When a bar stool is too short for a countertop, it can be an uncomfortable spot. It is not cost-effective or easy to change the height of your countertops. However, you can fix the problem by making the bar stools taller.
There are commercial leg extenders you could use, but you can also employ DIY methods to alter the leg height or create depth with a seat cushion.
With a few tools, you can turn your countertop seating into a comfortable area for your family and guests. Read on to learn how to make your stools, tables, and chairs taller.
How To Make Bar Stools Taller (DIY Methods)
There are three easy ways to make your bar stools taller. But before starting, you might wonder how tall the stool should be.
For a comfortable position, the seat of a barstool should be 12 inches lower than the countertop.
So, if your countertop is 41 inches from the floor, then your stool should be 29 inches tall.
However, this can vary depending on your preference and the countertop design.
Now that you know what height the stool should be, use your preferred method below to fix its height.
1. DIY Bar Stool Leg Extenders
You can make your own PVC leg extenders, much like store-bought bar stool risers, if your stools have crossbars that connect the legs underneath the seat. This method will work with both wood and metal bar stools.
If there are no crossbars, try the other methods in this article.
What You’ll Need:
- Tape measure
- PVC pipes
- PVC end caps
- Miter box
- Eye protection
- Finishing materials (see below)
Note: Home improvement stores carry hollow square PVC tubes you can use if you need square bar stool leg extenders. Regardless of the shape, the PVC pipe size should be large enough for your stool legs to fit inside, but snug enough to prevent wobbling.
1. Take Measurements
If you have not already done so, measure the legs of your stools and purchase PVC pipes that your stool legs will fit inside of.
Alternatively, take your stool to the home improvement store and test it out with different PVC diameters to find the best fit.
You want the PVC to easily slide onto the stool’s legs, but not be considerably larger, since they will wobble greatly if so. The stool crossbars will sit on the extenders to increase the height of your stool.
Determine how much taller you need your stool to be in order for it to complement the counter height:
- Measure the height of your stool and the height of the countertop or table where it will sit. Determine how much taller you need your stool to be.
- Measure from the underside of the crossbar down the legs to the floor.
- Use this measurement to determine how many more inches you need to reach the desired height. This total measurement will be the length needed for your PVC extenders.
- Keep in mind that if your stool’s legs are at an angle, you must measure this to accommodate the angle for cutting purposes.
- Additionally, PVC end caps will add some height to your stool legs. Consider this when determining how tall you want your stool to be.
2. Cut The PVC Pipe
Use a hacksaw to cut equal lengths of PVC for each leg of your stool. Cuts should be even and level so that your stool does not wobble.
However, if your stool’s legs are angled, you will need to cut at an angle. Use a miter box to guide your cuts.
After you cut each piece, check that the angle sits correctly on the leg.
This video shows you how to easily cut PVC pipe:
3. Put On The Extenders
Put PVC end caps on the bottom of each PVC leg extender. This will help prevent the legs from cracking due to pressure and use, and they will protect your floors.
Put each extender on a leg, making sure the top of the extender is pressed against the crossbar.
If the extenders are not even or balanced, you may need to purchase or recut (if possible) the PVC pieces.
Keep in mind that if you lift the stool up, the extenders will slip off. Therefore, when moving the stool, simply slide it back and forth from the counter.
If you are concerned about scratching the floor, consider putting some superglue or adhesive caulk on the bottom of the stool leg that sits inside the end cap to keep the pieces on.
You could also drill screws in to hold the PVC to wooden legs.
4. Finish The PVC Pieces To Match The Stool
You can finish the PVC to look like wood or metal.
Paint the PVC pipes off of the stool for ease of handling and to avoid painting on areas that you wish to keep clean.
Once the pieces are painted, slide them back onto your stool and enjoy the new height!
You will need the following materials:
|Wood Finish||Metal Finish|
Note: The wood-like paint can be found in art supply stores. If you cannot find a perfect match for the existing stool’s wood color, you can paint both the PVC and legs to match.
- Sand the PVC labels off: Wear a mask when sanding so that you do not breathe in PVC particles.
- Sand the ink labels on the PVC pipes and pieces with the fine-grit sandpaper.
- Use acetone to remove any ink that you cannot sand off.
- Use the metal file on the PVC: Filing opens up the surface of the PVC to help the paint adhere to it Use the rough side of the metal file across the surfaces of the PVC pipes.
- Use the wire brush to remove PVC pieces that get stuck in the file. The surface of the pipes will become rough to touch. Use care not to scratch yourself.
- Then, use the smoother side of the metal file to remove shavings and scratchy parts on the pipes.
- Last, use the sandpaper over the surfaces to finish it.
- Paint the pipes: Apply the wood-like oil paint to the PVC by wiping it on with a soft cloth or rag. Work the paint into the grooves that you filed. Your application can have an uneven look to mimic the appearance of the wood grain.
If you have metal legs, you can finish the PVC like the wood process above.
- Sand the PVC labels off: Follow the instructions above to remove the stamped ink labels.
- Apply two coats of primer: In a ventilated area, spray the PVC pipes and pieces with the white primer spray. This primer will help the metallic paint adhere evenly.
- Stick your fingers inside the end of the tube to hold and rotate it as you spray.
- Let it dry completely and apply a second coat.
- Spray two coats of metallic paint: Once the primer is dry, spray on the metallic paint.
- Allow it to dry, and then apply a second coat.
