Buyer's Guide for Aluminum Bleachers
Buyer’s Guide for Aluminum Bleachers - What's Inside:
- The Key to Buying Aluminum Bleachers
- Basic Types of Bleachers
- What You Need to Know
- International Building Code Requirements
- Different Types of Bleachers
- Dimension and Size Options
Aluminum bleachers can be quickly added to any facility
Overview: The Secret to Buying Quality Bleachers in One Word
What is the key factor to check when buying aluminum bleachers? In a word, it’s “fit.” Are the pieces – the planks, frames, braces, risers, seats, guardrails and hardware all in alignment and secure?
According to experts, this is one major indicator to look for when purchasing quality aluminum bleachers. Here’s why. When bleachers are poorly constructed, that inferior craftsmanship will eventually show when the different components are assembled. This can cause major headaches and actually create a hazard for spectators. Be sure to purchase IBC-compliant aluminum bleachers with these qualities:
- Planks are aligned with each other without gaps.
- Guardrails line up properly and don’t have rough surfaces.
- End caps fit squarely.
- Stairs are straight.
- Aisles are the correct width and clear of small obstructions or gaps.
- Welds are smooth.
- Sharp edges are eliminated (something you don’t want spectators in the seats to touch).
- Rubber nosing is applied at the factory and is not just taped on.
- Planks are covered with an anodized coating to prevent corrosion.
- The chain link fencing is securely fastened.
- Understructure braces and frames are securely welded, spaced at correct intervals and meet load-bearing specification
- Bleachers are compliant with the International Code Council (ICC) and the International Building Code (IBC)
Outdoor bleacher diagram
Just like any product, you can always find a cheaper version to buy. But when it comes to aluminum bleachers, this is a product that will be subject to heavy use by spectators over a number of years. It has to be right.
Fans will jump up and down on the bleachers. Others may be unsteady on their feet. Some might have difficulty climbing stairs. In this litigious society, when you bring in the human factor, you don’t want to scrimp on quality. A few dollars saved on inferior manufacturing or non-code compliant bleachers could result in major financial consequences down the road.
Here is some basic information you need to know to make a smart decision regarding the purchase of aluminum bleachers – whether they are the smaller 3 row bleachers or the larger 15 row bleachers than can seat hundreds of people.
Basic Types of Aluminum Bleachers
- Standard Non-Elevated Bleachers – the structures come in 3 rows, 4 rows, 5 rows, 10 rows, 15 rows etc. and are at ground level.
- Elevated bleachers – these have rows like standard bleachers but the entire structure is raised for better viewing. Stairs, ramps and guardrails are required.
- Portable bleachers – these are bleachers that can be towed around a facility to accommodate different events and crowds.
- Tip and Roll Bleachers– these are bleachers (usually small) that can be folded and then wheeled into storage.
What You Need to Know About Aluminum Bleachers
Though aluminum bleachers could be considered the standard in sideline seating, there’s an incredible variety of options to choose from. Products range from 3 row bleachers to 15 row bleachers to grandstands. There’s tip and roll, elevated and standard angle. Tip-n-Roll portable bleachers can be easily moved for special event seating or when it's time to take the show on the road. Larger 5 row and 10 row Portable Bleacher Systems can be hooked to a trailer hitch and towed anywhere on the property.
How to determine the type of indoor or outdoor bleachers
Aluminum bleachers are the ideal seating arrangement for any event. They come in a number of sizes, depending on what the event or area limitations may be. They can also come in several styles. Installation and assembly is not as intensive as other forms of seating and can be accomplished fairly quickly. Whatever the venue, aluminum bleachers are an excellent way to maximize the number of viewers for a particular space. If you do not see a size that meets your needs, contact The Park and Facilities Catalog. We can build custom units that accommodate ADA requirements. We also have the ability to build large grandstands.
How to determine the seating capacity of the bleachers
To answer this question, be sure to determine the number of people who will be using these bleachers. The standard is that one seat is equal to 18”. For example, you need to seat 25 spectators. Let’s take a look at the formula below to calculate whether a 3 row, 15 foot bleacher unit will meet that need.
Convert the length to inches. Start with 15 feet and convert that to inches: 15 X 12 =180” (15 feet is equal to 180 inches.)
18” is equal to 1 seat. Divide the result by 18” to calculate the number of seats in a row. 180/18=10. There are 10 seats to a row. Next multiply the number of seats in a row by the number of rows in a unit. 10 X 3=30. A 3 row by 15 foot bleacher will accommodate 30 people.
