The Differences Between Counter and Bar Stools

Counter and Bar Stools

Deciding what type of chair or stool you want to use with your home decor can be challenging. There are so many choices, and you are bound to come across two of the most popular types of stools: counter stools and bar stools. Both can add a great element to your room or your deck. 

The main difference between counter stools and bar stools comes down to height. Bar stools are taller than counter stools because they are meant to be used at bars. Bar stools can be upward of 29-32 inches tall, and counter stools can be upward of 24-26 inches tall. 

The differences between counter and bar stools, while mainly a matter of height, can also include how you use them. There are several factors you should consider before deciding between either a counter or a bar stool. Read on to discover the differences between counter and bar stools. 

Counter Stools and Bar Stools

When you have a home bar or other set up at your home, you want to make sure you are getting the proper stools that match them. However, it is easy to get the wrong one. You need to pay careful attention to the height of the stools you are checking. 

While the main difference between counter stools and bar stools is the height, they can be mistaken for one another. For example, between the two types of stools, there can be a height difference of only a few inches. If you are not careful, you can mix them up. 

However, just because you have a bar does not mean you necessarily need a bar stool. There are two things you need to keep in mind when deciding between a counter stool and a bar stool. First, you must consider the height of the stool. Secondly, you must consider the height of the table.

However, there are other elements to consider when it comes to counter and bar stools. Consider some of the following. 

  • The structure of the stool. 
  • The color of the stool
  • The placement of the stool.

The areas where you plan on using your stool affect the type of stool you need. For example, since a bar stool is taller, it may not be the best choice for regular dining. You would want to get counter stools to match the type of table you would normally eat at. 

Should I Get Counter-Height or Bar-Height Stools?

As mentioned earlier, the two most important factors when deciding between a counter-height stool and a bar-height stool are the heights of both the stools and the table it is being paired with. 

When deciding between counter-height and bar-height stools, you can use the following elements to help guide you. 

Differences Between Counter and Bar Stools
Differences Between Bar and Counter Stools
  • The bar height. If your bar is between 40 inches and 42 inches, then you will want a bar stool that is between 29 inches and 32 inches. This will give whoever is sitting there enough legroom, and they will not feel that they are being squished into the bar top. 
  • The counter height. If your countertop is between 35 inches and 36 inches, then you will want a counter stool that is between 24 inches to 26 inches. As with the bar stools, this will provide a comfortable seating arrangement for whoever uses them. 
  • It can vary. Not every bar will be the same height, and not every counter will be the same height. That is where there are ranges of height when it comes to stools. You could have two counters, one in the kitchen and another on the deck, that are two sizes and will need two types of counter-height stools.

It is important to remember that there is no standard counter or bar height. There are average ranges. If you have a counter that varies greatly from the heights you see while shopping around, you should try to allow for 10 inches of difference. This will provide ample room for your guests’ knees. 

You should also ask yourself where you want to use the stools. Are you using them inside or outside? What is the decor of the area? You want to make sure the stools you choose match. Moreover, the styles of the stools can change, too. For example, some have backs while others do not. 

Where Do You Want to Use the Stools?

It is important to consider the space you have when deciding between a counter stool and a bar stool. Visually, there is not much difference between the two types. As mentioned, it is the height that is the difference. However, you may have different types of tables both within your home and outside of it. 

Moreover, a person sits differently on each stool. For example, bar stools are taller, therefore the guest will have a footrest on the bottom of the stool. This is because the bar stools are taller. You would not want your guests’ feet to be dangling with nothing to rest on. 

You need to consider the purpose of the stool. If you want to entertain people with sit-down meals and casual get-togethers, then counter stools are probably going to be the better option. They are shorter and can accommodate longer sitting times, which can happen with these types of events. 

However, if your main goal is to have people over to share a few drinks or watch a big sporting event, then bar stools can be the better choice. They can make your bar area feel like the local pub, and they are easier to get off and on quickly. Moreover, if you have a home bar, then the bar stools will be the perfect height to enjoy the drinks in comfort. 

The Style of the Stool Matters

The height is not the only thing you need to pay attention to when deciding on which still you want for your area. You also need to pay attention to the style of the stool. The material and structure of the stool can change, so you want to make sure it matches the area it is going into. 

Consider some of the following counter and bar stools with your specific area in mind. 

  • Adjustable stools. If you have multiple counters of various heights in your home, then an adjustable stool may be the best option for you. These stools can essentially be both a counter stool and a bar stool, depending on what you need.  
  • Stools without backs. A lot of stools come with backrests but many do not, too. You need to decide if you want your stools to have no backs. Backrests add a level of comfort for your guests, but that does not mean you cannot go without them.
  • Wooden stools. Wooden stools can pair nicely with certain decors, and they are always a classic look. 
  • Metal stools. Metal stools can look really nice in a modern kitchen or bar area. They can get a bit uncomfortable if you are not careful, so it is always important, if you can, to try one out first. 
  • Cushioned stools. If you plan on having people sitting on the stools for long periods, you should consider cushioned stools. A cushion can go a long way in keeping someone comfortable while sitting on a bar or counter stool. 
  • Swivel stools. Not all stools need to be stationary. Many stools come with a swivel top, which means the person sitting on the stool can move side to side (or all the way around) with their seat. This is a good option if you plan on get-togethers where the space will be large. 

Any of these types of stools can fit perfectly in a room. You have to decide what elements you prioritize and what features suit your family’s needs most.


While the differences between counter and bar stools are minor, they are important. You do not want a counter stool placed at your bar because your guests will be uncomfortable with the height difference. Moreover, you do not want a bar stool at your standard counter because your knees will have zero room. 

However, if you measure both the height of the counter or bar top and the stool seat itself, you should find a stool that is a perfect fit. 

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Hi there! I’m Alex, the one behind this website. I ran and operated a Local Furniture Store in Southern California. The store opened in 2010, during the “Great Recession,” It is still thriving today; however, I have dedicated my time to helping our online customer base. My primary focus is to help you with all your furniture & mattress questions.

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