BlueRock Furnishings has over 10 years of experience in the commercial picnic table and park bench market. For those of you who are new to buying commercial site furnishings, the goal of this blog is to provide a clear buying guide that will assist you in making the best decision for your indoor or outdoor project.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR #1 - BUY MADE IN THE U.S.A.
First and foremost, it is highly advisable to purchase from a site furnishings company that manufacturer's within the United States. Due to the recent popularity of heavy-duty picnic table, park benches, and even trash receptacles, there are quite a few site furnishing companies that started importing (from China) round, square, and even the traditional rectangle picnic tables. Most of these "commercial" picnic tables are lighter weight (metal grade is lower) and do not have a protective coating such as thermo-plastic or another type coating that protects the table top and seats from rusting, sharp edges, and damaging within 12 months.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR #2 - WARRANTY
There are companies that are selling commercial furniture without the industry standard three (3) year warranty. Some of the bigger box stores either do not claim a warranty or have a basic 90 days or less warranty. It is important to buy from a company that has the standard or extended warranty. Most U.S. made commercial grade outdoor furniture comes with a 3-year Warranty. BlueRock and a few other's have a 5-year Warranty against fading, chipping, or breaking. The last thing any buyer wants is for kids to climb on top of a picnic table and injure themselves with a flimsy expanded-metal table top.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR #3 - DELIVERY
There After you know where your site furnishings are coming from, it is important to know how the manufacturer or distributor plans to ship it to you. Do they allow you to use your own carrier or do they force you to use their LTL carriers? This is a good question since it answers whether or not they are trying to profit from the shipping as well. Also, do they ask you the right questions regarding having a dock height unloading dock, whether or not the LTL carrier will tailgate your pallets to the back of their trailer so you can take it off via you own forklift, and whether or not there will be an extra charge in case your delivery address is a non-commercial zone causing extra charge. Many times, shippers do not ask all the right questions, leaving you with the extra fees the carrier charges before they will allow you to get it off their truck. Residential fees can be as high as $150 alone so make sure ask all of these questions.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR #4 - COATINGS
With the multiple type of coatings available on the market today, it is advisable to go with a brand of site furnishings that have either a plastic-coating or powder-coating that will sustain the varying weather conditions if your commercial site furnishings will be left outdoors. It is highly-recommended to go with a thermo-plastic coated picnic table, park bench, or trash receptacle since they consist of a non-fade UV resistant finish. Also, thermo-plastic coatings provide a much better cushion if a child runs into a table or bench at a park vs. a hard powder coating finish. The picture at the beginning of this blog shows a traditional rectangle picnic table top that is heated up before dipping it into the green thermo-plastic coating tub.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR #5 - GRADE
So what does "commercial grade" actually mean? All commercial site furnishings you consider to purchase for your project should be clearly noted as commercial. The reason is simple - commercial grade furniture is designed and made for heavy and adverse use unlike, picnic tables for example, that are made for backyard residential use. Commercial grade is built to withstand heavy traffic, extreme weather, and repeated use.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR #6 - REPAIRS & MAINTENANCE
There is value in low-maintenance commercial site furnishings that simply last much longer than your cheaper, big box or discount online stores that sell much lower-grade, Made in China, outdoor furniture. In the end, going with a company like BlueRock Furnishings and many others that not only back what they sell but also help in any repairs & maintenance is important. If the manufacturer or supplier does not provide a thorough warranty, repair package, or maintenance schedule, find one that does!
WHAT TO LOOK FOR #7 - STYLE / DESIGN
There is also a benefit to your buying decision on the many different styles & design a supplier of commercial site furnishing has. Both perforated and expanded metal has been very popular since 2010. However, even flat metal surfaces has come onto the scene since 2019 which offer even a higher level of maintenance including warping and easy to vandalize to mention just a few. 9-gauge expanded metal is more popular than the 11-gauge perforated metal between the two most popular choices. However, it is up to your overall style and look that should set your final buying decision.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR #8 - RELATIONSHIP
Finally, there is the relationship factor that is important in helping you make the final buying decision on who you should work with regarding your commercial furniture project. No doubt, if you want just a simple, cheap solution, some of your bigger box online retailers should be able to provide the solution you are looking for. However, if repairs & maintenance, wanting it to last 5-10 years, remain stylish and bright, going with a commercial site furnishing supplier you trust should be one of the most important factors you should rely on. For example, BlueRock Furnishings carries thermo-plastic coating repair kits and offers it to all of its commercial clients for FREE! They also have install and assembly teams they can dispatch throughout the U.S. and Virgin Islands!
At the end of the day, it is very important to put together a commercial site furnishings buyer's guide that meets your projects specifications but, more importantly, your expectations. Go with someone that holds themselves accountable and you can rely on if anything goes wrong!
BlueRock Furnishings intern staff writers from Auburn University.
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