Common Bleacher Terms
Foot plank – the lower plank where people place their feet. Seat plank – where people sit, also referred to as “seat board.” End cap – cap installed at the end of the plank to prevent cuts or tears. Rise – the height of the distance from one row to the next. Riser plank – the vertical plank under the seat to prevent children from falling through. Run- the distance from the front of one seat plank to the front of the seat plank in the next row.
Dead load is the weight of the entire aluminum bleacher structure including the foundation, beams and columns. Live load is the weight of humans and equipment placed on the bleachers. Wind load is the wind capacity of the bleacher structure. Seismic load is the capacity of the bleachers for earthquake-generation agitation and the range of horizontal movement.
Portable aluminum bleachers cannot be moved on a public road or highway
Portable aluminum bleachers can only be moved by using a special transport kit that hooks up to a standard trailer hitch. These bleachers are only relocated by either a riding lawn mower or tractor. These portable bleachers are only designed to be transported around a single location. Note: never transport these bleachers on a highway!
Aluminum bleachers are shipped by LTL carrier
Bleachers are shipped disassembled using Less Than Truckload (LTL) carrier. Due to the standard length of these products, they are not placed on pallets but are packaged in bundles. All of the seat boards are packaged in bundles of five. All footboards are packed in bundles of five. Understructure parts and framing are packaged in bundles of three and all hardware comes boxed. For lead times, most 3 or 4 row bleachers can be shipped in 2 days, 5-row in 2 weeks and anything larger than 10 rows in 3-4 weeks.
How to find aluminum bleachers that are ADA-compliant
Because each county and state has different regulations, customers requesting ADA-compliant bleachers will require custom fabrication. Contact The Park and Facilities Catalog for quotes. Standard aluminum bleachers are not considered to meet ADA requirements. With ADA bleachers, there are provisions that need to be made for wheelchair access and companion seating.
Add bleacher covers for color and warmth
One issue with aluminum bleachers is that they are notoriously cold in the winter. There is a solution - bleacher covers. These vinyl covers can cut down on the cold and also hot bleachers. Since they come in a variety of colors, even custom colors, bleacher covers are also a great way to add school colors or spruce up a facility.
Check the "Slip Index"
Every year there are millions of people hurt by slips and falls. With all the movement by spectators on aluminum bleachers, there are scenarios for similar injuries to take place on those outdoor structures. That's why it's important to check the "slip index" on the bleacher planks. The National Floor Safety Institute has established a Static Coefficient of Friction (SCOF) rating to measure the frictional interaction between an object and a surface such as a bleacher walkway. The SCOF is measured by a device called a "tribometer."
Protect Aluminum Bleachers from Theft
Aluminum is a popular metal for scrap metal thieves. Be sure to post warnings and mark the bleachers to deter theft. In the event of a theft, contact police immediately. They will notify local scrap dealers to be on the lookout. There is also a national website - ScrapTheftAlert.com - where you can report the theft and a network of companies will be notified.
IBC Requirements for Aluminum Bleachers
To provide standards for aluminum bleachers for safer seating for the public and protect facilities against liability, the International Code Council created a set of requirements for the manufacturing and installation of bleachers regarding design, loads, spacing, heights, footboards, seatboards, etc. Be sure your bleachers are IBC compliant as indicated below.
2012 INTERNATIONAL BUILDING CODE COMPLIANCE
IBC CODE SECTION 1003
Section 1003.2.12 -Guards. Guards shall be positioned along open-sided walking surfaces, platforms and landings which are located more than 30 inches above the floor or grade below. Guards shall also be located along sides of stairways and landings that are located more than 30 inches above the floor or grade below.
IBC CODE SECTION 1004
Section 1004.3.1 -Aisles. Aisles shall be provided with exits from all occupied portions which contain seats. Aisles serving reviewing stands, grandstands and bleachers shall also comply with Section 1008. See below
IBC CODE SECTION 1008
Section 1008.8, - Exceptions. An aisle is not required in seating facilities where all of the following conditions exist:
1. Seats are without backrests.
2. The rise from row to row does not exceed 6 inches per row.
3. The row spacing does not exceed 28 inches.
4. The first seating board is not more than 12 inches above the ground.
5. Seat boards have a continuous flat surface.
6. Seat boards provide a walking surface with a minimum width of 11 inches.
7. Seating is not restricted by rails or guards.
Assembly aisles are required. Every occupied portion of any occupancy in Group A that contains seats shall be provided with aisles leading to exits in accordance with this section.
