How to Build a Home Bar – DIY Step by Step Guide

I certainly couldn’t afford to have someone build a home bar for me, so I decided to come up with my own basement bar design, DIY bar plans, and bar cut list.

When I moved into my first home I knew that I wanted a home bar in the basement as an additional hangout space for friends and family.

I had ZERO woodworking experience at the time, but I decided to take this on myself.

If you don’t have much woodworking or tool experience, a good place to start is here.

I had basic knowledge and skills with tools but certainly nothing skilled.

I’m telling you that you too can build a basement bar to the exact specs and size that you want.

It’s really not that hard. As always, when in doubt, consult a professional.

By the way, if you want complete blueprints for this EXACT bar with measurements, bar cut list, and shopping list, you find our DIY Bar Plan here!

Check out the video below for an overview of our complete DIY bar plan.

The complete guide for this exact bar can be found here! It also includes all measurements, bar cut list, and shopping list!

Things you Should Read To Make a Basement Bar

Note: I didn’t follow these specs exactly but they’re good guidelines.

A. Standard bar height is 42 in. This should apply to a home bar as well.
B. The overhang should be at least 8 in
C. Most bar stools are 30 in tall but make sure it wills suit your before purchasing
D. The normal bar top is 16 to 20 in. wide, including the molding, but if there’s one regret I have, is not making it wider.
E. Chicago bar rail for resting your arms.
F. The drink rail is nice but I didn’t include this in my bar
G. A drip lip keeps spills contained to the bar top.
H. A lower counter is not necessary for a home bar and adds complexity, but you’re welcome to try
J. 2 feet per bar stool is the standard but the more the better.
K. The foot rail should be 7 to 9 in. off the floor

You can make your diy bar to whatever size you want, as most people will make one to fit their specifications.

My home bar about 8 feet long on the long (front facing) side, 5 feet on the on the medium sized wall (wall on the left in the picture), and 3 feet on the small side (right side of picture).

Keep in mind the bar top will overlap on both sides of the bar and be much wider than this.

Rock Solid Rustic DIY Bar Plan – Bar Blueprints!

Rock Solid Rustic DIY Bar Plans include 3D models to build your home bar from the frame to finish.

The detailed instructions are 30 pages in length including the bar cut list. DIY Bar Plans also help simpligy how to add shelving, decorative accents, bar rail, and more.

If you have any other questions while building your bar, you have us!

We typically respond with in 24 hours after receiving your comment on this bar post.

Tools Required to Build a Bar:

Step 1 – How to Build a Bar Frame

For the frame, I used 2×6’s and basic wood screws.

It’s easier if you lay it on the ground and construct it in 3 pieces (walls if you will), then put it together.

There are two 2×6’s on each end of the large wall just wide enough so that the other smaller wall 2×6’s attach to it and provide additional support.

I think the height is 40ish inches. Standard bar height is 42, but the bar top will add a few inches.

basement bar and bar cut list frame
Basement Bar Frame
bar frame and bar cut list
Here is another shot of the Bar Frame

It’s important that the tops of all sides are level at this point or it can cause problems down the road, like an unlevel bar top.

I made the mistake of not checking this, and my bar top is not level on the one side. But it still looks and works fine.

Don’t mind the beer cans in the picture. Beer isn’t required, but it is recommended.

There is nothing attaching the basement bar to the wall at this point, or ever, as the weight of the bar is heavy enough to keep it in place, trust me.

You can attach it if you want, but you definitely won’t want to at this point as adjustments may need to be made.

DIY Bar How to make a bar
Bar Frame with plywood attached
how to make a basement bar
Another image of the bar frame with plywood attached

STEP 2 – How to Build a Bar Frame

I added the plywood to all exterior sides. I used 3/4 inch PINE plywood.

Pine is softer wood but it keeps costs lower and looks nice and grainy.

Plus, I haven’t had any problems with it. There a few things to remember though…

When screwing it into the frame, I pre-drilled my holes.

