Now, we’re not casting aspersions on the British psyche but if there’s one thing that us inhabitants of this often dreary little island are especially good at then it’s enjoying a good drink. It’s also often said that an Englishman’s home is his castle, and given our predilection for sinking a few jars then it makes perfect sense for that castle to include its own bar! Before you start thinking of Del Boy’s flat though, you should be aware that a lot of UK homeowners are getting in on that summer vibe and building their own outdoor bar and kitchens primed for alfresco entertaining – and so that’s exactly what we’re going to show you how to build in this article…
Building an outdoor bar is a lot easier than you might think – all that’s required is a little forethought and planning. Before gathering your tools and hopping off to buy timber and materials you should first consider:
- You have a flat, level surface onto which you can place the bar.
- The bar’s location easily accessible and you can run a power supply to it if required.
- The bar is not positioned near overhanging trees making susceptible to falling organic matter.
- The tiles to be used for the countertop and front/side panelling are not porous and are fully water resistant.
- The correct type of timber is used for the frame and joists.
Step 1: Constructing Frames
To kick things off in this bar-building adventure (yeah, we’re calling it that), you first need to build the frames. This bar requires two frames – one for the top and one for the bottom (B). To ensure accuracy and to provide added stability, drill pilot holes through the long pieces of timber ahead of inserting and tightening the 2 ½” wood screws to the perpendicular pieces. It’s advisable to use a set-square to ensure the corners are right-angled and add some wood glue to the joints for added strength.
Step 2: Attaching Legs
Once you’re happy with the frame it’s now time to install the corner legs. Simply attached one 2×4 piece and one 2×6 piece (A) onto each corner of the frame. Cut down the 2×6 pieces to 127mm width using a table saw then smooth the edges with a sander before attaching the legs to the frames.
Step 3: Attaching Corner Legs
Again, when attaching the side legs (A) it’s advisable to drill pilot several holes through the frame ahead of inserting and tightening the 2 ½” wood screws. You should aim to leave a gap of around 50.8mm between the ground and the bottom edge frame. Be sure to fully align all the timber slats before finally locking them together.
Step 4: Fitting Floor Slats
Next, it’s time to install the slats that will make up the floor of your bar. Take x13 pieces of 1×4 tanalised timber (E) and drill pilot holes at both ends of each slat. Attach to the frame by inserting and tightening the 1 ¼ ″ screws. We also recommend that you countersink the head of the screws – it looks just better!
Step 5: Attaching Front & Side Panels
This bit is perhaps the easiest part of constructing the bar. Measure 1015mm x 915mm (C) and mark out onto the HardieBacker Cement Board and cut to size using a hand saw or table saw. Once you’ve done that, fit it into place using x12 1 ¼” screws – place one in each corner and equally spaced across the top, bottom and side edges and screw into the frame.
Repeat this process for the side panels – you will need to cut the cement board to a width of 280mm (C). Don’t worry about countersinking the screws as these sections will be tiled on to.
Step 6: Creating Partition Wall
Firstly, attach the piece of 2×4 timber that forms the support (I) to the top frame by drilling pilot holes at both ends and securing into place using 2 ½″ wood screws. As with the corner legs, it’s advisable to apply wood glue to the joints to provide added strength. Next, fit the 1×4 (I) slats to create partition by drilling pilot holes and inserting the 1 ¼ “ screws and tightening to attach the slats to the top support. You should repeat the process to secure the slats to a piece of 1×2 lumber, to form the bottom support.
Step 7: Building Shelves
If you want to add extra shelving as shown in the diagram, then just repeat the steps followed to create the wall, only flip so that the 590.5mm long slats (F) are fixed horizontally in the left-hand section. You should use a spirit level to check if the shelves are fully horizontal and if the dividing wall panel is plumb. The height of the shelves can be adjusted to suit your needs.
Step 8: Installing Countertop
Create a frame out of the 2×4 lumber (G) – x2 pieces of 2×4 for the sides and x2 pieces of 2×4 for the edges. Cut both ends of the trims at 45º and fixing them together using 2 ½ ″ wood screws at the corners.
Next, attach the trim to the frame by drilling pilot holes, inserting 2 ½ ″ screws and screwing into the top edge of the frame. It is important to leave around a 50m lip so that the frame protrudes from the top of the frame so as to allow for the addition of the tile adhesive and tiles later.
Place the HardieBacker Cement board cut to 1325mm x 585mm (H) into the frame and then screw to the top edge of the bar frame using x12 2 ½ ″ wood screws ensuring that the screws are not protruding from the surface of the cement board.
Step 9: Tiling Side/Front Panels and Countertop
The final stage is to add tiles to both the countertop and front and side panels of the bar. First, choose the tiles you want to use ensuring that they are not porous (for simplicity, we advise against using tiles that require post-installation sealing) and then dry lay them so as to work out quantities and the number of cuts you will require.
Once you have your measurements and cuts then the process of tiling the countertop is exactly the same as that followed when tiling a floor. You can find out how to do this by watching this instructional video from top TV handyman, Craig Phillips.
Tiling the side panels is done in much the same way – first ensure that you have worked out the quantity of tiles needed and the layout for the area you want to tile, dry laying the tiles before mixing and applying the adhesive using a notched trowel, and then attaching the tiles. For step by step instructions on how to do this, check out our Complete Guide To Wall Tiling.
Step 10: Securing & Kitting Out Bar
Now that your bar is fully built, you might want to consider anchoring it to the floor. If situated on a concrete or tiled substrate then this can be done by drilling suitable holes on the floor and bottom edge frame of the bar and then fastening with concrete fixing bolts.
Next, you’ll want to think about stocking the bar with beverages and glasswear of your choice and also thinking about how you’re going to keep those beers nice and cold. The void beneath the countertop is large enough to house a coolbox that you could fill with ice and keep bottled beers in, but if you want to go one better, there are plenty of mini-fridges on the market that will easily fit in the space.
Or, if you really want to push the boat out, you could invest in The Sub by Heineken – a home draught beer system that dispenses your favourite brands at a lovely cool temperature. If you do plump for one of these or even a fridge then you will need to run a power supply to the bar, but that is easily done. Simply run an extension from the house or exterior socket and drill a wide-bore hole in the floor slats large enough to fit a 4-way extension through.
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