Section 1008.13.3 - Guards at the end of aisles. A fascia or railing system complying with the guard requirements of Section 1003.2.12 shall be provided for the full width of the aisle where the foot of the aisle is more than 30 inches above the floor or grade below. The railing shall be a minimum of 36 inches high and shall provide a minimum 42 inches between the top of the rail and the nosing of the nearest tread.
Section 1008.14 - Bleacher footboards. Bleacher footboards shall be provided for rows of seat above the third row or positioned at such a point where the seating plank is more than 24 inches above the ground or floor below. Where footboards are more than 30 inches above grade, openings between the seat and footboards shall not allow the passage of a sphere greater than 4 inches.
Note: Aluminum bleachers must meet these requirements to be IBC Compliant.
If a company sells these components as an option and do not include them with their standard bleacher package, then they are not 2012 IBC Compliant.
Another helpful guide to safety standards for aluminum bleachers is provided by the National Fire Protection Association.
Bleacher Styles and Sizes
These 3 row bleachers are standard-stepped bleachers that offer aluminum angle design with all components welded together. The bleacher frame is a low rise design with row 1 measuring 10’ ½” above grade. Standard widths are:-7.5'-15'-21'-27'
The 3 row aluminum bleachers are great for small crowds and events. For indoor, outdoor, and commercial use. All bleachers are designed to sit on a flat, solid surface for optimum comfort and safety. Seating ranges from 15-54 depending on the length of bleacher ordered.
These bleachers are standard-stepped bleachers that offer aluminum angle design with all components welded together. The bleacher frame is a low rise design with row 1 measuring 10’ ½” above grade. Standard widths are:-15'-21'-27'
The 4 row bleachers are great for small crowds and events. For indoor, outdoor, and commercial use. All bleachers are designed to sit on a flat, solid surface for optimum comfort and safety. Seating ranges from 40-72 depending on the length of bleacher ordered.
These bleachers consist of 5 rows and are designed to rest on a firm, flat, and level surface. Standard widths are:-15'-21'-27'-33'
The 5 row bleachers come with an aisle, allowing for easier access for all spectators. For indoor, outdoor, and commercial use. All bleachers are designed to sit on a flat, solid surface for optimum comfort and safety. Seating ranges from 42-94 depending on the length of bleacher ordered.
These bleachers consist of 10 rows and are designed to rest on a firm, flat, and level surface preferably a concrete pad. Standard widths are:-15'-21'-27'-33'
The 10 row bleachers come with an aisle, allowing for easier access for all spectators. For indoor, outdoor, and commercial use. All bleachers are designed to sit on a flat, solid surface for optimum comfort and safety. Any bleacher unit 10 rows or higher is meant to be anchored to a concrete pad. Seating ranges from 82-144 depending on the length of bleacher ordered.
These bleachers consist of 15 rows and are designed to rest on a firm, flat, and level surface preferably a concrete pad. Standard widths are:-21'-27'-33'
The 15 row bleachers come with an aisle, allowing for easier access for all spectators. For indoor, outdoor, and commercial use. All bleachers are designed to sit on a flat, solid surface for optimum comfort and safety. Any bleacher unit 15 rows or higher is meant to be anchored to a concrete pad. Seating ranges from 154-274 depending on the length of bleacher ordered.
Tip and Roll Bleachers
Tip and roll aluminum bleachers are perfect as temporary seating. Tip and roll aluminum bleachers may be pulled out for an event. Then the transportable aluminum bleachers can be tipped on the side, rolled away and stored in a convenient location. They can be stored upright, so that the transportable aluminum bleachers take up very little space in a storage area.
Tip and roll bleachers
These bleachers consist of 3 rows and are designed to rest on a firm, flat, and level surface. Standard widths are:-7.5'-15'-21'-27'
The Tip and Roll bleachers are convenient and ready for use. These bleachers, when they are finished, can be tipped onto their non-marring swivel casters and moved to a prime location for use or storage. Equipped with rubber pads and wheels, they are sure to keep your floor clean and scratch free after moving. Best if stored in the upright position. Meeting all International Building Code requirements, these bleachers are optimized for safety. Seating varies from 15-54 depending on length of bleacher.
These elevated aluminum bleachers allow for convenient access with an aisle. Not only do they allow for the spectators to have a better view, but are manufactured with anodized aluminum so it can function for many years in various weather conditions. Meeting all International Building Code requirements, these bleachers are built for safety. The seating varies from 54-94.
