What is the best foot rail for bars?
WHAT’S THE BEST FOOT RAIL FOR BARS?
Discover why the black pipe foot rail is the best value for do-it-yourself home bars and commercial bar design.
For those unaware, there are a multitude of choices when it comes to bar foot rails. While a solid foot rail remains is a traditional favorite, this discussion will be limited to pipe-style foot rails. These are the most popular today. Many may be familiar with the polished brass foot rail, typified by ornamental rail brackets, elbows and end caps, as shown in the photo at right. With the rise in do it yourself bar construction projects, many websites, such as KegWorks and ESP Metal Products, have expanded their offerings. These companies now offer architectural finishes, such as:
- Matte black
- Oil-rubbed bronze
- Gunmetal grey and others.
This type of foot rail is normally offered in 1.5” and 2-inch outside diameter tubing and often sold as kits. While these products are appealing, it’s buyer beware!
MOST COMMERCIAL PRODUCTS AREN’T BUILT FOR DURABILITY
The companies who sell these products do a fine job. However, this category of tubing is what’s referred to as lightweight (or thin wall) tubing. While these products are attractive and very architectural in appearance, they have a major flaw: they aren’t built to last. Even worse, they’re expensive and they’ll never look this good the day after one day of use! In my opinion, these products are best used for home bars, as they have a classy, aesthetic appeal and don’t take the day-in and day-out abuse of the general public.
BAR DESIGN TIP:
While installing a foot rail from thin wall tubing, the first thing the installer will notice is the flimsy nature of the product and the weakness of the connections, as they’re merely pinned together with tiny setscrews. The wall thickness of this tubing is .050”, which is less than 1/16 of an inch – not nearly enough for mechanical threads.
HOW MUCH DO FOOT RAILS FOR BARS COST?
The components for a typical bar foot rail installation can be purchased at Keg Works or any plumbing supply house, including the threaded pipe and all connecting hardware. This system can be floor-supported or supported off the face of the bar. From a cost perspective:
- The decorative thin-wall tubing foot rail, described earlier, will cost upwards of $40.00 per linear foot.
- A foot rail fabricated from 1 1/2” schedule 40 black pipe will average $25.00 per linear foot.
BAR DESIGN TIP:
If you want the best foot rail for bars, stay away from light-weight decorative products, as it won’t take long for you to reach the conclusion that you just wasted your money. Use 2″ x 12 ga. suare steel tubing or 1 1/2″ schedule 40 pipe and pipe fittings and your investment will be protected for a long time.
THE BEST FOOT RAIL FOR COMMERCIAL BARS
The best foot rail for bars is the type fabricated from schedule 40 commercial pipe.
- One approach is to use 1 ½” galvanized pipe. The only thing I dislike about galvanized pipe is it has a tinny-appearance.
- 2″ x 12 ga. steel tubing is another attractive option, as shown in the photo below.
- My personal favorite (and very popular among bar owners) is fabricated from 1 1/2″ Schedule 40 black pipe, as shown in the photo at right. The black pipe has a rugged appearance and will hold-up to daily use with very little visible wear. This pipe can also be rolled to a radius.
- The reason why pipe makes for such a superior foot rail is because it’s nearly five times stronger than the lightweight tubing mentioned earlier. Another advantage of commercial pipe are the threaded connections. Supports are normally installed every 48”.
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