- A third coat may be necessary to get a good match to the stool’s legs.
If you cannot raise the height of your bar stools with PVC extenders due to the lack of lower crossbars or other logistics – such as a saddle stool – then use these alternative ways to make bar stools taller.
2. Use Thicker Seat Cushions
If you only need your bar stool to be a couple of inches higher, a thick seat cushion might be all that you need.
It will add comfort and a design or color accent to your countertop area. Opt for fabric and foam that are firm and easy to clean for longevity.
These cushions must be attached to the stools to avoid slippage or a fall hazard.
If your stool has cushions already on it, you can remove them and reupholster the stools with a thicker cushion. To remove and replace (or add) a cushion do the following:
What You’ll Need
- Staple remover/flat-head screwdriver/hammer
- Foam and fabric to replace the old cushion
- Pencil/Fabric marker
- Straight pins
- Staple gun
- Adhesive remover
- Heavy book
- Serrated or electric knife (to cut foam)
- Eye protection
- Spray adhesive
1. Remove Staples
Turn the stool upside down and locate the staples holding the cushion in place.
Use a staple remover, flat-head screwdriver, or the peen or claw end of the hammer to take out the staples.
2. Remove Fabric And Foam
Remove the cushion’s fabric and foam from the stool. Keep the old material intact as much as you can so that you can use it to measure.
Make sure to get any clingy fibers off of the stool for a clean and flat work surface.
If the stool is dirty or has adhesive on it, wipe it down and use adhesive remover according to the product’s instruction label.
Allow it to dry before proceeding.
3. Measure And Cut Fabric And Foam
Use the old materials to measure and purchase new fabric and foam.
Trace around the old fabric on some newspaper and take that with you to the store to use as a guide. Or, take the old materials with you.
Once you have the fabric, place the old piece on top of it. Use straight pins to tack them together. Trace around the old piece with a fabric marker or pencil.
Repeat the process with the foam. This will be too thick to use pins to hold in place, but you should be able to hold it in place with one hand, while you trace with the other.
Cut along the lines for both the fabric and foam.
If your stool did not have a preexisting cushion, you will need to know how much fabric and foam to get. Keep in mind that the thicker the cushion, the more fabric you will need.
Trace the shape of the stool on newspaper and take that (or the stool) with you to the store. Choose the foam first and get a piece big enough for the seat.
Then, choose the fabric and make sure you have enough to cover the top, sides, and at least three inches of the underside of the foam to get complete coverage.
4. Attach the New Cushion
Put spray adhesive onto one side of the foam and press that side onto the stool’s seat. Place a heavy book on top to help it adhere. Refer to the adhesive’s instructions about drying time.
If the stool can be placed upside down, put it on top of the backside of the fabric, centering it.
If your stool has a back, you will need to place the backside of the fabric on top of the foam and reach underneath.
Gather the fabric so that it folds over the foam underneath. Use the staple gun to secure it in place.
Staple the fabric in a balanced way. For example, if you place a staple on the left side first, move across the surface to the right side and place a staple that is in line with it.
As you gather the material, create uniformity in your pressure so that the fabric does not pull tighter in one spot and therefore makes the foam uneven.
Trim any excess fabric that hangs down underneath with scissors. The stool is now ready for you to enjoy.
3. Raise The Seat With A Constructed Box
This method will work well for wooden stools, by constructing a box that sits on the legs, and serves as the foundation for the seat.
What You’ll Need:
- Miter box and saw
- Screwdriver and screws
- Hammer and nails
- Corner blocks
- Wood scraps
- Paint or stain
- Wood (see note)
Note: Use wood that will match the sizing of your stool. The directions below use 1×6 and 2×2, however, you may find that you need 2×6 or 2×4 boards.
1. Remove The Seat
Take a picture of how the bar stool is assembled for reference. Remove the seat from the legs by carefully unscrewing connecting parts. Label parts for future reference.
2. Prepare The Wood
Measure the dimensions and angles that are needed to create a box that can sit on the legs. Use a miter box to cut four 1×6 boards. Nail or screw the pieces together to create the box.
Sand the wood to remove any rough edges.
3. Add Corner Blocks
Corner blocks will reinforce the box. It creates a spot to reattach the seat and offers a sturdy place for the legs to connect. Screw in a corner block into each corner near the top edge.
4. Attach The Box And Connect All Parts
Use wood scraps as needed for reinforcement, and connect the box and the seat to the stool with screws. If desired, add a 2×2 bar in the front of the stool for a footrest.
5. Finish the Wood
Paint or stain the wood to match the legs. You can use a different color to create contrast. If it is hard to match, paint everything black for a seamless look.
Do they make bar stools taller than 30 inches?
Bar stools are available in taller heights over 40-inches. They are usually referred to as extra tall bar stools.
Do bar stools come in different heights?
Bar stools can range in height from 28-inches to 43.5-inches. Extra tall stools are commonly used in bars with taller tabletops.
Building codes require certain countertop heights, and therefore many countertops in homes are around 36-inches from the floor.
For comfort, a stool’s seat should be about 12 inches lower than the countertop or table.
This can vary depending on the user, however. Some people need less or more for comfort. Often people sitting like to have adequate legroom and taller people may prefer more space.
You can make your bar stools taller by adding leg extenders or a thick cushion seat.
The two methods above allow you to find the perfect height without spending a fortune. You, your family, and your guests can enjoy a comfortable seat at the countertop for years to come.