We see claims of the weight capacity when we look for folding chairs online. But are these weight limit claims based on real-life use? Read on to learn more.
Light, foldable, and AFFORDABLE. That’s what we like in folding chairs!
But can they withstand HEAVY loads? Unfortunately, you need heavier and more expensive materials to increase weight capacity.
What Does the Weight Limit on Folding Chairs Mean?
According to BIFMA (the Business + Institutional Furniture Manufacturers Association), buying decisions SHOULD NOT be based solely on load capacity.
A rating alone is misleading and doesn’t tell you how long the chair will last or how strong it is.
Weight limit refers to the maximum weight you can place evenly in the chair.
In other words, the rating is for STATIC weight. The weight doesn’t change or move.
In real life, the weight of an actual person in a chair is not static.
We sit down. We try to find a better seating position. We look around, get up, and sit down again. We MOVE.
The load is dynamic in real life.
The 800-pound capacity rating does not mean that an 800-pound person can safely use that chair.
In reality, the chairs can only support MUCH LESS weight.
How to Make Sure the Chair Is Strong Enough?
Most folding chairs have a weight capacity of 300 to 800 pounds (static weight). So you can think that a folding chair at the lower end is not suitable for persons weighing more than 200 pounds.
Other things to look at:
- try to find a folding chair that’s meant for commercial use.
- try to find a chair that has passed all the BIFMA-tests (more on this later)
- use caution with weight capacity claims. Recommended real-life weight is always much less
A good rule of thumb is to avoid anything below 300 pounds. If possible, try to get chairs with the highest weight capacities you can find so that they will last longer.
The Weight Limit of Different Types of Folding Chairs
Let’s take a look at the weight capacity of different kinds of folding chairs:
The weight limit of plastic folding chairs ranges from 220 to 650 pounds (specified by the manufacturer).
Plastic is the most common material used for this kind of folding chair. It is also the most affordable. Thus it is pretty much the bestseller among the bunch.
Plastic chairs are stain-resistant and waterproof, so you can use them outdoors. They are the top pick for events like garden weddings.
Due to the durability, lightweight, and affordable price, many events organizers and homeowners invest in plastic folding chairs.
For example, this commercial-grade plastic chair from Flash Furniture has a 650-pound weight capacity stated by the manufacturer (although the dimensions of the chair are not designed for heavy persons, which is quite common).
The weight limit of metal folding chairs ranges from 250 to 500 pounds (specified by the manufacturer).
The metal folding chair is another popular choice after the plastic kind.
However, they are not recommended for sitting for long periods because they are not as comfortable as a padded or plastic chair.
For example, this Cosco All Steel Folding Chair has a 250-pound weight capacity, according to the manufacturer.
The weight capacity of resin folding chairs is specified to 1000-pounds with almost every manufacturer.
Resin chairs are a bit more expensive but offer the highest weight capacity.
These chairs look elegant, so they are great for events, like weddings.
You can read the Cosco Resin Folding Chair review here.
For example, according to the manufacturer, this resin chair from Flash Furniture has a 1000-pound weight capacity.
Mesh is the most recent addition to folding chair materials, and these chairs cost more than the other types.
They are comfortable to sit on and are great for outdoor settings where people might be exposed to higher temperatures.
They are also durable because of the metal frames included in the construction and are pretty easy to clean.
For example, this comfortable Flex-One folding chair has a 1000-pound capacity, according to the manufacturer.
The padded kind is another option for seating during events.
These chairs are a bit more expensive than the basic chairs, but they are more comfortable. They are ideal for seating people in events that take long hours.
Due to the elegance and comfort factor, these chairs are an excellent option for making an impact on guests at home.
For example, according to the manufacturer, this sturdy padded chair from Flash Furniture has a 300-pound weight capacity (but the dimensions are standard, not for larger bodies).
Do All Chairs Have Weight Limits?
All chairs have a theoretical weight capacity.
This should be stated in the sale information and on the product package.
I would be very suspicious of a retail chair that doesn’t indicate any kind of weight capacity.
What Does BIFMA Stand For?
BIFMA (the Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturers Association) is a non-profit organization that aims to create voluntary standards that encourage safe working environments.
Folding chairs have to pass SIX different tests to say that they are BIFMA compliant.
The most challenging test is the dynamic drop test. This test simulates a large person flopping down onto the chair.
The use of American National Standards is completely voluntary, so it’s up to the manufacturer on how they measure the capacity.
The manufacturers of some chairs claim they meet BIFMA standards but do not specify what that means or which tests they pass.
It’s hard for us consumers to know if they have done all the tests according to standards or not.
The Bottom Line
Folding chairs can be rented or bought, and if you want more convenience, you can buy one or a few of those chairs online.
Before buying one, you need to consider the weight capacity they have:
- You have to know how much weight a folding chair can hold, and you
- Need to make sure that the product is durable and capable of accommodating an
ampleamount of weight.
- You have to consider the comfort of your guests as well when buying those chairs.
Just remember that folding chairs might have a great weight capacity, but their dimensions might not be best suited for larger individuals. Folding chairs need to be lightweight and easy to fold and store, so it gives restrictions to dimensions.
If you are convinced that a particular folding chair might be of use to you, you can make a list of options and narrow down your choices as you select chairs along the way.