It made life much easier and avoided any cracking.

At this point I didn’t use wood glue to attach to the frame but you can if you want.

I did make the mistake of not putting shims on the bottom of the plywood where it meets the floor, so it kind of just rested on the ground when I screwed it in.

Ideally, you probably don’t want it touching the ground.

Elevating slightly will protect your bar in case of a basement leak or you move the bar to an uneven area.

It’s okay if there’s gaps on the corners, as these will be covered later by trim pieces.

I just randomly placed screws on the perimeter of the frame, where I knew it would be covered by trim.

It’s important not to put it in the center of the frame where it will be seen later.

basement bar
Adding the trim to the basement bar
basement bar ideas
Another image of the trim on the basement bar. Wait until you see the transformation to this space! Scroll down for the after!

Rock Solid Rustic DIY Bar Plans are now apart of the Spruc’d Market! The Spruc’d Market was started by the best DIY Woodworkers – Ana White and Jen Woodhouse.

STEP 3 – How to Add Trim to a Bar

I added the bottom trim pieces my basement bar. The bottom pieces are 1×8’s (I think pine again, but they can be whatever).

I did use wood glue and finish nails this time.

Finish nails look cleaner and are easier to corneal.

You probably should pre-drill your holes as I did, to prevent the wood from cracking.

Again, I made the mistake of not using shims to have it slightly elevated off of the ground.

If you do this, make sure it’s level as well.

The side and top trim pieces are 1×4’s of pine.

I used wood glue (or liquid nails or whatever adhesive works) and finish nails again to attach (pre-drilling holes again).

You can use 1×6’s or any other size if you’d like.

Basement Bar ideas
Adding the trim to the basement bar
Custom Home Bar
DIY Bar plan
Behind the bar

Adding Trim Continued

Now that the trim pieces have been put on it is starting to come together.

You can also, see that I haven’t even touched the inside of it yet.

By the way, if you want complete blueprints for this EXACT bar with measurements, bar cut list, and shopping list, you can find our DIY Bar Plan here!

DIY Bar
Build Your Own Bar

I added a basic pattern to the front of it, figuring 4 bar stools will fit, I made a spot for each and spaced it out evenly. 1×6’s, wood glue, and finish nails again.

I did the same for the sides, but you can skip this or change it however you feel fit.

I adhered the trim pieces with wood glue then pre-drilled for the finish nails.

Pre-drilling allowed the finish nails to attach to the studs (frame) behind it, but an extra nail or two wouldn’t hurt.

how to build a bar

STEP 4: FIRST BAR TOP

For your DIY home bar you will have two “layers”.

The first layer, or sub bar top, I needed two pieces to span the bar.

I needed two pieces because one couldn’t fit the length.

These pieces can just be any standard 3/4 inch plywood because another plywood piece (pine or wood of your choosing) will go on top of this for added stability.

It’s also needed for the Chicago bar rail along the edges, if that’s what you choose.

Again, this piece is NOT the top of your bar yet and will not be seen.

Refer to the layout at the top of the page for measurements accounting for how much should overhang.

The top is attached using wood glue and screws into the top of the frame with pre-drilled holes again.

I did not do a drink rail in the back but you’re welcome to give it a shot.

I measured this about 16 times before cutting because you can see each piece is “L” shaped.

They needed to align seamlessly (in reality they don’t because another piece will cover it).

This piece hangs over 8 inches in the front and roughly 4 inches in the back.

One regret I have was not making the bar top bigger actually.

Even though it’s plenty big, it’s just personal preference.

diy bar plan and bar cut list

Rock Solid Rustic DIY Bar Plans

Rock Solid Rustic DIY Bar Plans include 3D models to build your home bar from the frame to finish.

The detailed instructions are 30 pages in length explaining how to add shelving, decorative accents, bar rail, and more.

Bar cut lists and shopping lists are also included to simplifying your project.

