Furnishing the Trinity of Today and Tomorrow

Buying office furniture is a process that requires taking many factors into consideration beyond aesthetics and price. This guide serves to help direct your thought and selection process so that your furniture purchases will yield the highest satisfaction and quality.

Here to Help

Remember that the Purchasing Office is here to collaborate with you and offer its expertise as you look to buy furniture. Please contact the Office with any questions or concerns you might have.

Tiger Learning Commons office space

Buy with a Vision and Plan

It is best to plan your purchase in advance, allowing enough time for competitive pricing and before funding request deadlines. Remember, rushing often entails regretting.

Be sure to:

  1. Accurately assess your needs.
  2. Analyze what Trinity already has in surplus and what current owners of your desired pieces of furniture think of them.
  3. Always consider how sustainable and environmentally-friendly your choices are.
  4. Anticipate changing tastes, and prioritize a timeless style over ephemeral trends.

Planning for the Future

When adding furniture for an expansion, take into account how every piece will fit into both the current and the future environment. Explore the entire product line to see what you may be able to do long-term, even if only a portion of the project can be funded this year.

Keep the workplace flexible. It’s a good idea to select furniture that can be easily moved and reconfigured as new needs arise. Be sure to also contemplate how flexible your furniture will be to future changes in technology.

Consider Comfort and Fit within the Space


When it comes to office furniture, comfort equals productivity. Ergonomic design is critical to the comfort and productivity of faculty, staff and students. It can even minimize work-related injuries and lost workdays.


Space Design

Space planning is vital. Furniture should fit properly in areas to allow ADA clearance to walkways and doorways.

You can ask the Purchasing Office to request Physical Plant CAD drawings to get specific office measurement of office spaces. Some vendors will make measurements themselves, but may charge for this service, so be sure to factor such costs into your budget.


Select the Right Material

It is important to keep the utility and use of pieces of furniture as you select their material components and finishes.


  • Vinyl is great if cleanliness or disinfection are priorities.
  • Durable engineered fabrics such as Crypton are great if the furniture needs to sustain heavy-use
  • Leather remains the most desired fabric for executive suites, conference rooms, and guest areas.
  • Mesh fabrics are great for long-term sitting.

Wood and Laminates

  • Solid wood is generally more expensive but offers highly coveted aesthetic value.
  • Wood veneer offers great visuals, but is susceptible to scratches or water stains if not properly protected.
  • Including wooden features instead of choosing all-wood furniture offers great visuals and lower prices.


  • Metal pieces of furniture often offer lower prices without affecting functionality.


Weigh Price and Value

Avoid choosing cheap options that will not hold up over time. To make the smartest buying decision possible, consider the cost of ownership over the expected life of the furniture. Repairs and replacements could easily cancel out any initial savings and could even make the product more costly over time.

Product Rating

Be careful to select a good rating for your furniture.  Most desk chairs are rated for use by individuals weighing up to an average of 250 pounds. Any savings realized by purchasing a lower-rated chair would be far exceeded by the cost of the liability to the person injured and the furniture replacement cost.

True Cost of Ownership

Of course, the price tag of an item does not necessarily indicate the total price you will have to pay before it is fully installed in its future campus space. Be sure to calculate additional expenses into your overall budget, such as freight charges, installation fees, assembly rates, special handling charges, and design fees. Further, be aware that some quotes are only valid for 30 days.


Check Out Warranty Plans and Post-Sale Support

Product Life Expectancy and Accounting Depreciation Schedules

Trinity University’s accounting department depreciates major furniture purchases ($1000+) over a 10-year period. This is a good reason to evaluate the furniture warranty. Furniture purchased with less than a 10 year warranty will quickly grow out of sync with Trinity’s accounting practice.

Vendors that Offer Support After the Sale

Properly assessing how a company’s sales representatives handle warranty service and other satisfaction-related issues can eliminate headaches down the line. It’s a good idea to ask questions such as, “How will you handle warranty repairs?” or, “What if the desk becomes scratched in shipping?” Ask for customer references and testimonials.


Ask Vendors to Keep Standards on File

Once furniture has been purchased according to approved specifications (such as model, fabric type, color, ergonomic features, etc.), sales representatives can set the item number as a “Trinity University standard.” Keeping standards on file facilitates future purchases and replacements.


Additional Documents and Resources