What Are Stanchions?

What Are Stanchions?

A stanchion essentially refers to a component of some form of barrier system – typically a retractable barrier or post in an upright position, which provides support for other objects. Although the name ‘stanchion’ may not be familiar for some, this type of barrier system is a common sight across a range of industries throughout the world – many of us stand in lines or queues supported by stanchions regularly without even really being aware of it.

Why Are Barrier Systems Important?

Barrier systems are essential to so many different types of organisations and events – helping to keep customers organised and guide the flow of visitors in an orderly efficient manner without requiring the need to permanently change the infrastructure of the building. In the case of an outdoor area, stanchions provide an excellent form of temporary crowd control.

stanchions gallery area

Stanchion Uses

Stanchions are used across a wide range of different organisations including retail, airports, warehouses, galleries, museums, exhibitions, festivals and other outdoor events, busy receptions areas, showrooms, leisure spaces and more. Stanchions can help not only to support crowd control and queuing but can also be used to cordon off restricted access areas, as well as enhancing the overall customer experience by improving customer flow and making efficient use of space.

General Queue Control

There are many scenarios where stanchions are used for queue control, often in retail, ticket-sale booths, reception areas and so forth. When used for queuing applications with heavy customer flow, stanchions are often set out in a zig-zag or snake-like pattern with a typical width of around 3ft - this distance encourages customers to stand in a single file line and prevents queue jumping. The zig-zag layout provided by stanchions also serves to lessen queue related stress, as customers are funnelled down a single queue with the person at the front of the queue being directed to the next available outlet – this type of system is often used at airport check-ins and in retail and provides a fair system for all. Individual lane queues are often deemed more stressful if one lane appears to move significantly quicker than the other.


Stanchions are popular in the retail industry for queue control purposes on retail checkouts. Some retailers further utilise this system by putting up slat wall panels which can be fitted between stanchions, enabling them to support a wide variety of merchandise. This allows customers waiting in the line to consider purchasing add on items – a retail technique which benefits from high success rates.

Museums, Galleries & Exhibitions

A common sight in most museums and galleries, stanchions are mainly used for purposes of wayfinding, to prevent visitors from getting to close to particular exhibits, for cordoning off access to restricted areas and for queue control at admission points to paid exhibitions.

stanchions in art gallery

Different Types of Stanchions

There are four main types of stanchion – these include retractable stanchions/barriers, post and rope stanchions, safety stanchions and plastic stanchions.

Post and Rope Stanchions

Designed for a more discreet appearance, post and rope stanchions consist of exactly what the name suggests - a metal post with a rope attached to it. There are often used at museums and galleries due to their subtle and sleek appearance - they consist of a sturdy circular base which stabilises the stanchion and is used to attach the ropes. These stanchions are available in different colour metal finishes.

View the AEC Stanchions range

Retractable Stanchions

Perhaps the most widely used of all stanchions, the retractable belt version features a flexible design suitable for a variety of different types of queuing applications. This type of barrier is extremely durable and able to deal with high volumes of traffic. It is a frequent sight at retail units, ticket offices, airport queues and may be permanently fixed to the wall, or available as a free-standing option. Retractable stanchions work by use of an internal spring mechanism which releases and retracts a belt. The belt is generally made from tough, hard-wearing nylon which retracts to store itself either inside the post or in a wall piece.

Safety Stanchions

A type of heavy-duty retractable belt stanchion used in industry - retractable belt barrier stanchions are used in the construction industry, warehouses, airports etc. the belt is often made from brightly coloured material to alert to danger and there may be up to three separate belts attached to each stanchion.

Plastic Stanchions

These provide a useful solution for temporary barrier systems at outdoor events such as festivals or trade shows - they are weather-proof and economical and can also be weighted with sand or gravel for added robustness.

How We Can Help

AEC Products UK specialises in the design, manufacture and supply of post and rope stanchions to various organisations such as leisure spaces, galleries & museums, showrooms and retail environments.

Our stanchions are designed to be robust and hardwearing, yet modern and unobtrusive – for more information on how we can help, get in touch today.

View the AEC Stanchions range

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