Buy Rock Solid Rustic Bar Plans Here!

how to attach chicago Bar Rail
Adding Chicago Bar Rail

STEP 5: SECOND BAR TOP

Before measuring and cutting the top later, make sure you look up directions on the bar rail that you’re getting!

The bar rail that I used was from Home Depot. It is a 1-1/8 in. x 4-1/2 in. Oak Chicago Bar Rail Molding.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a picture after stacking the second layer of the top, but for me it was about 1 1/2 inches shorter in the front (any place the bar rail will touch) than the bottom piece.

Again, make sure you look up directions on the bar rail you’re getting before measuring/cutting the second top piece.

The reason for this is because that’s how the bar rail goes on (see above).

The top piece was pine plywood and adhered with wood glue and wood screws.

I drilled the wood screws in from the BOTTOM, so that the screw heads weren’t visible. Just be sure that the screws won’t penetrate the top when screwed in.

When in doubt, hold a screw up to it to see how far it’ll go into the next piece.

How to Pour Epoxy on Bar Top

After building this bar, I poured epoxy on the top to add shine and protect the top.

This was my first time pouring epoxy, so I didn’t realize how tedious it can be.

I have since built another bar, and poured epoxy perfectly without bubbles forming!

Learn how to prevent bubbles in your epoxy with our tips and tricks.

STEP 6: How to Build Bar Shelves

Building the shelves for your home bar first involved creating a frame on the bottom, which was basic 2×4’s and attaching to the frame of the bar.

how to build bar shelves
How to Build Bar Shelves

Then I cut a shelf to fit the frame size, with leftover pieces from the bar (Pine).

I attached it with finish nails. You kind of have to build the shelves as you go, building it up, meaning don’t just put on the back wall, it has to be stacked as you go.

You’ll see what I mean as you read on, but if you want to do this another way, have at it because I probably made this more complex than it needed to be.

basement bar shelving
Adding the shelves to the bar

By the way, if you want complete blueprints for this EXACT bar with measurements, bar cut list, and shopping list, you find our DIY Bar Plan here!

Build Your Own Bar shelves
Building the Bar Shelves

How to Build Bar Shelves

For support of the shelf on top of that one, I used 1×4’s as the front support and the back wall as the back support.

To get the 1×4’s in the front to actually support the shelf, but still look clean in the front.

I attached another cut 1×4 piece to the back of the front 1×4’s (basically attaching two 1×4’s to each other) with wood glue and finish nails.

The shelf could then rest on those (back) 1×4’s while still having the front 1×4 untouched.

For support of the back of the shelf, I cut one of the 3/4 plywood pieces that will go against the back, and the shelf rests on that.

I put trim on the bottom of the shelf to hide the frame, with 1x4s again.

Make sure the shelf is level in all directions before permanently attaching them. Aka, drop a pencil on it and see if it rolls.

DIY Bar shelves
DIY Bar
I actually used shims under the frame of the shelving this time since there’s nothing really supporting the front

Again, I did a sandwich type technique to cut another piece of the back of the bar and rest a shelf on top of that, while sandwiching 1×4’s together again for front support.

Wood glue and finish nails were used when attaching all pieces involving the shelving, since they hide better than screws.

This is the semi-finished product. You can still see gaps in the corner, which were later covered with quarter round.

I used 1/2 inch Birch for the very top shelf, only because I had it left over from another project, but the other shelves were again, 3/4 inch pine plywood.

I covered the front edge of the plywood with basic 3/4 inch wide trim pieces.

basement bar ideas
bar cut list
This Basement Bar is finally coming together!

STEP 7 – Adding Chicago Bar Rail to Your Home bar

The bar rail is a separate process in itself because when you cut the top of the bar (remember there’s two pieces of plywood stacked on top of each other).

The very top piece should be cut slightly shorter than the bottom piece because the bar rail is notched so that it kind of steps up to the next piece.

DIY Bar

When cutting the bar rail, you have to build a jig so that it gets cut exactly like it sits on the bar.

Constructing the jig is basically putting two pieces of wood together, with the same 1 ½ inch gap just like the top of the bar.

