Bar Design

Unique Bar, Pub, Restaurant design ideas, click on the picture.

A bar design is interpreted by the individual bar/nightclub owner and or carpenter.

Unfortunately, many owners or carpenters really don’t know how to build a bar that works and is functional. Many bar designs might look very good but are totally not functional.

If you spoke with a dozen carpenters, or bar owners, and ask the “how do I build a bar”? They would probably all give you a different answer.

Well, what I am going to describe is the right way to build a bar, and why.


SIDEBAR: I really don’t want to get a bunch of emails regarding my artistic ability. Or should I say, the lack there of. I’m just not an artist. Please bare with me. OK


There are many things that are going to be affected by the dimensions in a bar design.

Have you ever been to place and went to sit at the bar, and it was real high? It just wasn’t comfortable to sit at.

Or, have you ever went to sit at a bar and there was no room for your knees? That too is real uncomfortable.

If you have ever been a bartender you will appreciate this one. Have you ever tended bar and the way they built the bar, the bar top was completely over the sink! You actually have to bend down, reach your arm in sideways, and try to clean your glasses.

What in the hell were these people thinking. Some bar designs just don’t make any common sense, let alone design sense.

Bar design is really straight forward. Your customer needs a place to put their drink, or plate of food. It has to be comfortable. And you equipment behind the bar has to function properly.

This seems like a no brainer. Right?

So why are so many bars built so badly? It goes back to the thought that people think that anyone can start their own bar. If so, then why can’t they build a simple bar.

And please don’t rely on a carpenter come up with a bar design! These people are damn good at what they normally do. But if you don’t give them specs to go by, they won’t know what to build because they are unaware of the specifics you require.


The first thing in bar design we are going to start out with the base. (Don’t forget, no laughing at my drawings.) The base in built out of 2″x4″ lumber, although 2″x6″ lumber should be used if your counter-top is going to exceed 24″ in width.

The frame has a finished height of 36″- 38″. By the time you add your counter top, you will have a completed finished height of 37 1/2″ to 39 1/2″, or there abouts. This will accommodate a standard height bar stool. Use your own preference here for comfort height. I like a finished height of 39 1/2″. If you are using a taller bar stool, your finished bar top height will need to be taller also. The vertical studs, (2×4’s) are place 16″ oc (on center)apart from each other.

Build this frame and mount to the floor using screws. Before you actually screw into place, liberally apply a silicone caulking where the wood meets the floor. Then attach.

The reason for this is if you ever have any plumbing leaks behind the bar, the water won’t seep under the bar frame and drench the floor on the customer side. The water gets contained behind the bar and is easier to mop or vacuum up. It has nothing to do with bar design really, it’s just one of the tricks of the trades that work.

In a good bar design, the next thing to do is to run electrical outlets, facing the customer side, so you have to use for a vacuum or whatever your needs. Place every 6’feet.

As far as electrical receptacles behind the bar, I like to run these in conduit across the very top of bar base wall. (just under the counter top)

The reason for this is accessibility. When they are mounted up high like this, it’s easy to unplug a beer cooler if you have to, or plug in a cash register, or a blender, or what ever you needs are. You can make your own choice, but I like this type of bar design.

Now it’s time to put you sheeting on the inside and outside of the bar wall base. These choices are up to you. These are design choices. Just don’t use drywall by itself, or as a base for rug, or tile, etc. on the outside of the bar. This side can get a lot of abuse and drywall won’t hold up.

The next step is to start making the counter top. For this example, I’ll use a laminate counter top.


This next picture is a side view of the bar base wall, and a 24″ counter top mounted totally to one side which extends behind the bar.

THIS IS WHAT NOT TO DO

As you can see in this example, the proposed counter top will extend to the interior if the bar and cover and block your sink, glass racks, beer cooler doors, etc.

What else? I know you know. Yes, your right, there is no knee area. You can’t actually belly up to the bar. Can you imagine trying to eat something from this vantage point? I can’t! What a lousy bar design.

Not only these dysfunctional things happen, but as far as construction, all the counter top weight is on one side. You’ll need all kinds of support, and it doesn’t work anyway.



This bar design evens out the counter top weight and looks like a T. You can see on the customer side of the bar, there is knee room, and you can get yourself closer to the bar to eat and drink.

On the inside of the bar, the counter top covers the sink faucet and still allows easy access to wash you glasses. It also covers about 10″ of the top of the beer cooler. Usually you store glasses and such under here, and doesn’t interfere with the beer cooler doors. Now your counter top weight is balanced and is stronger.

THIS IS THE RIGHT WAY



Now, we have to add the counter top to that bar wall base. You know how it’s supposed to look. Like a T.

For the counter top, you use 4’x8′ sheets of Nova Ply (a dense particle board). Now that’s what they call it where I live.

Basically, it’s particle board that has been compressed more then a standard sheet.It far more dense.

You are going to need to rip that into 2’x8′ sections. Remember the T. That’s how you are going mount it the bar base wall. Look at my drawing. You can see one sheet that has been screwed down. Then you can see that I put another sheet right next to it.

Best Wishes,
Ned

After you have one layer on top of the entire bar wall base, you need to add a second layer. As you can see in the drawing, the second layer overlaps the seams of the first layer.

When attaching the second layer, apply a bead of carpenters yellow glue to the first layer, then set the second layer on top.

Now, screw the second layer to the first. Make sure you countersink the screws.

What you will end up with is a really strong, brace free, functional bar!

Of course you have to install the laminate of your choice on the final layer of Nova Ply, but that’s for another time.

We have just went over the correct bar design and the way to construct it. It works, will be functional, and strong enough to last many years.

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Filed Under: Bar / Nightclub Design

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  1. Tom Sniffen says:

    You my friend are speaking my language. I have been a bartender for over 40 years and there is a real need for your kind of service. What does an architect know about being crushed and in the weeds because of bad planning and design? A new bar owner can cut down on his biggest expense, “labor”, with a better designed back bar. If you ever need a consultant please drop me an email. Keep up the good work.

    T S
    Bazookastudio@yahoo.com

  2. tonja says:

    “Bar Design – a set of useful bar design ideas” was indeed a
    great blog post. In case it possessed even more
    pictures it might be possibly even more beneficial.
    Take care -Cheri

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