What’s the best bar countertop size for 2023? Is it 24″, 26″, 30″ or something else? You might be surprised at the answer.
How Is bar countertop size determined?
There’s a great deal of confusion about the correct bar countertop size. Many of our clients have mentioned that they’ve heard many different opinions about this topic. I’m always curious what many other authorities in the hospitality have to say. My core information begins with architectural standards. Several years ago I posted an article about bar design dimensions, which ranks at or near the top in Google search. That article contains a sketch (shown below) that summarizes these dimensions, and the standard for bar countertop ranges from 24″ – 30″.
These architectural standards are for proper ergonomic bar design and are a valuable resource for anyone attempting to layout a bar. However, this is just a starting point!
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
The inside overhang should be 11" and this is measured from the inside face of the bar die to the inside edge of the drink rail.
The outside overhang should be 6" - 8" and this is measured from the outside face of the bar die to the outside edge of the bar top.
These dimensions and references are shown in the sketch below:
The most requested material for bartops is 3cm quartz, and the second most popular request are wood slabs (from 1 1/2" - 3" in thickness)
What factors determine the bar countertop size?
Over the years, I’ve designed bars with a wide range of countertop sizes. The following are the factors that commonly drive the size:
- Bar die construction – stick built or modular bar die
- Bar shape
- Overhang preference
BAR DIE CONSTRUCTION
For me, the method of bar die construction is what differentiates the countertop size. When I refer to “bar die”, I’m referring to the bar support base. Some clients want to “stick-build” the bar die with 2″ x 4″ lumber. My preference is the modular bar die, which is a factory-built modified metal stud that’s 5 9/16″ wide. Additionally, the modular bar die requires hardware for removable panels that make the entire base deeper. In short, I recommend minimum 24″ tops for wood bar die and 26″ bar tops for modular bar die. An example of both are illustrated in the sketch below.
The shape of the bar also influences the size of the countertop. For example, consider the elliptical shaped bar. The geometry of the ellipse is not constant – consisting of two intersecting radii, as shown in the photo below. For this bar we had to use a 32 1/2″ top in order to achieve acceptable coverage throughout. On the other hand, countertops of curved bars with a long, constant radius yield standard overhangs, similar to that of rectangular bars.
To me, the style of bar die construction is only one factor that drives countertop size. The Owner’s preference is occasionally the determining factor. Each of us has our own perception of proper overhang. I recall a bar we designed where the Owner believed that the overhang needed to be 12″! I was curious where he got this idea, because the standard overhang (on the customer’s-side of the bar) only needs to be 6″ – 8″. He told me that he’d seen a bar with such an overhang! Folks, bartops don’t need an excessive amount of overhang. When all was said and done, we compromised with a 28″ top, which yielded a clearance of 9 7/16″.
WHAT’S THE TAKEAWAY ABOUT BARTOP SIZES
The above examples are case studies based on my experience as a professional bar designer. From my years of experience, there is no such thing as “One-size-fits-all” when it comes to sizing countertops. Counter depth is often a matter of personal preference. Practically speaking, no top needs to be deeper than 32″. The majority of bars we design utilize 26″ tops. This eliminates a lot of guesswork and wasted time, while checking all the boxes:
- Proper overhangs
- Material consumption
Need Help with your bar plans?
The Trick to Designing a Circular Island Bar and Back Bar
How to Design a Non-Alcohol Bar
Curved Bar Design – How to Design a Bar with Equipment
The Secret to Designing a Bar for a Pizza Restaurant
Top 5 Ideas about Bar Countertops
Small Bar Design Ideas and Tips
KEGERATOR DRAFT BEER SYSTEMS FOR HOTELS & RESTAURANTS
WILSONART LAMINATES & QUARTZ FOR TONY ROMAS BAR DESIGN
Most Popular Articles
L SHAPED BAR DESIGN – WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
ERGONOMIC EFFICIENT BAR DESIGN INCREASES PROFITS
THE STANDARD BAR LAYOUT DIMENSIONS FOR DIY
HOW MUCH DO DRAFT BEER SYSTEMS COST?
WHAT IT COSTS TO BUILD A COMMERCIAL BAR
BAR EQUIPMENT COST TO BUILD A COMMERCIAL BAR
BAR DESIGN IDEAS – HOW TO DESIGN COMMERCIAL BARS FOR ADA
TOP LIST OF COMMERCIAL BAR DESIGN FINISHING IDEAS