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man showing father how to build an outdoor bar

When there’s the tiniest hint of sunshine and blue skies, you can trust us Brits to flock down to the pub. Yet, now and again, the journey feels like a bit of a hassle, or perhaps, you find yourself yearning for a corner you can call your own. Enter the perfect solution: the humble garden bar. An area that echoes your style, where you gather with loved ones, and the clink of glasses accompanies the gentle breeze. But how exactly do you build an outdoor bar?

Fortunately, the task is doable for any competent DIYer and there’s no lack of inspiration out there. In our guide, we share with you how to build a classic timber garden bar from scratch and how to create a shed pub. This includes all of the crucial prep involved and advice on how to choose an outdoor bar design.

These projects use grooved deck boards and framing timber, along with the necessary screws and fittings. It’ll also require moderate skill and up to 8 hours of your time. Let’s get into it.

Getting started: Drafting up your outdoor retreat

First things first, it’s time to unleash the potential of your garden space. And to do that you need to find the perfect spot for your new social hub.

Picking a location

It’s crucial to pick out a suitable site for the bar’s foundations – this means an area with decent ground conditions, where the earth isn’t knotted with tree roots or so steep that you can’t build the structure to be level. You might want to build on concrete, a patio, decking, or a wooden or plastic shed base.

Whichever you choose, ensure that the ground is level. If not, you may have to do a bit of landscaping to create the ideal conditions to get started.

But that’s not it. There’s also the direction you prefer the bar to face and its surroundings. Do you want to place the bar in a spot where you can enjoy the stunning sunset view? Or would you rather position it under the shade of a tree?

It’s important to think deeply about these factors to ensure that your garden bar setting is perfect for your needs.

Picking your garden bar design

Decked area, pub shed, or a combination? Let’s find your perfect match.

family enjoying a decked area for garden bar

Decked area

This is perhaps the simplest option: an open bar on your garden decking. For those who relish the open air, a decking bar provides the ideal solution. This design seamlessly blends the indoors with the outdoors, creating a cosy corner for intimate gatherings or larger social affairs.

All you have to do is place a moveable bar atop the decked surface along with your seating and you’re good to go. Check out our full guide to laying decking to get started.

Classic timber bars

With a classic wooden tiki bar, the timelessness of its wood exterior meets practicality. Durable and charming, it complements various outdoor settings, and you can personalise it with finishes that match your style, whether that’s letting the natural beauty of the timber shine or painting it a cheery colour that matches the rest of the décor. Skip to the full method below.

Pub sheds

Transforming a shed into your private pub creates a whimsical and quirky escape. Alternatively, buy a pub shed ready-to-go! Ideal for those seeking a retreat-like atmosphere without leaving home, a pub shed allows you to incorporate bar essentials and decor, turning it into an authentic pub ambience where you can unwind and entertain. Skip to the building instructions below.

A combination!

If you fancy a pub shed or island bar, who’s stopping you from combining it with a surround or base of tasteful yet durable garden decking? This is a particularly swish idea for a narrow garden as you can make use of cramped spaces and make it feel lived in, all whilst zoning each area.

Measuring up your plot

Now you’ve selected your garden bar design, you can accommodate for its size. We suggest leaving a minimum of 2ft of clearance space on each side so you can let your timber breathe. There’ll also be enough room for guests to pass by comfortably and access for any future repairs if required.

Selecting a toast-worthy material

You don’t need to go for high-end materials, but if you opt for quality, durable timber you will get a quality, durable garden bar.

We stock all sorts of wood from shed building materials to general construction timber, all tanalised for increased life expectancy and resistance to insects, mould and other types of wear and tear.

You might also want to opt for boards that are slightly longer than your bar’s chosen dimensions, or your specific dimensions might not be available. If this is the case, no worries, you can cut them to size during the process.

Collecting your tools and materials

For this project, you will need the following bits and pieces.

Tools required

Materials needed

How to build a classic garden bar in 12 easy steps

Step 1: Set up your working space

Once you’ve gathered all of your equipment, bring it into the garden next to the spot you intend to place your bar. Stack up your timber neatly, separating the two piles to make life easier for yourself, and set up your workbench for cutting the lumber.

