How To Make Bar Stools Taller (Step-by-Step Guide)

Kathryn Flegal
by Kathryn Flegal
It can be annoying when you realize that your stool simply isn’t tall enough to comfortably sit at the counter. Short bar chairs are inconvenient and they can be distracting to look at, but you can fix that with some leg extenders. Luckily, you can easily construct leg extenders with simple products such as a hacksaw and PVC, so let’s see how you can make your bar stools taller.

Have you purchased bar stools that are too short, or want to use your old bar stools in a new, higher location? Fortunately, you won’t need to purchase expensive new stools or return the ones you picked out.

To make your bar stools taller, you can create your own leg extenders or purchase leg extenders to add to the bottom of your stool. Something else you can do is add a slipcover and add some extra cushion. Before you name your own you will need PVC pipe, a hacksaw, and some superglue.

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Before Making Leg Extenders

This method involves extenders that will rest below the crossbars. This method will not work of your bar stool doesn’t have crossbars. It also most likely won’t work if the crossbars are towards the top of the stool’s legs.

Materials Needed:

  • PVC Pipe
  • Hacksaw
  • Superglue (optional)

How to Make Your Own Bar Stool Leg Extenders

Step 1: Measure your Surface

Measure the height of the surface of the bar, or wherever the stools will go. A typical bar top is usually about 40 to 42 inches tall. You’ll want to allow for a comfortable amount of leg space – roughly 9 to 13 inches. Therefore, 28 to 30 inches is a good height for a bar stool.

Step 2: Measure the Stool

Measure your bar stool to figure out how much height you want to add. Measure from the bottom of the crossbars on the stool’s legs to the height you need to extend it to.

Step 3: Measure the Legs

Measure the diameter of the stool’s legs.

Step 4: Pick out PVC

Select your PVC pipe. The pipe will fit around the stool legs, so try to find a pipe that is the slightest amount larger than the stool legs. You will want it to fit as snugly as possible around the legs to look nice, and minimize wobbling.

Step 5: Cut the PVC Pipe

Use a hacksaw to cut four pieces of PVC pipe to the measurement you obtained in step 2. Double-check that they are exactly the same length so that your stool won’t be wobbly.

Step 6: Trim the Legs

Cut the ends of the stool so that the legs will be level with the floor. If the legs angle outward (many bar stools do), you’ll need to cut the PVC pipe ends at an angle.

Step 7: Place the Extenders

Slide each piece of PVC pipe onto the stool’s legs and push it all the way up to the crossbars. If the diameter of the PVC pipe is significantly bigger than the legs, you won’t be able to lift the stool without removing the extenders. Depending on the diameter of the pipe, and the width of the crossbars, you may be able to use superglue to attempt to attach the pipe to the stool.

Optional Finishing Touch

If your stool’s legs are made of wood and you’d like the pipe to match the wood, there is a fairly simple way to do it. It will be easiest to do this before you slide the pipe onto the legs.

Materials Needed:

  • 100 Grit sandpaper
  • Wood-colored oil paint (artist’s paint) – try to get a color that will match the existing legs of the bar stool. If you’re not sure or can’t find the right color paint, you can always repaint the legs as well.
  • Face mask
  • Acetone
  • Wire brush

How to Make PVC Pipe Look Like Wood

Step 1: Sand the Pipe

Put on your face mask to protect yourself from dust, then start sanding the PVC pipe. The easiest way to do this is to hold a large piece of sandpaper and wrap your hand around the pipe to sand it.

Step 2: Remove the Ink

Sand the pipe until both the shiny coating and the ink print on the PVC are gone. If you’re having trouble getting the ink off, rub it off with the acetone.

Step 3: File the Pipe

Use the rougher side of the metal file to scrape the entire surface of the PVC pipe. If the metal file gets clogged with bits of PVC, use the wire brush to clean it out. As you scrape, the surface of the pipe will start to get jagged and sharp. Be careful not to scratch your hands.

Step 4: Clean it Up

Once you’ve achieved the texture you want, use the smoother side of the file to remove all the PVC shavings as well as the sharp ridges. Finish off with an extra round of the sandpaper.

Step 5: Paint the Pipe

Paint the PVC with the oil paint. The best way to do this is to wipe the paint on with an old cloth or rag. Make sure to work the paint into the textured grooves of the pipe.

Alternate Finishing Touch

If your bar stool has metal legs, you can paint the PVC pipe to resemble metal. The process is similar to making the PVC look like wood, with some minor adjustments. Again, paint the pipe before you put them over the stool’s legs.

Materials needed:

  • 220 grit sandpaper
  • White primer spray – make sure it can be used on plastic
  • Metallic spray paint to match your stool’s legs

How to Make PVC Pipe Look Like Metal

Step 1: Sand the Pipe

Use the sandpaper to sand the surface of the PVC pipe.

Step 2: Spray on Primer

Apply the white spray primer to the PVC pipe in a well-ventilated area. It’s best to do this outside, or in a garage. Rotate the pipe to make sure you coat the whole surface. Let this dry completely, and then apply a second coat.

Step 3: Spray on Paint

Once your second coat of primer is dry, apply the spray paint to the pipe. Let this dry completely before you apply another coat. You may decide it needs a 3rd coat based on how it looks after the 2nd one.

Step 4: Place the Legs

Once the pipe is dry, slide the pieces over the stool legs.

Non-DIY Methods

If you’re not feeling up to the DIY approach, here are some alternative approaches that can make your stool taller.

Purchase a Slipcover

If you only need to add an inch or two to your stools, consider buying a cover for your stools. Look on Amazon or your local home goods store to find a bar stool slipcover.

If you’d like an additional couple of inches, get some seat foam from a craft store. Cut the foam to fit underneath the slipcover.

Purchase Leg Extenders

You can find leg extenders for your stools on Amazon, or at your local Home Depot. Many of them screw into the legs of various pieces of furniture, so you may have to drill holes into your stool’s legs. Follow the instructions on the package to install them.

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Related Questions

How can I make my own bar stool cover?

You can make your own no-sew bar stool cover with seat foams from a craft store and some outdoor fabric. First, cut the foam to sit on top of the bar stool. Then cut the fabric with several inches to spare around each side. Drape the fabric over the foam, wrap tightly and attach the fabric underneath the bottom of the seat. You can use spray adhesive, Mod Podge, or a staple gun to attach the fabric to the seat.

Can bar stools be shortened?

Yes. Use scrap wood cut to the length that you want to shorten the legs. The scrap wood will be your guide when you’re cutting to make sure the legs will be cut the exact same length. Then, use a circular saw or a hand saw to cut the legs.

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Kathryn Flegal
Kathryn Flegal

Kathryn is a craft aficionado who loves writing about DIY home improvement projects. When she's not writing, she loves reading, listening to musicals, and playing with her kids.

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