When you’re searching for new contract furniture for your public building, you may find yourself having to answer a question that you didn’t expect… Should you buy furniture where the exposed metal parts (such as the legs or frame) have an EPC finish or a chrome finish? It can be difficult to know what these finishes are, let alone which one is best for your building. But, don’t worry, Rosehill is about to tell you everything you need to know…
What is a chrome finish and why is it used on contract furniture?
We’ve all seen chrome haven’t we? It’s that shiny, reflective, mirror-like surface that you often find on pieces of furniture, vehicles, tools, utensils and much more.
But, what exactly is it?
Pick up a dictionary and you’ll find the following definition:
“Chrome plating is a technique of electroplating a thin layer of chromium onto a metal object”.
Chrome plating is usually applied in a layer between 0.005 and 0.01mm and is used to both make pieces of furniture more durable and aesthetically pleasing.
Chrome plating is considered to be a finishing process, meaning it is applied during the final stages of the creation of contract furniture.
The benefits of chrome-plated contract furniture
There’s a reason why many pieces of contract furniture feature chrome-plated parts. It’s because chrome plating has many benefits.
We’ve detailed these benefits below:
Although this is largely a subjective point, a large number of people choose a chrome finish simply for the way it looks.
Chrome has a deep, lustrous shine and can add an extra element of depth to furniture.
Chrome is also associated with modern, clean design styles and thanks to its neutral colour will complement almost any type of interior decor.
The toughness of chrome means that it is able to easily withstand corrosion. This makes chrome-plated contract furniture ideal for settings where it may come into contact with moisture or heat.
Ease of cleaning
Chrome plating, because of its smooth surface, lends itself well to regular cleaning. Give a chrome-plated piece of contract furniture a polish with a dry cloth and you’ll have it looking brand new again, really quickly.
Contract furniture often has to put up with a lot of abuse and wear and tear. This makes chrome the ideal finish for many chairs and tables. Chrome plating is highly scratch resistant and will keep your furniture looking newer, for longer.
Because of the way that chrome plating is applied to surfaces, it can be applied to all kinds of unusual shapes.
This means that it’s possible to buy chrome-plated contract furniture in all kinds of modern and unusual designs.
The disadvantages of chrome-plated contract furniture
As we’ve just seen, there are many reasons why people will choose to use chrome-plated contract furniture in their public building. It’s tough, durable, but also attractive and easy to maintain and clean.
However, like anything, chrome-plating does have a few downsides. We’ve detailed these below:
Increasingly, public facilities such as schools, GP surgeries, conference centres and others have an obligation to reduce their carbon footprint as much as possible – which even extends to the types of furniture that they buy.
Unfortunately, the process of chrome-plating requires the use of toxic acid baths and lead anodes, which if leached into the nearby environment can cause harm to flora and fauna.
Chrome-plating also requires the use of considerable amounts of electricity, which adds to the carbon footprint of this finish.
The process of creating chrome plating uses a considerable amount of electricity, requires the continual chemical treatment of rinse waters, considerable regulatory compliance and more.
All of this adds up to make chrome plating a fairly expensive process. It’s why you’ll sometimes pay a premium for chrome-plated contract furniture. Bear in mind, however, that whilst chrome may have a higher upfront cost, it’s great value thanks to chrome’s longevity and durability.
So, there you have an explanation as to what a chrome finish is and the pros and cons of using it on contract furniture.
Up next, we’ll take a look at an increasingly popular alternative – EPC.
What is an EPC finish and why is it used on contract furniture?
First things first, what does EPC stand for?
EPC is an acronym for Epoxy Powder Coating, and is a process which involves the application of dry paint to a metal part (such as a chair leg or table frame).
EPC uses dry paint powder which is electrostatically charged before it is sprayed. Because the paint powder is charged it is attracted to the metal surfaces of the furniture, creating a hard-wearing, durable finish.
Like chrome-plating, EPC provides a finish which is both attractive and durable, which means it is an ideal finishing coating for contract furniture, which, as we’ve mentioned, often has to withstand considerable wear and tear.
Also like chrome, EPC is considered to be a finishing process and is done during the final stages of the manufacture of contract furniture.
The benefits of an EPC finish on contract furniture
EPC is an increasingly popular finish for contract furniture. This is because it shares many of the benefits of chrome plating, as well as some additional benefits that are unique to it.
We’ve detailed these benefits below:
As with chrome, EPC is a finish which is regarded by many people as being a highly-aesthetic choice.
