In your journey to find your perfect furniture you may have heard various suppliers use the words “domestic” and “commercial” when they talk about the furniture you’re looking at putting in your venue. Whilst it may not seem like a big difference, there is a huge difference between the furniture you use domestically and the furniture that is used commercially.

“Domestic” furniture describes furniture that is used in a home or private space. Furniture like this might come from places like Amart, Bunnings, Harvey Norman, or Kmart.

“Commercial” furniture describes furniture that is used in a business or hospitality space. Commercial furniture comes from specific commercial suppliers who specialise in finding furniture for the commercial industry.

There are a few differences between the two furniture grades, and they are so important. You need to know these differences so that when you go to buy your new venue furniture, you are fully aware and can make a properly informed decision. This is why we’ve written this article to help inform you and allow you to make the best decision for your venue.

Is Commercial Furniture more durable than Domestic Furniture?

When you are looking at your new venue furniture, it is important to make sure that the furniture you pick is of commercial quality. You need the furniture that comes with the guarantee of withstanding the harsh rigours of the hospitality environment. The hospitality industry is a harsh one – with many patrons using the furniture day in and day out with less care than you would find in your own home. For this reason, your furniture needs to be commercial grade.

Whilst a domestic chair may be fine in a house, putting it in an area where it is sat on five times a day by someone who doesn’t care about it, will lead to it breaking down. Domestic furniture simply isn’t built to last in a high-traffic situation such as a restaurant or bar. Whilst domestic or residential furniture may be more aesthetically pleasing, commercial furniture is all about the construction and quality.

Similarly, commercial furniture and domestic furniture is often made from different products. For example, domestic furniture is typically made from softer timbers. On a similar line, domestic sofas are built for comfort over durability – while commercial sofas are made with denser and stronger foam to it doesn’t sag over time.

Commercial furniture often features extra brackets and reinforcements, which mightn’t look as neat, but last longer.

Additionally, upholstered furniture can show up a few differences as well. The thickness of the materials used to upholster the furniture, as well as the stitching that is used. Domestic style stitching and materials don’t last in the commercial environment.

Are there different levels of Commercial Grade Furniture?

Yes. As there is with domestic furniture, commercial furniture also comes in varied levels of quality. For example, the Siesta Air Chair is great commercial quality, however there is a copy on the market, sold as “commercial grade” that simply doesn’t match the original Air Chair for quality. (We have another blog on this very chair – check it out here.)

Our advice would be to always use commercial grade furniture, however, make sure it is backed up with a good warranty to guarantee its quality. Another great way to check up on the quality of your furniture is to look for testing on the furniture. See if the supplier has taken the time to test the furniture and if so, what was the outcome.

You may find domestic furniture that comes with a great warranty. This, however, doesn’t apply to you. As soon you place domestic furniture in a commercial space, it voids the warranty.

Does the grade of my furniture affect my public liability?

Absolutely it does. Commercial grade furniture covers your public liability, however domestic grade furniture does not. This can mean if a patron is hurt through broken or damaged furniture in your venue, they can sue. That could turn out to be a very expensive piece of furniture.

Does Commercial Furniture cost more than Domestic Furniture?

The initial cost of commercial furniture is more than domestic furniture. This is simply due to the extra care that is put into creating furniture of higher quality and durability to withstand the commercial environment. Stronger timber, better reinforcements, higher quality foams and vinyls all add to the cost of the furniture, however it is all necessary cost if you want the durability you need.

Domestic furniture might be cheaper in the here and now, but that won’t last. In the long run, domestic furniture becomes more expensive. Ask yourself now, would you rather spend $80 on a chair now and replace it in a year, or spend $150 on a chair that lasts 5 years. We say your return on investment is much better with the latter option.

However, depending on where you shop, domestic furniture can be more costly than commercial furniture. Due to being sold in smaller quantities, some brands of domestic furniture may ask more for their furniture than commercial brands.

“People can so easily be mislead and underestimate how much wear and tear a commercial piece of furniture endures. No-one wants to be replacing their furniture in a year because of breakage, heavy wear or damage. Investing a bit more upfront in heavy-duty commercial furniture not only ensures the safety of your patrons but also guarantees its longevity for a period of five years or more. ”

– Jarrad Dartnall, National Sales Manager at Adage Furniture.

Other than cost and durability, are there any other differences between domestic and commercial furniture?

Possibly one of the biggest differences between domestic and commercial furniture is its purpose. Domestic furniture is designed for a house. Commercial furniture is designed for commercial spaces.

There are different heights and sizes between the two furniture grades. Especially with bar furniture. Domestic bar tables sit at 900mm high, while commercial bar tables sit at 1080mm high. Similarly, matching commercial bar stool seats are 750mm high, while domestic stools are 660mm high. Similarly, domestic bar stools can be gas lift or height adjustable. This never lasts with heavy usage.

Not only heights but design as well. For example, a kitchen table would not be fit for use in a restaurant. The legs could be in the corners of the table, and therefore make it difficult for chairs and movement.

Commercial Furniture Suppliers

When you are searching for your new furniture, commercial furniture suppliers know it all. They have seen every situation and they know all the problems that can materialise with your furniture. Domestic furniture suppliers do not. They don’t sell into the commercial space on a daily basis and therefore don’t understand commercial issues and can’t sell intelligently in the market. When you visit a commercial furniture supplier, they can efficiently help you out and find the best furniture to suit your needs.

“After so many years in the industry, and hearing the horror stories from people that have been mislead on the quality of furniture, it has caused me to be deeply passionate about instructing as many people as possible on the need for furniture that will last in high traffic areas where the furniture will be mistreated. A simple tip or equation to use is cost of product / warranty period. For example – $70 chair / 1 year warranty = $70 per year. $140 chair / 5 year warranty = $28 per year.”

– Jarrad Dartnall, National Sales Manager at Adage Furniture.

Commercial furniture suppliers are also more likely to continue stocking the chairs and tables you choose. Domestic furniture is high rotation furniture. Trends go up and down and furniture styles comes and go. Domestic furniture must keep up with trends and therefore cannot afford to continue hanging on to lines that no longer sell domestically.

However, commercial furniture doesn’t change as often. The same chairs that were stylish in a restaurant 5 or 10 years ago are still stylish today. For this reason, commercial suppliers don’t change their product lines too often, rather they add to it. This will give you peace of mind. If you need new chairs for an expansion, or as replacements, you can be fairly sure that your chairs will still be available.

About the Author

Jarrad Dartnall

With close to a decade of industry-specific experience under his belt, Jarrad Dartnall is a seasoned professional in the field of hospitality furniture solutions. As the National Sales Manager for our company, Jarrad brings a wealth of knowledge, passion, and expertise to the table (quite literally!).

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