Articles on benches and other garden furniture
This article will replicate the post published by the user mymaster, where the author talks on the advantages and disadvantages of street furniture. Based on the given recommendations we will attempt, with an example of one model, to create a perfect bench option to install in a park or any other public place. As a basis we are going to take our new bench "Brooklyn", the design of which has been graciously provided by our customer upon realizing one joint project. Note however that our article will not describe the design or colors of the benches, this time we are going to leave out your taste preferences.
Before proceeding with creating the perfect bench, let’s say a few words about the most suitable materials used for installation in public spots. Let me say straight away that there is no universal material that can satisfy everybody’s needs. Each material has both advantages and disadvantages. Cast iron, for instance, is in my personal opinion the best option at this moment, but not every municipal institution can afford the cast iron benches. Then steel, but the service life of such benches is much shorter and the design is poorer. On the other hand the steel benches are much cheaper than the cast iron ones, which significantly increases their popularity in the municipal improvements. I concentrated on these and other materials in the benches manufacture in the article: "How to choose a bench for municipal purposes? Let’s talk materials.".
To establish the basic criteria to produce a perfect bench we need to figure out our objectives. What does a customer or more precisely a user need? It’s very simple. To have enough benches for everybody. For the benches to be comfortable, not leave paint or dirt stains.
Since the Soviet times there has been a trend for the extended length benches. Usually these are 3, or even 4-6 meter long monsters. Yeah-yeah, we ourselves fulfill orders for such sizes. Benches with a seat over 2 meters are not practical. I insist on it. If you pay attention to "long" benches in parks you’ll discover that all of them are half-empty, and at the same time many people don’t have a place to seat. Young mothers with strollers will not rest at the bench next to a noisy group. Plus many don’t feel comfortable spending their time among strangers in such confined space. 1.8 - 2 meter long benches are a perfect option for public places with large traffic. I think that instead of 20 3-meter benches it’s better to install 30 1.8-meter benches. Economically speaking it will be more profitable for a customer. As the phrase goes: "have your cake and eat it too".
The next criterion will be a " non-staining factor". You would think that all responsibility lies on the servicing body, street sweepers, cleaners, etc. No! Not only. The coating of the wooden bars is greatly important here. Many manufacturers only use the toning protective agents as coating without further lacquering. Such coating does not have repellant qualities. Yes, it does protect wood against external factors, but dust and dirt are not washed off/blown off from seats and backrests well enough. That is why we use lacquer for finishing. Apart from the protective qualities it also has repellant ones. Same goes for enamels, so loved by lousy manufacturers for its ease of use. Not only does the enamel cover the beauty of the wood grain, but also significantly impairs the usability.
Today the quality lacquer coating is rare in the bench manufacture. This process requires a strict compliance with the painting process with multiple in-between polishing to prevent piling. Some manufacturers neglect these rules, as a result the torn pantyhose of the visitors become the mood killer for the users, and sometimes the customers ("intact pantyhose" is another criterion when choosing benches). Unfortunately the customers do not quite understand these moments and do not pay enough attention to this criterion, which suits the manufacturers of such benches: a significant money saver in the manufacture against the quality.
The bench comfort is really not that individual. It is a lie. There are comfortable benches and there are uncomfortable benches. The uncomfortable benches are for instance the benches without backrests (these are usually installed in the public places with small traffic). Or benches with a large distance between bars. Or with bars with sharp edges without fascia. There are plenty of such moments we can go on and on about. But we will emphasize several of them, which have to be considered in the first place. Apart from the mentioned above one should pay attention to the seat and the backrest angle. The seat should be somewhat elevated against the backrest, as if supporting the seated. At the same time the backrest should not be strongly receded, however its perpendicular position against the horizon will not add comfort. Of course the best way to choose a comfortable bench is to try it.
Benches without backrests are not suitable for public places and places with high traffic. They can be installed in the streets, bus stops, etc.
This bench has a larger distance between bars. It is not comfortable for a long rest. Additionally the bars are covered with enamel, which is unadvisable for use in public places.
Benches with straight backrests at 90 degrees to the horizon are not comfortable for long use. The backrest does not have orthopedic curves to relax and rest one’s back.
Not only does the bench have a 90 degree backrest, it is also made of metallic pipes. Metallic backrests as well as the seats are cold, uncomfortable, and unattractive. During the cold season seating on such benches can be unhealthy. Installation of such benches at the kids playgrounds is forbidden!
Another moment is a number of bars in the backrest. It shouldn’t be too small. Such benches are not suitable for a comfortable rest for a long period of time.
The seat height is also important for resting people. The best average height is 41-45 cm. Higher or lower benches are not comfortable.
