church pews

Pews vs. chairs for church seating

For years church seating was like God’s word: unchanging. If you walked into any Christian church in the world, you’d expect to see wooden pews or simple wooden chairs. But as time passed and technology caught up, the options for comfortable church seating expanded: Out of that McPhail Church Services was formed, drawing on the expertise of our owner Norman McPhail, who worked in pew manufacturing for years before founding McPhail Church Services. McPhail performs on site pew restoration, pew upholstery and restoration. So when customers say they’re considering new church seating, and should they install new pews or chairs, we give them a cost-saving third alternative:  Let McPhail repair and restore or reupholster the pews you have, preserving your history while saving you and impressive amount of money!

Pew Services from McPhail Church Services 

For about a third of the cost of new pews, McPhail can beautify your existing furniture within a few days, bringing new life to your church seating, be it pews, pulpit chairs, or supplemental seating. We work on any size project, and work around your church schedule so services aren’t disrupted. Most of our work is done by our McPhail team on site, with minimum disruption to your church family. And all services are completed by us without outside contractors, allowing us to make the process as simple and affordable as possible.

Pew Reupholstery from McPhail Church Services

McPhail Church Services has a proprietary upholstery/reupholstery process that is highly valued by thousands of churches around the country. You can see examples of our fine craftsmanship to get an idea of what we can do for your sanctuary seating.

We also have long and trusted relationships with the best fabric mills in the country, so we can provide you with the finest choices in upholstery fabric that is attractive, durable, and reasonably priced.   All our fabrics are woven in the U.S. using domestic yarns. We even warranty the fabric, which is designed to stand up to years of commercial use.

Our upholstery teams use top of the line high density upholstery foam (LUX foam) that is renowned for durability, comfort, and its ability to retain its shape for years despite repeated use. Both the compression and size of the foam affect comfort, so we’ll work with you to determine the best choice for your congregation. 


 Contact McPhail Today Church Seating Options!

At McPhail, we’ve built our reputation on being the premiere church pew service company. If you’re facing a seating decision, contact us today and one of our team would be happy to talk you through the ways we can refurbish your existing church furniture. We’ve been serving congregations around the country since 1990, and we work on your church’s schedule, so as to not disrupt service at any time. We’re so confident in our work that we offer a 15-year warranty on our upholstery, which is rare for the industry. And we guarantee all phases of our work. We look forward to working with you on the best decision for your congregation and space.

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    If you’re wondering how to clean and maintain church pews regularly, we at McPhail Church Services have got you covered.

    We’ve served churches in North Carolina and all over the country for decades now, and know all about church furniture upkeep and maintenance. Here are a few simple tips and tricks up for you:


    How Do I Keep My Church Pews Sanitized?

    If the pews in your church aren’t upholstered, we highly recommend church pew upholstery. It extends the life of your furniture and is also easier to clean and maintain.

    Assuming your pews are already upholstered:

    #1 – Manually pick any debris off the upholstery and pew surfaces.

    #2 – Gently vacuum the upholstery. This will get rid of most of the invisible dirt and grime. Use some of the extensions that come with your vacuum cleaner to reach corners and nooks that are hard to reach.

    #3 – Get a sanitizing product like Clorox and spray small amounts gently over your upholstery.

    #4 – Use a light brush to spread the disinfectant and clean up dirt on the surface. Remember, brushing too aggressively can tear the fabric, and spraying too much disinfectant can lead to discoloration and smudging.

    What if my church pews are made of wood and not upholstered?

    That’s easy too:

    #1 – Identify the type of wooden surface on your pews—whether the wood is a hard finish or an oil finish. The latter may be slightly more sensitive to cleaning chemicals.

    #2 – If your furniture has a hard wood finish, use a standard cleaning spray with just a few spritzes across the surface.

    If your furniture has an oil finish, use a mild soap and warm water solution with a soft cloth to clean the surface, and then another damp cloth to make sure all the soap solution is removed. 

    #3 – Use a dry cloth to wipe off any remaining residue or moisture on the wooden surface. This will leave behind a nice sheen on it.


    If you want to disinfect wooden pews without any harsh chemicals, you can mix 2 cups of warm water with 1 cup of cleaning vinegar and use a small cloth to apply the mixture to your pews, as well as doorknobs, light switches, chairs etc. But be careful not to use too much vinegar.

    When Church Pews Are Damaged

    McPhail Church Services offer extremely affordable and convenient church pew parts and repair services. Our experts will get in touch with you, identify the type and extent of damage, and fix it for you in no time at all.

