School Furniture Buyers Guide

Teachers have an important mission, to challenge and inspire their students to learn new things while guiding them toward a successful future. In today’s distraction filled world, just keeping students’ attention can be a challenge. Creating an environment that’s conducive to learning requires comfortable furniture, relevant teaching materials and state-of-the-art technology.

As you shop for classroom chairs, keep in mind that from preschool until their senior year in high school, students spend approximately 80% of their day sitting. So, the chairs will get heavy use. Student chairs for grades K-12 are generally made from either plastic or wood for safety and durability, while most standard elementary school chairs are made from soft plastic which is more comfortable and less expensive. Wooden chairs are a little more expensive, but extremely durable and will typically outlast anything else.

Chair Height
When choosing classroom chairs, chair height is an important consideration. There should be approximately 8 to 10 inches between the seat and the underside of the desk or tabletop. Students should be able to place their feet flat on the floor with their knees bent at a 90° angle, even when sitting all the way back in their seat. This position provides proper back support and comfort.

Seat Height Based on Grade Level
Preschool-K 12-13 inches Elementary School 14-17 inches Middle / Jr. High School 18 inches High School / College 19 inches Chair Legs School chair legs and supports are usually made of chrome or tubular steel. For increased safety and durability, look for metal supports that run all the way up the back and/or supporting brackets under the chair seat.

There are a couple different options when it comes to chair legs:
A standard, four legged student chair works well in classrooms with hard floors. Nylon or plastic glides, on the bottom of the legs, prevent damage to floors by sliding smoothly when you move them and minimize distracting noises.

Sled Base
Instead of having 4 legs, the base of this type of chair resembles a sled. Chairs with a sled base slide more easily on carpeted floors than do chairs with 4 legs.

These four-legged chairs on wheels are ideal for computer labs and art rooms, where more mobility may be needed. They’re usually reserved for teachers, students in higher grades and special needs students.

Desk type and style are often based on grade level and subject matter. In the early grades, students spend most of the day in the same classroom and need a place to store their textbooks and supplies with easy access throughout the day. As students are promoted to higher grade levels, they spend less time in the same classroom. Many store their belongings in lockers. As a result, their desks don’t need as much storage space. Certain subjects necessitate more specialized desks than traditional student desks, such as workstations for science labs and work benches for wood shop class.

Desk Height
Like chair height, desk height is an important factor in reinforcing good posture and proper body alignment. Many desks have adjustable height legs that can be raised or lowered to fit any size student. Heights range from 22 inches to 32 inches. There should be approximately 8 to 10 inches between the seat and the underside of the desktop.

Desk Height Based on Grade Level
Preschool-K 22-24 inches Elementary School 25-27 inches Middle / Jr. High School 28-29 inches High School / College 30 inches Desk Top Some desktops are roomy enough for both textbooks and laptops. Others are more compact with just enough room for a laptop or tablet. Look for a smooth surface with sufficient workspace for your students’ requirements.

The top of the desk is a critical feature and will likely get the most use. Besides regular wear and tear, we all know how middle and high school students like to carve their names into the desktop and leave notes for their friends. When deciding whether laminate or hard plastic is the best choice for you, consider this:

Laminate desktops are made from wood with a processed surface that protects it from minor damage, like crayons, finger paints and spills. This surface will not stand up to gouges made by sharp objects Hard plastic desk tops are extremely resistant to damage because they’re molded using a heating process and then set until they’re practically impenetrable.

Most desk frames are made from tubular steel or chrome and feature a rectangular top with a metal or plastic box or basket under the desktop for stowing students’ books and belongings. Keeping the desk clear and distraction free helps children focus better.

Book Boxes
Book boxes are usually made from metal or plastic. Metal is more durable and plastic tends to be lighter weight, quieter when bumped and available in a variety of scratch resistant color choices.

Book Baskets
Clear view desks feature metal book baskets for students to store their books. The open weave design gives teachers a clear view of the contents, but does not allow for storage of small items.

Lift Lid
Lift lid desks provide the most space for books and school supplies. A hinged top lifts up to access the book box underneath. Many models are designed to prevent small fingers from getting pinched between the lid and the book box.

Chair Desks & Combo Desks
Desks and chairs that are joined together not only save space, they keep your classroom more orderly. Recommended for students in the 4th grade and above, there are two variations of these combined desk and chair sets. A chair desk is a chair with an attached desk and a combo desk is a desk with an attached chair.

