Choosing an Outdoor Bar

Adding an Outdoor Bar is a Great Way to Maximize the Entertainment Area of Your Deck or Patio

By Mark J. Donovan

If you do a lot of outside entertainment on your deck or patio then an outdoor bar may be the perfect accessory to either one of these leisure areas. Outdoor bar areas are great for preventing you and your guests from having to traipse in and out of your home to fetch another Cosmo or Daiquiri during a backyard party. Outdoor bar sets also allow you to enjoy warm summer mornings with simply a cup of coffee and the morning paper.

When choosing an outdoor bar set there are a couple of key elements to consider including. First if you plan to actually make and serve drinks at your outdoor bar area you’ll need a serving counter or table at a minimum.

As with all bar serving areas they are elevated and include underneath countertop shelving. However its shape and style is totally up to you. You can make it rectangular, kidney shaped, or L-shaped. Outdoor bar serving areas and tables need to be constructed out of materials that can stand up to the harsh outdoor environment. Commonly they are constructed out of granite, stainless steel or glass since these materials are highly durable and will not rust or decay. You can also find them constructed out of common wood materials such as Teak, Ipe, or Bamboo. As a matter of fact, you can even find pre-fabricated wooden retail kit themed outdoor bars, such as Tiki bars.

If you truly desire a full functioning outdoor bar you’ll also need to include electric outlets and plumbing fixtures in the desired area of the outdoor bar to support such items as a bar sink, refrigerator, ice maker, and wine cooler. The electrical outlets and switches associated with the outdoor bar should be on a separate ground fault circuit interrupter circuit to prevent deadly electrical shocks.

Installing plumbing for an outdoor bar can be complicated as it needs to tie into the home’s existing plumbing stack and supply. Often this may be impossible unless the outdoor bar is located directly off of the home.

Another major element to consider when designing your outdoor bar and choosing outdoor bar furniture is the type of bar dining set to get. Again, with any bar furniture a dining set normally sits higher than standard patio or deck table and dining sets. Also, they commonly take up less square footage, which makes them ideal for small decks and balcony areas. Outdoor bar dining sets are commonly found in 2 and 4 seat configurations.

One other consideration when choosing an outdoor bar is getting a small portable bar table or trolley. With portable bar tables and trolleys you can wheel them around to the specific backyard area where you want to enjoy that afternoon or evening drink.

Due to their compactness they can be stored in a utility closet or in a corner of your deck and only pulled out when you truly need them. These types of outdoor bar options are ideal for small deck or patio areas or when a bar is only frequently needed.

Prices can vary all over the map when choosing an outdoor bar dining set and counter/table serving area, depending upon the size of it and the materials it is constructed out of.

Deck Installation Bid Sheet

Expect to pay at least a grand or more for a basic quality outdoor bar dining set. If you’re building a custom outdoor bar you can spend literally 10s of thousands of dollars on it, when you factor in the cost of installing plumbing and electrical fixtures, appliances, and entertainment electronics, along with custom constructed outdoor bar furniture.

For help on building a deck, see’s Deck Installation Bid Sheet. The Deck Installation Bid Sheet will teach your how to hire the right deck contractor, and help to ensure that your deck project is completed on time and budget.

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