(BPT) – As outdoor living space continues to be an extension of the home for entertaining, it’s no surprise that nearly 60 percent of homeowners believe outdoor kitchens will be popular this year, according to the latest Landscape Architecture Trends Survey by the American Society of Landscape Architects. While an outdoor kitchen can be a significant project, an attractive, functional and durable alternative at a fraction of the cost is building an outdoor bar yourself.
The two-part project consists of a block base with a stucco finish topped with a concrete countertop. While help from a friend or family member will make life easier handling the blocks and concrete, both elements of the outdoor bar are extremely do-it-yourself friendly. The blocks are dry-stacked and covered in a fiber-glass reinforced stucco called QUIKRETE QUIKWALL to create the base. No masonry skills are required and the base is actually stronger using fiber-glass reinforced stucco than mortar. For the countertop, a specially formulated concrete mix is poured into a melamine form upside down so you get a smooth, flat bar surface. Once the countertop is placed on the base, the outdoor bar is ready for service.
Steps for building an outdoor bar:
When working with cement-based products, always wear eye protection and waterproof gloves.
* Stage the first course of block on a level concrete slab and snap a chalk line on each side of the course to make sure the corners are square and all are straight. Make sure the first course is level by checking every third or fourth block.
* Once the first course is set, dry stack the remaining block in an interlocking running bond pattern.
* Mix the necessary amount of fiber-glass reinforced stucco following the directions on the bag. The mix is the right consistency when the stucco will hang from a trowel at a 45 degree angle.
* Dampen the block with water using a garden sprayer before applying the stucco at 1/8” to 1/4” thickness using a trowel starting from the bottom and working up the block wall.
* Once the stucco is applied to the entire base, water cure with a fine mist to prevent cracking and reconfirm the dimension for the countertop.
* Build forms from 3/4” melamine coated particle board by screwing four 2” strips to a base sheet according to the countertop dimensions. Concrete is heavy, so use multiple forms that don’t exceed 2’ x 3’ and 2” thick to manage larger countertop projects.
* Apply a bead of silicone caulk in the seams of the forms and smooth with a caulk tool or fingertip to give the countertop a smooth edge.
* Mix QUIKRETE Countertop Mix following the directions on the bag and pour into the forms in two 1” layers. If necessary, place metal rebar or wire mesh between the two layers for added strength.
* Over fill the forms slightly before pulling a 2×4 in a sawing motion over the surface several times each direction. This process known as screeding will level what will be the underside of the countertop.
* Consolidate the mix and remove air voids by tapping the forms with a rubber mallet or vibrating with an orbital sander without the pad.
* Unlike other concretes that have to set for days, the high-density, high-strength countertop mix can be removed from the forms in 18 hours. Once each countertop section is removed from the form, smooth the edges with fine sandpaper.
After the countertop mix has cured the full 28 days, a sealer can be applied with a roller or brush to protect the surface from dirt, oil, grease and other unwanted stains. In addition, QUIKRETE Liquid Cement Color can be added to the fiber-glass reinforced stucco and/or the concrete countertop mix to give the outdoor bar more decorative flair. For full, detailed project instructions, watch the outdoor bar how-to video at QUIKRETE.com.