “testers” to have a bit softer seat cushion than the Comfortek Church Chair. Once the cushions were examined closely, the reason for this became clear. To make a cushion softer at the outset, raw material in the foam must be removed to decrease the density of the foam. It was found that the Advantage chair seat cushion had air pockets in it that were 1.25” deep whereas the Comfortek chair seat cushion had air pockets that were 0.75” deep. With less raw material used for the seat cushion, the Advantage seat cushion does exhibit more initial softness. However, over the time this softness will only become even softer, leading to wearing out the foam prematurely. Verdict: While softness can initially be construed as a positive, having seat cushion wear out prematurely leading to bottoming out on the plywood negates this positive. More raw material creates more cushion density which create longer life and added comfort over the long-term.
- Metal Finish Paint: The Advantage Church Chair and the Comfortek Church Chair both were tested for scratching of the paint finish. It was found that the Advantage Church Chair scratched more easily than the Comfortek Church Chair under the same pressure. Verdict: The Paint Finish on the Comfortek Chair seems to be harder and more scratch-resistant than the Advantage Church Chair.
In every category above, the Comfortek Church Chair exhibited positives over the Advantage Church Chair. One category that we do not mention above is the cost of each chair. Costs can vary over time, but in general a church should expect to pay around $5.00 to $7.00 more for the Comfortek Chair over the Advantage Chair. However, the Comfortek Chairs carries with it the superior construction factors mentioned above. And the free fabric card pocket that Comfortek provides does decrease that cost differential significantly.
I would also mention here that a genuine manufacturer tends to perform far better when it comes to being able to purchase more of the same chair later, with the warranty process when needed, and with far more customization options than a third-party importer.
Final Thoughts: Quality church chairs, when cared for, will provide a church solid service for often 20 years or more. I commonly share with churches that likely their new chairs will go out of style before they wear out! With the above test, there is no surprise that a chair from a genuine manufacturer will be superior to a third-party imported chair. The advantage of a third-party import chair most often just in cost. Please keep in mind though that a $5.00 initial difference in chair price amount to half-a-penny a Sunday over a 20-year period. And if some chairs from a third-party importer fail over time or are discarded due to attrition, then the low-cost difference over the long-term essentially disappears and can end up substantially favoring the genuine manufacturer.
I encourage your church to purchase sample chairs of any church chairs you are considering. Test them well, even disassembling them as noted in this review. And understand the differences between a third-party importer and a genuine manufacturer are very significant and bear consideration before you make your purchase.
Please contact us to discuss all of your church’s furnishing needs.