The 6 Significant Differences Between Commercial-Grade and Residential-Grade Furniture


Think about your workstation, and then think about your bed. What are the significant differences between the two pieces of furniture? You probably aren’t sleeping at your workstation… unless it’s lunch. But that’s not the only difference between the two items. Your bed is residential-grade furniture, but your workstation is mostly commercial-grade furniture. 

The furniture you find in your office building is drastically different from the furniture you find in your bedroom, kitchen, doctor’s office or public parks. We’re talking about residential versus commercial-grade furniture. 

Commercial-grade furniture doesn’t necessarily mean that the furniture is found in public businesses, but rather it is the furniture’s quality. There are six significant differences between residential-grade furniture and commercial-grade furniture.

  • Suppliers
  • Options
  • Quality
  • Warranties
  • Finishes
  • Price

1. Where are you buying your furniture?

Where you purchase your furniture will directly impact the classification of the furniture you will be receiving. Thousands of different retailers carry different kinds of furniture, and there are various considerations for all. When going into a furniture store or furniture supplier, you expect to be met with a wide variety of options that will suit all of your needs. 

Major big box stores like Staples, IKEA, and Walmart all carry a large amount of furniture for your home and office. These stores are found in nearly every town and supply a large part of the population with their day-to-day furniture.  These suppliers focus on residential classified furniture. Furniture is available instantly and can be commonly found. These stores often carry a wide variety of products and do not specialize in any one kind. 

A furniture dealer like Office Interiors may carry products that look similar to these big box stores, but there are some key differences. Furniture dealers focus on commercial-grade products. These dealerships source their products from higher-end brands, and you will be working with a furniture professional when purchasing the product. When ordering from a furniture dealer, you typically have a dedicated representative who will work with you to ensure you are getting the best product for your needs. Since furniture dealers are more specialized, you will find these are often local to your area and not major corporate brands.

2. Do you want a wide variety of options? 

Look around your room and identify all of the different purposes your furniture has. Each piece works together to create a cohesive and productive environment. 

Residential furniture is prebuilt or assembled and typically comes in a few varieties. For example, when selecting a new storage piece, you will have limited options with residential furniture. 

When going into a residential furniture store, you will have predetermined colour and size options. Typically with storage, you will find basic colours like white, black and grey and limited sizes. These items are grab-and-go, and you will be able to purchase and assemble them that day. Finding a piece that seamlessly works with your existing setup may be difficult because of the options available. While there are usually a wide variety of types of furniture, customization is limited to residential furniture.

A commercial-grade supplier will have access to a large variety of products that are built to work together with the same finish and be sized to fit.  Commercial-grade dealers do not have a lot of products in stock because these pieces are made-to-order. Office space is precious, so ensuring that you have the best option of furniture is essential. 

3. How durable does your furniture need to be?

Furniture plays a specific function for a room, and their lifespans can significantly vary.

Residential furniture is typically very trendy but has a short lifespan. These products are not made to withstand the test of time, but rather be a trend of the moment. There are ever-evolving trends in the furniture industry, and residential furniture helps you implement those trends quickly. But the quality of these pieces isn’t always a priority. 

Commercial furniture is designed to last and withstand the wear and tear of everyday use.

This furniture is built with quality being a top priority. Pieces are designed to improve your space and work with the current trends effortlessly. Commercial furniture is made to be used. Most commercial-grade fabric finishes use the double-rub metric – this measures exactly how many times the furniture can be sat on before showing wear and tear.

A great example is guest seating in a waiting room. These chairs have an evolving door of people who continually sit in them daily. These chairs need to be aesthetically pleasing but also be able to handle constant use. Commercial-grade guest seating will allow you to have beautiful furniture that can also last in these circumstances. 

4. Do you need a warranty?

No matter the quality or the supplier of the furniture, chances are you want it to last. But what happens when there is a defect? These things happen, and you want to be covered. Paying close attention to office furniture warranties can help you choose higher-quality furniture that will last longer.

Residential furniture often comes with a limited warranty. These warranties are typically 30-60 days after purchase and cover manufacturing defects. However, once a piece of furniture is fully assembled or the box is opened, this may automatically void the warranty. Getting a refund can also be a headache, waiting in line for hours only to receive a partial refund. Sometimes extended warranties are available for purchase and can be used to refund or replace defective products. 

Commercial-grade furniture comes with different kinds of needs and their warranties fall into three different categories. Limited warranty, full warranty or express warranty

A limited warranty is a time-restricted warranty and is often 10 years to a lifetime, depending on the product. These warranties come with some restrictions and usually cover defects or product breaking, but not due to user neglect. 

A full warranty is rare and covers the product forever, no matter what happens. The manufacturer guarantees product performance forever. This is a no-questions-asked kind of warranty.

An express warranty is a guarantee about the product based on its advertised qualities. For example, if a chair is said to withstand 350 lbs by a salesperson, and they write this down on your invoice, your warranty will cover this chair’s performance. 

5. What finishes are available? 

What your product is made of will vary based on its classification. 

Residential furniture comes in limited finishes and often is made of lower-grade materials. There are typically only a select variety of colours or fabrics available and do not offer customization. If it’s laminate or metal, they often come in a few colours and can scuff or dent with constant use. Most furniture will be available in white, black or grey and not protect against stains or continuous use. These items are mass-produced, so they have to appeal to the masses and be quick to market.

Commercial-grade finishes have endless options and customization. This doesn’t just include colour and fabric, but there are also options like water resistance or sustainable material. Commercial-grade finishes are high quality and can withstand constant use. Also, since these finishes are available in a wide variety of options, you can match them to any existing furniture you have in the room. Commercial grade furniture is made to order which allows for higher-grade finishes to be used.

6. How much money do you want to spend?

You pay for quality, and this is true with residential and commercial-grade furniture.

Residential-grade furniture is typically less expensive than its commercial-grade counterparts. Factors like the quality of materials, the manufacturer and style all play into the price tag. You are paying for ease and convenience with residential-grade furniture, and you are paying for a high-quality product with significant warranties when you choose commercial-grade furniture. 

There is no one correct answer to whether you should buy commercial-grade or residential-grade furniture. This will depend on the function of the furniture and what your expectations are. 

If you want to talk to a furniture rep to learn more about the commercial-grade furniture available at Office Interiors, reach out to us today and we would be happy to help! 

Emily Adams
Digital Content Specialist
Office Interiors