While conducting our many, many Toronto-area corporate relocations, we very often see residential-grade office furniture mixed into—and often completely replacing—their commercial-grade counterparts, not only in the furniture we move, but in the additional furniture purchased to fill out the new space.
We would normally ask the question “Why is that?”, but the answer is far too simple, and would lead to a one-paragraph blog post: Residential office furniture is usually cheaper—in the case of some discount options, such as Ikea, the difference in cost can be significant.
Instead, we will take a look at the more comprehensive, interesting question: Why should (or shouldn’t) you purchase commercial-grade furniture?
Residential furniture is generally designed to sit in the corner of a room for occasional use. They’re meant to be desks at which a child will do homework for an hour a night, or at which you would pay bills once a month or file taxes once a year. While the durability of residential furniture can vary greatly, the trademark is usually that it’s made from cheaper, lighter materials to keep the costs down.
Commercial furniture is designed to be used eight hours or more per day, every day. It is generally made from thicker, stronger, heavier materials, with more sturdy joints and fasteners, to ensure that it can withstand the rigors of everyday use.
When it comes to residential units, economy and functionality are king. Efficiency in the cleaning or maintenance of the furniture is very rarely a concern for the residential buyer, so a unit designed for home use may have features that could make it difficult to clean under and around, and even have components that are not designed to easily disassemble to accommodate for a corporate relocation in Toronto.
Commercial furniture, on the other hand, is designed to appease buyers for whom efficiency is extremely important. Commercial units are designed not to impede cleaning staff and furniture installers, allowing you to keep every facet of your business’ operation running smoothly.
While this might be what many consider a strike against commercial furniture, price point can actually swing favour away from residential options: Commercial costs more, but it costs more for a reason.
It boils down to two maxims: First, “You get what you pay for.” The extra expense of commercial furniture goes into components and features that ensure that it will last longer than a cheaper residential option. Second, “The cheapest option is usually the most costly.” While that is usually applied to professional services (ie. the inexperienced amateur will make more work for the professional you bring in to fix what they did), it also applies to products. It’s cheaper to buy the more expensive item once, than it is to buy the cheap item over and over again.
Of course, it depends on your business and how much use you’ll get out of the furniture. In the end, you will have to use your best judgment to determine the ‘wear-and-tear’ costs within your own business environment.
The most compelling argument for residential office furniture may be surprising: It’s not the cost, but the trendiness.
Commercial furniture is designed to be stylish, but in a more ‘evergreen’ manner that will suit many different businesses, and that are safe enough to not go out of style within the next few years.
If a business wants to heavily stylize, they will need to either order customized commercial furniture, or turn instead to residential designs. Since they aren’t expected to last as long, residential furniture manufacturers can afford to have more ‘trendy’ designs, and because they have a much wider customer base (IE not only businesses, but college dorms and home studies as well), they can have pieces that target much more of a niche aesthetic.
Whether your office is decked out with trendy residential designs or hearty, efficient commercial furniture, we can help you to keep your Toronto-area corporate relocations as quick and efficient as possible. To learn more, contact us today.