An EPC finish can take the form of a vast number of different colours – so, if you want your contract furniture to be of an exact colour – an EPC finish will let you do this.
An EPC finish is also regarded as being a very modern finish, with bold colours being easily achieved.
In short, if you want your furniture to match an exact colour or to be ‘on brand’, then an EPC finish is the easy way of doing this.
Flexibility and choice
EPC allows you to create a wide range of finishes – far wider than chrome plating – particularly in relation to colour.
As an EPC finish is based on dry powder paint, it’s possible to finish the metal parts of your contract furniture in an exceptionally wide range of different colours.
An EPC finish allows you to create pieces of contract furniture that are aligned with the rest of the interior decor of your public building/facility.
In fact, it’s even possible to create EPC finishes in completely custom colours – you don’t necessarily have to stick to the colours that are listed in the product description. You can choose what’s called a ‘RAL’ colour for your furniture.
As this website shows, there are a staggering amount of colours to choose from for your EPC finish.
Note – an additional charge may apply if you choose to have your furniture finished in a unique RAL colour.
An EPC finish is incredibly durable and will withstand the kind of abuse that furniture receives in high-traffic, high-use public buildings.
During the final stages of the EPC finishing process, the dry powder paint is ‘baked’, which creates an extremely hard coating. This means that pieces of contract furniture with an EPC coating will be scratch-resistant, and will withstand environmental factors such as moisture and exposure to direct sunlight for long periods of time.
Ease of cleaning
Like chrome, EPC finished furniture can be easily cleaned and maintained over time.
The fact that the dry powder paint is ‘thermally-bonded’ to the surface during the final stages of the EPC process means that EPC finished furniture is effectively ‘sealed’.
Because of this, dirt, dust and other detritus won’t be able to really ‘stick’ to the furniture. The EPC finish makes it super easy to wipe clean the furniture using a damp cloth and little more.
An EPC finish is generally cheaper compared to other finishes like chrome-plating.
This is because the EPC finishing process is far quicker than chrome-plating and requires less manual input and labour and doesn’t need chemical baths and other inputs. This makes furniture with an EPC finish far cheaper for a manufacturer to make – thereby reducing the price the end consumer pays for the furniture.
EPC finishes have a far lower environmental footprint than other types of finishes.
Compared to chrome-plating, electrostatic powder coating doesn’t require the use of toxic or noxious chemicals.
What’s more, the dry powder paint doesn’t contain any harsh chemicals and will adhere to the metal parts of the furniture simply via electrostatic charge.
The disadvantages of an EPC finish on contract furniture
Like any finishing technique, electrostatic powder coating isn’t without its downsides. These are only minor, but it’s worth being aware of them so that you select the finish that’s perfect for your contract furniture.
It’s not chrome!
First and foremost, the main ‘disadvantage’ of an EPC finish, is that it simply isn’t chrome.
If you’re after the lustrous, reflective, shiny finish of chrome on the metal parts of your contract furniture, then you’ll have to choose a chrome-plated finish.
Whilst some EPC finishes can get close to chrome, with silvers and greys available, they don’t quite achieve the same finish as proper chrome.
We just mentioned cost as an advantage didn’t we?! Yes, you’re correct. However, there is a caveat we need to add here.
Contract furniture with an EPC finish can work out slightly more expensive than alternative finishes if you choose a non-standard colour. This is because RAL colours cannot be mixed and have to be made from scratch.
For example, if you’re ordering a handful of chairs with an EPC finish in an unusual, rarely-ordered colour, you may find that the total cost exceeds the same number of chairs in a chrome finish.
Again, this isn’t really a disadvantage, but more a case of economies of scale in action amongst contract furniture manufacturers.
Tip – when ordering furniture with an EPC finish, think of the price in terms of standard vs non-standard colours. This will help you determine what price you’ll pay.
Chrome vs EPC: which is the right finish for your contract furniture?
As you can see, there are many pros and cons for both chrome plated and EPC finishes.
Which finish is right for you will depend on a number of factors, such as:
- Do you have particular environmental or CSR targets to meet? In which case an EPC finish will be more suitable.
- What particular look are you trying to achieve? If you want to colour match your furniture, then EPC is the best choice. On the other hand, a chrome finish will complement most decors.
- How much furniture are you buying? Depending on the colour EPC finish you choose, this is likely to be the cheaper option, especially if you’re buying a large number of items.
- Do you want a shiny, reflective finish to the metal parts of your furniture? Then it’s got to be chrome!
