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The Learn As I Go Theater/Bar Build

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
This thread will be mostly about my bar build but to finish it off I need to do some things to the rest of the basement. I’ve already built the theater room thanks to this forum. Unfortunately I didn’t take any pictures of the theater progress so it will be mostly before and after shots. There is still much to do in the theater so I will document that with photos.

Here are some pictures of the theater.

The theater room during the home inspection.

Here's how it currently looks.

post #2 of 16
very nice man., simple but well done
post #3 of 16
Thread Starter 
The idea was to keep the cost cheap and build only as my budget would allow at moment. The first priority with the bar was to have a place where friends can sit around and drink.

As the title of the thread says I've never done anything like this before. I've build a riser and screen for the theater but those were simple compared to a bar. There are many things I would have done differently.

I'm already a couple of months into the build so any suggestions will most likely help someone more than me. But I still welcome them for next time.

Here's what the area looked like before.

I wasn't sure exactly where I was going to put the bar until I started laying out the 2x4.

And so the framing begins.

As you will notice the space gets messier as I progress.

The support for the counter.

The base of the bar top. Notice I added more studs in the frame. Learning the hard way.

Skinning the bar front.

Testing out the bar railing.

Here's the bar top as I originally planned.

I had the bar top stained and ready to be permanently fixed. Then I decided I didn't like the plywood I got. I think I sanded it down too far and it had places where you could see the "wood" under the oak. So I scrapped that idea and decided to install oak flooring on the top.

More to come once I upload the pictures.
post #4 of 16
Thread Starter 
I'd like to pass on some information for people like me who have no experience. Most on here might think this is obvious but I hope I'm not the only one here that's so bad in carpentry.

Use screws instead of nails whenever possible.

To build the frame I nailed in the studs. I wish I had used screws instead. It was difficult to keep the studs in place as I was hitting the nail. This lead to some of the studs not flush with the rest of the frame. Which meant the bar front is a little curved, not noticeable but still.

I also nailed into the bar top to the frame. This left me with no easy options of removing the bar top. Not a biggie but it would have been nice to be able to removed it, install the wood flooring and sanded it outside instead of inside the house. Now I have dust all over the place.

Screws also give you an option of repositioning or remove items later if need be. This is obvious but I didn't realized how important it was until it was too late.

Wood glue is strong, really strong.
I tried to separate two pieces of wood that had been glued together. The wood came apart before the glue!

I'll try to pass on more of my mistakes, I mean lessons learned.
post #5 of 16
Looks good. The only concern that I would have is that your surround speakers are in front of your second row of seats.
post #6 of 16
Thread Starter 
Unfortunately the surround speakers are as far back as I can get them. You do hear the surround a bit in front of you but it's not too bad. I'm hoping adding a couple of speakers in the back for a 7.1 system might help out the back row.
post #7 of 16
You might want to check out HeyNow's thread too. He has helped many of bar builders and has spent the time to answer many questions
post #8 of 16
Thanks Dinger, but I think he's doing a dandy job already! Great start. One note, I think your top looked great with the plywood. You only need to sand it very lightly if you are going to coat it with poly or Envirotex. When I initially put 1/4 inch ply on the drip rail, it was a cheaper wide grained oak plywood. I covered it with 1/4 inch cabinet grade ply with a tighter straighter grain and I like it much better.
post #9 of 16
Yup I agree... Just pointing him to a good resource if needed
post #10 of 16
If he wants to see a sick bar, he needs to click on your link!
post #11 of 16
Thread Starter 
I've studied HeyNow's bar build thread a good bit. Hopefully I can provided half the amount of information on my build has he has. Great thread!

I've already laid down the flooring on the bar top (need to get this thread caught up). After putting down half the flooring I was thinking I should have stuck with the ply. It would have been simpler. But once It was all on there it looked great. If I had to do it over again I would have probably just used a better grade of ply.

Dinger's bar/room is sick! I some how missed that thread. The trim work is great.
post #12 of 16
Thread Starter 
It's been a while since my last post. Got busy with work and trying to finish up the bar. I've been saying "I'll be done with the bar this weekend" for the last month. Still not done but hopefully this weekend.

