Retractable Seating FAQ

Common questions about retractable seating


Are retractable seating units made in standard sizes?

All of our retractable seating is made to suit your specific requirements and are based on the space you have available. Sizes can be tailored to the millimetre in order to get the very best bespoke unit for your space.

What row risers are available?

We can tailor the row rise of your retractable seating to suit your building and sight line requirement. Variable risers or incremental risers are designed (to the millimetre) especially to allow a unit to store below a recess and still offer access to a higher floor. Minimum and maximum dimensions apply to meet building regulations; get in touch and we can advise you on this.

What row depths are available?

As with the row risers, row depths on our retractable seating are made to your specifications. If you require extended walking space and leg room then larger treads can be provided, whereas if you are looking to maximise the space and accommodate as many rows as possible, we can minimise the row depth and offer space-saving solutions. Get in touch and we’ll be happy to advise.

What size seats are available?

The size of a seat depends on many factors – where it is used, if it has arms, and how much space there is. Since all of our products are designed to suit your requirements, we have no standard retractable theatre seating sizes. Incremental-sized seats are not used; space between aisles is maximised to give the most generous seat space possible. As a guide, chairs without arms should be no less then 450mm, and chairs with arms no less than 490mm. Get in touch and we’ll be happy to offer advice for your particular project.

How many aisles are needed?

The number of aisles needed is laid out in current BS guidelines; we also use the BASES ‘Blue Guide’ for assistance. Get in touch and we can provide copies of the Blue Guide, as well as explanations and CAD proposal drawings to assist.

Can units partially open so only the number of rows required and extended?

The units can be used with any number of rows extended – if you have a small performance or recital and only need the front 2 or 3 rows extended, this is built into our units as standard.

Will the floor support the weight of the unit?

We can provide point weight loading and wheel path details for each unit we propose to ensure the floor is structurally suitable to take the weight.
When required, we can provide units with our unique reverse closing system, which allows operation of the unit on a sprung floor without the issue of concentrated loads affecting the layout of the batons below. The closed area below the stored footprint of the unit is strengthened, meaning no bounce is lost in the main activity area of the floor.

Are fully automatic systems available?

We can provide a fully automatic system where the seats lift and lower as unit opens and closes. All but the front row of chairs lifts and lowers to offer greater speed of set up break down. Get in touch and we can advise on the options.

Can rear platforms be provided to match the seating unit?

Using our experience in installing fixed tiering, we can provide areas to the side and rear of our retractable seating platforms. These are covered in the same materials and can often house additional floor fixed seating. On many occasions we have fitted these to allow provision of a sound/light control area. We have also fitted these to marry into a floor above, allowing our units to store below whilst affording access to the rear of the unit. Platforms are fitted instead of concrete/steel structures, and can reduce the overall cost. Get in touch and we’ll be happy to discuss the options and share some examples of previous projects we’ve undertaken.

Do all step edges have a contrasting nosing?

On each step, we provide a Gradus nosing complete with a non slip insert. These are provided to offer an LRV contrast of at least 30 to the floor finish, which we believe is essential for accommodation of ambulant disabled patrons.

What finishes are available?

We have a selection of standard offerings, but we have used a range of suppliers from all across the globe, so you won’t be limited by choice.

Seating fabric

Our fabric comes from the Bradbury Contracts Fabrics Flamblend range of FR Tweed, with no restrictions on colour choice. We have often used multi-colour layouts to create interest on the seating unit; feel free to contact us and our in house design department will mock up a drawing.

Carpet to the decks

Chosen from Rawson’s Eurocord heavy-duty contract range – special carpets, vinyl or even timber.

Fascia panels

A recent addition to our facility is our new CNC/edge-banding equipment. Ledges and modesty panels are manufactured using MDF and finished with a choice of colours from the ‘Egger Zoom’ range of plastic laminates, complete with matching edges.

Side drapes

These are usually manufactured from black ‘Bolton Twill’ material, but special colours and thickness of drapes for extra fullness can be provided.
Please note that when a unit has self storing end rails, as is most often the case, side drapes are mounted on glides to open and close with the unit.


All metalwork is powder-coated in-house to RAL 7016 anthracite grey. We are always happy to use a specially selected RAL colour to match your building’s colour scheme.