Step 2: Measure your lumber

Decide on the dimensions of your bar according to your preferences for its size. Whether you opt for a compact stand for basic drink storage or a grand centrepiece, you have the flexibility to tailor your outdoor bar to suit your specific vision.

A good size for a medium, roofed garden bar is 1.8m wide and 1.2m deep, reaching a height of 2.4m at the tallest point.

Rest assured, the overall process remains the same, irrespective of the size you intend for your bar. It’s the ratios that matter.

Step 3: Cut the timber to size

Begin the construction process by meticulously cutting the necessary framing timbers for each section of the bar frame. Ensure that each timber is cut to its specified length with its size marked in pencil, and as you proceed, stack them systematically.

Applying a coat of wood preserver to the cut ends helps protect the lumber from the elements, so it’s a good idea to treat them as you go. Organise the cut lengths for each frame into separate piles, maintaining an orderly workspace for the following steps.

Step 4: Assemble the frames

Grab your treated timber and get ready to assemble them into a frame. Before you even pick up your drill, it can be helpful to dry lay your pieces on the ground to get a good idea of the placement.

To mitigate the risk of timber splitting, drill pilot holes 22mm from each length’s end, allowing for an exit hole as well. Focusing on one frame at a time, place the cut lengths flat on your workbench, ensuring corners meet snugly, and secure them together using 80mm wood screws. Ensure the joints are flush, and the screw heads are countersunk into the timber. Then repeat this process for all frames.

Step 5: Install cross braces to the assembled frames

For the cross brace installation, identify the centre point of opposing outer lengths, drill a pilot hole, and partially attach with a screw fixed halfway into the wood. Lay the frame flat on the workbench, align the cross brace correctly and finish driving in the screws.

For larger frames, consider standing them on the ground and drilling down into the lengths for ease. Confirm the frame’s squareness and 90-degree corner joints by measuring diagonally from corner to corner – equal measurements indicate a square frame.

Apply this method to construct the front, roof, and larger side frames, noting that the smallest side frame doesn’t need a cross brace.

A close-up on gloved hands holding a circular saw as a DIYer cuts timber for a garden bar

Step 6: Saw the posts, feathered edge and boards to size for cladding

With the framing carefully assembled, the next step involves preparing the posts and boards for the cladding.

Decking boards

Cut all the deck boards to their required lengths in a single session to ensure uniformity and efficiency. As you proceed, stack the boards systematically, and apply a coat of wood preserver to the cut ends to protect them from environmental factors.

Feathered edge

Following this, move on to cutting the feathered edge boards to their designated lengths – these will make up the roof. Treat the cut ends of the feather edge boards with wood preserver as well, adding an extra layer of protection to these integral components of your garden bar.

Posts

Moving on to the next material, you will now work on creating a sloping edge for the roof. Begin by selecting four of the timber fence posts. Consult your measurements and carefully mark a 15-degree cutting angle at the appropriate lengths on these posts. This angled cut is essential for establishing the proper slope for the roof to rest on.

To execute this task, set up your mitre saw and adjustable bevel to a 15-degree angle, and then proceed to cut the four posts to their designated lengths. Following the cuts, be sure to treat the exposed ends with wood preserver, safeguarding the timber from potential environmental wear.

If your mitre saw is too small to complete the cut entirely through the timber, you can finalize the process using a universal saw. However, it’s crucial to maintain the precision of the 15-degree angle.

As for the fifth post attached to the bar entrance, there’s no need for an angled cut. Measure, mark, and cut this post to the specified length, treating the cut end with wood preserver.

Step 7: Add your decking boards to the frame

Lay a frame flat on your workbench in preparation for the installation process. Beginning at one end, position the initial deck board onto the frame, ensuring that the corner of the deck board aligns seamlessly with the corner of the frame.

With the deck board securely in place, drill two pilot holes at each end of the board and one in the centre cross brace. Following this, secure the board to the frame using your deck screws. Continue this cladding process, gradually adding the cut deck boards to the frame until the entire structure is covered. Be diligent in maintaining alignment and ensuring a flush fit at each step.

Step 8: Prepping your frames for construction

As we move forward to the next phase, your main focus should be on preparing the cladded frames to be attached to the posts.

To start with, you need to drill pilot holes and partially insert the 80mm wood screws at the inside corner of each frame. These screws will be strategically placed and play a crucial role later on when securing the posts to the frames. You need also need to attach the smallest length of the 75 x 75mm post to the entrance panel.

