The Best 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.

18 Models Considered
68 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
150 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 bar stools

Last Updated September 2020

There’s something classic yet edgy about bar stools, especially when they’re a seating option in your home. Whether you have a high-top table or an enviable home bar, you should invest in bar stools that exude style.

Bar stools have made great strides since their days as the go-to, wobbly fixture in clubs and restaurants. They’ve adopted curvaceous features, elegant chair backs, and even swivel capabilities. Basically, if you’re looking for a bar stool to fit into your design vision, you’ll probably find exactly what you have in mind. 

With so many bar stools now on the market, where do you begin? Pull up a chair (no pun intended) and give our buying guide a read. We cover the popular styles and share some helpful buying tips and several of our favorites to help make your choice a simple one.

When you’re remodeling the kitchen and installing a new island or countertop, make bar stools your last purchase. You’ll need exact measurements, and you’ll want to see the finished room to find the perfect match.

Key considerations

Tables and counters

If you’re buying bar stools, it’s because you need seating to accompany tables or counters. To get your search on the right track, start by measuring the height from the floor to the bottom of the countertop (not the top of it). Yes, it sounds strange, but what you’re measuring is the clearance between the seat and the counter. After all, bar stools measure an average of 30 inches tall. Measuring is to ensure you don’t choose stools that are too tall, which could prove uncomfortable — or impossible — for guests to use to sit at the counter.

Décor

Take a good look around your room and think about its theme. Bar stools might not be an exact match for a bistro table, kitchen island, or bar counter, but they should complement the overall tone of the room. 

Traditional bar stools feature skinny legs and a plain, flat seat, a design that is classic and versatile enough to work with most décor. If you’re looking for a more coordinated look, modern designs featuring metal, teak, upholstery, or leather might suit the room better.

Seat shape

Classic bar stool seats are round, which accommodates individuals of all shapes and sizes. There are also oval, rectangular, and square seats, though these less traditional shapes come with their own considerations.

Oval bar stool seats have great curb appeal, but they might be too tapered on the sides for some occupants. 

Rectangular stools often fit well beneath a counter when they’re not in use, however they might be too narrow to sit in comfortably. 

Square stools have a classic seat shape, though if they’re too small, only kids will enjoy sitting on them.

Quantity

Bar stools are sold individually, as pairs, and in sets of four or more. The quantity doesn’t always determine the price, so it can be challenging to budget for the purchase. A pair of sleek, ultra-modern stools from a designer brand might cost top dollar, whereas you can buy a set of four traditional bar stools for the same price or less.

EXPERT TIP

If you’re looking for a fun DIY project, buy plain wooden bar stools. Sand them down for staining or painting to give them new life with a personal touch.


Staff  | BestReviews

Features

Comfort

Since you’ll be using your bar stools for meals or entertaining, comfortable seats are a top priority. Many styles have cushioning with a polyfill pillow top or memory foam for maximum comfort. While soft seats can be appealing, keep in mind the seats compress more easily than firmer ones, so there’s a good chance you’ll be more supported by a firmer cushion.

Legs

The vast majority of bar stools have the signature four legs, which are usually further stabilized by pieces of wood, called stretchers, connecting them horizontally. There are also some stools with a single leg, such as those that resemble barbershop seats. 

Legs are often an overlooked feature in bar stools, but more than anything they can make or break the overall design. Well-made stools have solid, stable legs that don’t wobble or tilt. Of course, this also comes down to making sure all the pieces are maintained with regular tightening, especially if you assembled the stools yourself. 

Back

Classic bar stools are backless, but if you really want backs, you have plenty of styles to consider. There are stools with ultra-low backs, which at only a few inches resemble an outer lip around the back of the seat. There are also mid- and high-back stools, though they’re more commonly seen in outdoor or patio bar stools.

Swivel

It’s no surprise that bar stools are furniture used in social spaces. Therefore, swiveling is an attractive feature for being able to converse in all directions. Obviously, the addition of a mechanical feature drives up the price of the bar stools, but it makes it infinitely easier to turn to face others. Many swiveling stools also feature adjustable height, so if you’re in the market for the most accommodating seating, these are the ones to consider.

