Get the Height Right: Dining, Counter & Bar Seating Comparison Guide

Originally Published on February 10, 2016. Last Updated on May 31, 2024.

Did you recently renovate your outdoor kitchen or finally splurge on that large patio table you’ve been eyeing? Congrats on the upgrade! Now, if you’ve not done so already, the next step is to select complementing chairs. To arrive at the appropriate seat for your setting, you’ll need to make a few choices, such as your preferred design style, the best color, and the proper furniture height.

The various chair heights can cause a bit of confusion, so we’ve created a guide that clarifies the difference between dining, counter, and bar seating. We also included comparisons of alfresco furniture across our collections, design and style tips, and answers to common furniture height questions.

Comparing Dining, Counter, and Bar Furniture

Let’s dig into the details that differentiate the three most common furniture heights.

What’s the Difference?

Height chart for dining, counter, and bar furniture.

Dining height is the shortest of the three styles, with chairs measuring 16–20 inches from floor to seat and tables standing 28–32 inches tall. Counter furniture stands taller, with seat heights ranging between 24 and 27 inches and tables between 34 and 37 inches. Bar height—also called pub height—is the tallest. Chairs of this size have seats that sit 28–32 inches off the ground, and the tables typically stand 40–42 inches tall.

Dining Furniture is Best for:

  • Wheelchair-accessible areas
  • Small children and shorter individuals
  • Ground floor decks and larger spaces

Dining-height furniture is the best choice for wheelchair-accessible areas as the chairs share similar seat heights, and the tables are tall enough to offer easy access. It’s also ideal for small children and shorter individuals—they can easily get into their seats and sit comfortably without needing footrests or height adjustments. 

Large alfresco spaces and ground floor decks benefit most from dining furniture because these styles take up more square footage than counter and bar sets. They offer extra room to seat all your brunch guests or accommodate the generous meals enjoyed with extended family.

Counter Furniture is Best for:

  • Lining outdoor kitchen countertops
  • Taller family members
  • Cozier settings

Counter-height furniture does its best work around outdoor kitchen ledges, offering extra space to prep and serve meals. Taller folks will find more comfort on counter chairs because the longer seat legs provide more room to stretch out while they sit.

Counter sets are great for creating casual dining experiences on smaller decks because they take up less space than their dining-height cousins.

Bar Furniture is Best for:

  • Taller individuals
  • Pool or pub ledges
  • Clear views over deck railings

Bar tables and chairs offer the most legroom—perfect for tall family members—and the addition of footrests (available on counter seating too) make relaxation easy for those of shorter stature. 

Ideal for adding plenty of style and functionality while taking up minimal floor space, bar sets fit well in backyard pubs and poolside settings. Plus, if you’re styling your upper deck, you can count on bar furniture for unobstructed views over railings.

Design and Style Tips

Follow our advice to create stunning spaces with your dining, counter, and bar seating.

Choose the Correct Height

Probably the most important factor is selecting a seat height that suits your table. For example, dining chairs fit dining tables but are far too short to pull up to a bar ledge. 

Trex Outdoor Furniture Yacht Club 9-Piece Farmhouse Trestle Side Chair Dining Set in Classic White
Featured: Yacht Club 9-Piece Farmhouse Trestle Side Chair Dining Set in Classic White

Coordinate Chairs With Tables 

Pick chairs that complement the look of your table to ensure a cohesive aesthetic.

Trex Outdoor Furniture Monterey Bay Bar Side Chair in Sand Castle Trex Outdoor Furniture Monterey Bay 37" x 72" Bar Table in Vintage Lantern Trex Outdoor Furniture Monterey Bay Bar Arm Chair in Sand Castle

Mix and Match

Try combining different chair styles around your table for an eclectic aesthetic. Be sure they all share common elements like colors or materials to tie the look together.

Trex Outdoor Furniture Yacht Club Counter Arm Chair in Stepping Stone Trex Outdoor Furniture Monterey Bay Counter Arm Chair in Charcoal Black Trex Outdoor Furniture Cape Cod Counter Arm Chair in Stepping Stone

Prioritize Comfort

To keep guests lingering long after dessert, you’ll want chairs with adequate back and leg support. Opt for designs with contoured seats and backs, and if choosing taller chairs, look for options with footrests to give family a place to perch their feet.

Trex Outdoor Furniture Cape Cod 5-Piece Round Dining Set in Classic White
Featured: Cape Cod 5-Piece Round Dining Set in Classic White

Cushions and Pillows 

Further enhance comfort with soft, supportive seat cushions. Choose weather-resistant performance fabrics in colors and patterns that complement your alfresco aesthetic.

Trex Outdoor Furniture Monterey Bay 7-Piece Dining Set in Classic White
Featured: Monterey Bay 7-Piece Dining Set in Classic White


How do I choose the right stool?

To ensure you’re choosing the right stool for your outdoor setting, first consider the height and style of your current furniture and shop for seats that match. If you don’t have any patio furniture yet, use your home’s architecture and your intended use for the space to determine the most suitable seats. Keep your local climate in mind as well, opting for durable stools that can endure weather common to your area, such as blizzards, intense sun, or blustery days.

How far below a table should a seat be?

In general, you’ll want to leave about 9–13 inches from the seat of the stool or chair to the underside of the table. That ensures maximum comfort for your guests, allowing them room to cross their legs and easily slide in and out of their chairs.

Image illustrating the ideal spacing of 9 to 13 inches between a chair's seat and the underside of a table for optimal comfort

Can I pair a bar chair with a counter table?

We advise against pairing bar chairs with counter tables. The seats will be too tall, causing guests to bump their knees against the tabletop when they try to pull up a chair for dinner. 

Use our detailed guide to find the best patio table for your family. Click or tap to open the guide.

11 thoughts on “Get the Height Right: Dining, Counter & Bar Seating Comparison Guide

  1. I am looking for a bar height table and swivel chairs in a contemporary design. What do you offer?
    Thank you!

  2. So glad this was broken down. I have a standard rectangular dining table in a small apt. Was thinking of doing a bar height table instead to save space, but glad I found out about counter height tables. Hopefully I can find one mid century style, all wood preferred.

  3. Better news Madam! Thanks for posting maybe could be just the study to give inspiration to anyone who require it! Keep up the best task! Happy Blogging!

  4. Pingback: Counter Height Vs. Bar Height Vs. Adjustable Height Stools – Furnishing Tips
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