All savvy business owners know that no decision they make for their business is a small decision.
Everything from finding the right employees to picking out a new logo
and, yes, purchasing the right retractable belt stanchion can have financial implications for your business.
That’s why we put together a definitive Retractable Belt Stanchion Buying Guide with six questions you need to ask yourself before purchasing retractable belt stanchions.
Download the guide
or keep reading to find out what you need to know before purchasing retractable belt stanchions.
What to Ask Yourself Before Purchasing Retractable Belt Stanchions
1. Where will you use your stanchions and how much use will they see?
There are two main types of retractable belt stanchions: economy and premium.
When you’re considering which option is best for your business, you need to think about how much wear and tear your stanchions will acquire. As with any product, the more use a stanchion gets, the faster it will wear down.
For large businesses that endure heavy foot traffic, we recommend investing in premium stanchions. Premium stanchions are designed to last longer and can hold up to large crowds.
If you run a small business or have light foot traffic, you can save some money by opting for less expensive economy stanchions.
Does your business only see light foot traffic during the day? Do you generally leave your stanchions in the same place throughout the day?
If you answered yes to either of those questions, you probably don’t need to splurge on premium stanchions.
Benefits of Economy Stanchions
- Sturdy construction
- One standard, optimized base design
If your business regularly deals with large crowds (>500 people per day) or you routinely rearrange your stanchions during the business day, Premium Stanchions are probably the best option for your business.
Benefits of Premium Stanchions
- The longest possible belt lengths in the industry
- Stronger, wider posts
- Largest variety of belt colors and post finishes
- Cast iron base weights (rather than concrete base)
- Durability and longevity
- Compatibility with other company’s stanchions. This allows you to buy replacement parts from other manufacturers rather than only from the company you purchased your stanchions from
2. What type of base or floor mount will you be using?
There are three categories of bases and floor mounts for retractable belt stanchions: portable bases, semi-permanent floor mount bases, and permanent bases.
How, where, and how much your stanchions will be used all play a factor in which type of base or mount you should buy.
If you need to regularly rearrange your stanchions to decrease or increase the size of your queues (like at airports, museums, amusement parks, and arenas), you need stanchions with portable bases that can be repositioned and stored when they’re not in use.
*NOTE: All portable stanchion options come with rubber floor protectors so you won’t have to worry about scratching your floors when you move your stanchions.
The two types of portable bases are premium bases and economy bases.
Similar to premium and economy stanchions, premium bases are sturdier and have a longer lifespan than economy bases.
Premium Base Styles
- Cast Iron Sloped
- Cast Iron with a Roller Wheel
- Recycled Rubber
Economy Base Styles
Semi-Permanent Floor Mounted Bases
Semi-Permanent Floor Mounted Bases are ideal for businesses that occasionally rearrange their stanchion queues for events, like stadiums, or for companies that lease a building because they require limited drilling into floors. Some magnetic semi-permanent floor mounted bases require no drilling whatsoever.
There are three types of semi-permanent floor mount bases: removable/socket and cap, magnetic, and mini-socket.
Benefits of Removable/Socket and Cap Floor Mounts
- Posts that slide in and out of a socket opening
- Covers that fill the opening in the floor when a stanchion isn’t in use
Benefits of Mini-Socket Floor Mounts
- The smallest footprint of any semi-permanent floor mount base. The core drilled floor socket base has a dime-sized diameter
- Designed so that the post screws into the pocket with a few turns
- The post base is spring loaded to absorb pressure, leaning, and contact
Benefits of Magnetic Floor Mounts
- Magnetic plates that attach to the floor with VHB tape or Epoxy to hardwood, marble, or cement floors, or permanently secured to the floor with screws
- They come in multiple colors and small sizes, making them nearly invisible
- A magnetic base that is strong enough to be approved for use in nuclear power facilities
Permanent bases are the most sturdy stanchion base option. Keep in mind that once these are installed they are difficult to remove and the floors underneath them will require significant repairs if you remove the stanchion bases.
