One of the luxuries of going to the barbershop or the hair salon is the plush chairs that swivel around, tilt and go up and down, so the customer doesn’t have to. Not only do the chairs offer complete freedom of movement for the barber or hair dresser to get to those tricky spots and awkward angles, the person seated also feels comfortable and relaxed while they get their treatment. This guide will explain what barber chairs are, its components and mechanisms, its variations, and some buying considerations for a buyer serious about installing barber chairs in their shop or salon.
What are Barber Chairs?
Barber chairs are a type of chair specifically made for use in barbershops. More recently it has become popular in beauty salons, in the place of normal salon chairs, due to its unique tilt-back feature, enabling customers to receive treatments that require a horizontal orientation (for example, beauty treatments such as facials, eyebrow plucking or waxing, and shaving for male customers) in more comfort than ever. Barber chairs also allow customers to stay seated whilst the stylist or barber adjusts the height and orientation of the chair in accordance with their requirements, so the client does not have to move.
Early, vintage barber chairs have elegant designs and are very popular collector’s items on eBay. Early manufacturers of barber chairs included Eugene Berninghaus, Theodore Koch, the Kline Chair Company, and Ernest Koken - who created the first hydraulic-operated chair and patented the ‘joystick’ side lever, which enabled a barber to control all the mechanical functions of the chair from one spot. Today, there is a range of rare and expensive vintage barber chairs available.
Barber chairs can be characterised by their adjustable height mechanism, which is either a foot-operated jack or a hand-operated lever on one side; its ability to rotate 360o, and its facility to recline or tilt backwards to an almost horizontal level.
Materials and Mechanisms
Barber chairs frames are normally made from a metal such as chrome, and are accompanied by soft leather-covered cushions on the seat, back and headrest. The arm and leg rests of some models may also be leather-covered. All-purpose barber chairs are for general use and can be used in barbershops, tattoo parlours and dental clinics.
Traditional barber chairs and barber chairs that have an elevating feature, use a hydraulic fluid system with chambers to lift and lower the customer to the ideal position, and the fluid needs to be replaced before it is empty. Traditional barber chairs are usually heavier due to this inner mechanism. Some heavy-duty European barber chairs have wooden arms, whilst most other barber chairs have metal arms with cushioned leather arm rests. Many barber chairs are now made in China.
Styles, Variations and Features
Barber chairs, both old and new, can be bought on eBay in a variety of styles. The following are just some of the barber chairs that may be available on eBay:
- Vintage Chairs: Vintage models from the early- to mid-1900s can be sold on eBay in their original condition; however, most are sold refurbished, re-oiled, reworked and re-covered. Their vinyl cushions are likely to have torn, ripped or cracked with time and use, whilst their chrome bases, columns and other components may have traces of rust. Refurbishments by the seller can usually repair these imperfections. Once they are properly refurbished, vintage barber chairs can last for years, with the help of parts and regular maintenance.
Vintage chairs are usually extremely heavy and feature a foot and leg rest that flip over in the perfect shape to make the customer comfortable. The most popular vintage chairs bought on eBay are the Koken, Kochs and Emil J. Paider models.
- Traditional Barber Chairs: boast the largest hydraulic pumps and base-plate diameters, making them extremely sturdy chairs. Generously padded cushions and a large moulded rubber covered tread plate with separate support feet give customers the ultimate in luxury. Check for a wide, deep-set seat for even more comfort and versatility in terms of client size accommodation. Chairs can be twice the price of vintage models depending on the size of the base and its weight.
- Low-end Models: cannot usually last as long as vintage, refurbished ones. Models, which have a small chrome base, are not usually very stable, and can result in an uncomfortable barbershop experience for both customer and barber. Low-end models are also liable to breaking easily and having a sliding instead of locking headrest, which can be an inconvenience to both the barber and the customer.
- Electric Chairs: have a controller panel on one side, from which the barber or stylist can control all the functions of the chair, including pre-set buttons that can automatically return the chair back to its normal state. It is the ultimate in luxury barber chairs and can cost over £750.
