How to Build a Garden Bar: Step by Step
Planning plenty of parties during the warmer months and wondering how to build a garden bar? It makes sense to start planning your project now so that you can have it built in time for party season in the spring.
Is it Legal to Have a Bar in Your Garden?
First though, bars usually come with legal stipulations and you may be wondering if it’s actually against the law to serve up alcohol in your back garden without a licence. Well, the answer is yes it is legal – provided you don’t actually sell the booze!
Do You Need to Get Planning Permission?
In the vast majority of cases, you won’t need planning permission to build a garden bar. That is, provided it’s a simple enough structure, such as being on ground level with no roof terrace or veranda etc overlooking a neighbouring property.
It also needs to be less than 30 square metres. You’ll have to get permission to use the outdoor space of a listed property.
Planning Your Bar
Make sure your outdoor bar is in a good location by ensuring it’s not under overhanging trees and the ground in which you intend it to sit is level. Consider too, whether you want the bar to be sitting in the shade or in a sunny spot.
The bar should also have a least 2ft of surrounding space on all sides. That way you can get easy access for repairs and the timber itself will have room to breathe.
12 Steps to Build a Garden Bar
If you’re still wondering how to build a garden bar then this quick step-by-step guide shows how to make the timber frames as well as the cladding for panels. You can then see how easy and inexpensive it can be to build a garden bar for your outdoor space.
Cut the timber you need for each individual frame, stacking it as you cut. Apply wood preserver to the ends which have been cut.
Drill pilot holes into the timber – 22mm from the end of each length – to prevent splitting. Concentrating on one individual frame at a time, lay the cut lengths flat on a workbench and butt the corners together. Screw the lengths in place, ensuring the joint is flush and the screw heads are sunk into the timber. Repeat for all frames.
Fix the cross brace in place and partially attach it with a screw inserted halfway into the wood.
Lay the frame flat on the workbench and align the cross brace. Finish driving in the screws. Measure the frame diagonally from the corners to ensure it’s square. Only the small side frame doesn’t need a cross brace.
Cut all of the deck boards to length and paint the ends with wood preserver. Do the same with the feather edge boards.
Take four timber fence posts and mark a 15-degree cutting angle at the right lengths. This provides a sloping edge for the roof to balance on.
Cut the posts using a mitre saw and adjustable bevel. Paint the cut ends with a wood preserver. The fifth post for the bar entrance doesn’t need to be cut at an angle.
Lay a frame flat on the workbench. Place the first deck board onto the frame.
Hold the deck board securely and drill two pilot holes at each end of the board, as well as another hole in the centre cross brace. Secure with deck screws.
Cover the frames with the cut deck boards and repeat for the front and side frames.
Drill pilot holes and partially insert wood screws at the inside corners of the frames. Screw the smallest length of post to the right entrance panel.
Lay the first length of feather edge fence board with a 20mm overhang. Screw in the thickest part of the board. Using a 100mm long spacer lay the following feather board down with its thick edge overlapping the first board. Repeat with each board, screwing in at the ends and centre of the cross brace.
Position the back panel and posts. Screw the first medium-length post onto the back panel using the wood screws that were partially screwed in earlier. Screw the longer side panel to the back panel post, ensuring it slopes in the right direction.
Screw the second medium-length post at the opposite side of the back panel. Now secure the first longer post to the front of the side panel. Move the front panel into place, and secure to the longer front post with the partially screwed-in wood screws. Attach the remaining longer front post to the front panel.
Now it’s time to attach the right-hand entrance panel to the longer front post.
Place the finished roof panel onto the outdoor bar, resting on the posts and sloping towards the rear. Attach to each of the posts.
Adjust a mitre saw to a 45-degree angle. Measure across the width of a length of timber, marking 20mm in from the edge. Cut the corner off at 45 degrees. Measure 125mm from the top of the longest side of the length. Cut 90 degrees across the full width of the timber to make a bracket. Do this 10 times.
Drill a pilot hole into the 45-degree face of each bracket, and use wood preservatives on the cut ends. Screw a bracket onto the outside edge of the posts. Put another bracket in the middle of the front panel.