Step 9: Attaching your feathered edge roof cladding

It’s time to fix the roofing in place. Start at one end by laying the initial feather edge fence board with a deliberate 20mm overhang. Secure the board firmly by driving in 40mm wood screws through the thickest part of the board, ensuring it is anchored securely to the frame.

The subsequent feather board should be positioned to have its thickest edge overlapping the first board. To achieve precise alignment and overlap use a 100mm long spacer. Proceed with securing each end and the centre cross brace of the board with 40mm wood screws, ensuring a thorough connection through both boards into the frame. Repeat this meticulous process until the entire frame is completely covered.

Step 10: Assemble your garden bar’s main structure

Move the back panel and posts into place. To safely lift and position the cladded panels, we recommend having a partner to assist you. Use the 80mm wood screws that were partially inserted earlier to fix the first medium-length post onto the back panel. After that, attach the longer side panel to the back panel post, making sure that the cut angle on the post is sloping in the right direction, towards the rear.

Now that the frame is temporarily secure, attach the second medium-length post to the opposite side of the back panel. Make sure the cut angle aligns with the rear slope. Then, secure the first longer post to the front of the side panel. Move the front panel into place and use the 80mm wood screws to fasten it to the longer front post. Attach the other longer front post to the front panel. Finally, fasten the right-hand entrance panel to the longer front post.

With assistance, carefully lift the completed roof panel onto the bar, ensuring it rests snugly on the posts and slopes towards the rear. Secure the roof to each post using 80mm wood screws. At this point, the outer framework of your bar is fully assembled, providing a sturdy foundation for the next steps of interior additions and fascia installation.

Step 11: Prepare your wooden brackets and worktop

To begin making the brackets, you’ll need to adjust your mitre saw to a 45-degree angle. Then, take the length of the 45 x 95mm timber and measure across its width. Make a mark 20mm in from the edge and cut the corner off at a 45-degree angle, exactly between your mark and the opposite edge.

Next, reset the mitre saw to 90 degrees and measure 125mm from the top of the longest side of the length. Cut across the full width of the timber to create a bracket. Repeat this process to make a total of ten brackets.

Once you’ve finished cutting, drill a pilot hole into the 45-degree face of each bracket and apply wood preservative to the cut ends. Now, take six brackets and attach each one to the outside edge of every post using 80mm wood screws. Then, attach a seventh bracket at the centre of the front panel, making sure that these brackets align perfectly with the top of the panels.

To create the bar’s worktops, you’ll need to attach your deck boards to the sides and front with precision measurements.

  • Front worktop: measure the bar width from the outside edge of one external post to the opposite external post.
  • Side worktops: measure from the back edge of the back posts to the front edge of the front posts. Include the width of the front worktop in this measurement.
  • Internal worktops: measure the distance between inner posts on both the front and sides of the bar.

Step 12: Add your worktops, shelves and decorate

Screw your cut lengths of decking groove-side-down into the positions just mentioned and with the same method add a shelf onto the back wall. Once fit in snugly, you can go about decorating your completed garden bar with a lick of paint, roof facias and fairy lights if you so desire.

Bonus tips: How do you build a shed bar / pub shed?

If you already own a garden shed and it’s in good condition, you’re in luck! It’s fairly easy to transform a bog-standard shed into a stylish bar with a serving hatch.

The process involves sawing a large, rectangular opening into the side of your shed and then using the piece you cut out as the serving hatch.

After you’ve reinforced the wall on the inside with plywood and have attached the correct hinges and shackles to the sawn piece, you can connect the hatch using a couple of chains. Now you have a window you can open and close. Add shelving to the inside of the shed for drinks and brewing equipment, spruce up the exterior with a lick of paint and it’ll look brand new!

cheers at a garden bar

Raise a glass: Your new outdoor bar awaits!

How do you build an outdoor bar? With a ton of prep and a good dose of hard work! We hope this straightforward tutorial has helped you create the outdoor retreat you were dreaming of. All that’s left now is to christen the new space with your drink of choice. Cheers!

If you have any further questions on the subject of building an outdoor bar, whether that’s a traditional timber bar or a converted shed, we’ve got you covered. Just give us a message and we’ll sort you out.

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