Bar Stools A Buyers Guide

Pub stools-Take note of the height of your bar counter

Although the above statement may seem like common sense I have, on many occasions, been in bars and pubs where the bar stool was the wrong size for the bar or table at which I sat.

Many proprieters spend a lot of time and energy on the look and feel of the bar’s environment but fail to look seriously at how comfortable the customers will be when seated.

For instance if you have a bar counter that is 46″ then the most appropriate stool would be 34″. A quick rule-of-thumb is to have a 9-13″ gap between the seat and the counter. This will give a very comfortable experience to the customer and have the average person in an ideal position at the bar.

For a traditional pub or tavern with a 46″ bar counter I would recommend a high-back wood style 34″ stool with a foot rest. This would provide maximum comfort with that added authentic look and feel.

Cafe stools

For a cafe it is always best to have metal stools or chairs as opposed to plastic. Plastic has a cheap look and feel to it whereas metal lends to both modern and traditional eating environments.

They come in many different styles and designs and can produce a real european flavour to any dining area.

In addition metal stools or chairs can be used both inside and in an outside seated area. I have been in expensive coffee houses where the exterior eating area has mirrored the inside and this allows you to enjoy the feel of the inside environment while enjoying the sun.

Cocktail stools

For those of you interested in the more up-market approach, a stainless steel or aluminium stool, with a circular ringed footrest, is a must for all cocktail bar lovers. These bar stools blend into almost any surroundings. With a young clientele, as the main customer base, this envirnoment can be fast paced and the seating arrangements can change over the space of a night.

In such situations, when bartenders often need to alter the pub arrangements in order to facilitate customer requirements, it is essential to have both a light-weight and durable stool.

The aluminium bar stool is ideal for such a task, as is lightweight stainless steel. These stools are not only remarkably light and therefore easy to maneuver, in compact environments, but they are also exceptionally durable, easy to clean and can be found at very reasonable prices.


Lounges are traditionally used for recreational socialising with friends and establishments tend to create a relaxed atmosphere which allows easy conversation. With this in mind the seating arrangements should reflect this and it is therefore crucial to think of the comfort of the customer.

Upholstered stools and chairs are essential for creating the correct ambiance and level of comfort to meet the customer requirements. Even if the environment reflects a more traditional feel, as do some Irish bars, wooden stools with padded seats in no way detract from the feel of the surroundings.

Small stools

As well as the standard 36″ bar stool, which is the average height for an average bar counter, all bars from local taverns to up-market cocktail lounges have additional seating areas. Obviously, the standard size of bar stool would be inappropriate for such a bar table or lounge area.

Therefore proprieters should always have a stock of smaller stools for the lounge and seated area in the public bar. Usually, in most cases, only a 20″ stool would be required to meet the comfortable table height. A good rule-rule-thumb for a table stool would be to give aproximately 6″ between the seat and table surface.

Kitchen stools

Whether its a modern breakfast bar you have or a traditional pine table, kitchen stools can be ideal for your seating requirements. Traditional chairs or bar stools like those pictured below can give that warm feeling that you had whenever you where in your mama’s kitchen. Alternatively a metal, chrome or aluminium look can add sleek and sophistication to any modern kitchen.

As with the pub stools the height of the counter should be considered prior to purchasing any stools or chairs. The standard breakfast bar is usually 36″ which would suggest that you use a 30″ stool.

When considering a breakfast bar the rule-of-thumb is to have a 6-10″ gap between the counter and the seat to derive maximum comfort. However, if you have traditional seating arrangements around a table leave a 6″ gap.

Bar Stools A Buyers Guide