The last picture I posted had a plywood top. I didn't like it so I decided to go with real oak flooring. I picked up some unfinished flooring at Home Depot and got to work.

When first designing the bar I didn't like the idea of flooring for the bar top. But after I start installing them I really liked them.

Some pictures...

Install the flooring. Got to use the nail gun!

Flooring installed, almost.


I like this corner.

Bar rail in place.

post #13 of 16
Thread Starter 
I wasn't planning on build any shelves for behind the bar until later but I needed a place to put the glasses. I figured it would be easier to build shelves here then for the back bar.

I was going to just use MDF and paint them but figured it might be easier to just glue 1/4 ply. I'm glad I did.

Some pieces with the ply glued to the MDF.

The sides and bottom in place.

Shelves in place.


With trim and glasses. We got a ton of glasses for our wedding presents. They were all sitting a closet waiting for the bar to be built. Now they have a home.
post #14 of 16
Thread Starter 
I added track lighting. I was concerned about attaching the track to the suspended ceiling but it worked out pretty good. I used big washers to spread the weight and luckily the track was placed near a rail.

Here's a view of the track attached to the ceiling. Noticed the washer between the track and ceiling tile. Part of the washer overlaps the ceiling rail. The style of nut I was using had "holes" which allows me to add a safety wire to it and tie the wire to the hook that's screwed into the joist. So if the ceiling tile gives way the track won't fall on someone's head, or even worse damage the bar.

The top view. Notice the safety wire looped through the nut. You probably can't see it because of the bad picture but take my word for it.

The finished product.

post #15 of 16
Thread Starter 
Adding tile to the work area was fairly straight forward. I've never done it before but there is plenty of information on the web. I kept the work area deep enough to accommodated 18" tiles. To do this I purchased the cheapest 18" tile at Home Depot and built the work area based on it. When I was ready to lay the tile I purchased the tile I wanted to use. One thing I learned, the hard way, was that tiles marked as 18" where not all the same size. The tiles I purchased where about an 1/8 too big, maybe even less. So I had to cut them. I tried to use one of those cheap score and break cutters but that didn't do anything except break the tiles in the wrong direction. So I rented a wet saw.

I highly recommend renting a wet saw if you need to cut tile. It was easy, accurate and lots of fun, if you like using manly tools. Of course I had to rent the largest one they had to be able to cut 18" tiles. If I would have known I would end up renting a wet saw I would have gotten smaller tiles because of better selection and smaller saw. The saw I got required two people to handle.

Not many pictures here but you get the idea.

Applying the quickset.


I added some weights to the tiles to make sure they were making even contact to the quickset. The second from the right wasn't flat against the cement board so I had to apply force with a quick-grip and a piece of 2x4.

post #16 of 16
Thread Starter 
The finally step before the beer can start pouring, officially, was applying a coat of Envirotex to the bar top.

I ran into problems with bubbles. I didn't do anything to seal the oak flooring other than stain it. Many of the bubbles where comming through the wood grain. I also didn't seal the gaps between the planks. The Environtex was thick but it still sipped though some of the bigger gaps. It fall on to the carpet in one place and created a very uncomfortable place to step on. Luckily it was in a place where you normally won't step on. I'll be replacing the carpet one of these days. So be sure to lay something down under the bar to catch any drips. This stuff was a bit of a mess to work with, but well worth it.

I did use a torch to remove the bubbles but they kept coming!

Instead of reposting my issues with the Envirotex I'll refer you to my other thread, http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...4#post17057804.

Don't have any good pictures of the top with Etex. It was so shiny the flash washed it out. I'll try to post some pictures from my "professional" photo equipment.

Something I wish I had done was seal the flooring better. Maybe a layer or two of poly before the Etex. It might have helped with the bubbles from the wood grain.

I was going to cover the bar top after the pour to let it dry to keep dust, bugs and dog hair off. I never did it. It wasn't too bad. The first pour I didn't notice anything that landed on it. After the second pour there is some dust in a couple of places and one dog hair. Not very noticeable. I think this had a lot to do with the darker stain I went with. If I had used a lighter stain the dust and hair would probably been much more noticeable.

In the end there were many imperfections with the Etex but it still looks good. From what I've been told it probably won't come out perfect anyway.
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