Best Backless Bar Stools

Updated September 2020
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

62 Models Considered
8 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
93 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best backless bar stools

Last Updated September 2020

Sitting up high on a bar stool feels casual and fun. Perhaps it’s the switch from the usual — instead of sitting down, you climb up. Maybe it’s the connection with swanky nights out at a special club. Or maybe it’s the way you feel like a kid again with your feet dangling above the ground. Whatever the reason, when choosing backless bar stools for your home, you want to combine comfort, style, and function without breaking the bank. 

Luckily, there are backless bar stools available in such a wide range of configurations that you’re bound to find just the right ones to complete your home bar, breakfast counter, or pub table set. But shopping for furniture can be complicated. You don’t want to bring your new purchase home and find you bought stools that were too short or the wrong style. 

Before you shop for backless bar stools, take a look at our buying guide. You’ll learn the terms you’ll encounter and get the 411 on what to look for. We’ve even included some of our favorites.

The right backless bar stools make your home bar or breakfast counter even better by providing a convenient spot to sit and talk, and they add a dose of style to the room, too.

Stool height

One of the most confusing aspects of shopping for backless bar stools — or any type of stool — is terminology, specifically, the different terms describing the height. Here’s a comparison with standard dining chairs:

Dining chairs have a seat height of 17 to 18 inches. They’re suitable for tables between 28 and 30 inches high.

Counter stools have a seat height of 24 to 26 inches, which is comfortable for sitting at a counter 35 to 36 inches high. This is the height of a typical breakfast bar on a kitchen island or countertop.

Bar stools have a seat height of 28 to 30 inches. They’re used at a bar with a height of 40 to 42 inches, such as the typical home bar.

Spectator stools (also called extra-tall bar stools) have a seat height of 33 to 34 inches. They’re used with a bar that is 45 to 48 inches high. These stools are most often found in restaurants and bars, although you’ll find custom home bars that fall in this range.

EXPERT TIP

Measure your bar or counter before choosing your backless bar stools. There are many size and height options to consider.


Staff  | BestReviews

Key considerations

There are several things to think about when shopping for backless bar stools. Most come down to personal preference regarding style, but you should also take functionality into account.

Use

Will you be sitting on your backless bar stools each day, such as while you enjoy a cup of coffee in the morning, or will the stools be at a home bar used only during parties? The more often the seats are used, the more important comfort and durability become. 

Note that bar stools are available with or without backs. If you plan to use the stools on a daily basis, such as at a breakfast bar, a stool with a back will be more comfortable, and likewise for stools used in a family game or media room if you want to sit at the bar and watch television. There are bar stools with high backs similar to regular chairs and stools with low backs.

If you’ll only use your stools at occasional parties, or you want to push the stools completely under the edge of the bar for storage (which can be a consideration if space is tight), backless stools are your best bet. 

Style

Your home décor sets the style for your backless bar stools. You can find sets to complement whatever look you prefer, whether that’s rustic, contemporary, Mission, casual, Asian, or Scandinavian. Backless bar stools have a more casual look than stools with backs, which might be a better fit with the style of your room.

Frame

Backless bar stool frames are usually made of wood or metal. The choice of frame material, style, and color is a matter of preference, but as a general rule, chrome stools look quite streamlined and match a modern or retro style. Black or burnished bronze, copper, or brass metal finishes suit Tuscan, traditional, or rustic styles. Wooden frames are available to complement any style of décor, from rustic to contemporary, and can be stained or painted any color.

While wooden bar stools normally have four legs like a traditional chair, metal stools — especially contemporary or retro designs — sometimes have one central pillar rather than four legs. When choosing a stool with this design, be sure that the base is large and heavy enough to fully support the stool and occupant.

Upholstery

When it comes to your bar stool seats, think about both comfort and style. Wooden backless bar stool seats are often wood as well, but you can choose stools with upholstered seats. Metal stools can have wooden, metal, plastic, or upholstered seats.

Stools with an upholstered seat are more comfortable for extended sitting, a major consideration if you plan on using your backless bar stools as seating while eating meals, watching TV, or working on your computer. Upholstery also can add a cozy touch of texture, color, and pattern to your room. 