    If you’d like, we’ll also offer church pew upholstery at extremely competitive prices, with stains and fabrics of your choice, designed to match your existing furniture.

    What To Do With Old and/or Discolored Wood

    We also offer simple church pew wood restoration services, designed to make your wooden pews look brand new again. That’s the beauty of working with wood furniture—it’s easy to revamp and breathe new life into.

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      Like any other investment, church pews can benefit from preventative maintenance to help them look and perform their best for years.  

      McPhail Church Services recommends a couple of steps to care for your wood furniture:

      • If there are any spills, immediately wipe them away and dry the area to avoid spots and stains.

      -Each month, clean the pews with a sponge or towel that you’ve dampened in water and wrung out well.  Then use a clean dry towel to wipe behind and get up any remaining water. Don’t forget to wipe the hard-to-reach areas under the seats as well.

      • Once a year, polish church pews using furniture polish- you can simply follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
      • While you don’t typically need to disinfect your pews, occasionally there may be a need if someone has had an accident.  But be careful: disinfecting can harm wooden surfaces, so it’s important that you use a product that says it can be used for cleaning as well as disinfecting. Those are usually mild and best for wooden surfaces. Make sure you stay away from harsh or acidic disinfectants, as they can cause permanent damage to the wood.

      What to avoid using on wood church pews:

      To extend the life of your wooden pews and keep their surface in good shape, especially after a recent remodel, we recommend you do NOT use the following:

      • Ammonia:  This chemical is too strong for cleaning wood and can actually damage the wooden surface.
      • Oil: If you use oil to clean the pews, it can cause issues for the wood surface and your congregants:  Oil can stain, and also makes the pews slippery and difficult to sit on.
      • Glass cleaner:  Most glass cleaners contain ammonia (see above) and other harsh chemicals that can stain or damage pews.
      • Water:  Water damage is always a threat with wooden pews, just as it is to any wooden furniture.  This is why we recommend when you’re wiping down the pews, make sure your sponge or towel is WELL WRUNG OUT so it’s just barely damp.  It’s also a good idea to dry the wood after wiping down because any moisture left on the pew could cause water damage.

      Refinishing Wood Pews:

      If your wooden church pews are showing signs of wear, are stained, scratched, cracked, or faded, it may be time to refurbish them.  McPhail Church Services is renowned for our full-service pew refinishing:  We’ll come out, pick up your pews, then bring them to our factory where we’ll sand them, stain them, reupholster if needed, then deliver and install them back in your sanctuary in a timely fashion.  McPhail also does pew repairs, replacing damaged boards or sanding down rough edges.

      Refinishing your existing church pews also protects your investment, extending the life of your pews, and increasing the value of your church.  And it can make them more comfortable for your congregants.

      McPhail Church Services has been refinishing church pews for more than half a century, offering expert craftsmanship and experience.  We guarantee our workmanship and are competitively priced- plus offer discounts if your church needs multiple pews refinished. Contact us today to learn more about church pew refinishing and how we can help restore your pews for many more years of service.  And view our photo gallery to see some of the quality work we’ve done for churches around the country.

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        Considering whether to refinish your church pews versus buying new ones?  We understand it’s a delicate balancing act- you want to be a good steward of your church budget, ensure congregants are comfortable for church members, while considering the value propositions of each, and time required for either project.

        McPhail Church Services wants to partner with you in making the best, most cost-effective decision for your congregation.  We’re happy to meet with you and discuss pricing on pew reupholstering, versus purchasing new pews, so you’re fully armed with the details you’ll need to consider what’s best and share with decision makers.

        What To Consider In The Price of Pews


        As you can imagine, there are a variety of issues to consider when making your decision. The more information you can share with us, the better we’ll be able to lay out your options so you can make an informed decision moving forward in your church update or redesign.

        • Number of pews – How many pews will the project involve?  Will all pews require refurbishment/replacement? 
        • How much of the pew? – Refinishing the wood only, or refinishing and reupholstering?  If your pews are upholstered, you’ll need to consider replacing the seating when you refinish the wooden pew itself. 
        • Fabric – reupholstery charges can vary widely depending on the fabric you choose, and as you can imagine, there are a wealth of options.  One thing to consider is longevity:  you want to pick a textile that can stand up to years of repeated use, while at the same time providing a comfortable seat.    You’ll want to consider fabrics specifically treated to repel moisture, or that are dust- or stain-resistant.
        • Comfort – this is a big one. From worship services to church meetings to special occasions, the church pews will play host to years of events, and the comfort of your congregation is paramount.