Answer these questions and you’ll have a clearer understanding as to which finish is best for your contract furniture.
In our experience, there’s very little to choose between the two finishes. The main differentiator is the environmental footprint of chrome vs EPC.
So, if green credentials are particularly important to your organisation, choose EPC.
Otherwise, the choice is very much down to personal preference.
Popular contract furniture with a chrome and/or EPC finish
Hopefully at this stage you now have a better idea of what chrome and EPC finishes are (and the differences between them).
But, what do they actually look like on pieces of furniture? Well, we’ve detailed some of our most popular pieces below which are available in either a chrome or EPC finish.
Tower Wood Stacking Chair
Available with either an ‘eco-chrome’ or black or white EPC frame, the Tower stacking chair is a beautiful, elegant chair which is perfect for all kinds of multi-purpose environments.
As you can see, it’s a really distinctive looking chair which looks incredibly lightweight, but is also strong and durable.
Despite its daring looks, the Tower is incredibly comfortable thanks to its ample seat, sculpted back and waterfall seat edge (which is designed to aid circulation).
The Tower is immensely practical too, thanks to its ability to stack up to 40 high on its specially-designed trolley.
There are also a number of optional extras that you can include on the Tower. These include optional linking and the ability to add an upholstered seat (please call us on 0161 485 1717 for more information on the prices and options on the upholstery).
Circular Pedestal Table
Our Circular Pedestal Table features a chrome base which helps make this table really stand out from the crowd.
This table features a quality and durable 25mm thick MFC table top, which in conjunction with the chrome base, makes this table incredibly easy to clean and maintain in even the busiest of cafes, restaurants or bars.
If you want the table to align to your particular decor, you have a number of different finishes for the tabletop including white, black, beech, oak and walnut effect finishes.
Retro Pedestal Table
If you’d prefer a table with an EPC finish, then check out our Retro Pedestal Table.
This table is very durable and is highly customisable with the heavy weight solid steel base available in a huge range of RAL colours, including:
- Dark grey.
- Light grey.
- Steel effect.
- Fresh green.
The MFC table top is also available in several different finishes including black, white, beech, oak and walnut.
As you would expect from such a versatile table, it’s available in a range of different diameters as well as heights such as dining, poseur and coffee table height.
Urban Lightweight Stacking Chair
Available only with an EPC finish, the Urban is one of our most popular chairs. And, it’s easy to see why.
The perfect all-rounder, the Urban is both stylish and highly practical. Thanks to its skid frame, the Urban is lightweight, yet very durable and will happily put up with the wear and tear associated with high-traffic public buildings.
The Urban is also stackable, and can be stacked up to 25 high using our specially-designed trolley.
Plus, if it’s flexibility you want, the Urban delivers. That’s because you can specify it with a range of optional extras such as elasticated book pockets, welded links, arms and different upholstery options.
Vesta Lightweight Stacking Chair
Available with either a chrome or EPC finish, the Vesta is another incredibly popular chair here at Rosehill.
Thanks to its parallel skid base frame, the Vesta is easy to both link and stack. In fact, there are two types of link available on the Vesta; either welded at the centre of the frame, or loose plastic clips.
It’s also possible to add arms to the Vesta whilst also maintaining the ability to stack the chair.
As you would expect with an EPC finish, the Vesta is available in multiple different colours including cashmere, white, grey blue, black green, black and grey.
Of course, if you prefer chrome, then a chrome-plated finish is also available.
The Vesta also features very high-quality upholstery. The Vesta’s Bondai fabric has Crib 5 fire retardancy and is available in a large selection of bold colours including orange, green, maroon to name just a few.
We’re happy to help!
Investing in new contract furniture can be a big decision. So, here at Rosehill we are happy to provide you with free advice and information, answering any questions you may have.
Simply call 0161 485 1717 or email: email@example.com and our friendly, expert team will be happy to help.
Why buy from Rosehill?
There are many places to buy contract furniture – but there’s only one Rosehill.
With over 30 years’ experience supplying contract furniture to public buildings across the UK (and abroad), Rosehill is perfectly placed to help you source, select and secure the very best quality and value furniture.
Our help doesn’t end once you’ve pressed the ‘buy’ button though. We also offer extensive aftercare and customer service support, so whether you have questions around reupholstering your furniture or are seeking replacements, we are happy to help with that too.
Shop contract furniture at Rosehill now
For more contract furniture buying guides, information and advice, read the Rosehill blog…