This should be explained further in the instructions of the bar rail if needed, which is probably easier than I can explain it here.

Even with the jig, it was virtually impossible get the corners to line up perfectly.

I cut the wood multiple times and adjusted the angle, but I couldn’t get it to fit just right.

I needed wood putty to fill the gaps and sanded it like crazy to get the bar rail smooth where other pieces joined together.

The wood out and sanding really helped to join the pieces together, for a smooth finish.

chicago bar rail
The corners of the Chicahttps://amzn.to/3e4sCnjgo Bar Rail came together really nice

By the way, if you want complete blueprints for this EXACT basement bar with measurements, bar cut list, and shopping list, you find our DIY Bar Plan here!

Custom Home Bar and bar cut list
Basement bar shelves

STEP 8 – FINISHING TOUCHES

This is the finished back of the bar, as I added one more trim piece, and then lined the back of the bar top with a couple pieces of 3/4 inch trim to hide the edge of the plywood.

The top of the smaller trim pieces lining the top of the bar, as you can see, actually is “L” shaped that it covers the bar top and back.

You can find all of these pieces at Home Depot.

diy bar plan and bar cut list

Rock Solid Rustic DIY Bar Plans

Rock Solid Rustic DIY Bar Plans include 3D models to build your home bar from the frame to finish.

The detailed instructions are 30 pages in length explaining how to add shelving, decorative accents, bar rail, and more.

Bar cut lists and shopping lists are also included to simplifying your project.

Buy Rock Solid Rustic Bar Plans Here!

Custom Home Bar with cut list
As you can see this space came a long way!
Custom Home Bar
We painted the walls Cavern Clay by Sherwin Williams and adding an accent wall. Then sanded the bar down before staining.

This is the finished front of our basement bar.

You can see where two pieces of bar rail joined based off the wood putty mark.

I also needed wood filler on bar top where the two pieces joined.

DIY Bar and bar cut list
Complete Home Bar!

I am sure you noticed the picture of the peacocks in that fancy gold frame. So, when we bought our house this painting was left in our home.

This picture is not our style, but we thought it made for a great conversation starter. We display this peacock painting proudly in our bar.

Finishing Touches – How to Stain the Bar

I sanded the entire bar and stained the bar Kona Semi-Gloss Stain.

It took 2-3 coats of Kona stain to get the shade shown here. This stain has the stain and polyurethane built in, so I did not need to add a top protective coat to the stain.

I can’t say enough good things about this Kona stain.

I used this stain on the top of my console table, my banister, shelves, and the bar.

Here are some photos of other projects throughout my home that I used the Kona Semi-Gloss Stain:

The floors are not Kona, but they are almost a perfect match. The floors are Java Scraped Oak by Pergo.

airstone

How to Adhere Airstone

If you don’t want to stain your bar, you could add Airstone.We added Airstone to our fireplace in only a couple of hours. See our fireplace transformation here.

How to Epoxy the Bar Top

TWO PARTS EPOXY – It’s the shiny glass that protects the bar top. Check out our post here to learn how to epoxy the right way to prevent bubbles!

Bar Lighting

I did add the LED light strip that you see in the top picture for added effect.

I can change the color on those or keep them off altogether.

Since it’s an LED strip, it is hidden underneath my Chicago Bar Rail.

This of course is optional but everyone seems to enjoy it.

diy bar plan
how to build a basement bar
how to build a bar with bar cut list
DIY Bar
Fully stocked home bar

Bar Stools

We purchased bar stools that are 30 inches in height, and they are perfect for our bar.

If you like the look of our bar stools, here are similar bar stools.

The great thing about these bar stools is that they have a foot rest built into the bottom of the stool, so I didn’t even need to add the bar rail to the front of my bar.

diy bar and bar cut list
DIY Bar Plans and Bar Cut List

STEP 10BAR RAIL (for feet)

The bar rail is the foot rest that sits at the bottom of your bar.