5 row elevated bleachers
These bleachers consist of 5 rows of seating and are elevated 2’ 8” above grade. The means of access and egress is a set of steps on either end. These units are designed to rest on a firm, flat, and level surface preferably a concrete pad. Standard widths
These 5 row elevated bleachers are perfect for football and other events that require the viewer to be higher than the field. These bleachers include the same features as standard bleachers and also have entry stairs, front walkways, and aisles with handrails. All bleachers meet International Building Code requirements. Seating ranges from 54-94 depending on the length of bleacher ordered.
10 row elevated bleachers
These 10 row elevated bleachers consist of 10 rows of seating and are elevated 2’ 8” above grade. The means of access and egress is a set of steps on either end. These units are designed to rest on a firm, flat, and level surface preferably a concrete pad. Standard widths are:-21'-27'-33’
Elevated aluminum bleachers are perfect for football and other events that require the viewer to be higher than the field. These bleachers include the same features as standard bleachers and also have entry stairs, front walkways, and aisles with handrails. All bleachers meet International Building Code requirements. Seating ranges from 82-144 depending on the length of bleacher ordered.
When you have a situation with multiple sports fields or when you need to move your aluminum bleachers to different locations, there are portable bleachers and kits manufactured for towing. These moveable bleachers come in versions that are also compliant with International Building Codes. However, it is important to note that portable bleachers are not intended to be towed on open roads or long distances. They are only meant to be moved on a single property and to be towed by a lawn mower or small tractor.
Dimension options for Aluminum Bleachers
|3-Row Standard Non-Elevated||X||X||X||X|
|3 - Row Tip and Roll Bleachers||X||X||X||X|
|4-Row Standard Non-Elevated||X||X||X|
|5-Row Standard Non-Elevated||X||X||X||X|
|5 - Row Transportable Bleachers||X||X||X|
|5 - Row Elevated Bleachers||X||X||X|
|10-Row Standard Non-Elevated||X||X||X||X|
|10 - Row Transportable Bleachers||X||X||X|
|10 - Row Elevated Bleachers||X||X||X|
|15-Row Standard Non-Elevated||X||X||X|
Football fans cheer for their team.
Custom aluminum bleachers
Many times there are circumstances that call for custom bleachers with a specific design not found in a selection of available bleacher sizes and configurations.
Don't panic. The Park and Facilities Catalog for example, can manufacture custom designs and will supply FREE custom bleacher seating layouts.
Those circumstances that require a custom design could be:
- Site dimensions require a specific size
- The number of rows required differs from standard sizes.
- The length of the bleachers exceed standard sizes
- Configurations for egress - stairs, walkways, access to existing press boxes, etc.
- Special ADA bleacher requirements - ramps, cut-outs for wheelchairs and companion seating
In addition to custom design, it is also possible to add colors to bleachers. Using a powder coat process which electrostatically applies paint to a metal surface, schools can add a color to the planks to coincide with their team colors.
Note: This Buyer’s Guide for Aluminum Bleachers is for information purposes only. It is the responsibility of the buyer to check with all state and local code enforcement and building agencies before installation. For example, in California, DSA approval is required.
Aluminum bleachers have now become the accepted alternative for spectator seating. These metal bleachers last longer than wooden bleachers, require must less maintenance and can be quickly installed at any facility, both inside and outdoors. Outdoor bleachers make with aluminum will withstand UV rays, rain, sleet and snow. Inside, tip and roll bleachers can be easily moved from one end of a gymnasium to another, by just one person. Portable bleachers offer a smart alternative for schools and facilities on a budget as they can be transported from one field to another. But one factor is a necessity when researching the purchase of aluminum bleachers for any facility - be sure they are spectator safe and IBC compliant.
About The Park and Facilities Catalog
The Park and Facilities Catalog is headquartered in Boca Raton, FL. In business since 2001, the company is a national provider of aluminum bleachers with bleachers for sale in several sizes from 3-row to 15-row including tip and roll bleachers and portable bleachers.
Other outdoor site furnishings such as bicycle parking racks, park benches, aluminum bleachers, lockers, receptacles, picnic tables, and other Division 10 and 12 construction items. Our thousands of clients include municipalities, parks, businesses, contractors, architects, schools, universities, multi-family communities, shopping centers and office buildings from around the country.
Contact one of our expert team members to find the appropriate bleachers for your needs and location. For more information call 1-800-695-3503. In a hurry for seating? The Park Catalog can quick ship some smaller aluminum bleachers such as a 4 row bleacher in just 3 days.
Always consider updating your aluminum bleachers as improvements in safety features are continually added by manufacturers.