Being a tiki bar owner now for over 5 years I have learned things that I wish would have done and things that I would never do again. I would like to share with you my mistakes and improvements to my tiki bar.
First I would like to discuss a few things that I learned building my own outside bar. Outside, need I say more! The weather conditions in your area will determine how you build your bar. Here are ideas you need to pay attention to if you are building an outside tiki bar.
- Your Climate– If you live in an area that has warm summers and cold winters, then you will encounter the same obstacles that I came against. Make sure you use treated wood for any surface that comes in contact with the ground. If you don’t follow this rule then your tiki bar will soon shrink and crack. That is why you must use treated lumber; it shrinks less and will last much longer. Anytime you have wood that is exposed to the weather you need to pay close attention to the type of wood you use and proper treating of the wood after it is installed.
- Insects– I used white cedar logs for the construction of my roof structure because cedar is supposed to be less susceptible to insect damage. Okay, throw that out the window, I went along for three years without any insect problems until last year. I noticed wood dust and small chips lying on my bar top. I thought it was coming from thatch falling or breaking apart but to my surprise I had carpenter bees! After inspecting my white cedar logs I discovered holes about 3/8 inch bored in some of my logs. I knew I had to address this situation immediately and after doing some research I called an exterminator. A carpenter bee looks almost identical to a common bumble bee except no hair on abdomen and the males are unable to sting. They love natural cedar! May sure you apply either wood preservative or a good Valspar varnish to your logs.
- Bar Top– There are many different opinions about what to use for your bar top. I did skimp here and sorry I did! It is suggested that you use marine plywood for the bar top, and for good reason. I used the next best thing I thought, oak plywood. The oak plywood was fine for the first couple of years, applying about ten coats of marine varnish. This would be fine except the edges of the plywood are very difficult to seal. Once water started getting into wood I had nothing but problems! To solve my problem I applied glass tile to my tiki bar top using waterproof glue and grout. The marine plywood is very expensive but well worth the money.
- Palm Thatch– The life of your roof on the tiki bar will definitely be determined by your weather. You can figure on replacing your thatch palms at least every two years. The only way that you can eliminate this problem is to buy high quality commercial synthetic thatch. The popularity of outdoor restaurants with tiki thatch roofs has developed a need for this synthetic thatch. I just re-thatched my bar with sealed thatch that will give you an extra 2 years of additional life.
- Securing Your Bar– One thing I would like to mention here, is anchoring your bar down is a must item. I am fortunate enough that my bar is sitting on a concrete apron around my pool area. I used drop in concrete anchors to prevent my bar from blowing over in high winds.
I cannot over emphasis the importance of a good set of plans before you start building your tiki bar. This will save you time and money along with advice from an expert builder who builds outdoor paradises for a living. Visit Build Tiki Bar so you can see testimonials from people who have built their own bar.