I am yet to add this because they can be rather expensive, but I do think they take the bar up a notch.

A home bar doesn’t have to be tedious or complex.

The most tedious part in my opinion was the sanding and staining.

The hardest part is just getting started so go to the store and buy pieces for the frame.

After you have built the frame, go back to the hardware store and pick up more wood for the next step.

I found it easier to go back and forth the hardware store for wood instead of trying to figure out all of the math ahead of time.

My wife thought I was trying to avoid her nagging by spending so much time are the hardware store.

Which is kind of true, but I really did find it easier to take the bar section by section so I didn’t get overwhelmed.

If you’re in no rush, like I wasn’t, just take your time.

Once that frame is built, it adds a whole new level of motivation.

DIY Bar
Setting the bar high for your DIY home bar

If you’re looking for directions on building the super simple accent wall, you can check out my other post.

By the way, if you want complete blueprints for this EXACT bar with measurements, bar cut list, and shopping list, you find our DIY Bar Plan here!

Be sure to comment below and let me know how yours turns out. I’ll try to answer any questions!

Modern Accent Wall

Easy step by step directions to install a modern painted accent wall for any space in your home. This modern accent wall can be customized to fit into a small or large space, and will instantly update your bedroom, nursery, bathroom, or living room.

My Favorite Paint Products

I’m a paint fanatic and I literally painted my house top to bottom, which includes the ceiling. I also painted my vanity, kitchen cabinets, and furniture. It’s safe to say I am also particular with my products (after a lot of trial and error) so I listed my favorite ones here.

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40 thoughts on “How to Build a Home Bar – DIY Step by Step Guide

  1. Incredible instructions really. I searched for them for a while and these are the most complete. I am starting on it this weekend. Thanks.

    1. Hi Tim,

      I don’t have the exact specs because I figured everyone would want to tweak it to fit their space. I took numerous trips buy wood because I kind of bought it as I went so I didn’t waste any wood or overbuy. Because of that, I don’t have the cut list. There are dimensions at the top of the post for a standard bar that you can use as a guideline.

      Mine was roughly 8 feet long on the front side, 4 and a half feet on the on the medium side, and a little over 2 feet on the small side. That is just the “bottom” piece of the bar though. The bar top overlaps about 10 inches on all sides (with the bar rail installed). Lastly, from the ground to the bottom of the bar top was 41 inches high. If there are any specific questions, just let me know.

    1. Hi Michelle,

      Unfortunately, this probably weighs around 500 lbs with all of the wood so it definitely wouldn’t be worth shipping this anywhere, lol. There are contractors that can certainly build a bar for you, or you can tackle this yourself and just do a little at a time, if you have the right skill set. It’s not overwhelming if you just look at it section by section instead of the entire thing at once 🙂

    1. Hi Cam!

      Thank you! The stain is Varathane in Kona. I used Kona on so many projects and it looks great on anything. I believe I did 3 coats of Kona on the bar. Let us know if you have any other questions! – Lacey & Brian
      Here is a link for the stain: https://amzn.to/3gyLs7b

      1. Hi- I too looked all over for bar plans to build my bar and yours were the beat. Thanks so much for that! All I have left Is the staining and epoxy. Two question: did you sand the whole thing before staining and also since the top was polyurethaned did you have to put that thin layer of epoxy on before you did the flood pour of epoxy.

      2. Hi Doug. First, thank you! My goal when creating this post was to give as much detail as possible. Yes, we did sand the whole thing before staining, which is tedious but you don’t have to overkill it. A quick once over should be okay. To answer your second question, no I just did the full pour of epoxy the first time. My only issue is that I didn’t have enough. Once it self leveled, there were spots that it didn’t fully cover and I had to try and conceal it later. When in doubt, it’s always better to have more and not need it. Let us know if you have anymore questions and attach a picture when you’re done!

