How to build your own cheap tiki bar

Written by ruth de jauregui Google
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How to build your own cheap tiki bar
The palm frond roof characterises the fun and funky atmosphere of your tiki bar. (palm leaf image by PixAchi from

A simple tiki bar on your patio is an enjoyable place to gather with friends on a warm summer night. Ready-made tiki bars are available, but building your own out of an old kitchen cabinet, reed fencing and palm fronds is a much cheaper solution. Adding accessories like patio lights and brightly coloured glasses from a discount store makes it a fun hangout for family and friends.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Kitchen base cabinet
  • Measuring tape
  • 4 4-by-4-inch posts, 8-feet long
  • Saw
  • Drill with a screwdriver bit
  • Deck screws
  • L-shaped brackets (optional)
  • 4 2-by-4-inch boards
  • 1 piece of 3/4-inch plywood
  • Sand paper
  • Primer
  • Exterior latex paint
  • Tar paper (optional)
  • Staple gun
  • Palm fronds
  • Roll of reed fencing
  • Pencil
  • Duct tape
  • Utility knife or jigsaw
  • Construction glue
  • 3 1-by-2-inch boards
  • Wire cutters
  • Countertop

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  1. 1

    Locate an old kitchen base cabinet in the local freebie ads online or in the local newspaper. The main criteria are sturdiness and an appropriate size to fit your patio. Shelves and drawers are a plus.

  2. 2

    Cut 6 inches off two of the 4-by-4-inch posts. Attach the 8-foot 4-by-4-inch posts to the back side corners of the cabinet, using deck screws. The 7½-foot posts are attached to the front side corners of the cabinet. Screw from the inside of the cabinet out, into the posts, using two screws every 6 inches for stability. These are the supports for the sloped roof. You can also use small L-shaped brackets attached to the outside of the base cabinet and posts to make the structure sturdier.

  3. 3

    Cut four 2-by-4s to the width and depth of the support posts and attach at the top, screwing securely. This is the base of the roof. Then cut the plywood 2 feet wider and deeper than the base cabinet.

  4. 4

    Sand, prime and paint everything, inside and out, with an exterior latex paint. Choose a neutral wood tone or a bright colour like teal, orange, hot pink, lime green or bright purple. Paint both sides of the plywood, too. It is much easier to paint while it is flat on the ground. You can also cover the top of the plywood with tar paper to make it water-resistant.

  5. 5

    Lift the plywood to the top of the tiki bar, centring it, and screw to the 2-by-4s. Starting at the bottom of the sloped roof, use a staple gun to attach palm fronds in rows, allowing them to drape over the edge of the roofline. Overlap each row by about two-thirds for a lush look. On the top row, trim the bases of the palm fronds very short and reverse the direction, so they drape over the back side of the roof. Use ¾-inch screws. If the bases of the palm fronds are thick, use longer screws.

  6. 6

    Roll the reed fencing out flat and mark the height of the base cabinet. Attach duct tape along the edge of your cut line so the fencing does not separate. Carefully cut with a utility knife or jigsaw. Using construction glue, attach the reed fencing to the front and sides of the cabinet. Then attach the 1-by-2-inch boards around the top edge of the reeds, over the duct tape, screwing them securely to the base cabinet. Trim the sides as necessary to fit, cutting the wire with wire cutters.

  7. 7

    Measure and cut the countertop to fit the top of the tiki bar. Attach from underneath with construction glue and short screws. Either sand and paint the cut edges with a matching colour or check the local hardware store for matching edging for laminate countertops.

  8. 8

    Stock the shelves with your favourite beverages and barware. Add strings of lights and other accessories to fit your personal taste.

Tips and warnings

  • 3-foot-tall reed fencing is available in some locations. You can raise the height of the bar and avoid cutting the fencing.
  • Add power with a long extension cord plugged into a GFI outlet.
  • Stain the bar with exterior house stain if you want a more natural look.
  • Ask friends to help you lift the roof into place.
  • Use safety glasses and gloves.

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