Bar stools: Types, Purchase guide, Cost comparison

Types of bar stools

Bar stools fall into 3 main categories of low-back, high-back, and backless barstools.

Backless bar stoolsLow-back bar stoolsHigh-back bar stools
Space saving★★★★★☆★☆☆

Backless bar stool

Backless bar stools are ideal when space and portability are a necessity. With these stools, you can easily tuck them out of the way and they are the most lightweight.
Additionally, backless bar stools are the most inexpensive types of bar stools and are ideal for a tight budget.
Backless bar stools do, however, not provide the user with any back support and can be dangerous if the user leans back and forgets that there is no back support.

Low-back bar stool

Low-back bar stools are slightly less space saving than backless bar stools. However, they are more comfortable and provide the user with more back support. However, low-back bar stools do tend to cost slightly more than backless bar stools

High-back bar stool

High-back bar stools are the largest and heaviest type of bar stools. These stools are not ideal when used in small, tight spaces as they will be difficult to tuck under the tabletop.
High-back bar stools are the most comfortable and provide the user with the most amount of security with full-back support.
Within these 3 categories, you have different types of bar stools such as 3 and 4-legged bar stools, pedestal stools, swivel bases, armrests, and adjustable height.
In the next section, I will go over how to select a bar stool and the 7 factors that affect bar stool costs.

How to select a bar stool for your family?

There are several things to consider when selecting a bar stool.

  1. Seat height
  2. Bar stool back type
  3. Frame material
  4. Seat material
  5. Stability
  6. Height adjustability
  7. Arm rests
  8. Swivel seats

Seat height

The first thing that one should consider when purchasing a bar stool is the height of the seat. The average bar stool seat height ranges from 28 to 30 inches tall.
To have enough space between the seat height and the table top bottom you will need at least 10 to 12 inches of space. This will provide the user with ample legroom.

Bar stool back type

The next thing that one should consider when purchasing a bar stool is the type of barstool back that you want.
Backless bar stools are the most space efficient, least comfortable, and cheapest. Low-back bar stools are less space-efficient, slightly more comfortable, and slightly more expensive. Lastly, high-back bar stools are the least space efficient, most comfortable, and the most expensive.

Frame material

The material of the bar stool frame will correlate to the cost, durability, and stability of the bar stool.
The 3 main types of bar stool frames are wooden frames, metal frames, and plastic/acrylic frames. Wooden frames are the most expensive, most stable, and are very durable. Metal frames are less expensive, less stable, and the most durable. Lastly, plastic/acrylic frames are the least expensive, least table, and least durable.
To find a high-quality bar stool, I would recommend staying away from plastic/acrylic bar stool frames. Wooden frames are the most stable and metal frames are extremely durable and can withstand falls, drops, and accidental kicks to the legs.

Seat material

Bar stool seat material ranges from wood, leather, nylon, polyester, and velvet.

Wooden seats are the least comfortable but most durable. Wooden seats do not lose form over time and are highly resistant to spills. Leather seats are also very expensive and are very comfortable. Leather is resistant to spills but can lose its form and fade over time.

Velvet seats are less expensive and polyester seats are the cheapest. These seats are highly comfortable but they do wear out over time and are not as spill resistant

Height adjustment

Having a bar stool with height adjustment if very beneficial if the stool will be used by family members of different heights or tables of different sizes.

The height adjustment feature is not a necessity but can help with growing families.

The downside to having a height adjustment feature is that you cannot have a wooden bar stool base. Wooden bar stool bases tend to be the most stable out of the other bases, so in this category you will have to pick which feature your family will benefit from the most.

Armrests or swivel seats

Now that you have narrowed down your preference in bar stools by back option, material, stability, and height adjustment features, you can now look at some additional features in bar stools.

Two of the most common features that I am going to go over are the armrests and swivel seats.

Armrests allow for comfort, but since they are not very common in bar stools they are more expensive.

Swivel seats are great for communicating. The family will be able to easily turn their body to the person that they are talking to. This will make a big difference when hosting a party or if you have a larger family. Additionally, swivel seats allow for the user to face the kitchen while eating and easily turn around to watch the tv show or game in the family/living room.

7 Factors that affect bar stool costs

Bar stools are stools that are around 28 to 30 inches tall. Bar stools are used with bar tops that range between 40 and 42 inches tall.

Bar stools range from $32 to $1500 per stool. The seven factors that affect bar stool costs are as follows…

  1. Stability
  2. Ergonomics and Comfortability
  3. Frame Material
  4. Seat Material
  5. Look and Finish
  6. Adjustability
  7. Additional features like arm rests, swivel seats, and leaning


Stability is a main factor that affects bar stool costs because it is directly correlated with durability and quality. Some chairs are meant to move with wheels, a swivel base, and leaning feature, however, the higher-quality chairs will still be stable.

The more stable chairs will either have a heavier base or a wider base with a slanted at the bottom. The slanted legs will prevent the chair from rocking forward and backwards and side-to-side.

Ergonomics and Comfortability

A more expensive chair will not only be more comfortable to sit in but also have great ergonomics. For example, the chair will not have armrests that are too high or a back that is too straight. The chair will be conformed to your body and feel comfortable.

Frame Material

Bar stool frames are commonly made from wood, metal, and plastic/acrylic. Wooden frame bar stools are the highest quality in terms of stability. Metal frame bar stools are the highest quality in terms of durability because they are less likely to split and break from non-wear and tear damage like falls.

Wooden frame bar stools are the most expensive of the 3 and provide the greatest stability. Metal frame bar stools are less expensive than wooden frame bar stools. Plastic/acrylic bar stools are the cheapest of the 3 and have the least quality.

Within wooden frame bar stools, the wood type is also important. Hardwoods are more durable than softwoods and are more expensive. Rare/exotic woods like Acacia are also more expensive in wooden frame bar stools.

Seat Material

Comfortable, durable, and ergonomic seatings are seen in higher quality, more expensive bar stools. Wooden seats that are built with a curvature that contours your body will be more expensive than flat seat tops. Additionally, seat covers can range from leather, nylon, polyester, and velvet. Leather seat covers tend to be the most expensive but are the most durable and resistant to spills. Velvet seat covers are less expensive than leather but are not as durable. Polyester seat covers are the least expensive but are not as resistant to spills.

Look and Finish

The look and finish of the stool can also be a selling factor that increases the cost of bar stools. Wooden chairs that are made from “good-looking” wood species, such as teak and western black walnut, are beautiful in nature and tend to cost more. Additionally, the finish and design of a bar stool with nice color combinations are more expensive. Lastly, common color choices such as black, brown, white, and grey stools are likely more expensive than other less common color choices, like red, blue, and orange.


Adjustable bar stool bases and arm rests are commonly more expensive than single-height bar stool seats. Having the versatility for different table heights and members of the family makes the bar stool used in almost any scenario.

Additional Features

Some bar stools come with additional features like a swivel base, arm rest, and reclinable back and stool. If you are looking for these features in your bar stool, then you will likely pay a little more.


In this article, we learned about the different types of bar stools and the features to look for when selecting a bar stool. Afterwards we talked about what makes bar stools so pricey and why.


My name is Rachel Blanding and I am a woodworker. I started woodworking at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. I mainly create and refurbish furniture and create art. In this site I will share with you the knowledge I have gained over the years, and what worked for me and what didn't.

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