        Cost of Reupholstering vs. Replacing Pews

        Reupholstering church pews is an excellent way to refresh your sanctuary without having to invest in a costly new set of pews. The good news is, if the wooden structures of your pews are in good shape (no warping, cracks/structural damage), you can save a significant amount of money by simply reupholstering the pew seats (fabric and cushion)!

        Once you’ve made the decision to move forward with refurbishing the pew seats, McPhail Church Services can step in and ensure the project is done to exacting professional standards, so you get the most out of your budget.  

        Pew upholstery is our most popular service for churches, synagogues and other sanctuaries, and we serve all of the east coast and as far away as Texas!   McPhail Church Services is the national industry leader for pew reupholstery.  Our services are timely, affordable, and we offer a 15-year warranty on all of our upholstery.  

        As you move forward making your decisions for refreshing your church space, remember that McPhail Church Services provides a variety of services to help you restore, repair or transport furniture for your organization or place of worship- no matter the size!   

        Contact us today to get a free quote for how we can help you move forward on your project.  We look forward to serving you!

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          pew wood restoration

          When cleaning the rest of your church, don’t forget to clean and care for your church pews. While these seating spaces are probably dusted on a regular basis, wooden and fabric pews should be adequately cleaned and sanitized regularly as well, especially after a recent restoration. It’s critical to incorporate this into your cleaning routine all year. Cleaning and disinfecting your church’s new or used pews not only keeps them looking great but may also help prevent sickness from spreading. Let’s look at how to sterilize church pews in more detail.

          Once a month, most facilities directors arrange a deep cleaning for church pews. Cleaning and polishing church pews before and after each service or special occasion is also a good idea. Cleaning surfaces and disinfecting surfaces are the two phases in deep cleaning church furniture.

          This article will discuss the products that must be used to clean pews, how often pews need to be cleaned and sanitized to be correctly maintained, and lastly, what products must be avoided to save your pew from damage. So, let’s begin now.

          What Cleaning Product Should Be Used On Finished Wood?

          You frequently dust and shine your wood furniture, but the polishes and dust mix overtime to produce a black film on your church pews, and to eliminate surface grime, dust the furniture.

          • To eliminate surface grime, dust the furniture. Now it’s time to clean up the minor soiling.
          • Begin with the most delicate cleanser and work your way up as needed. Create a dilute solution of dishwashing soap and water.
          • Wipe the entire item with a delicate cloth dipped in the solution, wrung out. You’ll need a moist cloth rather than a wet one.
          • Rinse your cloth frequently, and don’t soak the wood.
          • Dry the object completely with a second, clean cloth.
          • Soaps that are based on oil are a good option.

          Look for oil-based soap products made for wood in store-bought wood cleaning supplies. To meet your needs, choose from a variety of brand names. When cleaning wood furniture with an oil-based soap, don’t leave the soap combination on the wood’s surface for too long.

          Scrub softly with a soft cloth drenched with the product in tiny regions, working with the grain, then rinse with a second cloth dipped in clean water. To eliminate any lingering moisture, wipe with a soft towel.

          Soaps That Are Based On Oil Are A Good Option

          Look for oil-based soap products made for wood in store-bought wood cleaning supplies. To meet your needs, choose from a variety of brand names. When cleaning wood furniture with an oil-based soap, don’t leave the soap combination on the wood’s surface for too long.

          Scrub softly with a soft cloth drenched with the product in tiny regions, working with the grain, then rinse with a second cloth dipped in clean water. To eliminate any lingering moisture, wipe with a soft towel.

          Use A Mild Ammonia-based Cleaner

          Combine an 80 percent water/20 percent ammonia solution and 1/2 teaspoon or a few squirts of mild dishwashing detergent in a mixing bowl. Before wringing out a soft cloth or sponge, properly combine the materials. Clean the wood furniture with the mixture, but don’t let it dry. Remove the cleanser using a clean cloth soaked in clean water and dry with a clean cloth.

          How often do you need to clean church pews to keep them looking new?

          Establish a cleaning program for church pews to keep on top of care for your wood furniture. When you’re finished with the church cleaning, use these strategies to clean your wood pews:

          • Dry dust the pews and collect any papers or dirt from the church service once a week.
          • Clean the pews with a wrung-out sponge or towel and water every month, and vacuum or wipe the hard-to-reach areas under the seats every one month.
          • Polish church pews once a year using Furniture polish, following the manufacturer’s instructions.

          What Disinfectant Is Safe For Wood?

          Disinfecting is necessary, but do it safely as disinfecting can harm wooden surfaces.

