How to Buy a Bucket Seat Bar Stool

***This blog was updated in December 2017 to reflect current information.

Are you shopping with your customers’ wellbeing in mind? If you’re researching bucket bar stools, you probably are! You’ve already made up your mind to create a bar area where guests can socialize, watch the big game, and play bar top games late into the night, all on comfortable bar stools.

A bucket seat bar stool could be just what your establishment needs to keep patrons at the bar for longer, creating a higher per person sales average for your bar’s bottom line. If your bar’s marketing strategy revolves around patrons purchasing multiple drinks, then you are probably aware of the direct correlation between the right seating and a steady flow of nightly revenue.

But how exactly do you pick out the bar stool that’s the best fit for your bar in terms of patron comfort and how it effects your return on investment?

Regardless of the price point your targeting, there are some criteria you should keep in mind when deciding on a bucket bar stool. These factors will help you sift through the range of bucket bar stools that are out there and can aid in showing the difference of a bar stool that will last years versus one that might only last you a few months.

  • Seat and back structure- Some manufacturers only use a cardboard-like material to reinforce their bucket seats. This kind of material obviously does not lend itself well to a comfortable seat and does not stand up to the daily wear and tear of the commercial food industry. To make a bucket sturdy, the back and seat should be strengthened with a plywood core. For added comfort, some bucket bar stools have flex backs, which allow for a more natural seating position.
  • Type of seat edge- The edge of your bucket bar stool can be subjected to major wear because of the way people get in and out of their seat. Many bar owners choose bucket bar stools with a waterfall edge for this reason. This type of edging allows for less wear on the edge seam because of its fluid, smooth curve.
  • Padding- The beauty of bucket bar stools is that they are typically more comfortable than traditional bar stools because of the cushioning. A good bucket bar stool will have padding on the seat and back that is a minimum of 2.5 lb high density foam. Actual seat thickness can vary from there, but this is an important standard for a good foundation.
  • Vinyl quality- Not all vinyl is created equal. Many vinyl producers can grade their own vinyl, which can lead to inconsistencies in the strength of the material. Restaurant and bar owners should invest in durable, commercial grade vinyl that is up to the challenge of constant use. If you are concerned about the strength of a vinyl, look at the weight (listed in ounces). The higher the number, the heavier and tougher the vinyl is. In addition to a properly weighted vinyl, check and see if the bucket uses welting cord to strengthen the seams. Seams structured with welt cords or, even better, PVC edging can reinforce points that may have greater stress over time.
  • Design- Finally, you need to think about how a certain bucket will look in your restaurant or bar. To make this decision, consider the aesthetics: color, seat shape, or added accessories like buttons or tufting. But don’t get bogged down by the options; sometimes a classic-looking bucket bar stool makes the best statement. Keep your restaurant’s theme in mind to create a look with your furniture unique to you.

The above criteria can help you make a better purchase decision when selecting a bucket bar stool but we can break it down even further by classifying our bucket bar stools into good, better, and best tiers.

The Good

When deciding on bucket bar stools for your restaurant, it can be intimidating- there are so many choices! Even though these categories are called good, better, and best, these names refer to how the bucket bar stools will perform over a certain time. Just because a bucket is in the “good” category, does not mean it’s mediocre. Good bucket bar stools get the job done and are great for your budget! In our experience, these bucket bar stools are popular in VFW’s, Elk Clubs, and similar organizations because they are cost-friendly and can keep customers comfortable for extended sitting.

  • Seat and back structure
    • Solid plywood construction
  • Type of seat edge
    • Waterfall edge
  • Padding
    • 5 lb high density foam
    • Overall, the seats have a thickness of 4”
    • The back has an extra inch of padding
  • Vinyl quality
    • 25-ounce vinyl with a fabric backing
  • Design
    • The timeless, curved shape of this bucket make it an easy fit for any restaurant or bar. The seams are joined with a welting cord to help reinforce stress points. Choose between black, brown, and wine vinyl color to complete your bucket and celebrate- no breaking the bank here!

Good Bucket Bar Stool Features

The Better
For the “better” section of bucket bar stools, we took the perks of the “good” models and made them even better! Our better bucket offer some added benefits that you and your customers will appreciate. These bucket bar stools offer PVC-edged seams and thicker padded seats, as well as an extra inch of padding added to the back of the bucket to keep customers comfortable for longer. Unlike a traditional metal swivel bar stool, this bucket has PVC edging that soften the blows to your bar top if a customer swivels a little too far.

  • Seat and back structure
    • Solid plywood construction
    • Added seam strength with black PVC edging
  • Type of seat edge
    • Waterfall edge
  • Padding
    • 5 lb high density foam
    • Overall, the seats have a thickness of 5”
    • The back has an extra inch of padding
  • Vinyl quality
    • 27-ounce vinyl with a fabric backing
  • Design
    • It’s all in the details for the “better” category. This bucket bar stool recalls a casino-style bar stool look with its PVC edging- designed to let guests feel content, regardless of how long they have sat there.

Better Bucket Bar Stool Features

The Best
For top-of-the-line bucket seat bar stools, you’ll pay a slightly increased price but be rewarded with excellent quality, style, and comfort, backed by long-lasting durability. We don’t call it the best for nothing! Without the worry of changing out a swivel mechanism, these bar stools have a slight bend and a little give for optimal comfort levels with the added flex back. Details like the rounded edges will make this bucket bar stool your customers’ favorite place to sit.

  • Seat and back structure
    • Solid plywood construction
    • Heavy duty flex back construction
  • Type of seat edge
    • Waterfall edge
    • Vinyl PVC apron
  • Padding
    • 5 lb high density foam
    • Premium molded foam ergonomic seat and back
    • Overall, the seats have a range of thicknesses between 5.3” and 6.5”
    • The back has an extra inch of padding
  • Vinyl quality
    • 27-ounce vinyl with a fabric backing.
  • Design
    • In the “best” category, it is evident that only the highest quality material and sleekest look are used to create quite literally the best bucket bar stools. Both models sport very contemporary looks to make sure your bar is the trendiest spot, all the way down to its furniture.

Best Bucket Bar Stool Features

The Base
Once you decide on the level of comfort you want your bucket to have, 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 most strength over a long lifetime.  The gauges of steel get stronger as the gauge 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.

Additional Considerations
When shopping for a bucket bar stool, you should evaluate the quality of the swivel mechanism.  On the good and better 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 kinds of swivels: an imported version and a domestic version.  The imported swivel comes with no warranty and utilizes ball bearings, which can be known to fall out with daily wear and tear or rough handling. A domestic swivel is available at an upgraded price because it includes a longer warranty of up to 10 years and uses nylon threads to swivel instead of ball bearings. Not only is the domestic swivel more comfortable, it makes for a quieter, smoother movement, as well.

Before purchasing any bar stool for your restaurant, you should 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 31.5″, which may be too tall for your bar. Keeping this measurement and the average height of your clientele in mind can save you from purchasing too tall or too short bar stools.

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, silver, rust, and clear coat finishes in most frames, so you can choose a color combination that works best for your decor! In the future, we are looking towards creating a custom upholstery program for some of our bucket bar stools so that your restaurant’s look is truly unique and comfortable.

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.