Specifying Heavy Duty Chairs for Healthcare Environments


Healthcare environments are nonstop with 24/7 use. It’s also a place that must serve the entire population, including people who are overweight and people with behavioral and mental health conditions. Therefore, it’s important to provide seating in these spaces that can withstand heavy loads, constant use and potential abuse. Often referred to as heavy-duty chairs, this type of seating is considered high-quality and can resist damage due to it’s superior internal structure and durable exterior finishes.

Internal Construction of Heavy Duty Chairs

With the increased weight of the population, new test standards for seating are under consideration which will address 99.5% of male population in the US.  These proposed standards will be based on testing a chair to 600lbs. Meeting these heavy-duty chair requirements takes sophisticated engineering and strong internal components.

Most companies do not specify the thickness (gauge) of steel used in their seating products. Many are commonly made of 16-gauge tubing, however 14-gauge tubing is recommended and provides the superior strength required for heavy-duty chairs. It’s important to recognize that the lower the gauge, the thicker the steel.  More specifically, 16-gauge steel is .065” thick, and 14-gauge steel is .083” thick.  That’s a difference of .018” which might seem like a small number, but it translates to being 22% thicker! This is an important consideration when comparing competitive seating products.

High resilience foam is used in the manufacturing of heavy duty chairs. This foam is the highest grade of polyurethane foam weighing 3 lb. per cubic foot. This foam contours the back and seat of a person sitting in the chair exceptionally well.  The foams cell structure enables extreme elastic and optimal supporting force. It’s the elastic of high resilience foam that helps to prolong the comfort life of the chair and with regular use should last at least twelve years.

 Durable Exterior Design of Heavy Duty Chairs

With the trend towards residential appeal in healthcare environments, not only must heavy-duty chairs have a strong internal core, they must have an extremely durable and aesthitically pleasing exterior that withstands constant use and the harsh cleaning regiments of healthcare environements.

Chosen fabrics for healthcare seating should resist spills, stains, odors and microbial growth. This will keep heavy-duty chairs cleaner and looking great longer. CF Stinson’s vinyl, non-pvc and Crypton fabric repels and releases both water and oil based stains, has an integrated non-porous moisture barrier and protects against bacteria and odor causing microbes using silver ion technology.

Finishing options such as wood, solid surface and polyurethane arm caps protect the chair arms and makes them easier to clean, enhancing the overall longevity of heavy duty chairs.

If you’re looking at heavy-duty chairs for your next project, below are some of our favorites:

Heavy Duty Seating








Oasis Seating for Behavioral Health

Onward Heavy Duty Chair








Onward Seating for Behavioral Health

Vista II - Heavy Duty Seating for Behavioral Health








Vista II Seating for Behavioral Health