Bar Stool Buying Guide

Buying non-adjustable stools online can be tricky. Not only are you looking for a style that fits with the design you are trying to achieve, but then the stools with that design have to fit the space. There are counter stools and there are bar stools. What differentiates them is their height, but sometimes that height is hard to tell just by looking at a photo (see below). We put together this Bar Stool Buying Guide to help you figure out what you need and how you can find it without accidentally ordering the wrong size.

Warning, some math involved.

Counter and Bar Stool Buying Guide

In the above photo, the set on the left is a counter stool and the set on the right are bar stools. Both look similar and as you can see it’s hard to judge scale just looking at the picture. This is where the math comes in.

Bar Stool Buying Guide

Break Out The Tape Measure

The average height for a counter that you’d typically find in a kitchen is 35 inches. So, the first thing you have to do is measure from the bottom of the counter to the floor and see what you have to work with. By contrast, the average height for a bar is 42 inches. That’s why bar stools are taller. Once you know the height, you are in a better place to figure out which you need, bar or counter stool.

Average Bar & Counter Stool Heights

Not all counter stools are the same height and not all bar stools are uniform either. There is usually a range of heights. Counter stools are usually between 24 inches and 27 inches tall. Bar stools are usually between 28 inches and 33 inches. Right off the bat, you can see that if your counter is 35 inches and your stool is 33 inches, then that only leaves 2 inches for your legs. That’s not going to work.

It’s important to look at the height of the stool prior to ordering.

Website Trick

On most sites, there is a way to make not picking the wrong height easier. Take Overstock, for example. In the upper left corner when you search the complete listings of bar stools, the first thing you see is Seat Heights (see screenshot below). Taking the information you got from measuring and now knowing the average heights, select either Counter Height or Bar Height, whichever is most appropriate. Now, you are just seeing options that should fit your space.

Overstock Screenshot - Bar Stool Buying Guide

How Many Stools Do You Need?

Now that you know which height, the next question is how many stools can fit comfortable side by side at the counter or bar? You want to allow at least one foot between each stool. Sorry, this means more math. Break out that tape measure again! If your counter is like mine, 8 feet long, then you can comfortably fit 4 stools along the space. So, if it’s 10 feet, you can have 5 stools and 6 feet means 3 stools. Adjust accordingly.

Back Or Backless

Should you have stools with backs or not? This really depends on what you want to use the space for. If the stool is just being used to grab a quick bite to eat, then you can have just the stool with no back. They also tend to store more easily under the counter than their counterparts (no pun intended).

But if you’re looking to have people stay awhile and chat on the stools, provide some back support. Stools without backs tend to get more uncomfortable the longer you sit on them. You’ll notice that restaurants looking to turn over seats don’t provide backs on the stools. That’s because they don’t want anyone camping out. That works for them.

Back or Backless: Bar Stool Buying Guide

What Style To Get?

This one is on you. Is your design more contemporary or classic? This is the fun stuff for you! What you choose is all about you. And to quote Billy Crystal, “You are fabulous!” Head on over to Overstock and start checking out all the cool deals!