Cut six deck boards for the front and sides of the bar by measuring the appropriate lengths and setting the mitre saw to 45 degrees. Ensure the two side worktops have outward-facing angled corners at either end. Mark the centre point at both ends then cut 45 degrees to the outer edge. Treat these cut ends with a wood preserver.
Ensure the decking board grooves are face down then secure the bar worktops in place with decking screws.
To make a shelf for the back panel of the bar, measure its internal width and cut a deck board to length. Fix two of the remaining three brackets to both edges of the panel, ensuring they are level. Put the remaining bracket in the centre of the shelf.
Measure the front width of the roof, and cut a deck board to size. Screw into the front posts at either end with decking screws. Make sure the grooves are on the inside.
For the side fascias adjust the mitre saw to 15 degrees and cut two lengths of deck board to size. Screw the fascias onto the side of the roof frame with the grooves on the inside. The front edge should sit neatly with the front fascia.
To make the bottom fascias, reset the mitre saw to 90 degrees and cut three deck boards to length. Attach with decking screws.
Once It’s Built
Now the good part. After all your hard work building your garden bar, it’s now time to think of a theme and decorate it. You could consider a Hawaiian-look Tiki Bar and cover the roof in thatch.
Or, how about a 70s Mad Men theme with bar décor from the period? Get your friends and family to dress 70’s style too.
There are plenty of garden bar ideas out there to get you inspired.
Having electric lights and power in general in your outdoor bar, such as heating and an electric fan, can add much more atmosphere and comfort in your bar. To do this though, it obviously has to be done safely and that means with the assistance of a qualified electrician. There may also be Building Regulations to consider.
The best way to add electricity and power to an outside bar is to run the cable underground. That way it won’t prove a tripping hazard or be damaged by future maintenance to your outdoor space.
Exterior wood paint, varnish and other outdoor wood stain treatments can add pizzazz to your outdoor pub – and garden in general. Just wait until there have been several dry days before you start sanding the wood and then painting it.
A couple of dry days afterwards are needed too (so always check the weather forecast before applying any paint). Use primer and paint several layers to help combat the worst of the weather.
First up, you’ll need a name and sign for your garden bar. A large mirror on the back of the bar is one of the top garden bar ideas to consider, as this will give the impression of space.
If you have a vintage theme then you can buy aged signs to put up. Or, if it’s 70s style then how about some pop art? Big plants can be a fun addition to your bar (especially if you’re going for a Tiki bar look). Cushions and throws are great for adding comfort to hard bar stools and benches – your friends and family will definitely thank you for it.
The flooring you choose for your bar depends on where it’s located in your outdoor space. It may be you have your bar on a patio area, for instance, in which case you can add some fancy rubber or reed matting.
If it’s on grass then you could consider adding some decking or even just propping a large rug in front of the bar.
There’s a whole range of bar furniture out there to choose from. From high bar stools to wooden benches and low tables nearby, you can decorate your bar in any style you choose.
Running lights around the outside of the bar creates ambience. But, you can also go for a sophisticated touch with low-lying pendants across the bar area. You can also wrap tiny fairy lights around the legs of the bar stools. There are plenty of garden bar ideas when it comes to lighting.
You’ll need glasses of course (for which you can build a couple of shelves), as well as drinks, a cool bucket, a fridge, cocktail shakers and coasters. You’ll also need tubs to keep snacks and nuts in. Fruit garnishes can be kept in a small fridge or in a Tupperware box and laid in an ice bucket. Spirit measures are a necessity too.
Garden Bar Ideas
Invite guests round for special occasions, at which point you can put up bunting. Have different party themes such as a hula party in the summer and a Halloween get-together in October. Or, how about special movie nights, a karaoke occasion or a games night?
Good additions to your outdoor space include a lit pathway to the outdoor bar and even a firepit nearby to add a cosy atmosphere.
Hire Someone to Build Your Garden Bar with The Page
Why not save yourself time and effort by hiring a specialist tradesman, such as a joiner to build your garden bar for you? Simply send an enquiry to us here at The Page and we’ll send you a curated list of skilled and experienced tradesmen equipped to carry out the job.
All tradesmen who appear on our site are personally met, vetted, and their previous work is assessed on an ongoing basis.