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Bar Stool Buying Guide

With thousands of choices in bar stools, we want to be sure that you find the perfect style for your space. This guide addresses some key decisions that will help you narrow your choices and hone in on the best seat for you with all the features you need.

The Right Height

Be sure to select the right height for your stool, whether that is counter height, bar height, or extra tall. Watch our sizing video and use our diagrams and easy instructions to determine what height stools will work best with your table, counter, or bar.

Step 1 – Measure

Measure the height of your counter or table from the floor to the underside of your counter. We recommend measuring twice, as your counter or table height will determine the proper bar stool height.

Step 2 - Determine Quantity

Figuring out the right number of bar stools for your counter or pub table is easy. Follow the industry standard, which allows 26-30 inches between the centers of each bar stool. This will provide adequate spacing for people to eat, drink, and socialize.

Step 3 – Decide on features & style

Hayneedle offers thousands of bar stools in an extensive variety of styles and materials in all three height categories. Choose from bar stools with or without seat backs, with or without armrests, swivel or non-swivel, upholstered or non-upholstered, adjustable or stationary, and more.

Counter Height Bar Stool Diagram 15 inch Wide Seat

Bar-Height Bar Stool Diagram 17 inch Wide Seat

Extra Tall Bar Height Bar Stool Diagram 21 inch Wide Seat

When it comes to seat width, bigger can be better, but it does take up more space. When deciding on a seat width, consider comfort as well as how many stools you would ideally like to fit in the space. As shown, most stools measure approximately 15, 17, or 21 inches in width. Allow for about 6 inches between stools for a comfortable seating arrangement. With these considerations, you should be able to determine the best seat-width choice for your bar or counter-height table.


Keep in mind that when it comes to seat width, consideration for comfort and space is key. The smaller the seat size, the smaller the seat and the more stools you can fit at your bar or counter. However, if a larger seat is more comfortable for you, your family, or guests, opt for a 17- or 21-in. stool. Whatever option you choose, make sure you allow for at least 6 inches of space between each stool. Whichever width you settle on, measure accordingly so you know how many stools can fit comfortably.


Comfort and space are also key elements when it comes to choosing the right stool height for your bar or counter. As a good rule of thumb, 10 to 12 inches should be the allotted amount of space between the stool seat and the underside of your counter or table. If you measure from the floor to the underside of the counter and consider this rule, you should be able to select the proper seat height for your space. For example, as shown in the video, if your counter measures in at 43 inches, a seat height of approximately 30 to 32 inches is ideal.


Commercial stools are designed to handle heavy use associated with restaurants, bars, and other public spaces. Commercial grade bar stools are available with similar options as residential stools, like swivel, backrests, or padding and upholstery. If you intend to use your stools in a commercial setting, be sure to purchase commercial grade stools for durability and to insure that the manufacturer’s warranty will apply.


If you are purchasing stools for residential use, you can choose from either our residential or commercial grade stools.

Wood or Metal?

Most bar stools and counter stool frames are either metal or wood. Metal options range from a rustic bronze finish to a modern-looked chromed steel finish. Wood stools can offer a more traditional look. Crafted from select hardwoods, these stools come in a wide range of finish colors and even feature options like swivel and backrests. Determine if you prefer metal or wood styles to help narrow your choices.

Upholstery, Padding, Backrests, and Arms

Many people prefer a well-cushioned seat and comfortable backrest when relaxing for a meal or drink. We offer thousands of bar stool options with upholstery and backrests for the comfort-minded. From luxurious leather to modern microfiber, there are plenty of options to help you find the perfect match for your space. In addition to backrests, some people also like to have arms on their stool for a comfortable and relaxing experience. We offer hundreds of styles with either metal, wood, or upholstered arms.

Swivel and Lift

Add to your bar stool’s functionality by choosing a model with a swivel seat, or adjustable height. Swivel bar stools are a favorite in public places and private homes for allowing you to easily turn in your chair. Bar stools with an airlift lever, also called gas lift, under the seat allow for smooth adjustment of height, helping you find the most comfortable position for your stool. These features transform your stool from a stationary seat to one that offers expanded comfort and versatility.