The most common chair desk is the tablet arm chair , a stand-alone chair with a small desktop surface attached to an arm on either the right or left side. The opposite side is open for students to slide into and out of the chair. To allow more room for entry and exit, look for a model with a flip-up tablet arm.

The tablet arm chair comes in many different forms:
The most common tablet arm chairs are hard plastic stacking chairs, with 4 legs or a sled base, with or without a book basket under the seat. wood student chair with tablet arm The old classic Americana Wood Tablet Chair is made from select hardwoods with a northern maple tablet arm securely attached to the frame with steel braces, screws and glue. steel folding chair with tablet arm The premium steel folding chair features a laminate tablet surface, mounted on extended steel bars with screws and brackets. molded polycarbonate chair with tablet arm There are even tablet arm chairs with injection molded polycarbonate tables that rotate around the chair seat. Similar to chair desks, combo desks have two legs attached to the chair and two attached to the desk, with either right or left entry. Combo desks with a sled base allow entry from either side and can be used for both right and left-handed students.

Group Learning Desks
Group learning contributes to retention and overall academic success as well as the development of collaborative skills, teamwork and respect. It promotes the value of positive interdependence and individual accountability while increasing social skills.

Group Learning Desks are individual desks in a variety of shapes that are designed to fit together in groups of six or eight. This option is more flexible and gives you the ability to arrange the desks separately for independent learning and bring them together for group projects.

However, when group learning is your primary teaching method, Multi-Student Desks might be the best option. Multi-student desks provide ample working space for up to 6 students, with a roomy desktop and open-front book boxes for storage.

Science Workstations
More than just a place to dissect frogs, Science class is a place where students get to perform experiments using various materials, equipment and chemicals. Safety is the first priority for students and instructors, but you also want to protect the furniture.

Science workstation surfaces are made with chemical resistant finishes to protect workspaces from students while they explore the world of chemical reactions. You won’t have to worry about peeling paint when something spills. The base is constructed of solid oak and hardwood veneers for durability. Rubber base molding prevents the base from sliding. When you need more mobility, consider the science workstations on wheels and to give your students a better view of class demonstrations, you’ll want to add overhead viewing mirrors.

Science centers and workstations, instructor desks and storage cabinets are available in many configurations. Explore the various styles and functionality, from wheelchair accessibility to single person and collaborative desks with sinks and faucets.

Sit and Stand Desks
Beginning in the 3rd grade, around the time students finally learn to sit still in their seats, you can give them the flexibility to alternate between sitting and standing. Having the freedom to stand up from time to time helps dispel the excess energy that causes fidgeting. Standing and moving gets the blood flowing and lessens sluggishness during the post-lunch lull and throughout the long school day.

Sit and Stand Desks easily adjust from 26" to 42" high to allow students to alternate between sitting and standing. Pair it with a drafting stool and keep the desktop at standing height or match it with a standard height chair and easily raise the desktop to stand and lower it to sit.

Great for activities from finger painting to science fairs and group projects, activity tables come in many shapes and sizes to accommodate students from Pre-K all the way to adult education. From standard round and rectangle to kidney, flower and trapezoid shapes, activity tables are extremely versatile and can be arranged to form semi-circles, hexagons or octagons for ability grouping and group projects.

Preschoolers and kindergarteners usually sit at tables in groups of 4-8 rather than at desks. And one thing most little kids have in common is their ability to make a mess. Glue, crayons, markers, glitter and paint have a way of oozing off the paper onto the table. If you spend your days with these little mess-makers, look for tables with hard plastic or high quality laminate tops to make clean-up as easy and hassle-free as possible.

As students get older, they tend to write with pens more than pencils and use sharper scissors and compasses with sharp points. You’ll save money on maintenance and/or replacement cost if you go with a hard plastic tabletop for your upper classmen.

Table Height
Most activity tables are equipped with adjustable legs that can be raised and lowered an approximate range of 8-9 inches in 1 inch increments. Like desk height, there should be 8-10" between the chair seat and underside of the table.

Table Height Based on Grade Level
Preschool-K 22-24 inches Elementary School 25-27 inches Middle / Jr. High School 28-29 inches High School / College 30 inches While some tables are specifically designed to be wheelchair accessible, many schools will purchase all wheelchair accessible tables so students have the same school furniture, regardless of physical ability.

