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Stanchion Guide by Stanchion Depot

Stanchion Depot is here to answer all your stanchion related questions. As an expert in the crowd control industry for over 20 years, we know a thing or two about stanchions. If you are looking to buy stanchions, head over to our retail partner CrowdControlStore.com for a great deal or read on to learn more.

What are stanchions used for?

Stanchions are study upright poles designed to hold other components in place. The most common use of stanchion is for crowd control at events where the pole holds ropes, chain, or retractable belts connected to other stanchion posts forming a queue or barrier. Retractable belt stanchions are typically found in airports, concert stadiums, or retail stores where line and space needs often change. Outdoor versions with weatherproofing and high visibility materials are also available for construction and industrial use. For added safety stanchion signs can be mounted to the top of the post. Classic posts in sparking silver or gold with stanchion ropes are often found at movie theaters, museums, banks, or other VIP events to keep areas safe. Such crowd control barriers can also attach to wall mounted stanchions or even moveable objects such as traffic cones.

However, the term stanchion can also refer to many other structural posts with widely varied uses. For example:

  • Streetlights are mounted on poles which are called stanchions
  • The metal conduit for wiring on telephone poles is also called a stanchion
  • Stanchion is the official name for the uprights on football field goal posts
  • Stanchion is also the official name for the posts that hold hockey boards in place
  • Bollards are also sometimes referred to as stanchions, especially when they protect structural corners
  • Stanchions are also used to hold dairy cows in place while milking
  • Architecturally, they are the upright bars in windows that hold horizontal bars, or traverses, in place

What is a stanchion in building?

As briefly touched on above, stanchions are fixed posts that hold other objects. In building this typically means a structural support to hold other parts of the building up without the use of a wall. They are typically steel, or other metal, but can refer to wood or concrete structures as well. Some examples of building stanchions are posts that hold up railings, vertical bars in windows, or even to temporarily hold up other building materials before a wall frame is in place.

During construction, you can also find the more common retractable belt barrier variety being used to keep workers and visitors safe.

How do stanchions work?

Stanchions, if made well, are very easy to use! Ideally you want your stanchion to come in two, or three if using rope, pieces without the need for tools to assemble. The main parts of a stanchion are the post, base, and method of connection. Posts should easily screw or snap into the weighted base without the need for tools as this means the connection is weak and will loosen or lean over time. For conventional posts, there are loops on the top of the stanchion for connecting ropes which hook or snap in place. Retractable belt stanchions have a cassette attached to the post with a coiled belt and belt end. The posts also have receiver ends that accept the tension coiled belt. You can extend the belt by pulling the belt end and attaching it to another post, or a receiver attached to a wall. 

Just ensure your retractable belt has important safety features such as slow retraction and belt locks.

What are stanchions made of?

Stanchions are typically made of metal posts with weighted bases. Lower priced stanchion poles feature steel, which is sturdy yet heavy and requires additional cost to weatherproof. They also typically have concrete bases with a protective cover. High priced bases are constructed from cast iron for greater durability. Longer lasting stanchions can boast aluminum materials which are just as sturdy as steel while weighing less and have natural weather resistance. Decorative stanchions can even be made from brass. Another common material for stanchions is blow molded plastic which is typically found in outdoor applications due to their lower cost and lighter weight while being very weather resistant. Some stanchions can even have wooden posts.

What are the velvet ropes called at theaters?

Velvet ropes have many names and are not even always made of velvet! Some people simply refer to them as theater ropes or VIP ropes. However, the industry term is a crowd control rope. These ropes are typically red velvet but can be made of many different materials such as lower cost velour, braided polypropylene for outdoor use, leather or Naugahyde, or even a luxurious microfiber that is softer than velvet and can be custom printed on. Lower cost ropes are typically filled with sand, which is prone to sagging, while longer lasting ropes feature full cotton cores to better hold their shape. Crowd control ropes are designed to be seen and felt, while retractable belts are typically nylon for greater durability.

What is a door stanchion?

A door stanchion is a specialized post on any type of door designed to hold the handle in place. This stanchion is different based on the type of door, but like any stanchion is a structural post meant to hold other objects in place.

What is a Stantian?

There are many ways of spelling it including stantion, stantian, stansion, or stantchion, or even stancion. However, they all refer to the most common form of a stanchion post typically with retractable belt.

Do I need stanchions?

We certainly hope so! Anywhere people go there might be lines or the need to direct people flow around a site. Airports are a great example of the need for flexible lines to buy tickets, get through security, and check-in. However, many industries have similar needs such as cruise lines, theme parks, and arenas. Stadiums also typically have concession stands which are like mini storefronts, or retail stores, that form queues. They are also like restaurants or cafes which form up lines to make reservations or to be seated. Fancier situations that typically use a classic post with crowd control rope are casinos, bank lobbies, or even churches. So, if you have crowds, or just need to organize foot traffic, you need stanchions. Our team is happy to discuss your needs, help you plan for crowds, and suggest the best stanchion for you.

Types of Crowd Control Stanchions:

We hope the sections above have helped you determine which type of stanchion you need. If you are looking for a crowd control stanchion, check out the great selections from our retail partner CrowdControlStore.com:

Retractable Belt Stanchions

Always confirm that a retractable belt stanchion has key features and specifications to ensure you get value for your money. Standard stanchion height is 40” tall. If this is not specified, or the stanchion is shorter, you can create dangerous situations for your patrons. Belt length is also important. Whether stated or not, you should always leave a good 6” of the belt in the casing. Not only does this prolong the life of the mechanism, but it keeps the tension from causing posts to lean. That said, look for belt lengths of at least 10’ to ensure you do not need to purchase multiple posts to cover common distances. In addition to normal safety feature like slow retracting belts and locks, also check materials and build method. You want a stanchion that does not need tools to assemble or maintain, and ideally a strong warranty backing the product.

Post and Rope Stanchions

Post and rope stanchions have the same considerations as their retractable counterparts when it comes to material, height, and warranty. Instead of a belt though you need to ensure the rope and connections are top quality. This means there should be a smooth metal ring around the top of the post for durability and safety. Ropes should feature strong cotton cores to prevent sagging ideally in lengths of 6’ to 8’ for optimal distance to base weight ratio.

Wall Mount Stanchions

When space is an issue look into a wall mounted stanchion. These crowd control devices feature a cassette with retractable belt that does not need a post. They have multiple mounting options such as permanent plates that attach to a wall, magnetic mounts for metal surfaces, or devices such as clamps for warehouse applications. Cases can be metal or plastic for greater weather protection. And since the stanchions are mounted to a wall, they can support longer belts up to 65’!

Outdoor & Safety Stanchions

There are two main features that define an outdoor or safety stanchion. The first is being weatherproof to survive in harsh environments without rusting. The second is having high visibility colors in the stanchion post and / or the retractable belt. You can typically identify an outdoor stanchion by a bright yellow post, especially when paired with black and yellow striped belts. However, be sure to confirm the base has appropriate weather proofing as well since this part will make the most contact with the elements.

Plastic Stanchions

plastic stanchion provides a lower cost alternative to a metal stanchion post. They are very lightweight which makes them easy to move around, however you typically need to fill the base with sand or water for stability. Plastic stanchions are also naturally weather resistant and can be made in virtually any color.