Bar Stool Buying Guide
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If you are interested in purchasing bar stools and want to learn more about them, or you are confused about the difference between bar stools and counter stools, then The Ultimate Bar Stool Buying Guide is just for you! This guide provides an overview of everything you need to know about buying bar stools and other furniture from this site.
Stools and tables that are "bar height" generally have seats that are 30" high, and a table top that is 40-42" high. Stools of this height are generally refered to as "bar stools" or "bar height stools".
Stools and tables that are "counter height" generally have seats that are 24-26" high, and a table top that is 36" high. Stools of this height are generally refered to as "counter stools" or "counter height stools".
There are several important things to consider when buying bar stools for your home or commercial application. Think about the following before you purchase your bar stools:
What is the overall style of the room the stools will go in? Does the room have a contemporary, European, or retro feel? Buy stools that will match or compliment the decor, especially if you're buying stools for a business. Choosing bar stools is a personal decision, and there are dozens of different bar stools available. Buy a bar stool that appeals to you and reflects your personal style.
Ask yourself how much room you have for the stools and take measurements to find out the exact number of stools you will need. A standard rule is to allow 26-30 inches of space between the centers of each seat. Remember to leave a few extra inches of space between each stool — more if you're ordering a model that swivels or has arms. You don't want your guests to feel cramped in a tiny space.
Think about how often the stools will be used. (Daily? Weekly? Once a month? Less often?) Stools that are used everyday will obviously receive more wear and tear than stools that are used infrequently. Factor your daily use requirements into your decision.
Consider the level of comfort you are looking for. Do you want a bar stool with a back, backless, or one that swivels? What type of seat covering (fabric or leather, or none) appeals to you? Do you have a preference between cloth and leather seating?
The choice between leather and cloth seating is a matter of personal preference. Some people prefer the look and feel of leather, while others enjoy the warm, homey look of an upholstered seat. Each type of seating has its own requirements, both in use and maintenance. (For more information on seating, see our section entitled Leather and Upholstered Seating.)
Bar and counter stools are available in wood and metal, with many different styles and finishes to choose from. Depending on the design you choose, a metal stool can give your bar a sleek, contemporary look, or bring a classic, wrought iron design into your home or business. (Commercial bar stools will have extra stretchers along the bottom of the stool.)
Metal stools are considered more contemporary, are strong and sturdy, but could be heavy to move. Wooden stools are available in a variety of wood types, including oak, maple, and cherry. They are sturdy, give the room a warm, cozy feel, and are available in different finishes to match any decor. Keep in mind, however, that heat, humidity, and exposure to direct sunlight can be damaging to your wood pieces. (For more information on caring for wood, see our section entitled Helpful Furniture Hints.)
Leather is the strongest natural material known to man, and given the proper care, your leather seating will last for many years. It has several advantages over fabric seating. One advantage to leather is that it is more durable than cloth, and generally lasts longer. Leather ages well and does not show daily wear like upholstery. Leather is hard to scratch or tear. Should something scratch the leather, it can easily be repaired using a leather touch-up repair kit. Keep your leather out of direct sunlight. Prolonged exposure to the sun may cause your leather to fade.
Using harsh cleaners (such as ammonia or abrasives) on leather is not recommended because the chemicals can harm the leather finish. Be sure to wipe up all spills immediately, and blot up as much spilled liquid as you can. The natural finish on the leather will provide some waterproofing, so liquids should rest on the seat's surface long enough for you to clean it.
You can wipe the leather with a soft cloth dampened with a little warm water and a mild soap. This will remove any dirt or oil on the surface. You can also vacuum the leather with a furniture brush attachment to remove any dust or food particles that get caught in tufts or crevices.
To keep your upholstered seating looking like new, be sure blot up all spills immediately. If you do spill something on the fabric and need to wash it, pretest a small section of the cloth with upholstery shampoo. (Test a section of the seat that is hidden or otherwise not noticeable.) If the fabric bleeds or fades, do not use the shampoo. To avoid staining, you may want to apply a spray-on stain guard to the seat. It will keep liquids from soaking in and staining the fabric.
If you do shampoo your upholstery, follow the manufacturer's instructions on the upholstery cleaner. Use a clean, soft cloth to rub the shampoo into the fabric. Wipe the dirty shampoo suds away with a damp towel, and let the fabric dry completely.
Wood furniture should not be exposed to excessive dry air or high levels of humidity. The wood exchanges moisture with the air and it will shrink or expand in response to changes in humidity levels. Hardwood furniture pieces will shrink slightly and you may see tiny openings on the surface of the wood. Once the humidity rises, the wood will absorb moisture and swell back to its original shape. Some parts of your furniture may absorb excess moisture and expand. (This is what causes drawers to stick.) These natural changes will not affect the furniture's quality or sturdiness. If your home is very dry or has a high humidity level, you may want to consider using a humidifier or air conditioner to keep the humidity level stable. Keep in mind that excessive heat (from wood burning stoves, radiators, or direct sunlight) can also dry out your wood furniture.
Cleaning wood furniture is easy. Dust it with a clean, soft cloth. Be sure to dust or polish with the grain of the wood, not against it. Spills can be cleaned up with warm water and mild soap. The use of harsh chemicals, window cleaner, ammonia, or other strong detergents will damage the finish on your furniture. Allow the surface to completely dry after cleaning.
Be careful when using nail polish remover, nail polish, alcohol, perfume, or other types of solvents around your wood furniture. They can harm your wood's finish. Always use coasters under wet glasses to prevent water damage.