Choosing Barstools: Wood or Metal?

Choosing barstools for your kitchen or home bar can be tough, especially if you’re not sure which material is best for these prominently displayed—and sometimes heavily used—seats. 

What the barstools or counter stools are made of is one of many decisions you’ll need to make before you can narrow down your top choices. Height, comfort, functionality and style are other important variables. Who knew buying residential barstools was this involved?

Are you looking for barstools or counter stools? Hint: Barstools are a few inches taller. Backless or with a backrest? There are upsides to both. Which is better: swivel seats or stationary ones? What about a footrest or arm rests? If they’re cushioned, should you choose leather or cloth upholstery

Even after you have all the ancillary details worked out, the big question still lingers: Will wood or metal barstools look and function best in your home? Wood and metal are traditionally solid choices, and they’re available in many different styles. We’ve compiled a list of pros and cons for each to help you settle the great kitchen stool debate once and for all.

Wood Bar Stools

Wooden bar stools have a lot going for them, starting with sturdiness. They’re hefty and durable, which is always great for family settings with high traffic. Kitchen bar stools, in particular, are a popular spot for snacks, conversation and homework. Chances are they’re going to get a lot of use, and you want a material that will hold up.

Hardwoods like oak, birch and walnut not only look great, but are tough enough to handle the hard-knock life. And while more vulnerable to dents and divots, softwoods like pine are an affordable option that can brighten up a space with its pale yellowish tint. If durability is high on the list, we recommend hardwood bar stools.

Depending on the type of wood, bar stools may not respond well to spills and stains—especially ones left on the surface for an extended period. Finished wood that’s been stained or lacquered will help guard against those kitchen mishaps. But when they do happen, here are some tips for how to clean wooden bar stools.

Practical considerations aside, wood bar stools can give your kitchen a stylish flair or cozy touch. They can be traditional and inviting or sleek and modern. Either way, the wood’s natural tones will exude warmth. That said, be prepared to spend more—solid wood bar stools are typically pricier than the alternatives.    

Metal Bar Stools

If you thought wood bar stools were rugged and easy to clean, metal bar stools are nearly indestructible—and wiping them down is a cinch. Bar stools with iron, steel and chrome frames are popular for these reasons, as well as the polished industrial vibe they put off. 

Metal counter stools mesh well with the shiny tidiness of stainless-steel kitchen appliances. They bring an air of cleanliness—both literally and in the lines they create for the eye. The sheer variety of metal bar stools presents a universe of possibilities. Embrace the utilitarianism of stackable stools, go glam with trending gold or unleash a whimsical burst of color

As we mentioned, metal bar stools stand up well against wear and tear. But what they make up for in longevity, they can lack in comfort. Without cushions, your hind quarters might get sore from sitting on the hard surface. A hybrid bar stool with a sturdy metal frame and upholstered cushion may be just what you need.


Whichever you choose as the right fit for your home, we offer this tip: buy your barstools pre-assembled. At Lifestyles Furniture, we have decades of furniture experience and have seen time and again that pre-assembled stools are higher quality and will last much longer than ones you have to assemble.

Need help finding the right set of barstools or counter height stools? Our diverse selection of at home bar stools includes many different styles. And like most items at Lifestyles, we have customizable options! Contact us today for a consultation.

Jerome Rackers

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