Feb 17,2016

How to Build a Bar?A wet bar is right there at the top of the wish list for a lot homeowners finishing the basement! There’s just something alluring about having a bar down in the basement…they just seem to go so well together.

I’ve built many bars for my clients over the years and most of them, I’d say over 90% of them, are wet bars…meaning they have a sink with running water. But not all bars are created equally.

Some bars you tend…and others you don’t. Some bars you sit at…and other you do not. There are really only 2 types of bars that you can build in your basement, they are the “sit-down-bar” and the “walk-up” bar. Each bar has a specific list of reasons for why you would choose one type over the other.


OK…I have listened to masses(my customers) over the last 20+ years and they have spoken…They have told me what they want their dream bar to look like and how they will be using their new bar to entertain guests and family.

For some, the bar is just a place to keep their drinks cool in a mini refrigerator, store a few cups and napkins and to rinse-out a glass in the sink every now and then. For others, their bar will become the central theme of the basement, the “heart beat”  of the basement plan. 

The bar for this individual is a place to sit-down with friends and family, watch the ball games, and consume liberal amounts of beer and spirits…to eat drink and be merry!


Now for a quick reality check…this is the part where I inform you that the available space that you have down in your basement will almost always dictate what type of bar you will be able to build. WHAT ISTHAT How to Build a Bar?YOU SAY! But I want what I want! I want the BIG bar with all the trimmings!

I want a bionic Kegerator that pumps 12 kinds of beer out of a tap-head and 3 refrigerators and a couple big screen TV’s and I…and…and…

I’ve heard this cry so many times from customers who just DO NOT have the space available for the BIG  does-it-all bar their wishing for.

There’s only so much real estate in your basement, and if you have other reasons besides a bar for finishing your basement, the bar size may have to be scaled down to accommodate all of the other “Zones” you wish to build (Theater, Bedroom, Office, Bathroom, Home Gym, etc.).


How to Build a Bar?Here’s where we find out what type of bar you will be able to build in your basement. I’m just going to give you the Square Footage needed for both types of bar.

We will use an 8′-0″ bar top length for each bar type and calculate how much floor space each bar consume.


  • Cabinets behind bar will use either 1′ or 2′ of depth depending on 12″ or 24″ cabinets
  • Walking space behind the bar should be 3′ wide minimum
  • Front bar width will be either be 2′-10″ or 3′-6″ depending on either a 1 or 2 tier bar
  • Bar stool area should be at least a 3′ area to move bar stools in and out

OK so that’s a depth of between 11′-6″ and 9′-10″ over all from the back-wall of the bar to the back of the bar stool area. and then we will use 8′-0″ for our bar width. So… we take the Depths(11′-6″ & 9′-10″) and multiply that by our width(8′) and we arrive at the total sq. ft. of space needed to build our 8′ sit down bar.

  • 2 Tier bar with 24″ deep cabinets behind the bar would need (8′ x 11′-6″= 92.8 sq. ft.) roughly 93 sq.ft. of available space.
  • 1 Tier bar with 12″ deep cabinets behind the bar would need (8′ x 9′-10″=79.2 sq. ft.) roughly 79 sq.ft. of available space

OK…so you can now see you need a sizable chunk of real estate to build an 8′ sit down bar. And depending on your route to get behind the bar to tend bar, you may need to add another 25 to 30 sq. ft. of entrance walking space to your totals.


How to Build a Bar?We used an 8′ wide bar top in our sit-down bar example above, but an average walk-up style bar top is only 5′ to 6′ in wide, 8′ is just to wide and not really necessary for a walk-up bar’s purpose.

And the depth of a walk-up bar is only 2′-0″ deep (24″). So the total square footage of a typical walk-up bar is: 2′(deep) x 5′ or 6′(wide) = 10 to 12 sq. ft The walk-up style bar takes up a very small piece of valuable basement real estate and is the choice for most of my clients.

I would say that 75% of my bar projects over the years have been the smaller walk-up bar style bar for the sake of available space

***The video below might help you decide what type of bar is right for your basement***


Once you determine what style bar you will build in your basement, it’s then time to begin to design your bar. Now…a sit-down bar requires a bunch more planning and bar building skills than a walk-up bar.

But regardless of the type your going to build, you should have a completed computer generated bar plan put together that shows cabinet sizes, bar top sizes, appliance locations, sink location, etc., etc., so that you know EXACTLY what to order and purchase to complete the bar project.


After you have your bar computer design finished and printed-out on paper, it’s time to start ordering cabinets and purchasing all the other materials you will need to put this bar together.

I have been using Home Depot and a few other local building material suppliers to order my cabinets. Home Depot offers FREE design service for kitchen and bar layout’s and will give you nice 3-D computer images of the finished bar area for choosing them as your cabinet supplier.

Your Bar tops can be purchased through Home Depot as well or you can outsource this part of the project to another “solid surfacing” counter top supplier. Counter tops are order after all of the bar cabinetry has been 100% installed by you.

Your appliances, and if you doing a wet bar, your sink & faucet selections can be made at Home Depot or some other big box appliance dealer of your choice. I get a lot of my bar sinks and Faucets at Home Depot. The BEST place on Earth in my opinion to purchase Bar appliances, Sinks and faucets etc is online at Kegworks.com these guys have bar supplies galore…check-em-out.


I’ve just finished filming an awesome 2 tier wet bar project for a client, and am in the process of creating a very detailed bar building video series. In the training you will learn step-by-step how to build a very custom wet bar that seats 6 and has most everything you could ever want in your new bar.

I’d like to help you design and build the perfect bar for your home. My step-by-step bar build training videos can help make your bar-build experience a fun and successful d.i.y. project. You can check out the new Bar Building Video Product Below…I think you’ll like it! Just click on the bar building banner below to go to the Bar Building Pro Information site!

Here’s a video of a Bar I just finished building last week!

Good Luck with your Bar Building Project!

How to Build a Bar?

How to Build a Bar?


Posted in: Basement Bars, Basement Finishing Videos

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