How to Buy a Bucket Seat Bar Stool

Are you shopping with comfort in mind?  A bucket seat bar stool could be just what your establishment needs to keep patrons belly up to the bar for longer, which in turn, means a higher per person sales average on your bar’s bottom line.  If your bar’s marketing strategy revolves around higher drink-per-person numbers, then you are smart enough to see the close relation between having the right seating and an increase in nightly revenue.  You want to create a cozy, communal gathering place where folks come to meet up and hang out, watch the entire game on your big screens, or play that Megatouch bar top game until the wee hours.  But how exactly do you pick out the stool that’s the perfect fit for your bar?

Let’s discuss key product features by breaking down bucket bar stools into three shopping categories: good, better, and best.

The Good
Bucket Bar Stool for RestaurantsHere are some basic standards you want to look for in any bucket seat bar stool.  Believe it or not, many vendors don’t offer stools that meet these low quality marks, so here’s what to look out for:

  • Is there a plywood core on the back and seat?  Some manufacturers only use a cardboard-like substance as the foundation to the seat and back, which won’t hold up very well in a commercial setting.  Instead, look for something more sturdy featuring a plywood core.
  • What type of seat edge is there?  Due to how people slide in and slide out of a bucket seat, a waterfall edge usually has less wear and tear.  While some fancier models do feature stitching on the seat edge to add a decoration to the overall style, a smooth waterfall edge is going to last longer in high-traffic venues.
  • Is there padding in the seat…and back?  Some stools only come with a padded seat, so to ensure comfort, look for a little padding in both the seat and the back.  A good benchmark to look for is a minimum of 2 1/2-pound, high-density foam.
  • Is the vinyl commercial-grade?  There are many vinyl weights, and a stool for a bar or restaurant needs to use a vinyl that’s produced for use in the hospitality industry.  Its weight and how the backing is designed will impact its wear and tear properties.  Be careful, most vendors grade their own vinyls, so it’s best to look for a weight (such as a 24-ounce vinyl) for consistent side-by-side comparisons.
  • Does welting run with the vinyl seams?  At a minimum, you need to look for a thin welt cord along the vinyl seams. Better models will feature PVC edging for added strength.

What helps set apart the good bucket bar stool models we sell from many other bar stool makers is our newly re-designed and vastly improved 5-prong gripping system that helps to prevent the back separating from the seat when someone leans back too far in the bucket.  No back flips here!

The Better
Brown Bucket Seat Bar StoolIf you’re looking for a step up in quality without paying much more money, choosing a middle-of-the-road product offers some added benefits that you’ll appreciate.

  • PVC edging along vinyl seams is far superior than thin welting. Not only does it help keep the seams together better, the PVC material actually provides a safe “bumper” that protects your beautiful wood bar from getting dinged or marred from the spinning buckets.
  • A thicker seat adds extra comfort.  For example, our base models only have a 4″ seat thickness, but our better models feature a 5″ seat thickness, making for a comfy, cushy seat.

The Best
For top-of-the-line bucket seat bar stools, you’ll pay a little more money upfront but have excellent quality, style, and comfort backed by long-lasting durability. Consider all the points listed in the good and better models above, but add into the mix the following higher-end benefits:

  • Flex back – Stools with a flex back stool, there is a metal piece that attaches the seat to the back.  This part of the stool allows a slight bend and has a little give, which provides greater comfort.
  • Wrap-around arms – Whether it’s an over-sized back or a complete wrap-around arm rest, the style of the back will offer additional support.  This also creates a casino or roulette look that makes a fashion-forward statement in your bar or restaurant.

The Base
Best Commercial Bar StoolsOnce you decide on which bucket seat you prefer, it’s time to choose a base.  Especially for the better and best models, you’ll want to look for a fully welded, 16-gauge steel base, which will offer the ultimate in strength over a long lifetime.  The gauges of steel get stronger as the numbers decrease, so a 16-gauge is better than an 18- or 20-gauge steel frame.  Because bucket seats tend to be top-heavy compared to other stool seats, the base needs to have a wide enough footprint to safely support the shape and weight of the bucket.

We do sell our lower-end bar stools on the traditional F-base, featuring a bolted-on, squared-off chrome plated ring.  This base is very sturdy for use with the smaller buckets and offers a distinct style that may look great in your space, but it shouldn’t be used with the larger models.  We discourage use of the classic, retro-looking double chrome ring bases on our bucket seats, because those bases have an entirely bolted together frame, and the chrome plating can scratch and wear off over time.  Choosing a solid base will prevent accidents and injuries in your bar or restaurant, so choose wisely!

Additional Considerations
When shopping for a bucket bar stool, you should evaluate the quality of the swivel mechanism.  On the smaller buckets, we usually include a tilted swivel to produce a reclined feel for a more comfortable position.  When assembling this type of swivel on your bar stool, make sure the higher point is facing toward the front of the stool, or otherwise, patrons will feel as if they’re falling out of the seat.  On the more luxurious buckets, the design already features a slightly reclined seat, so most vendors will use a flat swivel, whereas you don’t have to worry about assembling it to the right degree of tilt.

In addition, we offer two brands of swivels: an imported version and an American-made version.  The imported swivel comes with a limited 1-year warranty and utilizes ball bearings, which can by known to fall out with a lot of wear and tear or rough handling.  The domestic swivel is more expensive, but it includes a longer warranty of up to 10 years and is a nylon construction that doesn’t use ball bearings.  This makes for a quieter, smoother movement, as well.

Before purchasing any bar stool for your restaurant, please measure the height of your bar.  You will want to leave 10-12″ between the top of the seat and the bottom of the bar for legroom.  Some of our best bucket bar stools have a seat height of 32.8″, which may be too tall for your bar.  In addition, if your audience is largely women, your customer base may have trouble getting in and out of that tall of a stool.  On the flip side, a largely male audience may find the stool height a more comfortable fit – especially if your bar is around the corner from where the Knicks practice.  Keep height – and your target market – in mind when you’re determining comfort and ease of use for your furniture selections.

Interior design is of course always a consideration when buying restaurant furniture.  Our standard bucket colors are brown, black, and wine, and we offer black and silver frames, so you can choose a color combination that works best for your decor!

Now that you know what to look for in your commercial bucket seat bar stools, you can offer a comfortable place for guests to sit and relax a while – and order up another drink!

Contemporary Restaurant Bar StoolCasino Bar Stool





4 Responses to “How to Buy a Bucket Seat Bar Stool”
  1. Debbie Smith says:

    Bar stools with leather upholstery? Wow! If I get these stools near my place, I will definitely buy for my rooms.

    • Administrator says:

      Hi Debbie, Thanks for the comment. We actually use a commercial-grade vinyl to upholster our bucket seat bar stools. They are only available online via our e-commerce stores right now, or if you’re nearby western Pennsylvania, we do have a showroom.

  2. minka tommy says:

    I am very happy to read your tutorial about how to choose a bucket seat bar stool. Your instructions are very complete and detailed making it easier for me to select them according to my funds. I would probably choose a middle-of-the-road product. Thank you.