Why Does Furniture Cost So Much?

When you decide to furnish your space, you may look at items that seem identical and base your choice solely on price but that’s why making the distinction between residential and commercial grade furniture is so important. It might be more convenient and affordable for you to pick up a few chairs and tables from your local retail store but doing so might cost you in the long run.

Before making your purchases, you first need to learn about the type of furniture, the manufacturing process, and the product itself. Commercial furniture is known for its high durability and ability to resist against wear and tear from constant usage for long periods of time and by people that don’t care how they treat your furniture. Because of its longevity, superior construction, and professional appearance, owners of commercial spaces have strong preferences for commercial grade furniture.

The Studio S2 interior design team work extensively with designers, suppliers, manufacturers and importers. Our relationships with those companies mean that you are more likely to receive quality service, attention to detail, priority delivery and responsive troubleshooting.


  1. Material – Residential furniture is typically made using softwoods like rubberwood and pine because it is easier to work with. It is a cheaper material, but less scratch and dent resistant. On the other hand, table tops and chairs for commercial use are made from hardwoods that are very low moisture content such as maple, beechwood and oak, are steel framed or reinforced, or made from highly durable manufactured products such as polypropelene or compact laminates. Fabrics are generally pre-treated for stain resistance within the cost of the item.
  2. Durability – While residential and commercial furniture may look similar, there can be vast differences in the durability of the materials used. Commercial furniture is designed to be in constant use by different people, compared with residential, which is assumed to have fairly low use by a small group of people who own it and care for it.
    • Timber is tougher and finished using Polyurethane coatings (also known as P.U. finishing) to protect the wood from high levels of wear and tear but also constant cleaning.
    • Metal frames are powder coated and baked making it more resistant to rust and flaking. Powder Coating also results in a thick, dense finish with a smoother surface which attracts less dust and allows less dirt to accumulate making it both easier to maintain and more hygienic.
    • Upholstered seat pads generally incorporate a layer of foam padding which comes in a variety of densities, firmness and fire resistance. Commercial furniture comes with more stringent safety codes such as fire safety, but also green ratings, weight ratings and durability ratings. The density rating on foam pads is much higher on commerical rated products so that they last much longer.
    • Fabric is rated on a variety of scales, some manufacterers provide information on guarantees on rub testing, fade resistance, stain resistance, and mildew and microbial resistance. Stitching is done with stronger thread and better machines to avoid unpicking and loose threads.
      • Martindale or Wyzenbeek tests give you an indication of how many times the fabric can be rubbed before pilling, balding, or holes appear.
      • Some fabrics have stain resistant treatments applied but they have to be regularly re-applied, others are inherently high performance in resisting stains.
      • Solution dyed yarn – coloured prior to being made into fabric – is the most fade resistant way to create coloured fabrics
  3. Strength – Commerical furniture is weight rated, so you can make a decision about what capacity is needed for your customers. Residential furniture is rarely weight rated. For residential wood chairs and bar stools the average weight capacity is around 100kg. In contrast, commercial wood chairs and bar stools have a weight limit of 135kg or higher and made using mortise and tenon joints reinforced with glue and screws and additional D or H stretchers for additional strength. Metal residential furniture is typically made using 22″ or 24″ gauge steel frame compared to 16″-18″ gauge steel in commercial grade furniture (the lower the gauge number, thicker the metal in the frame).
  4. Testing and Accreditation – in Australia there are some safety compliances required for all furniture, and some additional voluntary standards for fire, stability, strength and safety. Commerical furniture is more likely to have been tested against Australian or International standards and come with warranties that reflect that accreditation.
  5. Safety – Because commercial furniture design recognises large numbers of different people using furniture, the designers resolve the inherent safety risks that are often seen in residential furniture – finger and skin traps, stability, weight ratings, secure fixings, etc.
  6. Cleanability – In this day of COVID-aware venues, cleaning is even more important. Ability to do quick cleaning that doesnt damage the surface is an important factor for commercial furniture. This includes avoiding spaces where food crumbs can accumulate.
  7. Trend – commerical furniture is often more classic, because it is expected to outlast trends. It can be readily re-upholstered though, as the frame is usually in good condition for many years.
  8. Warranty – Only some furniture will have commercial warranties, and use of residential furniture in a commercial setting will void the warranty from most suppliers.

While initially more expensive, commercial furniture has the benefit of much longer lasting furniture. Having to constantly replace and rebuy furniture and other items for your business is going to burn a hole in your wallet and consume your valuable time, as well as potentially land you with missmatched items. Guaranteed to stand the test of time, the resilience of commercial furniture reduces the need to make numerous purchases and replacements. In such instances where you need to replace a chair or a base for a restaurant table, you can purchase replacement or additional pieces that match from a classic range.

Trying to decide what style of furniture you need? Try our quiz at https://www.studio-s2.com.au/resources/quiz/

We can help you source the right product, at the right price. Contact us at https://www.studio-s2.com.au/contact-us/


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