Bar Top Preparation

1 05 2012

Through the process of planning and dreaming up the bar, I found that the design is really only limited by your imagination.  So when it came to figuring out what to do for a counter top, I was pleased to find out that expense wise, there were lots of options to choose from.  I initially thought that regular old kitchen counter tops were going to be the easiest, and cheapest.  It turns out that while this might be a simple solution, the look can leave much to be desired.  When learning that something like using hardwood flooring was not really any more expensive than laminate counters, we decided to go that route.

You can see pictures from the previous post, but the bar has a dark finish to it.  So I figured I’d contrast the dark with a brighter stain for the top.  I bought unfinished oak hardwood flooring from Menards, and stained it with Minwax Natural wood finish.  We are going to assemble the “flooring” in a sort of zigzag fashion to give the top some character.

Once the top is assembled and in place, we’ll seal it up with an epoxy designed for table tops.  This will finish off the top with the equivalent of about 50 coats of polyurethane and will make a nearly indestructible finish.  The trim around the edge of the top will allow for the hard wood flooring and then a 3/16 inch layer of the epoxy.  (Here is a YouTube video of what this will entail).

The hardwood flooring that will become my bartop. Sanded, stained, and sitting in my garage.


Raising the Bar: Part 2

29 04 2012

With our basement officially finished, I continue on some of the other basement projects that help make the space that much more enjoyable.  Case in point…the bar!  We framed out the bar before putting in the carpet, and now that the carpet is in, it’s time to move on.

The bar is going to have stained oak plywood sides and an oak hardwood floor top.  With a help from Jon, a friend of mine who is doing most of the thinking on this project, we got the sides cut, stained, and in place.  An interesting point I learned that “shop rags” that they sell at Menards are nothing more than t-shirts cut into pieces.  So I took a bunch of t-shirts that I just happened to set aside just recently to go to Goodwill and made a small truckload of shop rags.  Which was good because staining requires a lot of rags.

So on to the bar.  Melissa and I had gone back and forth on color.  We had painted the walls a fairly neutral color, and we picked out a fairly neutral carpet color.  We initially were looking at stain colors that were somewhat neutral as well.  After thinking about it, I decided that eventually we needed to do something bold in the basement.  So we went with a pretty dark stain color called Dark Walnut.  I am very happy with how the color turned out, much more satisfied than if I did another fairly neutral color.

Also, while I came up with the overall concept of design as far as how big I wanted it, Melissa had an idea for sprucing up the sides.  She thought of framing the sides with a series of picture frames.  After putting it all up, it looks darn good.  I have some touch ups to do still, but all in all, it’s looking pretty good.

The next step will be the bar top.  The top is going be hardwood flooring, stained a more natural color to contrast the dark sides and trim.  Then, we’ll use a bar top epoxy to create a thick, glass-like film to completely seal the hardwood flooring and create a nearly impenetrable surface.  That’s my next process.


The top is trimmed with a lip to account for the hardwood flooring and a 3/16 inch layer of epoxy

You can see the picture frame trim that gives the face some character

We laid the tile behind the bar. There will eventually be a counter top over the fridge as well as a regular cabinet with a sink to the right. The shelves seen here will be stained the same as the rest of the bar.

With a little creativity, anything awesome can be made more awesome!

We’ve already had our first successful basement party, making use of the bar in a state slightly earlier than the pictures above.  And because I can, I watch Brewer games from my bar, just because I can!

Raising the Bar

5 04 2012

The basement is nearing a conclusion of sorts.  We have ordered the carpeting and are simply waiting to schedule the installation.  The trim work along the baseboards and doors is finished, and the doors are all hung.  With a few odds and ends here and there we will soon be ready for when the carpeting is installed, and the entire demeanor of the basement changes from “work space” to “living space”.  I am giddy with excitement at the prospect of seeing over 18 months worth of work finally show something of a conclusion.

One of those last odds and ends is putting in a bar.  I have always wanted to put in a bar in the basement.  Something to sit at and play games, serve food on, or just sit and pretend that my basement has a pub feel to it.  Last night, a friend of Melissa’s and mine, Jon, came over and lent his carpentry expertise to my idea.  After we were done, we had the skeleton framework constructed of what will eventually become probably my favorite part of the basement.

Way back prior to putting in the drywall, I had plumbers rough in water pipes for a sink back by the bar area.  I even took the liberty of running TV cable up high in the bar area, in the event that I really want to enhance the sports bar feel and put a TV up behind the bar.  I’m really stretching my visionary prowess here!

The design we are going with will sort of be U-shaped, with the high countertop in front, and the other two sides being normal counter height, with room for a small fridge underneath one counter and cabinets under the other.  The high counter will extend just over six feet long, with the entire bar area taking up about a 6’x6′ footprint.  We are planning to tile the floor behind the bar.

As far as the construction went, it was nice (and strange) having someone do all the thinking for me.  Jon has built bars before, so for me it was simply a matter of “how far to you want this to extend” or “do you want the shelves to be adjustable” or something along that nature.  Some of the piecemeal things I’ve put together so far wouldn’t have held much muster to “this should look good when you are finished” had I applied those principals to the bar.  So it was quite nice to have an expert at the helms for a change.

Within a week, we’ll probably have carpeting installed and the feel of the room will change completely.  But for now, there’s this.

We framed out the bar. If you think it looks good now, just wait.

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