Bar Stool and Counter Stool Buying Guide

December 23, 2020
December 23, 2020 QA Group

Choosing the right seating for your bar or restaurant is a big decision. The decision to install booth seating, benches, chairs and tables, commercial upholstered bar stools, or a combination depends on a variety of things. You have to take into consideration the type of dining establishment you’re furnishing, the style of your restaurant, and the space you have to work with. 

Bar and counter stools are a great option for pubs and breweries, as well as any restaurant that has a connected bar where individuals can grab a cocktail while they wait to be seated or meet up with a friend for a small plate. Bar stools can also find a great home in coffeeshops, cafes, and other places with limited floor space. 

If you’re thinking of buying bar or counter stools for your restaurant, here are some things to think about.

Bar Stools vs. Counter Stools

Although they might seem similar and are used in many of the same venues, bar and counter stools can be distinguished from each other by a few characteristics, including their size. Purchasing a bar stool when you really need a counter stool or vice versa can cause severe discomfort for your customers. 

Counter Stools

Counter stools are a type of restaurant seating that are used with bar counters, custom height restaurant tables, and kitchen countertops. These types of seats are usually constructed with back support, whether that is a solid back with a cushion, slat back, windsor, or ladder back. 

Counter stools usually measure 24 to 27 inches tall, placing guests at a perfect height for the average restaurant and bar counters that stand approximately 35 to 37 inches tall.

Bar Stools

Bar stools are typically backless with footrests, and are almost exclusively designed for counters and tables at bars, lounges, and pubs. The standard height for a pub bar stool is around 30 inches tall, pairing perfectly with a bar height table top of 42 inches.

[Related: Eight Hotel Upholstery and Furniture Trends to Look Out For]

Stool Quantity

In order to decide how many stools you need at your bar or countertop, you need to consider the width of a comfortable place setting rather than the width of the stool itself (since the size of your customers and the space they need will vary). 

Sources recommend 24 inches of space per bar stool for comfortable place settings, and suggest this equation to find your perfect number of stools needed:

Length of bar in inches ÷ 24 = the best quantity of stools for your space

Tucking Stools

If you want the ability to tuck your stool seats under your counter, you’ll need to ensure that the depth of your stool seat isn’t too much more than the depth measurement of your countertop overhang. 

Most counter overhangs are approximately 10 to 12 inches deep, whereas most stool seats are around 16 inches deep. This provides a pretty good “tuck” without pushing all the way under the table, which works for most spaces. 

Are you dealing with a super limited amount of space? Consider a stool with a narrower seat of around 12 inches, such as a saddle seat style.

Seat Materials

You want to make sure your stools are comfortable if you want your customers to stick around for longer than it takes to order their food or drink. 

Stool seats are usually upholstered with vinyl, polyester, microfiber, or leather and leatherette materials over foam or some sort of cushion for comfort. These materials look nice, are durable and easy to clean, can be customized to fit the vibe of your establishment, and are comfortable. 

When adding stool seating to a fast food restaurant or casual, high-traffic dining spot, no-cushion bar stools could be a good option, since customers won’t be staying for extended periods of time. No-cushion seats are also helpful in establishments that see a lot of spills and stains, like family and fast food restaurants, since they’ll be easier to wipe off and sanitize.

[Related: Complete Guide to Commercial Restaurant Booths]

Frame Materials

Most frames supporting a stool seat are made of either wood or metal, depending on the style and preference of establishment. Commercial wood bar stools provide a more traditional look and come in several different finishes, while commercial metal bar stools may be more durable and look more modern.

Stool Features

When choosing restaurant bar stools or counter stools, dimensions, seat, and frame material aren’t the only features to consider. 

Height Adjustability

Certain stool frames are built with levers that can control and adjust the height of your stool. These types of stools are a great option for providing the highest level of customized comfort for your patrons.


Stool seats with the ability to “swivel” or rotate in a circle can make it easier for individuals to get on and off their seat, which in turn prevents extra wear and tear on your restaurant floor since the entire stool doesn’t have to move as much. 

Swivel stools can also allow for your customer to have a wider range of motion while seated at your counter or bar top.


Choosing to furnish your establishment with stools that come with armrests brings similar advantages as swivel stools, focusing on accessibility and your customers’ comfort levels.


Counter stools usually have backrests, while bar stools are usually backless. Backrests add an additional level of comfort and can provide support for young children or elderly individuals when getting into and out of their seat.

[Related: Materials Used in Custom Commercial Furniture]

Contact QA Group Today

Interested in learning more about bar and counter stool options for your commercial business? QA Group has been working with the restaurant and hospitality industry for years, providing high-quality chairs, booths and banquettes, and commercial bar stools to businesses all over the Pacific Northwest since 1936

Contact us today and we’ll work with you to design the perfect custom bar stools and counter stools for your commercial business.