Steel is the most common metal used for bench frames in changing rooms in the UK and provides a strong base for any bench, allowing even weight distribution across the bench. Bench frames are often welded at the joints for optimum strength and robustness, but some frames can be made available as separate parts which are then secured together via bolts with the aid of tools. This is more often the case with budget and flat pack benching.
Timber is the ideal wood of choice for benching as it tends to hold its shape with minimal flex under load. This is especially important with benches that are constantly in use or benches that are being used for storage. This also allows for various wood stains to be applied to suit the surroundings where your bench is being placed. For the environmentally conscious, it’s always good practice to check that wood materials for your bench are being sourced from sustainable forests.
Used as an alternative to timber, polymer is an incredibly robust, dense plastic or resin material that also has the same tensile strength and doesn’t flex under load. A big advantage polymer has over timber is that it can be a variety of different colours to match with an existing colour layout. It also has the distinction that colours won’t fade or wear away if the bench is subject to heavy use.
Powder Coat Paint
Both polymer and wooden benches can be powder coated into a range of vibrant colours. Giving further customisation to allow your benching to match an existing colour layout. Certain companies can offer extra benefits to their powder coated paints such as anti-bacterial properties.
A new trend with benching is to use vinyl wraps to really give a fresh and different look to a classic bench. The flexibility of vinyl wrap also means it can be applied to the frame or slats.
That should give you a good idea to the materials used in your average bench and you now know what you want your bench to be made from. What about the design? Let’s take at look at what design elements you should take into consideration.
Take a look at the space where you intend for your bench to go. You should consider that you will need space to comfortably move around your bench and be able sit at the bench and be able to store items underneath if required.
Benches can come in lots of different lengths such as 1 meter or 1.5 meters but for this example we will look at a bench being 2 meters long. You will need to give yourself a 600mm wide area all the way round your bench to allow comfortable seating.
Benches also aren’t limited by their height. (This is for the height of the actual bench seat, we’ll talk about the height of the bench with accessories later on) Depending on where your bench is going, you might find a smaller bench with a seat height of 350mm is suitable, especially if your bench is going to be used by smaller children in a primary school. Bench seating can be found anywhere up to 480mm high for use in adult changing rooms.
There are two common depths for benches, and this boils down to two main configurations. You can either have the bench be single sided or double sided, depending on your space and how many people will be simultaneously using the bench. Opting for a double-sided bench will also mean you will need a larger area of clearance.
Now you’re starting to get a good idea of what bench is going to be suit you but maybe you aren’t looking for just a plain basic bench? Let’s talk about accessories!
Simply adding a back rest to a bench makes an immediately more comfortable options for sitting and changing and can either be made for a double or single sided bench.
A hook board for your bench can be one of the best ways of avoiding clutter and one of the biggest causes of untidiness when it comes to a bench is when coats, especially thicker winter coats, are left on the seats. It allows for coats and bags to be stored while also leaving the seat of the bench free to be used. A hook board can be made from various materials, including both timber and polymer and as the hooks can be formed from the same steel as the frame of the bench or from the same polymer as the seat, these can be colour coded to match the frame or other features in the room.
For a similar use to the hook board, the hanging rail allows for clothes and is suitable for smart attire to be stored without creasing. Either standard hangers or captive hangers that incorporate an anti-theft mechanism can be used with the hanging rail and matching slats can be added to the top of the hanging rail frame to complete the bench and allow for overhead storage.
Under bench storage shelf
An underbed storage shelf can be an excellent way to use the often-ignored space under a bench’s seating. Smaller items such as shoes and smaller bags can be stored under the bench which in turn leaves the floor areas clear around your bench. Under bench storage shelfs will usually be constructed from the same materials as the rest of the bench, which in this example would either be a polymer or timber.
Under bench shoe storage
If you are looking to maximise the space below the bench for shoes, then modular shoe baskets might be the way to go. These can be changed to suit different shapes and sizes of shoes and are constructed from identical steel to the frame of a bench, along with also being able to be powder coated to match your frame.
In the same way a ship’s anchor stops the ship from moving. These floor anchors stop your benching from moving about during use by allowing them to be fixed directly to the floor.
Thinking outside the bench
In smaller spaces, a standalone bench can feel like it takes up a lot of floor space and a more space saving option may be the better choice for you. Let’s look at how you can make the most of a smaller space with wall mounting options.
Wall mounted benches
A wall mounted bench basically removes the legs and adds brackets to the frame to allow the bench to be secured to a wall. This effectively reduces the overall footprint of the bench while still giving you the functionality to be able to sit and change. These benches can be made with all the same materials as their larger counterparts. The same goes for choosing colours for the frames and the seats.
Wall mounted hook boards
Like a regular hook board, this can be attached to the wall to allow coats and other garments to be hung and keeps floors clutter-free. Both timber and polymer is available for the board and hooks to allow for lots of customisation options. Attach the board above a wall mounted bench for maximised space.
Wall mounted hanging rails
Like the hook board, the hanging rails will mean that coats and other garments can be hung up but also adds the practical extra of a shelf above the hanging rails which provides extra storage. This shelf can also be made from timber or polymer to match your benching with matching coloured frames.
Hopefully, this has made choosing a suitable bench a little easier and given some insight into the options available and allowed you to make the most of the space where your future bench will reside.