          If the label on your disinfectant product says, it may be used for both cleaning and disinfection, clean obviously filthy surfaces with soap or detergent before disinfecting. Do not use harsh and acidic disinfectants. It would be perfect if you also avoid alcohol disinfectants as they can permanently damage wooden surfaces, and a mild and soft disinfectant is best for wooden surfaces.

          To ensure that the cleaning product is used safely and effectively, always follow the guidelines on the label. Safety information and application directions will be included on the label. Disinfectants must be kept away from kids to maintain safety. Many products propose soaking the surface in disinfectant for a particular amount of time. So, follow each step carefully to disinfect your wooden church pews without damaging them perfectly.

          What Should You Avoid Using On Wood Church Pews?

          Some of the products you must avoid using on wood church pews are:

          Ammonia: Ammonia is a strong chemical that may be used for a variety of cleaning tasks around the house, but it should never be used on wooden pews.

          Oil: Oil can stain and make wood pews slippery. So, when you use oil to clean, the pews become slippery and make it sit to sit on.

          Glass Cleaner: Windex and other glass cleaners aren’t recommended for use on wooden pews. Some are made with abrasive substances (like ammonia) that can harm your church pews and create stains.

          Wet and damp Cloths: Water must be avoided at cost, and water can drastically damage the wood. So, using a damp cloth to wipe down church pews can impair the wood awfully.

          cleaning wood surface

          Have Your Church Pews Refinished

          Besides the advice mentioned above, church pews must be immediately wiped away any spills to avoid spots and stains. To keep your pews shining for years and years, you should clean them often.

          If your church pews have gotten to the point where they are beginning to look unpleasant and are past the point of a quick clean, perhaps it is time to refinish your church pews. Here at McPhail Church Services, we will pick up your pews, sand them, stain them, add new upholstery, then install them in your church again. Contact us today for information on how to have your church pews refinished.

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            If you are looking to have some new church pews installed into your church sanctuary, need new parts for repairs, or would like to know how many pews you can fit into a given space, you’ve come to the right place.

            A rough estimate for the size of an average church pew measured in feet is 20 L x 2.5 H x 2.25 W. Although this is an average, there are many different shapes and sizes of church pews. If you are looking to refinish your church pews or add extra seating in your sanctuary, there are several options that can be done.

            Shortened Pews

            Depending on how many extra seats you would like to put in your sanctuary and what space you are working with, you could easily fit a few extra pew seats. Some churches incorporate pews that are half the size of other pews at the back or front of the facility.

            Some pews may also be different in size depending on their placement in the sanctuary. If there are three rows of pews, the middle row may be longer than outer rows or vice versa.

            How Much Space Per Seat

            Church pews are typically built to allow between 18-20 inches of space per seat. If you have a design for a 20 foot pew bench, then this would fit about 10 people.

            There is a maximum number of seats that you can add to your sanctuary. If you add more than what is necessary, the space could look cluttered. The space between pews should also be wide enough for people to easily slide through the rows of pews.

            How much Space is there Between Pews?

            You cannot simply take the square footage of your facility and divide it by the pew size to get an accurate number of seats you can fit in your auditorium. You must account for the spaces to maneuver between the pews.

            There are multiple spaces between each pew that you should account for. These spaces include:

            Main Aisles

            The space where the congregation walks from the front to back of the sanctuary to get to the exit. These aisle spaces can be as large as you would like but are typically at least 4 feet across to allow for plenty of space for two rows of people to walk.

            Between Pews

            This space is where people walk in order to get to their seat on the pew. This space must be large enough for someone to pass around another person who is already seated. This means that there is usually around 18 inches of space between each pew front to back.

            Outside Edge Space

            The center aisle is not the only way that guests should be able to exit the pews. There should be enough space on the outside of end pews for guests to exit. This area is usually less than the main aisle at about 2 feet across. This should allow for one person to comfortably exit the facility.

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              If you are planning on redesigning or updating your church, then you may have thought about changing the upholstery of your pews. The seating of any church is essential for the community to worship and say their prayers. The seats should be easily approachable and comfortable for all members.

              We will be giving complete details on the cost to reupholster a church pew – both one single pew and the all of the pews in the congregation – and whether it’s more cost effective to get replace or reupholster pews.

              Let’s find out! 

              How is Church Pew Reupholstery Priced?

              There are a ton of considerations to make before making a decision to reupholster your church furniture. The price range varies due to many significant reasons – it mostly depends on the textile you are going for.

