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How to Run a Bar: Bar Height Determination

When you are setting up your bar, one thing to determine is your bar’s height. A standard bar height is 42 inches from the floor to the top of the bar. Of course, yours may be higher or lower, so measure it. Then take these steps to figure out what height stools you need.

  1. Measure the distance from the bottom edge of the bar on the side where patrons sit to the floor.

    Remember, sometimes bars have thick wood trim on the public side of the bar that patrons sit under. We’re assuming it’s a 2-inch thick counter, so the bottom sits 40 inches from the floor.

  2. Subtract 10 or 11 inches or so for your patrons’ legs to fit comfortably. The resulting number is the optimal seat height.

    We used 10 because it’s a nice round number, so we’re now 30 inches from the floor. Most people would look for 30-inch bar stools.

Remember, the seat height is the distance from the ground to the top of the stool’s seat, not the seat back. Seat backs vary widely, so we’re not talking about that here. You’re only looking for the most comfortable seat height for your customers when they belly up to your bar.

Here are a few other measurements you may find handy in your search for the perfect furniture.

  • The average dining-room table runs between 28 and 30 inches high, and your average dining-room chair has a seat height of around 18 inches.

  • The average bar table is 42 inches high and takes a 30- to 32-inch stool.

  • The typical counter-height table is 36 inches high. Counter stools to match these typically have a seat height around 24 to 26 inches.

  • Extra-tall bars can be high as 48 inches. You need stools with seat heights between 34 and 36 inches to sit comfortably. Make sure you follow the steps to measure the height to get a perfect fit.

If math isn’t your thing, create a bar-stool model using a regular chair and phone books (or newspapers, magazines, whatever you can pile on the seat). Stack the books to your desired height on the chair. Push it all under your bar to see whether it fits. (Be careful if you try to sit on it.) If you’re happy with the fit, measure it and you’re in business.

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