How to Build an Outdoor Tiki Bar

An outdoor Tiki bar can be a great addition to your backyard or anywhere else you want to add a touch of island charm. When you build an outdoor Tiki bar without a kit, you are in total control of the size and shape of every aspect of the bar.

Depending on the size of your Tiki bar, you should be able to build it over one weekend, provided you have already purchased the necessary supplies.

Draw out a diagram for your outdoor Tiki bar on a sheet of graph paper with measurements for the width, length, height and depth of the bar and roof. (It's fine if your drawing is essentially a simple rectangle--the point is to determine the overall proportion and dimensions of the bar.) The typical height for a bar, not including the roof or roof supports, is 42 inches. The typical depth of a Tiki bar is 24 to 30 inches with the width being 6 feet.

Cut two of the 2-by-4s to the overall length of the bar (6 feet). Cut two of the 2-by-4s to a length matching the height of the bar minus 4 inches. For example, if you want the bar to be 42 inches from the ground, the 2-by-4s should be cut down to 38 inches. You can measure the thickness of the 2-by-4s to get a more precise measurement to bring your bar height to 42 inches. The additional 1/2 inch is for a top surface 1/2 inch thick, such as a 1/2 inch thick piece of Mahogany or plywood.

Lay out the 2-by-4s on a flat piece of ground, forming a rectangular frame that matches your measurements for the front of the Tiki bar. Use two 3-inch wood screws to join each corner together.

Create frames for the sides of the bar using six additional 2-by-4s. Four of these should be cut to the length of the depth you want for your bar, while the other two should be cut to the length of the bar's height minus 4 inches. For example, if your bar is 30 inches deep, you need four 2-by-4s cut to approximately 26 inches. (Measure the actual width of your 2-by-4s to get a precise measurement to match your 30-inch width, because 2-by-4s aren't always exactly 2 inches by 4 inches.)

On each side of the bar, attach the 2-by-4s closest to the ground first, screwing each side of the smaller frame to the larger frame with 3-inch screws. Next, screw the vertical 2-by-4 perpendicular to the end of the leg you just attached. Finally, screw the top 2-by-4s to both the frame and the upper end of the vertical 2-by-4s.

Use 1-inch wood screws to attach metal L-brackets to all of the inside corners of your bar to stabilize your frame and keep all of the angles square.

Take one of the 10-foot-long posts that will support the roof, get it into a vertical position and center it on the outside frame of the left side of the bar. Use a level to make sure the post stands perfectly straight and have a friend hold it there while you use heavy-duty 4-inch screws to attach the posts to the top and bottom of the frame. Repeat this process on the right side of the bar. When you're done, the posts should be directly opposite one another. Attach metal L-brackets to the corners formed by the pole and the bar's frame for stability.

Build the A-frame for the roof of the Tiki bar by laying a 2-by-4 beam across the top of the posts. The beam should be 6 inches longer than the bar on either end--if your bar is 6 feet long, the beam for the roof should be 7 feet. Attach the beam from the top with 4-inch screws (lay the Tiki bar frame on its side if you can't reach).

Cut 45-degree angles at both ends of four 2-by-4s cut to equal length, which should be long enough to extend about 12 inches over the front or back of the bar. (The angles on each board should face in opposite directions, resulting in a trapezoid shape.) Attach the angled 2-by-4s to either end of the top beam on both sides, so that you have two upside-down Vs. Attach another 2-by-4s to the bottom of each V, forming a base for the triangles.

Attach a thin sheet of plywood to each side of the roof frame, screwing it to the frame supports with 2-inch wood screws spaced about 3 inches apart. (It's fine if the plywood sheet extends over the edges of the frame slightly.)

Use small nails or a staple gun to cover the plywood with palm leaves or thatch roofing material, allowing the leaves or thatch to hang over the bottom edge of the roof by several inches. For a neater roof, lay a grid of masking tape over the plywood base before attaching the roofing material, adhering to the grid lines as you work.

Cut a sheet of plywood to fit the top of your bar--this will be the counter. On one long side of the plywood, cut out a rectangular space to accommodate the bartender. Lift the plywood on top of the frame, securing it to each edge with 2-inch screws spaced about 3 inches apart. To increase the sturdiness of the bar top, you may want to first add additional supports to the top of the frame. To do so, cut both ends of two equally sized 2x4s to a 45-degree angle (the angles should be facing opposite directions), then use 3-inch screws to attach each 2-by-4 in a diagonal direction between the front of the frame and each side.

Add bamboo facing to the front and sides of the bar. Once you've measured and cut the bamboo sticks to match the bar's height, lay the sticks out side-by-side and connect them by weaving two lengths of twine around each piece at the top and bottom, working in a figure-eight pattern. Keep the twine as tight as possible so that the bamboo holds it shape and position. Use additional lengths of twine to tie the bamboo facing to the bar at each corner and at 3- or 4-inch intervals all along the upper and lower edges of the frame.

Cover the top of the bar and the roof support poles with three coats of a dark-brown, weather-resistant stain to imitate the richly colored teak wood of traditional Tiki bars.