DID YOU KNOW?

Retro-inspired rooms are back in style, which means bar stools with metal legs and details are fun additions to home bars and kitchens.

Bar stool prices

Bar stools cost anywhere from $25 to $250 apiece, which mostly depends on the ornateness of the design.

Inexpensive: Entry-level bar stools cost between $25 and $50 each. These include basic wood or metal stools that are often sold in pairs or sets of four. Quality is modest in these, so you’ll probably end up replacing them in a few years.

Mid-range: If you’d like to invest in bar stools that will withstand the test of time, expect to spend $75 to $125 apiece. Stools in this range are more stable and feature quality seat cushioning.

Expensive: High-end bar stools cost $150 apiece and more. Usually, they’re sold individually. If you need to purchase several of them, budget $1,000 or more for a full set.  

FOR YOUR SAFETY

While it can be tempting to push off from the footrest, it’s not designed to support your full body weight and could break under pressure. Always step on the floor when you leave the stool.

Tips

  • Buy extra stools. If you happen to break one of your stools, or you expect extra guests, it’s always helpful to have extra bar stools on hand so everyone has a seat.

  • Reupholster the seats. When it’s time to change the décor, you don’t need to toss your old bar stools. Get them reupholstered by a pro for a fresh, custom look.

  • Be prepared to assemble the stools. It’s not unusual for bar stools to arrive in pieces, so get ready to spend some time putting them together. You’ll probably need some basic tools on hand, such as flathead and Phillips screwdrivers. 

  • Give the bartender a seat. Yes, even if you’re behind your home bar, you’re entitled to take a seat while hosting your guests. Order an extra bar stool for yourself.

Other products we considered

We couldn’t fit all the quality bar stools in our list, so we have a couple more options for you. If you’re looking for a modern design, we like the 30-inch Flash Furniture Backless Bar Stools. They’re available in fun colors like teal, purple, and green, and the feet have floor glides to facilitate smooth movement across wood or linoleum surfaces. You’ll love this 4-pack of ultra-durable, stackable, powder-coated stools that can be used indoors or out.

And there’s a lot to love about the Christopher Knight Home Ogden Bar Stools. This cozy pair of mid-back stools invite you to lounge at the kitchen island. Neutral beige seats and silver stud detail complement most kitchen décor, including stainless steel appliances. Once you take a seat in these, you’ll know exactly why people refer to the kitchen as the most popular room in the home. 

Bar stools are usually used around food and drinks, so it’s a good idea to spray the seats with a water repellant to minimize stains.

FAQ

Q. I’m not a big fan of most bar stools I see, but I fell in love with a set that comes with a table I don’t need. What should I do?
A. Many consumers feel a cost-effective approach is to simply buy the set and sell or donate the table you won’t be using. Another option is to put the table in storage and save it in case you need more surfaces when hosting a party. Conversely, if the bar table and stools seem like a deal that’s too good to be true, it might be. The stools might be unstable or poor quality, and as with any furniture purchase, you get what you pay for.
 

Q. Can I use outdoor bar stools indoors?
A. Depending on your décor, it might be a good idea. Many outdoor bar stools are incredibly well made since they’re weatherproof, so they’ll likely last for years indoors. With that said, you’ll come across several styles of metal outdoor bar stools. They might work well in a home with a rustic theme or a sunroom, but they could clash with the décor in other rooms. 
 

Q. Should I get adjustable bar stools?
A. It’s definitely a desirable feature to accommodate family members and friends of different heights. Some people also opt for adjustable stools that can be raised for those who have trouble getting in and out of low seats. While they cost a bit more, adjustable stools are probably the most accommodating options.

Other Products We Considered
The BestReviews editorial team researches hundreds of products based on consumer reviews, brand quality, and value. We then choose a shorter list for in-depth research and testing before finalizing our top picks. These are the products we considered that ultimately didn't make our top 5.
The team that worked on this review
  • Bronwyn
    Bronwyn
    Editor
  • Ciera
    Ciera
    Digital Content Producer
  • Heather
    Heather
    President & Chief Content Officer
  • Jennifer
    Jennifer
    Writer
  • Sian
    Sian
    Writer

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