When shopping for bar or counter stools, knowing the difference between the two is important. If you don't, you're likely to end up with a stool that is too short to let you reach your beer or one that is so tall you bruise your knees on the underside of the counter. Fortunately, a tape measure and a basic primer about different counter heights can help you pick the perfect size stools to match your home bar or kitchen counters.
Bar Stool Height
Tables, countertops, and bars that measure from 41 to 43 inches tall are considered bar height. This measurement is taken from the floor to the top of the bar. Wayfair notes that bar stools with a seat height of 28 to 33 inches work best with bar-height counters. Stools of this height allow you to comfortably use the bar or table surface for eating and drinking while providing plenty of room underneath for your knees and legs.
Like the counter itself, stools are measured from the floor to the top of the seat. Some bars, known as tall bars, measure 44 to 47 inches in height, according to Overstock. These taller bars require a stool between 33 and 36 inches high.
Counter and Table Stool Height
Kitchen counters and counter-height tables are typically 35 to 37 inches from the ground. For comfortable use, pair them with counter stools that measure 24 to 27 inches tall. These stools put people at the perfect height for dining, doing homework or sharing a cup of coffee with friends.
Because they tuck away neatly under the table, stools work well for dinner tables located in cramped spaces. Tables sit lower than counters at a height between 28 and 30 inches and require stools 16 to 23 inches high.
Nonstandard Bar and Counter Heights
Although counters, bars and tables are often built to standard sizes, not every structure adheres to these dimensions. If your countertop or bar measures out to an odd height, pick a stool that is 10 inches lower than the counter. This will give you plenty of room for your knees, even if you like to sit with legs crossed. If you have trouble finding stools of the proper height, consider adjustable stools. These stools contain hydraulic pumps that allow you to set the stool height wherever you want it.
Spacing Stools for Elbow Room
The space between your stools is just as important a measurement as their height. To avoid crowding at your counter, space your stools six inches apart if the seats are 16 to 18 inches wide. If the seats are wider, or if the stools have arms or swivel, increase the space between them to 8 to 10 inches.
Ideally, the measurement from the middle of one stool to the middle of the next should be about 28 inches. Remember to leave 14 inches of space between the end of the bar and your first stool, as well, so the person on the end has plenty of counter space.
Sandra Rousseau has been writing since 1990, covering such topics as home decorating, fashion, health, beauty, gardening and cooking. Her articles appear her hometown newspaper, the "Aledo Community News," and on various websites. Rousseau holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and advertising from the University of Texas at Arlington.