When I set out to design and build this outdoor bar, I knew I wanted durable materials that would stand up to the outdoor elements. I combined concrete for the bar top with corrugated metal and cedar for the base. The end result is a great looking outdoor bar with lots of storage for drinks and food to keep your outdoor gatherings going! And to make it even faster for you, all of the materials and tools I used for the projects are linked below!
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- 3/4″ Melamine, 4’x8′
- 4″x4″ Cedar
- 2″x4″ Cedar
- 1″x4″ Cedar
- Corrugated roofing panel
- Toilet bowl cleaner
- Liquid cement color
- Quickrete 5000
- GE silicone caulk
- Behr low-lustre sealer
- Kreg blue kote screws
- Kreg HD screws
- Drywall screws
- 16 ga 1-1/4″ nails
- #8 x 2-1/2″ screws
- Gorilla Glue construction adhesive
- Mineral spirits
- Packing tape
- Nitrile gloves
- Work gloves
- 6″ foam roller
- 6″ roller tray
- Dust mask
- Table saw
- Miter saw
- Circular saw
- Metal cutting blade
- Kreg ACS (track saw)
- Kreg HD jig
- Shop Vac
- Carpenters square
- Freud table saw blade
- Ridgid cordless tool kit
- Caulk gun
- Tape measure
- London trowel
- Margin trowel
- Magnesium float
- Steel trowel
- Bessey trigger clamp
- Bessey Parallel clamp
- Empire level
- Saw horse
- 16 gauge nailer
- 5 in 1 tool
- Random orbit sander
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How to Build an Outdoor Bar
- Outdoor Bar Materials
- Make a Concrete Countertop Form
- Mixing Concrete
- Pouring a Concrete Countertop
- Wreck the Form
- Fill Voids in Concrete
- How to Seal Concrete
- Outdoor Bar Frame
- Adding the Bottom Shelf
- How to Patina Galvanized Metal
- Install Corrugated Metal on Bar
- Add a Shelf
- Install Corrugated Metal Part II
- Attach Concrete Top
- Get the Plans!
Outdoor Bar Materials
For this build, I went ahead and purchased all of my supplies on homedepot.com one evening and had everything ready to pick up the next morning. I headed to my local Home Depot bright and early for curbside pickup (curbside pickup is available at select stores until 6pm daily).
Once I arrived at the store, the process was easy. I opened the Home Depot mobile app and let the store know I had arrived and was ready to pick up my order.
It was great to have everything brought out to the truck ready to load so I could get back to the shop and start building quickly.
Make a Concrete Countertop Form
To make the form for the countertop, I used 3/4″ melamine.
I cut all of the pieces per my plans and first screwed together the two center pieces that formed the overhang. With these two pieces screwed together, I used clear packing tape to “seal” the exposed melamine edges. This prevents moisture from the concrete swelling the melamine (think IKEA furniture left in the rain) and in turn distorting the concrete.
With that step done, I screwed together the remaining pieces using standard drywall screws.
With the form together, I used 100% silicone caulk to seal all of the inside corners, which prevents concrete from leaking in between the pieces.
For this countertop, I used remesh to add some additional rigidity to the slab. I cut this 2″ less than the inside dimensions of the slab.
To make mixing and coloring the concrete countertop easier, I opted to use The Home Depot’s tool rental program and grabbed an electric concrete mixer for the day which made the project so much easier than using 5 gallon buckets and a hand held mixer. The Home Depot has rental centers at most of their stores across the country and the process is very streamlined to get you back to your project quickly. They also rent trucks, so if the materials or tool rentals you need for a project won’t fit in your vehicle, you can rent a truck and tackle your next project!
I ended up mixing the concrete for this in two batches. To mix the concrete, I first added water and pigment to the mixer and let that run until the pigment and water were fully mixed. Then I added one full 50lb bag of concrete and let that run until the mix was uniform. I then added the remaining two bags about 1/4 bag at a time. Each time I added additional concrete, I waited for the new concrete to mix in with what was already in the mixer. I added additional water as necessary to maintain a good consistency and was mindful to not exceed the maximum amount of water recommended on the concrete bags.
Pouring a Concrete Countertop
Once I poured the concrete into the mold, I used a margin trowel and my hands to work the concrete into the overhang area, making sure there wouldn’t be any huge voids. With the form halfway full, I pushed the remesh into the concrete just enough so that it would stay in place.
Next, I mixed the second batch of concrete and filled the form. I used a 2×4 to screed the top (make the concrete flat with the top of the form) by sliding the 2×4 along the top of the form in a sawing action until the form was uniformly full. At this point, I vibrated the form to remove air bubbles from the concrete. The tool I was using broke halfway through the process, so I grabbed a hammer and tapped along the side, which causes air bubbles to gurgle up between the form and the concrete. As we’ll see in a bit, this wasn’t 100% effective and what I should have done was grabbed my reciprocating saw (blade removed) and run that against the form to really vibrate all of the air out.
With the form vibrated, I then used a magnesium float to smooth out the surface. Once the concrete was firm enough (will not indent under finger pressure) I troweled the surface to further smooth out the top. It is worth noting that during the floating and troweling steps, I kept a damp sponge handy that I used to wipe the tools with after every pass.