Some variations and features of barber chairs include:
- Head rests that lock in to the back of the chair, instead of sliding down when the customer’s head or the barber’s hand rests on it. This stability makes it easier when shaving someone’s face, as there is less chance of a customer’s head sliding away from you during a crucial shaving stroke.
- Legs extend when the chair reclines, making it more comfortable for the customer who otherwise would have an extended body, but no footrest, so their legs will dangle and may cause them to gradually slip down the chair.
- Enamel/wood sides: some models come with personalised or custom sides made from enamel or wood.
- Synthetic leather, urethane-coated real wood arm rests, wooden or silver arms, kick-out leg rests, stain-resistant and coloured vinyl upholstery, and safety-rubber tread plates with heel guards are all features that may be available with some barber chairs.
The following are a few considerations for the serious barber chair buyer, which may help with purchasing decisions:
- Low-end, cheaper barber chairs cost around £30 on eBay’s ‘Buy it Now’ section, whilst higher-end barber chairs with more advanced features such as adjustable head and leg rests, reclining capabilities and more sturdy building materials can typically cost up to £1,000 in ‘Buy It Now’ listings.
- Before making a purchase, create a budget plan to ensure the money is spent wisely and the investment is stress-free. Consider how much you and your barbershop or salon can afford; if you are just starting out, it might be better to buy a good-quality, but cheaper model until you can afford a higher quality model. Browse the eBay listings carefully, clicking through to the product descriptions to ensure you know exactly what you’re buying.
- Ensure all original parts are in working order, or can be easily replaced. Leatherettes, neck rests and chrome plating can all become damaged with time and wear.
- As vintage and good-quality barber chairs can last for years, it is a long-term investment. As such, it is important to make an intelligent choice, using recommendations, eBay’s user feedback features, item reviews if they are available, and asking for certificates of authenticity where necessary. Researching the seller’s previous transaction history, their returns policy and using the e-mail link provided to ask questions before purchase can help ensure the transaction goes smoothly, and you receive the chair you expect.
How to Buy Barber Chairs on eBay
Buying barber chairs on eBay is simple with the following steps:
- Do a general search for ‘barber chairs’ using the search bar at the top of the screen.
- If you know what kind of barber chair you want, type in a full description such as ‘Belmont Barber Chair’, which is a popular brand.
- Search by category by going to the ‘shop by category’ drop down menu, and picking Health & Beauty, then Salon & Spa, then choosing Salon Tables, Chairs & Dryers and scrolling through the listings. The Hair Care & Styling subcategory under Health & Beauty may also host barber chairs, thus is worth taking a look.
- Once you have chosen a subcategory, the listings can be narrowed down in terms of ‘Brand’, ‘Main Colour’, ‘Colour’, ‘Type’, ‘Condition’ and ‘Price’, and the listings can be filtered in terms of their Auction and Buy it Now buying options for further flexibility, and perhaps better deals.
- It is also useful to talk to the seller about any questions pertaining their listing. Enquire about the quality of their product, including any small tears, rusting, peeling, how much the product has been used in the past, the extent of any refurbishments, any problems or refurbishments that you may have to do after purchase, and about the functionality of the mechanism – these are all things that cannot be fully determined through the provided pictures alone.
- Using PayPal can be the safest, most secure way to make the transaction once you have found the perfect barber chair for your barbershop or salon. It can also help with swift, pain-free returns, if necessary. Always ask the seller about their returns policy before buying, or read their returns policy carefully.
The knowledgeable barber chair sellers on eBay make buying a luxurious barber chair for your barbershop or salon easy and stress-free, whilst the wide range of barber chairs allows for a flexibility of choice, and the assurance that the right product will always be available at the simple click of a mouse.
Barber chairs are a convenient purchase for any barbershop or hair and beauty salon due to its adjustability, easy cleaning, and versatility – it can be used for hair cutting or styling, shaving or even facials and beauty treatments, with its mechanisms allowing for smooth control and agility, and its upholstery allowing for any mess to be cleaned up easily, ready for the next customer.