Although teachers spend most of their time standing in front of the classroom teaching or walking up and down the aisles helping individual students, teachers need desks too. In addition to an ample workspace for creating their lesson plans and grading assignments, teachers may need a level surface for their computer or a projector. They need drawers to store their files and any items they may have confiscated from distracted students. Sensitive material like teachers’ editions of textbooks and personal belongings must be secured in locking drawers.

Teachers' desks come in a variety of models from metal to wood veneers with single, double and mobile pedestals. Single pedestal desks feature a set of drawers on either the right or left side of the desk. Double pedestal desks have drawers on both sides. And for teachers who like a little flexibility, mobile pedestals can be placed on either side or even next to the desk, allowing for more leg room.

Much more than Band-Aid dispensers and temperature takers, school nurses protect and promote student health, monitor and facilitate physical development and work with teachers to advance academic success. With nurses in schools, educators, families and school nurses can work together to keep children healthy, in school and ready to learn.

Clinic Couches
Many times, when students don’t feel well, they go to the nurse’s office to lie on the couch. Most clinic couches are upholstered in vinyl because vinyl is easy to clean and resists spills and stains. Look for couches with paper dispensers and cutters included to prevent spreading germs.

There are several options for the base. You can choose a steel frame, hardwood legs, panel legs or a solid cabinet base which will give you extra storage space. Many models feature a middle support leg for added stability. Weight capacity generally ranges from 250-400 lbs.

Privacy Screens & Curtains
Privacy is of vital importance in the nurse’s office. It’s especially crucial to maintain confidentiality in this small community where everyone knows everyone. As the role of the school nurse evolves, treating life-threatening food allergies and chronic health conditions like ADHD, diabetes and seizures, privacy screens have become even more critical.

Privacy screens for medical treatment areas fall into 2 categories; hanging privacy curtains and folding privacy screens.

Privacy curtains are hung on a telescopic pole that extends from 40" to 92.5", pivots 180 degrees and is mounted to the wall.

Folding privacy screens feature hinged panels, with or without casters that allow for easy positioning and storage. You can choose privacy screens with a single panel or with multiple panels for maximum coverage as needed. Individual panel width ranges from 20-27 inches. They can be replaced easily by removing the spring loaded rods.

Look for curtains or screen panels that are made from flame retardant bacteriostatic vinyl, which is durable, easy to clean and helps prevent the further growth of bacteria.

Cafeteria tables stand up to lots of use and abuse. They’re wheeled out and set up early in the morning for breakfast, stay out through the lunch rush and at many schools, they provide a space for art projects, snack time and homework during after school programs. And when the day is over, many cafeteria tables are folded up and wheeled out of the way to allow custodians to clean the floor.

To Fold or Not to Fold... that is the question!

Many times, whether your cafeteria is a dedicated space or it’s utilized as a multi-purpose room will be key in deciding what type of table you need. The decision can also be a factor of students’ maturity level. Elementary school children tend to spill and drop their food and drinks more frequently than do students in higher grades. The ability to fold up the tables and move them out of the way makes clean up quick and easy, leaving the room ready for the next activity or event.

Folding Tables
When shopping for folding cafeteria tables , safety is a primary concern. Look for tables with both up-lock and down-lock mechanisms that are UL Listed. These are individual locking mechanisms designed to hold tables in place when in use and when they’re in an upright folded position. You’ll want sturdy wheel assemblies with swivel casters that make it easy to roll the tables across the floor.

Non-Folding Tables
If your cafeteria is always designated as a dining area or your students have an adequate level of maturity, you may prefer tables that don’t fold up and roll away; opting instead for non-folding tables with attached bench seats, individual chairs or stools. Keep in mind that tables with attached stools are not recommended for Pre-K students through the 3rd grade for safety reasons and tables with bench seating have a slightly higher seating capacity.

Measure the room to determine how many tables will comfortably fit in the available space and still give you maximum seating capacity. The size of your tables and type of seating will determine how many students can be seated together.

Table Length Seating Capacity Bench Seats Seating Capacity Chairs or Stools 12 Feet 12-16 12 10 Feet 10-12 12 8 Feet 8-10 8 6 Feet 6-8 6 5 Feet 4-6 4 4 Feet 2-4 4 Whether you’re shopping for K-12 students or adults at the college level, you need to stay within your budget. carries an extensive inventory of school furniture and other classroom essential resources, as well as art equipment & supplies, lockers & storage units and library furniture at prices that fit your budget.

If you have a question or need more information about a specific product, call one of our knowledgeable staff at 800-924-2472.
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