How to Build a Cheap Outdoor Bar

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Complementing the outdoor grilling area, a patio bar provides a place to sit with friends and family to enjoy food, drinks and the outdoors. Build an attractive yet economical bar with a pedestal of lock-together retaining wall blocks. Retaining wall blocks come in a variety of decorative styles, allowing you to customize a look to fit your backyard landscape. Build the bar's top with a piece of polyurethane-coated hardwood plywood, for a rich, glossy, stain and water-resistant surface.

Things You'll Need

  • Hardwood plywood
  • Saw
  • Retaining wall blocks
  • Drill
  • Concrete drill bit
  • Concrete screws
  • Wood filler
  • Putty knife
  • 220-grit sandpaper
  • Exterior polyurethane
  • Paintbrush

Cut a piece of hardwood plywood to the desired bar top dimensions.

Lay out the first rectangular course of blocks for the bar pedestal on a firm, flat surface such as a concrete or wooden patio. Create pedestal dimensions with a 24-inch smaller length and a 24-inch smaller width than the bar. Situate the decorative sides of the blocks outward.

Lay the second course on top of the first, staggering the block joints. Insert the block lock pins through the insertion points on the top blocks and into the corresponding insertion points on the lower blocks.

Continue building up the wall in the same manner to the desired bar height. The typical height of a bar is between 40 and 42 inches.

Affix the piece of wood to the top of the pedestal, centering it so the overhang is 12 inches on all sides. Drill evenly-spaced pilot holes, 12 to 16 inches apart, through the wood and into the concrete, using a drill with a masonry drill bit. Screw the wood to the concrete with concrete screws. Sink the screw heads slightly and cover them with colored, matching wood filler using a putty knife. Allow the filler to dry.

Sand the wood with 220-grit sandpaper and wipe away all sanding dust with a tack cloth.

Apply an initial coat of one-part polyurethane diluted with two-parts mineral spirits on the wood. Allow the coat to dry then sand it again lightly with 220-grit sandpaper. Wipe away the sanding dust and apply a second, straight coat of polyurethane. Build up one to two more straight coats, sanding in between.

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