Counter-height table vs. standard-height table

Updated February 21, 2017

Counter-height tables are taller than standard-height tables. Counter- and standard-height tables come in many different designs, materials and styles. They can be purchased from a furniture store, ordered from a website or custom made by a furniture maker. Standard-height tables are more common than counter-height tables. Both kinds of tables offer unique benefits that will help you decide which type of table is best for you and your space.


A counter-height table can be any length or width but measures 34 to 36 inches high. A standard-height table can be any length or width but measures 28 to 30 inches high. Typical materials for both standard- and counter-height tables include wood, metal or plastic. They may be designed with legs, a pedestal base or a trestle base. Counter-height tables may also be referred to as bistro or gathering tables. These names are not standardised, so it is best to ask the height of the table to determine whether it is a standard- or counter-height table.

Benefits of Standard-Height Tables

Standard-height tables are more common and therefore available in more sizes, designs and finishes than counter-height tables. Because of their popularity, more seating options are made to coordinate with standard-height tables. Most people find standard-height tables more comfortable to sit at because their feet touch the ground while they are seated. They are also a better height for disabled people, as a counter-height table is too tall for a person to use who is seated in a wheelchair. Additionally, counter-height seats are difficult for those with infirmaries to lift themselves onto. Standard-height tables are considered more formal than counter-height tables, and are a better solution for a traditional home.

Benefits of Counter-Height Tables

Counter-height tables, although less common, are very useful and appropriate for certain situations. They are often a good solution for a kitchen as they offer additional preparation space and allow those who are seated at this height to easily converse with those standing in the kitchen. Counter-height tables are also useful when it is desirable to see over a wall or railing, such as on a patio with a view. They can be an excellent option for small spaces, as their additional height gives the illusion of taking up less space than a lower, standard-height table. Finally, because they are considered less formal, they create a more casual, relaxed feel for a space.


It is recommended to purchase a chair, stool or bench measuring 10 to 12 inches less than the height of your table, whether it is standard or counter height. If you are not purchasing a table set that comes with chairs or stools, it is best to try out your seating selection with your table to make sure the height is comfortable for you. Although an inch or two doesn't seem like a huge increment, it can make a big difference in the comfort of you or your guests. For example, a seat that is on the higher side of average and a table that is on the lower side of average may mean that larger people are unable to slide their seats under the table.


Standard- and counter-height tables are not the only two types of tables available. Bar-height tables, which measure 40 to 42 inches tall, are also quite common and are often mistaken for counter-height tables. However, counter-height seating and bar-height seating are not interchangeable, and many people make the mistake of ordering the wrong height seating, even designers and contractors. Always measure the height of your table and the seat height of your chairs or stools, and make sure there is a 10- to 12-inch difference. If you are ordering seating, obtain detailed measurements from the manufacturer to determine if you are ordering the appropriate height for your table.

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About the Author

Amy Swanton Mills is a writer and designer residing in Los Angeles. She has spent the past 10 years working in various aspects of the architecture, furniture and interior design industry. Her articles on furniture, design and green lifestyle issues regularly appear on and She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and History from UCLA.