Well. We have figured out the consumer criteria and have chosen the perfect bench for the modeling: the "Brooklyn" bench from the "Hobbyka" product line. We have given the quality processing to the wood, covered it with toning agents, and applied several lacquer coatings.
Now we have to figure out the customers’ criteria. Here we go!
The customers’ criteria for choosing benches significantly differ from the users’ criteria, which is not surprising. The customer needs to not only put benches in resting spots, but to service them, monitor their appearance and functionality. And some day these benches will need to be repaired or replaced. Additionally the economic factor significantly limits the customer’s choice. The customer has to "comply" with the budget, usually not big enough, at the same time ensuring their object has sufficient number of rest spots. And here we again return to the materials used in the manufacture, however in this case an individual approach is employed. But there are general rules, which equally apply to all cases of public places improvement. Apart from the user criteria the customer should consider its own interests. Let’s bring out the most valid ones: quality, anti-vandal properties, easy service, and suitability for repairs.
The product quality is the simplest and at the same time the most complicated moment when choosing benches. On the one hand the customer can choose that exact product that fully suits their needs. They can communicate with the manufacturer, verify and assure themselves of the quality of the supplied product. On the other hand the tender system of the state procurements can "kill" the customer’s idea at the start. The law on the state procurements, a so-called "94 FZ", does not provide for setting the exact characteristics of the purchased products and the process of its manufacture. The technical documents to the purchase shall include the term "equivalent", which is used by dishonest tender participants to supply the low-quality products with the same technical characteristics. Unfortunately there are no legal methods to fight such occurrences, therefore our only piece of advice is to describe the product in the technical documentation as thoroughly and precisely as possible.
The anti-vandal qualities have great significance when choosing benches for municipal purposes. These qualities are achieved with several methods simultaneously.
1) Benches with armrests, due to having a smaller shelf to mount seat and backrest bars, shall have axial screeds, which eliminate bench loosening during a long-term use. Another bench strengthener is a modular or single-piece metal structure connecting the bench rests. These measures will be sufficient to prevent the bench loosening. I think many of you have seen tilted benches in parks. The non-strengthened benches require annual reassembling, which we all can agree is just not right. In "our perfect bench" we use steel pipes for rigid rest connection.
2) A bench has to be protected from moving. If it is not a 150-kilo cast iron bench, but a light steel one, it has to be attached to the ground. There are two ways of mounting: rest grouting or anchorage. Both these ways are reliable, but the anchorage is more preferable: it costs less and is much easier to service. "Our perfect bench", despite of its heavy weight provides for both ways. You can choose the grouting for a ground base, or the anchorage for slabs or pavement. Such mounting makes the bench not just non-transportable, but ensures its stability.
3) Often the vandals are certain youngsters, who couldn’t care less about using a seat, they need to be above it all, so they choose the top bar of a backrest as a perch to sit.
One would think: how can you fight this?
Apart from moral building there is one proven technique. Here we call it "scumbag proofing". As you can see in the picture below it is a structure placed instead of the perch. This crossbar significantly complicates sitting on the bench backrest by making it uncomfortable.
The ease of service and suitability for repairs are the adjacent qualities, which depend on each other. One time a customer asked us to replace several wooden bars for the benches he had purchased from an unknown seller. When we calculated its cost the customer had to give up on the idea. As a result he had to purchase new benches manufactured by us. The problems was that the benches he had at the object had been made in China out of beechwood with the non-European standard accessories. This makes the repairs of such benches impossible at reasonable prices. And this goes for not just imported benches. Often the products with exclusive details and components, the repairs of which significantly complicate the customer’s life, are purchased for the public use objects. We recommend purchasing the benches from the Russian manufacturers without extra designer frills. Because a park or some public garden is not a museum, and a bench is not a display unit.
Another moment in the bench usage… Good, comfortable, good-looking benches are often used as beds by homeless people.
Sometimes it ruins the bench appearance. The particularly squeamish people don’t risk sitting on such benches. There is also a protection technique, which among ourselves we call "protection from homeless". On the example "of our perfect bench" we will demonstrate how to stop such inappropriate bench use. As you can see in the picture below we made the bench uncomfortable for lying down on it. Armrests between the seats are also functional. The zoned seats help a more effective utilization of the useful seating area.
Such type of zoning is widely used in Europe and the US. In Russia such protection technique is not common but we actively promote it.
Another important factor when choosing a bench is warranty periods and manufacturer’s conditions. The choice of the manufacturer of municipal equipment is a key moment for success. All of these moments are described in the article: "Choosing a manufacturer of the garden and park equipment".
Make the right choice!