How to Decorate a Tiki Bar

Written by deborah stephenson
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How to Decorate a Tiki Bar
With some basic supplies and a good plan, you can inexpensively build and decorate a tiki bar to look like the real thing. (tiki bar image by Kelly Kane from Fotolia.com)

A tiki bar adds an authentic design touch to luaus and Polynesian-themed parties, but making a genuine tiki bar can be an expensive proposition involving fairly hard-to-find materials. However, there's an easier alternative. Make a simple plywood hut with built-in shelves to hold your bar supplies, then use simple materials and a bit of out-of-the-box creativity to make a "thatch, bamboo and totem"-filled tiki bar to rival those built by the pros.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Things you need

  • Paint: golden tan, water-based, exterior
  • Paint: brown, water-based, exterior
  • Paint brushes: assorted sizes
  • Sponges: flat and square
  • Cattails, reeds, cornstalks or long grasses
  • Plywood sheet: 2-by-8-foot, ¾-inch thick
  • Pencil
  • Jigsaw
  • Rasp
  • Sandpaper
  • Paint: assorted colours, water-based, exterior
  • Two 5-gallon pails
  • Two 4-by-4-inch posts
  • 1 bag concrete mix
  • Two 2-by-4-by-12-inch-long boards
  • 10 to 12 wood screws: 3 inches long
  • Poster board: full sheet, any colour, size of choice
  • Florist's foam blocks: size of choice
  • Sharp knife
  • Glue
  • Plaster
  • Tiki torches
  • Silk flowers
  • Pineapples, other tropical fruits: real or fake

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Paint your entire plywood hut--inside and out--a golden tan colour to resemble the colour of aged bamboo. Let the paint dry completely.

  2. 2

    Paint over the first colour--working one narrow section at a time--with a diluted brown colour. Let this second coat sit for only a few minutes, so it begins to dry but will still wipe off.

  3. 3

    Cut a cheap, flat sponge into 2-inch wide strips. Dampen the sponge strips lightly with plain water and wring them out.

  4. 4

    Drag a sponge strip straight down, top to bottom, over the brown paint layer to expose a 2-inch wide golden tan layer beneath.

  5. 5

    Move the sponge over about ¼ inch and repeat the dragging motion. Continue in this way across the entire brown section. Use brown paint and more sponge strips to create this bamboo pattern on the entire hut. The 2-inch wide golden tan stripes represent bamboo and the narrow brown stripes represent the "spaces" between the "bamboo thatching."

  6. 6

    Add horizontal "joints" to the "bamboo" sections with a small paintbrush..

  7. 7

    Bundle long grasses, cornstalks, reeds or whatever grasslike materials you can find and attach them to the roof to finish your bamboo and thatch hut.

  1. 1

    Draw a rounded point on each end of a 2-by-8-foot plywood sheet to create a surfboard shape.

  2. 2

    Cut out the surfboard shape with a jigsaw.

  3. 3

    Round and smooth the cut-off sections and edges with a rasp and sandpaper to emphasise the surfboard shape.

  4. 4

    Paint on bright surfboard colours and set the form aside to dry.

  5. 5

    Fill two 5-gallon buckets half full with concrete mixed according to the package directions.

  6. 6

    Temporarily support a 4-by-4-inch post in each bucket until the concrete cures.

  7. 7

    Screw a 2-by-4-inch board across each upright post, with two 3-inch screws, centring each cross piece on its post.

  8. 8

    Mount the plywood surfboard on top of the 2-by-4-inch boards with 3-inch wood screws fastened from beneath the board, then set the whole thing just inside the hut to serve as the bar top.

  1. 1

    Find a tiki totem image online through an Internet image search.

  2. 2

    Draw a front view of a tiki totem on a large piece of poster board, using the image as a guideline.

  3. 3

    Cut out the image.

  4. 4

    Glue blocks of floral foam to the front of the poster board image and trim off any excess along the image outlines with a sharp knife.

  5. 5

    Shape the foam further using a rasp and sandpaper, then sculpt the frontal details of the tiki statue.

  6. 6

    Mix plaster to a creamy consistency according to the directions on the package and spread it over the shaped foam. Let it harden.

  7. 7

    Sand the dry plaster to smooth it, then paint as desired with outdoor paints.

  1. 1

    Set your tiki statue in the back of the hut so it's visible but shadowed, to give it depth.

  2. 2

    Add tiki torches near the front of the bar for dramatic light.

  3. 3

    Place coconuts, pineapples and bowls of other tropical fruits on and around the bar and hut.

Tips and warnings

  • Search "tiki" online to find sources for accessories to further decorate your tiki bar.

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