❄️ BEAT THE COLD 🚚 ORDER NOW FOR FAST, FREE SHIPPING STRAIGHT TO YOU 🇨🇦

Your Guide to Counter Stools & Bar Stools

Everything you need to know about choosing a counter stool vs bar stool

Deciding between a counter stool vs bar stool can be easier said than done. There are many factors that come into play when making the decision. We receive a lot of questions about choosing the right option for our customers’ homes, so we've put together a post filled with information to help you decide what’s best for you.

There are countless counter stool vs bar stool guides out there on how to choose the appropriate height and style but knowing what will fit your unique needs is what’s most important.

How to choose counter stools vs bar stools

Step 1: Choose the appropriate height

A common question we get often is understanding what the difference is in height and use with a counter stool vs bar stool.

Counter stools are used under countertops and bar stools are placed at or under bar height counters.

A counter stool will fit under a counter that typically measures between 34 – 39 inches tall and bar stools fit under a bar that measures in at 42 inches tall.

Counter height tables and kitchen islands are usually 36 inches high as a good rule of thumb.

An actual counter stool itself typically measures 24 – 29 inches and a bar stools standard height is between 29 – 32 inches, allowing it to sit higher up underneath a bar.

Of course there are always exceptions, but these are the standard heights and measurements to go by.

Once you have measured your countertop or bar area height, ensure you double check the stool measurements you are considering to make sure it fits within standard sizing.

You’ll want to make sure you leave room for your knees to have enough space under the counter while seated.

Here’s a counter stool vs bar stool buying guide cheat sheet

Starting at the bottom part of your counter (not the top), use the following measurements as guidance to determine the best height for your needs:

If your counter is between 35  37 inches high, you need a counter stool that ranges anywhere between 23  28 inches floor to seat base.

  • If your counter is between 41  43 inches high, you will need a bar stool that ranges anywhere between 29 to 32 inches floor to seat base.
  • If your counter is anything higher than 44 inches (usually a custom-made height), you’ll need an extra tall bar stool that ranges anywhere between 33 to 36 inches floor to seat base.

Step 2: Consider function

When choosing counter stools or bar stools, it’s important to consider what purpose they will serve, along with their function.

How will you use the counter or bar stool? Do you need flexible options? Will you be entertaining with them? Will you need a large quantity? What space are they going in? Is it a focal point of a room in your home?

If you’re considering more flexible options, swivel and backless stools work great for that purpose. They also make it easy to move the stools throughout your home for multiple uses.

If you’d like a more comfortable option for you and your guests, opt for an upholstered stool with a back and arms. These are also great options if you have children at home and you’re worried about them falling off the stools.

While looks are important, function is equally important as you will more than likely be using counter or bar stools every day.

If you’re looking for a counter stool or bar stool that can withstand a lot, you’ll want to purchase something heavier and more solid. This is especially true if your bar stools will see a lot of activity. You don’t want a child climbing up one just to topple over and get hurt.

A good rule of thumb is to get a sturdy stool between 12 – 15 pounds. This will ensure the counter or bar stool won’t be easy to knock over. Anything heavier will be difficult to move and anything lighter is a tipping risk. Heavier is usually the better option in general for sake of stability.

Step 3: Choose a style unique to you

This may come as a no brainer but choosing a counter or bar stool that fits your décor style, while keeping function in mind can be harder than expected. Don’t get us wrong, it’s super fun!

There are multiple ways to go about the process, that’s why we’re here to help.

First, consider the space your counter or bar stool will be placed in. Is it your kitchen? Bar area? Basement? Once you know where the bar stool is going, you can better choose the style.

Try mixing things up and adding a modern piece to a more traditional space. The contrast will really provide a high-end look and create balance in the aesthetics of the space.

For example, you can do this by adding a modern iron cast stool to a traditional style kitchen to give the space a pop of modern.

If you’re looking for a counter or bar stool that is timeless regardless of trend, opting for natural wood is a great way to remain in style.

Our Nuevo Satine Wood counter stool in walnut is super versatile and has a classic and sleek design.

Another way to add a pop of style is buying a counter or bar stool that has interesting texture. It adds additional design elements to your space that puts a spin on your décor.

Counter stools tend to be more popular in Canada than bar stools. Our best-selling counter and bar stools include the Palma, Chi, and Aaron.

FAQs about counter stools vs bar stools

At Bar Stool Gems, we receive many questions about what the right option for our customers are related to counter stool vs bar stool so, we’re put together the following guide to help you:

Do I need counter or bar stools?

To understand whether you need a counter stool vs bar stool, measure the height of your table or counter from floor to bottom of the counter base. A good rule of thumb is to have 9 – 13 inches between the seat and the counter to ensure you have room for your knees. Based on the height from floor to counter, choose a counter or bar stool.

What is the difference between a bar stool and a counter stool?

The biggest difference between a bar stool and counter stool is the height. A bar stool is typically around 28 inches in height (give or take a few inches), and a counter stool generally is 24 – 27 inches tall. Bar stools are taller to fit higher counter tops.

Can you use counter stools at a bar?

Yes, you can use counter stools with bar counters if the counter stool is tall enough for the bar height. This is the beauty of counter stools vs bar stools. They are versatile and dynamic in use and function.

 Are counter stools lower than bar stools?

Counter stools are typically lower than bar stools. Bar stools usually range anywhere from five to six inches taller to fit higher counter areas.

How far should a bar stool be from the counter?

When choosing the right bar stool, you’ll want to make sure you have enough room for your knees / legs to fit and have room to move under the counter. Usually 9 – 13 inches between the seat and the counter works. 

Why are bar stools so high?

Bar stools are higher because they are most frequently found in bar and restaurant settings. They encourage casual conversation and are meant to be met at eye level with those standing around.

Summary - Everything you need to know about choosing a counter stool vs bar stool

Choosing the right counter stool vs bar stool can make all the difference in the world. Remember that the measurements of the counter height are your first key factor in deciding whether you need a counter stool vs bar stool.

While it can feel overwhelming to make sure you choose the right option, luckily, there aren’t huge differences in understanding which size will work for you. After you choose the appropriate size, it’s all about functionality and design style.

At Bar Stool Gems, we love to help you furnish your space with our high-end, yet entirely functional pieces. Whether you’re looking for a touch of modern, or a classic and timeless piece, we’ve got you covered. We have endless styles to choose from and we’re always adding more choices.

We hope to make your shopping experience easy by shipping directly to you anywhere in Canada. Counter and bar stools are our passion, and we love seeing your space come to life.

Browse our unique collections of high-end quality counter stools and best-selling bar stools, sure to spruce up your space today and don’t hesitate to reach out with any of your counter or bar stool questions!