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Bar stool Buying Guide

Bar stool Buying Guide

Things you must know before you start shopping for bar stools:

  1. 1. The dimensions of your countertop or bar.
  2.     a. Height from the floor to the top of the counter or bar.
  3.     b. Length of the counter where the stools will be situated.
  4.     c. The depth of your overhang.

  5. 2. The dimensions of the space around your countertop or bar. (Make note of obstructions such as furniture, doorways, appliances, etc.)
  6. The color scheme you will be working with. Acquire samples of your room’s features (cabinets, countertop, flooring, etc.) whenever possible.

Things you should consider before and during you’re shopping experience:

Things to consider

1. Seat Height+

Seat Heights

The height of your seat should be approximately 10-12 inches lower than the height of your countertop or bar.

Seat Height
Name Common Countertop/Bar Heights* Common Corresponding Seat Heights
"Counter" Height 36" 24"-26"
"Bar" Height 42" 29"-30"
"Spectator" Height 45"** 34"

*If your bar/counter is an abnormal height (i.e. not listed above), we have many stools that can be made in custom heights, or you may simply elect to use the closest standard seat height.

**When possible, avoid making your bar more than 42" high. Fewer stools are available with a 34" seat height and those that are available are more costly. Also, 34" seats are difficult for shorter people to climb into and they tend to be more dangerous than 30" stools, because the seat is so high off the floor.

2. Swivel vs Non-swivel+

Swivel Bar Stools

  • PRO: Easier to get in and out of the stool, especially if your legs are not long enough to touch the floor when sitting in the seat.
  • PRO: Less wear on your floor, because you don’t have to move it around as much to get in and out of the stool.
  • PRO: Enable you to spin the seat around without getting up (to watch TV, have a conversation with someone behind you, etc.)
  • CON: Backs will be more prone to banging into your bar/counter top.
  • CON: Young children have been known to use swivel stools as toys (spinning around wildly), which can result in various kinds of damage and injury.

Non-swivel Bar Stools

  • PRO: Backs will be much less prone to banging into your bar/counter top.
  • PRO: Often less expensive than their swivel counterparts
  • CON: Difficult to push yourself in to the counter if your feet don’t reach the floor from the seat.
  • CON: More wear on your floor from pushing in and out.

3. Arms vs. No Arms+

Bar Stools with Arms

  • PRO: If you plan on sitting in your stools for long periods at a time (to watch TV, hang out with friends, etc.), arms are much more comfortable, because when you’re sitting back, you have a place to rest your arms.
  • PRO: Most arms WILL safely slide under you bar/countertop, provided you have the correct seat height.
  • CON: More difficult to get into/out of, because the arms prevent you from sliding into the seat from the side.
  • CON: Backs are more prone to banging into your bar/countertop because you need to swivel the stool more to get in and out.
  • CON: More wear on your floor from pushing in and out.

Bar Stools without Arms

  • PRO: Easier to get in and out of the stool, because you clan slide out the side of the seat.
  • PRO: Less swiveling is required to get out of the seat, so the stool is slightly less prone to banging into your bar/countertop.
  • CON: Not as comfortable, if you plan on sitting in the stool for long periods at a time.

4. Stool Durability+

If “heavier than average" people will be sitting in the stool, ask your sales person for the maximum weight capacity of the stool, as specified by the manufacturer. The following list shows the most common recommended weight limits for different types of stools. THESE ARE MERELY GUIDELINES! EACH MANUFACTURER AND STOOL STYLE MAY HAVE HIGHER OR LOWER WEIGHT LIMITS.

  • Imported (Asian)-Made Wood Bar Stools – max weight capacity is usually 225 lbs or less.
  • North American & European-Made Wood Bar Stools – max weight capacity is usually 275 lbs.
  • Commercial-Grade North American & European-Made Wood Bar Stools – max weight capacity is usually 325 lbs.
  • Imported (Asian)-Manufactured Metal Bar Stools – max weight capacity is usually 225 lbs.
  • North American & European-Made Metal Bar Stools – max weight capacity is usually 325 lbs.
  • Commercial-Grade North American & European-Made Metal Bar Stools – max weight capacity is usually 400 lbs.

The most durable bar stools on the market will tend to be made of metal. We are by no means discouraging the purchase of wood stools. There are many wood stools on the market that could end up lasting the rest of your life. However, on a long enough timeline, most metal outlasts wood, simply because of the inherent properties of the materials. (Think about it: they don’t build skyscrapers or automobiles out of wood for a reason!) There are exceptions to this rule, specifically when a metal frame is held together with machine screws (see below).

What to look for in a metal bar stool:

  • Good Welded Joints
  • Bad Screwed Joints
  • Welded frames, no screws in the framework
  • (note: It is typical and desirable to see screws holding the seat to the frame . This will NOT compromise the durability of the stool. It will allow you replace the seats if necessary in the future. It is also typical and desirable to see bolts or screws connecting the two halves of a swivel stool to the swivel plate. It will allow you to replace the swivel if necessary in the future.)
  • Ask how long the warranty lasts (Better quality metal stools should have a 10 year warranty or longer on the welds.)

What to look for in a wood bar stool:

  • Fair
  • Good
  • Better
  • Best
  • Before buying any wood stool, flip it over to see “what’s under the hood." This will tell you how well the stool is built.
  • Corner Block Construction is preferred. Tongue-in-groove corners blocks are best.
  • Wood screws are preferred over machine screws
  • When looking at colonial-style stools where the legs are pegged into the seats, domestic and European-made stools will last the longest because each piece is precision fitted and secured with quality wood glue or epoxy. Asian imports are often prone to falling apart because of lower quality workmanship and materials. If you are looking at import colonial-style stools, try to select one with steel braces

5. Your Style+

Modern

Modern

Structurally characterized by sleek, clean lines. Frames and legs will often have an understated, minimalist look. Black, white and silver tones are often used, but contrasting bright colors may also be employed to counterbalance the simplicity of the furniture’s design.

Contemporary

Contemporary

Simple, clean lines are usually employed in the furniture’s design, but with less rigidity and starkness than “modern" counterparts. A range of colors are used in contemporary furniture, although black, white, silver and basic earth tones prevail. Contemporary furniture consists of both timeless classics and the latest “trendy" looks made up by today’s professional designers.

Transitional

Transitional

A very popular design style. A blend of both contemporary and traditional themes. Clean lines are often used but may be counterbalanced by curves and more intricate details. Earth tones are the most popular color schemes for this décor, but hints of color can be safely added to match other parts of your room. This theme leaves a lot of room for your own interpretations.

Traditional

Traditional

Decorative details and curvy lines characterize this design style. Traditional furniture will often portray a sense of formality with hand carved details in the wood, or it can have a casual “Old World" with intricate wrought iron framework. Darker wood and metal tones are often contrasted with lighter color fabrics in this genre.

Country

Country

This design style captures the simplicity of the American farmstead or the rustic elegance of the French countryside. Distressed finishes are currently very popular in country furniture, providing an faux-authentic antique look. American country furniture is often characterized by turned-spindle details in the legs of the stools and the use of natural woods, like oak, and sometimes distressed paint. French country is often characterized by simple but elegant, curvy details in the legs of the stools. Lighter color palettes, especially distressed whites and creams are usually preferred on the wood, which is counter-balanced by vibrant, but traditionally patterned fabrics.