Bar Stool Height: How Tall Should Bar Stools Be?

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Wondering about the best bar stool height for your home bar? Here’s how tall your bar stools should be, plus some additional considerations to keep in mind before you decide which bar stools to buy.

Bar Stool Height: Clearance

When we’re talking about bar stool height, we’re really talking about the measurement from the floor to the top of the seat – not the total height of the back. The backs can be as tall as you’d like (or you could go with backless bar stools). What’s important is to get the clearance right.

You’ll need proper space when you belly up to the bar, and a good rule of thumb is to have 12″ of clearance between the top of the bar stool seats and the underside of your bar. Thus, the best way to determine which size bar stools you need is to measure from the floor to the bottom of your bar and subtract by 12.

For example, if you have a 42″ bar, you need 30″ bar stools (42 – 12 = 30).

Those are general guidelines, though, and if we know anything about home bar owners it’s that we want to tailor our space to our own preferences. For example, you might want more or less clearance depending on your bar’s layout, foot rests and whether you want your bar to feel “average” or tall.

Just keep in mind you’ll probably want a clearance between 9″ and 15″ to maintain a comfortable posture when sitting at your bar. Here are some additional height ranges to consider.

Home bars

Most bars come in at around 40 to 42 inches, which means you’ll want to find a stool that’s around 25″ to 33″ tall. The standard is 30″.

Extra tall bars

If you have an extra tall bar – say, 43″ to 47″ – look for bar stools between 28″ and 38″. Note that a 28″ bar stool is going to feel pretty short on a 47″ bar, while a 38″ bar stool is only going to have 6″ of clearance on a 44″ bar. Again, bar stool height comes down to how much clearance you want between the seat and the bottom of your bar.

Counter height

Standard counter height is 36″, which means we’d recommend a 24″ bar stool if your bar is set at counter height.

Space considerations

You also need to consider the space around your bar. How many guests can you comfortably seat?

Width is especially important to note if you’re thinking of getting a whole set of stools for your bar or counter. You don’t want to be too close to someone and not able to move your chair around. In general, 6″ is about the standard that you want to aim for between each stool – but you might prefer more space to make your bar feel roomier.

For fancier stools with built-in arms or swivel capability, add a couple of extra inches into that estimate, for about 8″ total.