Benefits of Permanent Bases
- Stable bases designed for fixed queue layouts
- Can be screwed into any floor type
3. Will your stanchions be indoor stanchions or outdoor stanchions?
Some stanchions are designed for use in outdoor environments; others don’t fare as well outside in the elements. Buying indoor stanchions for outdoor environments will end up costing you more money because of how quickly you’ll need to replace that first set of stanchions.
If you plan to use your stanchions outside consider…
Outdoor Portable Base Options
- Weatherized Base Weights Filled With Concrete (considerable girth, minimal durability)
- Cast Iron Base Weight with Base Weight Covers (durable, large girth)
- Aluminum Bases (more durable, very visually appealing, thinnest girth)
- Recycled Rubber Bases (most durable, most bulky, least attractive)
Outdoor Post Options
- PVC (least durable)
- Stainless Steel (durable)
- Aluminum (most durable)
If you aren’t planning to use your stanchions outside, that doesn’t mean you should avoid these types of stanchion bases altogether. Rubber bases, for example, are very durable in a warehouse and industrial environments where heavy machinery is used.
4. Which belt width do you need?
There are two standard retractable belt widths: 2” standard belts and 3” extra wide belts.
Benefits of 2” Standard Belts
- This is the industry standard belt width and will be the most compatible with multiple types of stanchions or when ordering replacement parts
- Will likely be consistent with the belts you already have if you’re ordering additional belts
- Because this is the standard width, manufacturers offer the widest variety of belt length options for this style
Benefits of 3” Extra Wide Belts
- These belts have high visibility and an excellent choice if you want to customize your belts with your logo or branding
* NOTE: 3” Extra Wide Belts are a recent development in the crowd control world, and because of this have a much more limited range of length options.
5. How long do your belts need to be?
To decide how long your belts should be, you first need to figure out how simple or complex you want your queues to be. Do you only need to cordon off an area or does your store require an advanced queue system? You may be tempted to purchase the lowest cost retractable belt barrier but it may not be the best solution for your application.
There are a number of reasons you shouldn’t do this.
- You will need to buy a massive number of stanchion posts to cover the length/path of your queue, resulting in your spending more money overall.
- You will cost your employees valuable time setting up the additional stanchions when they could be doing more valuable work projects.
- The more stanchion posts you buy, the higher your shipping costs will be, and in addition, you’ll need additional trucks, storage carts, and closets/storage facilities for all of your extra stanchions.
Standard 2” Belt Lengths
- 7.5 Ft, 8.5 Ft, 10 Ft, 11 Ft, 13 Ft, 15 Ft, 16 Ft, 30 Ft, 35 Ft
Extra Wide 3” Belt Lengths
* NOTE: Retractable belts should NEVER be fully extended. Always leave at least 6” in the cassette when pulling out your stanchions, overwise your risk damaging the cassette mechanism.
6. What finishes do you want for your retractable belt stanchions?
When you’re buying retractable belt stanchions, it’s important their style stays true to your branding and the aesthetics of your business. Retractable belt manufacturers know this, so they offer a wide variety of belt styles.
Here are your styling options for retractable belt stanchions:
Popular Retractable Belt Stanchion Finishes
- Black Steel
- Polished Stainless Steel
- Satin Stainless Steel (brushed)
- Polished Brass
- Satin Brass (brushed)
- Orange, Red, Yellow Powder Coat
Specialty Retractable Belt Stanchion Finishes
- Powder Coat
- 200+ additional color options
- Custom print (custom stanchion wraps that allow you to print your brand’s message or logo onto your stanchions)
- Specialty Finish
- Antique Copper
- Statuary Bronze
- Black Chrome
- Pewter Nickel
- Textured Powder Coat
- Black Wrinkle
- Silver Vein
- Copper Vein
- Gold Vein