What’s the Difference Between Bar Height vs. Counter Heights for Stools and Tables?

Choosing outdoor dining furniture at the correct height is often just as important as choosing a style that speaks to you. To pick the right patio furniture height for your outdoor living space, we’ve put together this handy guide that explains all three furniture heights — bar, counter, and dining — the benefits of each, styling suggestions, and answers to the questions we get asked most.

Quick Reference Guide for Heights

  • Dining-Height Tables: 28 to 30 inches
  • Dining-Height Chairs and Stools: 17 to 20 inches (seat height)
  • Counter-Height Tables: 34 to 36 inches
  • Counter-Height Chairs and Stools: 24 to 27 inches (seat height)
  • Bar-Height Tables: 40 to 42 inches
  • Bar-Height Chairs and Stools: 28 to 33 inches (seat height)

The difference between dining, counter, and bar height

Bar-Height Seating

Bar height is the tallest option available. Think bar chairs, stools, and high tables at your favorite sports bar or pub.

Features

  • Bar-height tables usually measure between 40 to 42 inches high. For bar stools and chairs, seat heights range from 28 to 33 inches. 
  • Bar-height tables typically provide compact tabletop space, allowing them to fit into smaller places where traditional dining tables can’t. 
  • Stools and chairs often feature footrests.
POLYWOOD Braxton 5-Piece Nautical Trestle Arm Chair Bar Set in Mahogany
Braxton 5-Piece Nautical Trestle Arm Chair Bar Set

Counter-Height Seating

Counter-height seating is the second-tallest option. These chairs, stools, and tables are the same height as kitchen islands and counters. 

Features

  • Counter-height tables typically measure between 34 to 36 inches, and counter stool heights usually range between 24 to 27 inches.
  • Counter-height tables tend to have more compact tops and like bar-height tables, they fit well in smaller spaces.
  • Though shorter than bar-height seating, counter-height stools and chairs often have footrests.
POLYWOOD Chippendale Counter Side Chair in Slate Grey
Chippendale Counter Side Chair

Dining-Height Seating

Sometimes referred to as standard height, dining-height tables, chairs, and stools are the most popular seating options. Dining height is the shortest of the three options.

Features

  • Dining-height tables are about 28 to 30 inches high, while the seat heights of dining stools and chairs range from 17 to 20 inches in height.
  • Dining-height chairs and stools do not have footrests. They’re low enough to the ground that you can easily touch your feet to the floor.
  • Dining tables have more tabletop space, making them perfect for meals and get-togethers.
POLYWOOD Vineyard 9-Piece Dining Set in Vintage Coffee
Vineyard 9-Piece Dining Set

Furniture Height FAQs

What’s the difference between counter height and bar height?

Barstools and chairs are taller than counter stools and chairs. Bar-height seating measures between 28 and 33 inches from seat to floor and counter-height seating is lower to the ground, measuring between 24 to 27 inches from seat to floor.

How much room should there be between a chair and the underside of a table?

Leave about nine to 13 inches from the top of the seat to the table’s underside. This measurement ensures optimal comfort, allowing guests to easily slide in and out of their chairs. If the chair or stool has arms, be sure to account for those in the height measurement.

How far apart should stools and chairs be from one another?

We recommend spacing your chairs or stools 24 inches apart. This distance helps prevent overcrowding, gives you and your guests plenty of room to get up from or sit down at the table,  and it keeps everyone from bumping elbows.

Can you pair POLYWOOD dining chairs with bar or counter tables and vice versa?

If you want a comfortable dining experience, we recommend that you pair chairs and stools with tables of the same height. Otherwise, your guests will sit way too low, or their legs will get squished and their knees will bump the tabletop when they pull a chair that’s too tall up to a too-short table.

Should seat cushions be used for POLYWOOD outdoor chairs and stools?

POLYWOOD dining, counter, and bar sets are comfortable on their own, but you can enhance your outdoor style and your guests’ comfort with outdoor seat cushions. We offer a variety of seat cushions for our dining, counter, and bar chairs that are durable and weather-resistant, and the fabric is available in a variety of colors and patterns.

Should you put side chairs or armchairs around your outdoor table?

The answer depends on your style and entertaining needs and the needs of your guests. Side chairs and stools can complete the look of a space, take up less room than armchairs, and are easier to get in and out of. However, armchairs are great options since the armrests offer added comfort and they’re useful for people who may have a harder time getting out of chairs as they can grab the armrests and push themselves up or lower themselves down. Try a combination of both types of chairs to give guests different options to choose from and create a style that’s unique to you.


Things to Consider When Choosing Outdoor Furniture in Different Heights

Bar-Height Outdoor Dining 

  1. Bar-height tables and chairs are great options for taller friends or family. The extra height beneath bar tables gives them room to stretch their legs.
  2. If you don’t have a lot of room in your outdoor area, bar-height sets are the perfect choice as they don’t take up as much space as patio dining sets.
  3. If you have an outdoor bar, line up chairs and barstools along the bar ledge to give guests comfortable spots to relax while you whip up tasty cocktails.
  4. Bar-height sets are great for outdoor parties because they offer seating options that don’t take up a lot of room so your guests can move around and mingle with ease.
POLYWOOD Vineyard Bar Arm Chair 3-Pack in White
Vineyard Bar Arm Chair 3-Pack

Counter-Height Outdoor Dining

  1. If you have an outdoor kitchen, line counter-height chairs along the counter ledge so your guests have a spot to relax.
  2. Counter-height chairs are just the right height for balconies or decks. They’re high enough to see over the railing and enjoy the view, but not too high to feel unsafe.
  3. Counter-height sets don’t take up as much space as dining sets, making them ideal for smaller spaces, such as cozy corners on your patio or apartment terraces.
POLYWOOD Contempo 30" Saddle Bar Stool in White and Aruba
Contempo 30″ Saddle Bar Stool

Dining-Height Outdoor Dining

  1. Dining height sets are offered in more styles, material types, and sizes than their taller counterparts (pun intended).
  2. Outdoor benches can be used with larger dining sets, which is great if you have small children to seat.
  3. Outdoor dining sets are handicap accessible as the chair heights are similar to seat heights of wheelchairs.
POLYWOOD Traditional Garden Dining Arm Chair in Green
Traditional Garden Dining Arm Chair

Explore our entire line of bar and counter furniture and accessories to find the set that’s best for your space.


14 thoughts on “What’s the Difference Between Bar Height vs. Counter Heights for Stools and Tables?

  1. I am a height of 5″5 and have followed your mentioned guide, yet I cannot find any suitable desk for my need. Am I simply too short of having a nice desk? My back hurts frequently and I urgently need help to assist my posture.

    1. Hi Steve,

      Thank you for reaching out! To assist with preventing back pain, we have found it useful to make sure that you have the ability to rest your feet on a stool or footrest and to also use a pillow for lumbar support. I hope this helps!

      All the best!

  2. My current counter top stools are 29 inches. They are too short because the counter top is 44 inches high. It seems that a bar stool about 35-36 high inches might work. What do you suggest? Thanks. Neal Nettesheim

    1. Hi Neal,

      Thanks for your question! Unfortunately, we do not currently manufacture a Bar Chair that has a seat height of 35-36 inches. All of our Bar Chairs/Stools will have a seat height of approximately 30 inches. We apologise for the inconvenience!

      Thanks!

    1. Hi Carole,

      We’ll pass your suggestion along to our Design Team. You never know what they will manufacture next!

      Thanks for reaching out!
      Ashley

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