How to Build a Hawaiian Hut

Updated April 17, 2017

Hawaiian huts, or Tiki huts, are popular items to add to the backyard for summer entertaining. A simple Tiki hut consists of wood, a bamboo frame and a palm leaf roof with fronds that sway in the breeze. Traditional Hawaiian huts, known as a hale (pronounced Hah-lay) took many months to build. Nowadays, Tiki huts can be built simply and inexpensively. The inside can consist of several chairs or other garden furniture, a bar table and wall coverings and traditional Tiki accessories and lighting. Tiki huts are fairly inexpensive and will enhance the yard, making it more glamorous for entertaining

Start by deciding where to build the Tiki hut. A Tiki hut can be built on a lawn or patio. If music, electricity or being close to the refrigerator is important, then building the hut closer to the house or main building will be important. There will be less running back and forth to get necessary items. Determine where to place electrical cords to prevent tripping hazards. Next, determine the size of the hut. This will also be influenced by how much entertaining you want to do and how many guests will be invited. Finally, decide if the Tiki hut is going to be temporary for a special occasion or more permanent for regular events.

The materials for a Tiki hut are fairly basic. Bamboo poles or similar materials are needed for the frame of the hut. Cedar wood can be used for extra strength in place of bamboo. These are used for the support pillars and crossbeams for the roof. Plywood is used to build a bar or bar table. The front of the bar can be dressed up with bamboo matting, such as simple bamboo mats used for laying on a beach. Traditional Tiki hut roofs used palm branches that were lashed to the roof beams, creating a four-inch thick roof that kept out rain. A simpler roof is made of palm leaf thatch that can be bought in rolls that are stapled or nailed onto the roof frame. Done right, a palm leaf thatch can last up to five years.

Start with the frame to build the hut. Some short and long bamboo poles are needed. The taller ones go in the back and the shorter poles in the front. This will create a slope for the roof. Dig holes into the ground to stabilise the bamboo poles and fill with dirt. Attach nuts and bolts into the poles by drilling to attach it to the roof. Fit a cutting of foam core to the top of the hut. This is a lightweight product that is easy to work with and can be used instead of plywood. Attach the palm leaf thatch with a staple gun to cover the entire roof.

When the basic structure for the Tiki hut is completed, look for finishing touches to complete it. Add lighting such as lanterns or Tiki torches -- just be sure the torch is kept away from anything flammable. Add bamboo mats to create floors or roll down blinds to protect from wind, rain and late afternoon sun. Bar stools can be added around the bar. Add Tiki masks to the walls or hang on the bamboo poles if there are no walls.

Things You'll Need

  • Bamboo poles
  • Bamboo mats
  • Foam core
  • Plywood strips
  • Palm leaf thatch
  • Drill
  • Assorted nuts and bolts
  • Staple gun
  • Bar stools
  • Torches or lanterns
  • Tiki mask (optional)
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About the Author

Marilyn Zink is a professional journalist with more than 20 years experience. She is currently publisher of the "Herbal Collective" magazine, for which she also writes articles. Marilyn was a reporter for the then "Nanaimo Daily Free Press" and is a chartered herbalist through Dominion Herbal College.