cleaning wood surface

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:


Manually pick any debris off the upholstery and pew surfaces.


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.


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


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:


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.


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. 


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.

What if my 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 if my pews aren’t damaged, but the wood is starting to look old and discolored?

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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    Cost benefit of reupholstering pews versus replacing pews


    One of the key services McPhail offers churches is reupholstery service- a valuable tool in protecting both your investment in your existing church seating and respecting your budget.


    For about a third of the cost of new pews, McPhail can come into your sanctuary and 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 reupholstery team on site, with minimum disruption to your church family.


    Why choose McPhail for reupholstering pews?

    McPhail Church Services has worked for years to perfect our process, and in fact we have a proprietary upholstery/reupholstery process that is highly valued by thousands of churches around the country. We’re so confident you’ll love our services that we offer a 15-year warranty on our church pew upholstery. You can see examples of our fine craftsmanship to get an idea of what we can do for your sanctuary seating.

    In addition, we have long and trusted relationships with the best fabric mills in the country, so we can provide you with the finest choices in upholstery that is attractive, durable, and reasonably priced.   We multi-source our fabric which allows us to guarantee quick delivery and timely completion of your project.  

    Our large variety of fabrics are all women in U.S., using domestic yarns. We even warranty the fabric, which is woven to stand up to years of commercial use.

    Hand in hand with attractive durable fabric is the pew padding. McPhail Church Services uses 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. 

    McPhail Church Services is the industry leader in pew upholstery and reupholstery and can offer you significant value when you choose to refurbish your existing pews with reupholstery service. Our on-staff consultants will walk you through every step of the process, from initial consultation through the fabric pattern and color selection to the final product.

    For pricing questions, we are happy to give you an initial idea of cost over the phone (910-322-5673) or online so you can determine if reupholstering is an attractive option for beautifying your church seating.

    In addition, McPhail Church Services offers church pew refinishing, wood restoration, and provide church pew parts and repair, and manufacture lay-in pew cushions for an affordable option to traditional upholstered pews. 

    We’d like to partner with you to upfit or re-fit your church sanctuary seating.  Contact us today for a free quote, and see how pew reupholstery is an attractive cost effective solution for your church home.

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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, 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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        pew wood restoration

        Considering whether to reupholster 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.

        Points to consider:


        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? 
        • Refinishing (wood structure) 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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