Fabric: Most bar stool upholstery is some form of durable fabric, usually a synthetic that includes polyester. The choices of color and pattern are vast, so you should be able to find the perfect design for your room. If you choose upholstered bar stools, it’s a good idea to treat the fabric with a stain-repelling product, particularly if the stools will be used during meals.

Leather: This is another fairly common upholstery option when it comes to backless bar stools. It’s a durable, stylish choice that looks good with most décor. Leather is most often natural brown or tan, but there is also stained leather that can add a touch of color to the room.

Width

Typically, the seats of backless bar stools are a little smaller than the seat of a regular kitchen chair. Common measurements are 15, 17, and 21 inches wide. If you or a family member likes a little more wiggle room, look for stools with wider or deeper seats. You may also find that a rectangular seat provides more sitting space than a round seat.

DID YOU KNOW?

Backless bar stools typically tuck underneath the counter when not in use, so they’re ideal for a small space.

Features

Adjustability

Swivel: Many backless bar stools are available with swiveling seats. This not only provides plenty of fun for your kids, but it makes it easier to get on and off the stool. If you know your bar or counter area is a tight squeeze, look for swiveling stools.

Lift: You can raise or lower the seat on some backless bar stools, especially contemporary or modern ones. This usually involves pressing a foot pedal or pulling a lever under the seat. If you or a family member has mobility or balance issues that make it difficult to get on or off a bar stool, this is a worthwhile feature.

Footrest

Most backless bar stools have some sort of footrest, which also serves to stabilize the stool’s frame. The footrest can take the form of a metal or wooden ring that circles all four legs or dowels between the legs.

EXPERT TIP

Use your backless bar stools for additional seating when entertaining.


Staff  | BestReviews

Backless bar stool prices

As with any type of furniture, you can find backless bar stools in all price ranges. It’s common for bar stools to be sold in sets of two, so check the number of stools you get for the stated price.

Inexpensive: Under $100, don’t expect the finest construction or materials. These stools are likely to become wobbly with heavy use.

Mid-range: Between $100 and $200, you’ll find quality backless bar stools with sturdy, well-crafted frames in either metal or wood. If they’re upholstered, you can expect durable fabric or leather that repels stains and stands up to frequent use without fading, creasing, or wearing through.

Expensive: Spend over $200 and you’ll find the highest level of craftsmanship and materials. These stools are quality pieces of furniture that should stand up to frequent use without becoming worn or wobbly.

Tips

Once you’ve chosen your perfect backless bar stools, the next question is how many you should purchase. These guidelines will help.

  • Measure the height of your bar or counter. As a general rule of thumb, the seats of your bar stools should be 10 to 12 inches below the bottom of your countertop to provide comfortable leg and knee room.

  • Measure the length of your bar or counter. If you expect more than one person to sit at the counter at a time, figure on approximately 24 inches of space for each stool. That gives you enough room for the stool plus getting on and off it easily and lets sitters eat and drink without bumping elbows. If your counter is 72 inches long, three stools should fit comfortably.

  • Measure the depth. For comfortable seating and ease in getting on and off the stools, there should be at least 18 inches of clearance between the edge of the counter and the back of the bar stool’s seat.

  • Measure the clearance. If there is a wall or other obstacle behind your bar or counter seating area, leave at least 2 feet of clearance between the wall and the back of the stools to avoid a tight squeeze when getting on or off the stools.

If people will be sitting on your bar stools for long periods of time, upholstered seats are the most comfortable.

FAQ

Q. Do my backless bar stools have to be a matching set?
A. Not at all! Mismatched bar stools can add a fun look to a boho or casual decorating style. But while the styles of the stools can vary, it’s best to stick with stools that are all the same height for when more than one person is sitting at the counter.

Q. Are backless bar stools safe for children?
A. If you have young children, the height of a bar stool makes it a dangerous option, particularly if the stool is backless. Keep things safe for young family members by either choosing a type of bar stool with a back that can support a secure child seat, or have your kids use regular kitchen chairs.

Q. Can I use bar stools outdoors?
A. During stretches of mild weather, it’s fine to bring your backless bar stools outdoors for use on the patio or at a backyard bar, but if you plan on keeping them outdoors year-round, look for options specifically designed to tolerate exposure to sun, heat, and humidity, and cover or store the stools during stormy or winter weather.

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