Bar Height and Stool Height

Thoughts on a comfortable height for a wall bar counter. June 5, 2006

Is there a standard bar wall height that works good with stools? I have a sink base and a couple small cabinets on each side. With the countertop, it is 36" with a min. 3 1/2 inch backsplash. That's 39 1/2, then room for a plug (turned on its side in the bar wall). By the time this step-up bar gets done, the height is about 45 or 46 inches, which seems a little high to me.

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor T:
The standard bar height stool has a seat height of 28" for a standard 42" high bar. You can alter the height of the chair with caps or other means on the legs, but getting into and out of this chair will be difficult. More difficult getting out of after a few nips.

From contributor S:
We also use 42" as standard bar wall height. It basically works out as: 36" standard countertop height plus 6" standard backsplash height equals 42". Note that for us, 42" is the wall height, so that the backsplash will fit under the finished countertop. A countertop adds to the overall finished height.

From contributor R:
I have never heard 6'' as a standard backsplash height. 42'' in the normal bar height. I have heard that in Texas 15 years ago, the splash went all the way to the wall cabinets. 4'' is most common around here.

From contributor J:
The 6" backsplash height is standard when used with a bar or secondary c-top at 42" height. This is so you don't have a 4" backsplash with 2" of wall to paint or whatever. 4" is common for c-top without the secondary top. Occasionally someone will go all the way to the upper cabs.

If you're going to do the bar top, my suggestion would be to remove the current backsplash and put in a full height one. The outlets get set into the backsplash with the help of plastic box extensions. This will make it look like it was planned out and done correctly instead of as an afterthought.

From contributor T:
A 4" backsplash is standard when there is a secondary top above a 36" countertop, but I have encountered 42"h knee walls many times, mostly commercial, making the overall top 43-1/2" (or higher), which seems to be the case here. Many times, a 6" backsplash is substituted to make up for the difference. You can tell which ones they are when you sit down and your chin seems to be sitting on the top and this is before you have any drinks.

Actually, a builder does this to allow for a standard electrical box (upright). But in the builder's defense, code also says that if the box is turned (sideways), it must be 2" off the countertop, which gives him no other choice, other than an electrical strip that is hardwired. Also, the electric must be ground fault interrupted.

You have a very tough situation here. You would most likely want to do the right thing, which in this case could be (relocating) the electric and bringing the upper section back down into spec. It's not the easiest or cheapest solution, but you could finish the job and walk off knowing that you did the right thing.

From contributor L:
42" O. A. around here, but another inch or so isn't a big deal. GFI's are required.

From contributor T:
That's the problem. It's not just 1". The same goes for whoever decided that a dining table should be 30" (or higher!) instead of the standard 29". (I know that it is so you can put bigger aprons on to be different). I am average height to 95% of the population and I find this difference uncomfortable. Especially if I'm sitting at a bar banging my knees on the 8" overhang and sort of using a steam shovel technique to get food and drink into my mouth.