              Upholstery can be made out of rich materials, including fabrics that can repel moisture and spills. Some fabrics are even anti-dust and anti-stain. Additionally, many people sit for long hours to worship their lord, so providing comfortable seating is a common courtesy by the church.  Providing more comfortable upholstery may also cost a bit more out of pocket.

              Before attempting any cost-cutting, keep in mind that when restoring pews or getting new ones you obviously need to change the old upholstery as well.  With a brand new or polished pew, using old upholstery would take away from the elegance of the new furniture.

              What is the Average Cost of Reupholstering a Single Church Pew? 

              If you have only one damaged pew, it is significantly less in terms of expense. The minimum cost of reupholstering a single church pew is $16-$17 per foot, but can cost up to about $26 per foot. The cost adds up when you go for intricately detailed materials or expensive rich-looking fabrics, or you decide to reupholster with i-clean materials that are anti-spill, anti-stain or anti-dust.

              Another aspect to keep in mind is how much upholstery you need on your pew.  Some pews only have upholstery on the bench, while others have it on the bench and seat back, etc.  The more upholstery you use obviously drives up the cost as the amount of material increases as well.

              Do You Need to Reupholster Every Church Pew?

              After years of use, upholstery loses its brilliance and comfort, so it’s wise to change it after a while. But, if your upholstery is in good condition, there is no need to reupholster every single pew in the church.

              If there is one pew that has been damaged for some reason or the material has got torn, you should think of changing that. It is not necessary to reupholster the entire church pew. That could waste a lot of money and waste suitable materials that could still be used.

              How Much Cheaper is it to Reupholster vs. Replace a Pew?

              Reupholstering the pews of the church is an excellent way to refresh and refurbish your church’s space without having to spend a lot of money on an entirely new set of pews. It’s best to have proper and professional help to ensure that the pews come out in the best condition.  Although tedious and time consuming, there is also the DIY route – however, this leaves more room for error.

              Now, it’s evident that choosing to only reupholster saves significantly more money than replacing the entire church’s pews with new ones. But still, if you want to replace every pew, that is also an option. Before investing in anything, ask the following questions to yourself:

                • Is the seat falling off?

                • Is the seat uncomfortable, or do you feel the hard surface underneath?

                • Has the pew upholstery gone bumpy or have lumps?

                • When you are sitting, are you able to hear cracking sounds from stressed woods?

                • Does the pew rock when sat down upon?

                • Is the pew collapsing, or can you feel cracks when touching it?

              If you are not nodding your head while reading the questions, then it may be best to replace the entire pew rather than just the upholstery.  If the pew is falling apart, then the upholstery cannot fix the foundational imperfections of the wood itself.

              McPhail Church Services, Inc.

              Reupholstering can be a tedious and lengthy process, but McPhail Church Services has got you covered. Our services are super quick and affordable as well. We service North Carolina, the East Coast, and every state as far west as Texas! 

              Pew upholstery is our most popular service not only in churches but also in synagogues and other sanctuaries; if you are looking to give your pews an upgrade, McPhail Church Services is the industry leader of pew reupholstery nationwide – we even offer a 15-year warranty on our upholstery. Please contact us today to get a free quote on the cost of your pew reupholstery.  We look forward to speaking with you soon.

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                Most people don’t realize that used or refurbished church furniture is often more cost-effective than new. Most church furniture from ‘back in the day” is of a higher quality and constructed in the “built-to-last” spirit.

                Have you ever noticed how tables, chairs, cabinets and dressers that your parents/ grandparents owned are still in use today? These pieces lasted because they were built with solid hardwoods and not with pressed chipboard with a veneer coating. Now that’s not to say veneer with the proper care will not last, rather, that modern advancements in plywood have not produced a lumber that is stronger than solid hardwoods.

                Just keep in mind big box retail store furniture and think to yourself that it is inexpensive, but probably will not last. The same thing applies to church furniture. However with only a few manufactures providing this specialty product they can often demand premium prices for what most would consider “knock down” church furniture.

                Enter the world of refurbished church seating. At less than a third of the price it is possible to fill your sanctuary, courthouse and funeral home with VERY high quality, solid wood seating. Few places sell used church furniture but the ones that do will usually repair, re-upholster and restore.

                Keep in mind also that solid oak pews over a decade or two old are considered vintage and increase in value every day. When a congregation decides to update their church seating it is very common for them to have no idea what to do with their existing pews and sadly some have just disposed of them.

                Why let something with so much history go to waste when it can bring joy to others for years to come. Consider refurbished/used pews today and bring a custom look to your facility at less than a third of the price. We can help with that! Click the following and request a phone call TODAY –> Used Pews