What is a bariatric chair? In short, bariatric chairs are specialized seating designed to support more than 300 pounds of evenly distributed weight. But there’s a lot more to it than that. Every office needs some big and tall seating, but this type of furniture is especially important for medical facilities that need to put guest safety at the forefront of every choice. Here’s what you should consider when it comes to the bariatric chairs you put in your healthcare facility.

Number of Chairs

How many bariatric chairs you’ll need in your building will depend on the nature of your medical facility. We recommend a minimum of 15–20% of the seating in your waiting room be bariatric, though places such as orthopedic clinics should have more due to the types of patients they assist. When selecting how many bariatric chairs to add to the space, the key is to know your patient population and plan for it accordingly.

Keep in mind that you should add bariatric seating not only to the reception area but also to the patient rooms. Provide at least 1 high-weight capacity guest chair to each patient room. You may also want to equip each room with a bariatric doctor stool with an extra-large seat and reinforced base. Healthcare providers might need them, but sometimes patients also sit on these stools.

Weight Capacity

There is no official standard for the load limit on bariatric chairs, but a 750-pound weight capacity or greater is typically preferred in healthcare settings. Many medical offices even look for bariatric chairs that can hold 1000 pounds or more. 

When shopping for your bariatric seating, note the difference between whether the weight capacity listed refers to a static load or an active load. A static load weight capacity is the amount of weight a chair can hold when something is sitting still on top of it. In contrast, an active load weight capacity is the amount of weight a chair can hold when something is dropped on top of it. For active load capacity, chairs are put through a drop test meant to simulate the action of a person plopping down into the seat, making this a sometimes more reliable measurement of load limit, depending on your needs.

Seat and Arm Design 

The seats on bariatric chairs vary quite a bit, but if you’re looking for the best of the best, select an option with a shallow seat design. A shallower seat will prevent guests from sinking into the chair, making it easier for them to stand. Most bariatric chairs have a seat width of around 24–30” to accommodate guests appropriately.

When it comes to the arms of the chairs, be sure to select an option that will not get in the guests’ way as they try to get up. Although the seat width often accounts for this, you may also want to select chairs without enclosed arms—or potentially an option with no arms at all. If you choose bariatric chairs with arms, be sure that the arms have been tested to support the weight of somebody leaning on them to get up from the chair.


The key to good healthcare design, particularly when it comes to bariatrics, is to ensure that your patients and other guests will maintain a sense of personal dignity during their visit. In other words, they shouldn’t have to struggle to get into and out of a chair, and they shouldn’t feel like they’re being singled out by being forced to sit in a seat that looks very different from the other chairs in the room. 

Make bariatric patients feel just as comfortable both physically and emotionally as you want all of your patients to feel by providing attractive, easy-to-use seating options that support more weight than standard chairs. Safety and design are just about equally important when it comes to bariatric seating, the same as the seating at your healthcare facility as a whole.



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