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10 Traits in Buying a Comfortable Bar Stool

When shopping for a bar stool, things like price, availability, and style affect your overall decision. What about comfort?

From sipping morning coffee to entertaining guests, comfort should be a must! 

Here are 10 traits to look for in a comfortable bar stool:

Trait #1: Stools With Backs

Stools with backs are usually your most comfortable because they give support on the back if you’re spending a lot of time on them.

If you’re socializing for an hour or more at the bar or counter, a stool with a back will be much more comfortable. However, if it’s simply a place to sit to have a cup of coffee or just to sit for a short time, backless stools work fine.

Wesley Allen's Macias Modern Square Bar Stool with Back in Brass Bisque - Front Side View
Trica Biscaro Stool with High Back
Amisco Brixton Swivel Stool with Back

Trait #2: Padded Seats

Padded seats — as opposed to wood seats — are an excellent choice for comfort and are softer to sit on, but even wood seats can be upgraded to better comfort with tie-on seat pads, which can be removed for washing.

Wesley Allen's Raleigh Traditional Black and Brown Metal Bar Stool with Cross Back Design
Trica Creation Collection Swivel Stool with Wine Back Design
Creation Collection
Amisco's Ronny Modern Swivel Bar Stool in Silver

Trait #3: Deep Seats

Deep seats are wider from front to back and are ideal for taller people because they support the legs better without cutting into the thigh as a shallower seat would.

Wesley Allen's Portland Tilt Swivel Upholstered Bar Stool with Arms
Darafeev's #600 Upholstered Swivel Wood Stool with Arms in Tobacco Oak Finish
Wesley Allen's Zara Mid-Century Modern Bar Stool with Arms in Silver Metal and Red Seat/Back Cushion - Side View

Trait #4: Shallow Seats

Shallow seats, which are shorter from front to back, are good for people who are shorter because the legs tend to be shorter and are supported better.

If the seats are too deep, a person can not touch the footrest with their feet. Legs that are dangling put more pressure on the thigh, taking away from comfort. 

Wesley Allen's Woodland Swivel Bar Stool with Hammered Back and Round Seat
Amisco's Costa Modern Silver Bar Stool with Low Back
Trica's Chateau Modern Swivel Brushed Steel Bar Stool with Cross Back Design and White Seat Cushion

Trait #5: Wide Stools

Wide stools with deep seats are very comfortable for tall or larger people, but we find that they are comfortable to most and give a roomier and relaxed feeling if you have the room because they tend to be larger than most stools.

Holland's Catalina Big-And-Tall Swivel Barstool with Nickel Metal Finish and Blue Seat Vinyl
Catalina XL
Darafeev's Metra Modern Luxury Bar Stool in Black Wood and Red Leather with Arms
Amisco's Ethan XL Stationary Modern Upholstered Bar Stool with Low Back
Ethan XL

Trait #6: Curved Backs

A stool with a curve or rounded shape to the back is usually more comfortable than a flat back and will support the back a little better.

Although, there is no definite rule to this theory because everyone has a unique body structure and may feel more comfortable in a flat back.

Trica's Liv Modern Swivel Bar Stool Upholstered with Low Back
Darafeev's Ace Wooden Modern Swivel Bar Stool with Low Back in Gray and Black
Wesley Allen's Boston Swivel Barstool with Arms, Lattice Back Design and Square Seat Cushion

Comfortable bar stools with short backs
Trait #7: Short Backs

A stool with about an 8 inch high back can be very comfortable if it has a rounded back and will “hug” the lower back.

However, it does not support the upper back and may not be suitable for those who have upper back problems.

When sitting at the counter for an extended length of time, a full size back on the stool will give you fuller support.

Amisco Ethan Stationary Stool with Low Back
Amisco's Ronny Swivel Modern Kitchen Counter Stool in Silver and Blue
Darafeev's Gen Wood Upholstered Swivel Bar Stool with Low Back in Rustic Pewter

Trait #8: Padded Backs

Stools with padded backs are a nice touch, which can be more comfortable as opposed to a metal back.

Some people don’t like the feeling of cold steel on the back, but we found that most of the time it’s not an issue because the comfort of the stool makes up for that.

However, plush upholstered backs and seats are sometimes the choice in a particular style and design which evoke a softer feel.

Trica's Arthur Armless Swivel Bar Stool with Button-Tufted Upholstered Back and Seat - Shown in Black Metal Frame and Gray Seat
Arthur 1
Amisco's Umbria Upholstered Swivel Metal Bar Stool with Low Back in Silver Metal and White Pattern
Darafeev's Classic Upholstered Swivel Wood Bar Stool with Arms and Nailhead Trim

Trait #9: Backless Bar Stools

Backless stools are more comfortable when they have padded seats.

The seat shouldn’t be too small, and it should be able to accommodate the buttocks without feeling like you’re falling off.

Saddle stools are wide, but narrow, and are very comfortable. They are also great for tucking under an island. Saddle stools have indented seats like a saddle, but do not swivel. However, a larger round backless stool gives you more surface area than a saddle stool. 

Amisco's Miller Stationary Rectangular Saddle Backless Barstool with Upholstered Seat Cushion and Metal Legs
Amisco's Pearl Modern Gold Swivel Backless Bar Stool with Cabriole Legs and Round Seat Cushion
Wesley Allen's Dodge Backless Industrial Stool

Trait #10: With Arms

Stools with arms make the stool more comfortable and give a place for the arms to rest. You can sit back and relax when entertaining with friends or family. 

Arms do make the stool wider and are only recommended if you have the room, so please measure your area to be sure they’ll fit.

Stools without arms can be comfortable too when resting your arms on the counter.

Darafeev's #977 Billiard Spectator Bar Stool with Pool Cue Holder and Drink Holders with Arms
Wesley Allen's Edmonton Comfortable Swivel Barstool with Cross Back Design and Arms
Darafeev's Bellagio Luxury Swivel Upholstered Wooden Bar Stool with Arms

Posted by Deborah

on in Bar Stool Tips


Deborah has spent over 20 years as a design professional helping others create the kitchen of their dreams. She's drawn to modern kitchens, colorful interiors, and living comfortably.