Wreck the Form
I let the concrete sit for about 3 days and then as the name implies, it was time to pop out the countertop! Well “pop” may not be the most accurate word, more like pry the form away from the countertop. I started by unscrewing the sides and then used a pry bar, 5 in 1 tool, and hammer to systematically remove the countertop.
Fill Voids in Concrete
As you can see, there were a decent amount of air pockets in the concrete as evidenced by the small voids along the edge. I mixed up some patch compound with the colorant as closely as possible and proceeded to fill the holes. I used a margin trowel to work the compound into the holes, waited for it to be semi dry, and scraped off the excess at a shearing angle with a steel trowel. Once the patch had dried for 24 hours I sanded the entire countertop.
How to Seal Concrete
Per the instructions, I should have waited 30 days for the concrete to fully cure before applying the sealer. I only waited a few days though and so far things are still looking good. To apply, I used a foam roller and applied 2 thin coats as opposed to just one heavy application.
Outdoor Bar Frame
In between the waiting periods for the concrete countertop, I began working on the bar frame. The first thing to do was break down the dimensional lumber into rough lengths on the miter saw.
I then established two flat faces that are square to one another on the jointer.
Next in the milling process was to take the stock down to it’s final thickness and width. I used the planer to thickness the 4X4s in both dimensions. For the 2X4s though, I used the planer to thickness the stock and the tablesaw to cut the boards to their final width.
For this bar I used the HD Kreg pocket hole jig. With the heavy concrete top, I wanted to make sure the base was rock solid. These screws are also coated for exterior applications which made it the perfect choice for this project!
To easily create a consistent 1/2″ inset on the frame, I laid down 1/2″ MDF as a spacer for the horizontal rails during assembly. Also, just a side note, I’ve found that when assembling larger projects like this with pocket hole screws I typically don’t even need to clamp the pieces together.
After each frame is assembled. I check it for square by measuring across the corners. If the measurements are equal, then the frame is square and I’m ready to move on to the next step.
With the front and back frames assembled, I tied them together with the side rails per my plans.
Adding the Bottom Shelf
Now that the frame is built, I move on to adding the slats that will form the bottom shelf. The first thing I need are some ledges for the slats to rest on. I cut these per my plans from some leftover cedar 2X4s I purchased for the build. The ledges are attached to the frame with 2-1/2″ exterior grade screws. I then cut all of the slats to size and secured them to the ledges with four 18 gauge 1-1/4″ brads into each slat. 16 gauge brads would be just fine as well for this application. I space each slat about 1/8″ apart to leave room for seasonal wood movement.
How to Patina Galvanized Metal
With the frame built, I turned my attention to preparing the corrugated roofing pans. I wanted to give the new galvanized metal an aged look, so I went back to a technique I’ve used in the past to patina new galvanized steel. You can check out that process in the video below! (I even have the video set to start where I cover that step! You’re welcome 🙂 )
Install Corrugated Metal on Bar
With the metal aged, I move on to cutting it to size. There are several methods that can be used to cut the metal. I chose a circular saw with a Diablo steel demon blade. You could also use tin snips or an angle grinder if that’s what you have available. I cut the metal per my plans and used a level as a rip guide for the saw to run against.
To attach the corrugated metal, I used 1-1/4″ Kreg Blue-Kote screws. These are exterior grade pocket hole screws. I used these because of the washer head design that holds the metal in place better than a standard flat head style screw would. At this point, I only connect the galvanized steel to the upper horizontal stretchers.
Add a Shelf
I wanted a shelf on the left hand side for additional storage and I sized it with my particular cooler in mind. I wanted enough room on the right side to easily fit my cooler. Make sure to double check the dimensions of your cooler and adjust as necessary. (If you’re interested in buying the same cooler I used, it’s linked here.)
With all of the corrugated metal in place, I then installed additional boards to attach the shelf to. I secured two pieces at the front of the bar with exterior grade screws into the top stretcher and HD pocket hole screws into the bottom stretcher. The piece at the back of the bar is attached with HD pocket hole screws at the top and bottom. (All of these details are spelled out in the plans just in case this is a little hard to follow.)
With these parts installed, I notched 2 boards to fit between the vertical pieces I just installed and attached them with HD pocket hole screws.
Lastly, I cut all of the slats for the shelf and installed them with the same brad nails I previously used. I notched the last two slats on the left side of the shelf as necessary to fit around the bar’s framing.
Install Corrugated Metal Part II
The last detail is to place some furring strips at the bottom of the corrugated metal. These keep the metal from being pushed in from the outside. I cut them from scrap 1X4s which were used for the shelves. I attach them to the bar using 16 gauge 2″ nails and secured the corrugated metal to the strips with Gorilla Glue construction adhesive.
Attach Concrete Top
The final step in this build is to attach the concrete top. I would strongly suggest having at least 3 people to help put the top on the base. This will give you one on each end, and one in the middle. Even though the countertop is heavy, I still ran a heavy bead of construction adhesive along the top of the bar frame to secure the concrete countertop in place and prevent it from potentially sliding off.
Get the Plans!
I really love how this project turned out. It’s a great piece to have for outdoor entertaining and holds everything I need handy when serving food and drinks outdoors. Plus, it looks awesome and was a fun build to take on!
As always, if you have any questions or comments just let me know. And until next time, have fun making something!
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