  2. Thank you for your instructions!! I used them as a blueprint for my bar build and it was so helpful!! Two questions… 1. Did you sand before you stained and in between each coat of stain? 2. Did you have to apply the thin layer of epoxy as well as the flood layer. I’m wondering if you could skip the first layer since you applied the stain with polyurethane on the top before the epoxy.

    1. Hi Doug! I’m looking into building this bar as well. Did you by chance, make a list of all the materials used?

  3. Hi, I wanted to thank you for posting this article. I was looking for a project during the Corona Virus lockdown and decided to build a bar for my garage. I’ve never really built anything like this so pretty much everything was a first for me. I followed your blueprint pretty closely with some tweaking for my space. I just put the last piece of trim on tonight so need to start sanding tomorrow. It turned out really great and I couldn’t have done it without your post. Really awesome, and really great of you to share the way you did.

    Just wanted to pass along my sincere thanks.

    John
    Westfield, NJ

  4. Hi, great work! I was wondering if you had a list of all the materials you used and how much of each so I know what to buy? Thank you

    1. Thanks, Mat! Unfortunately I don’t because I made numerous trips to the store and bought pieces as I went since it was my first build and wasn’t sure what I’d need. I listed the materials throughout the post so you can kind of get a rough idea of what’s needed, but kind of figured everyone would build a bar to their own specs anyway. Sorry! Let me know if you have any other specific questions though.
      – Brian

  5. Awesome instructions, we are building ours as I type this! Can I ask where the bar stools pictured are from?!

    1. Hi Kevin, the specs that I built it to, in this post, I didn’t add any attachment to the wall or floor because it probably weighs 500lbs and is stabilized by the two sides. However, if you didn’t build it like mine, you might want to consult a professional or just attach it to the wall and/or floor to be safe.

  6. Hi.
    I’ve noticed that in a lot of the posts I’ve read about building a bar (including yours) the bar is always painted after assembly. Why is that? Isn’t it easier to paint before assembly. Nice build by the way

    1. Hi Stefan,
      We find with woodworking projects it is easier to always stain or paint after the project is assembled. For instance with the bar, there was a lot of surface area that didn’t need to be stained as this was covered by other pieces of wood. We also, had to use wood putty on the Chicago bar rail then sand to smooth the surface for staining.

      Thank you! We are currently working on a 3D model of the bar to share with our readers. We should be finishing up the 3D model in the next couple of weeks, so check back!

      We hope this helps, let us know if you have any other questions.

      Lacey & Brian

    1. Thanks John! It took about 3 weekends to completely finish the bar. Come back soon because we are getting ready to launch detailed instructions with 3D models of the bar. Let us know how your bar turns out!
      Brian and Lacey

  7. Looking at the plans It seems like I would need to order 2 of the Chicago bar rails as I am going to need more that 96 inches. Am I correct in that?

    1. Hi Brent,
      The total surface area for the bar rail would need to cover roughly 210 inches. Because of that, I ordered 1 piece each at 96″, 72″, and 48″. It doesn’t leave a lot of room for error though (or if there’s defects), so keep that in mind if you order those same sized pieces. Let me know if you have any other questions!

      1. Sorry last question. I am really struggling trying to find how to do this whole Stain + epoxy thing online. I keep reading you should and shouldn’t coat with poly before applying Epoxy. I know you bought the Stain + Poly but the stain I wanted doesnt appear to be sold in that format. Can I just buy a Oil Stain, stain the whole thing, then apply an Oil Poly coat let it dry, sand it and then apply the epoxy over that?

      2. Hi Brent, we actually just finished up a post today about how to pour epoxy. We just applied epoxy onto our friends bar and it came out great! So, you do not have to use a stain that includes poly. It is a nice extra protection for the rest of the bar though. You can simply just use an oil based stain then epoxy over the oil based stain after it has completed dried. If you want an extra layer of protection for the rest of the bar then I would add the poly over the rest of the stain avoiding the area that you poured epoxy. Sounds like you are almost done your bar, can’t wait to see how it turns out!
        https://rocksolidrustic.com/2019/03/17/build-your-own-home-bar/

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