A trip to the Polynesian islands sounds fantastic, but you don’t have to travel all that way to have a genuine Tiki bar experience. If you have some room in your backyard and know your way around power tools, you can build it yourself.
Constructing a Tiki bar might seem like an overwhelming task, but, in essence, it’s a square deck and some walls. And it’s something you can finish over a weekend. The true task is capturing the right spirit of your DIY Tiki Bar Plan.
Tools and Material
Before diving into this fun project, let’s go over all the things you’re going to need. While no DIY Tiki Bar Plan is going to be exactly the same, most will require the following tools:
- A drill
- Staple gun
- Measuring tape
- Utility knife
- Circular saw
This list will pretty much cover everything you’ll need while working on your project. As far as materials go, the decision ultimately will be yours.
However, going with cedar wood is probably one of the best options. It’s a relatively inexpensive wood for building, but it’s also naturally resistant to rot, decay, and even insect invasions.
A Tiki bar made from cedar will look beautiful and will last a long time. But you could also go the all-bamboo route as well and use only the bamboo tree for the construction.
You’ll need a lot of screws too, starting from ½” to 2 ½” long, as well as several brackets, and straps for support.
Pro tip: While you can buy most of the material in places like Home Depot, you can look for offcuts from a wood retailer. That could save you money, time, and it’s more environmentally sustainable.
Building a Deck
The first real step to building your own Tiki bar is to get the floor system going. The most important thing is to figure out how big you want your bar to be.
And even though you don’t need to have a floor, for more durability, it’s advisable that you do. You’ll need a rectangular or square base. The level will help you make sure that it’s properly on the ground.
When you have your frame, that’s when you lay the pressure-treated boards on the floor. There should be some room between the boards for drainage because the wood will expand.
Adding the Walls
Once you’re finished with your deck, the next step is to put up the back wall. That’s where the shelving usually goes, and the shelves needn’t be complicated at all.
You can randomly fit them by merely adding a single board. The side walls are optional, but if you want your Tiki bar to look more professional, they’re a nice addition.
You can use two planks to construct the back wall. Just make sure you have L-brackets on hand to be able to attach them firmly. When you’re building the side walls, you can leave room for the door on one side.
Finally, the front wall will be shorter because that’s how you get the slanted roof, and also where the countertop will go. Remember, you’ll need brackets for this part too.
A DIY Tiki bar plan always involves a roof. You’ll need four boards that will run vertically up the side of the bar. Make sure that everything is secured with screws.
On the top, you’ll also need more boards to create a kind of a supporting frame that will keep things together. Use the screws to attach everything properly.
As for the layering on the roof, you have several options, but before you do anything else, it’s important to place a layer of plastic tarp for more protection.
The last thing you want is for your bar to get soaked when it’s raining. After that, you can fit the Caribbean or Mexican palm thatch, stapling it firmly, so it doesn’t fall off.
The counter is the final addition to the construction of the Tiki bar. You can use plywood that has a glossy finish on the surface. It should hang approximately 8” from the edge of the bar.
You’ll need to screw it firmly into place and possibly sand and wipe it. And since that’s where all the drinks will be served, it’s a good idea to add another layer of protective coating.
But what about the inner counter? Whoever the bartender is going to be needs to put all of their supplies somewhere. You can create a frame first that will support the counter.
Then you need another piece of plywood to screw on the top of the frame. Make sure you sand it a little bit and add waterproof protection on top, otherwise the liquid will quickly damage it.
A proper Tiki bar, even in your backyard, should have some bamboo stalks. As a finishing touch, construction-wise, you can add a row of bamboo stalks underneath the counter.
You can split the stalks in order to cover untidy corners and edges. This is where you can get as creative as you want. You can use woven matting or other materials to get the effect you’re looking for.
If you’re building something specific like a Tiki bar, you’re probably located in an area where the weather is warm throughout the year, or you’re planning on using it during the summertime. If you want to protect your bar during the colder period, you can install shutters at the front.
The shutters are a nice touch and allow you to physically close the bar after you’re done serving drinks. But shutters can also turn the Tiki Bar into a shed where you can keep store things during the winter months.
Choosing the Bar Stools
Stools are another optional addition to your DIY Tiki bar plan, that’s for sure. If you’re on a tight budget, the stools you have at home will do just fine.
But if you want to bring the taste and feel of Polynesia to your backyard, bamboo bar stools are a great and natural choice. You can even build basic bar stools from scratch and then just paint and decorate them.
If you’re crafty, following a DIY Tiki bar plan will have you standing and admiring your work in a day or two. When it’s done, it’s like an empty canvas that you get to customize.
You can add hanging lamps, lanterns, and of course, Tiki torches are the real deal. However, you should always be careful when flames are involved, especially given the materials used on the roof.
In case you don’t have any special lighting on hand, you can even install some Christmas lights. If you want, you can find Polynesian masks, sculptures, or even art made of bamboo.
And since the beach is where you usually find a Tiki bar, you can add things like fishing net, shells, or any other type of beach-like decoration. If you have an old piece of woven rope, you can use it as detail on your Tiki bar.
Use Your Imagination But Stay Safe
A DIY Tiki bar can be what you want it to be. You can have an open hexagon design, or “L” shaped bar. And you can make it really compact by installing it in the corner of your small backyard.
Or you can cover the entire space and make it a Tiki bar theme party. You can use granite for the countertop or kitchen chairs if you don’t want to deal with bar stools.
But whatever you do, it’s important to stay safe while installing it. Remember to wear protective gear and handle all the tools carefully.
Bonus: How to Make the Perfect Mai Tai
If you’re a genuine fan of Tiki bars, you’ll probably have it packed with different brands of delicious rum. But no Tiki bar is complete without serving a proper Mai Tai cocktail.
It has a long and somewhat controversial history, and the original recipe is probably quite different from what’s served in bars nowadays. You can create any kind of cocktail in your Tiki bar, but here’s what you’ll need for a fantastic Mai Tai:
- 11 oz. of white rum
- 1 oz. of orange curacao
- 1 oz. fresh lime juice
- ½ oz orgeat
- ½ oz. dark rum
Put everything except the dark rum in a shaker and give it a light 5-second shake. Then you should tip it in a glass and then pour the dark rum on top. The usual garnish is some mint and a lime wheel.
A DIY Tiki bar plan is a passion project in the true sense. If you’d love to have one at home, but don’t know where to start, hiring a contractor is an idea that’s always on the table.
But you’ll be able to control the expenses better if you do it yourself. Many DIY stores have prepared Tiki bar sets and will give you some instructions on how to assemble them. But the project is exciting and simple enough that you can improvise as much as you want.
Well, almost as much, because some basics need to be followed. When the bar is complete, all that’s left to do is practice making delicious cocktails and having a good time.