How to Build an Outdoor Bar with Concrete Block | Video

An outdoor bar is a great focal point of any backyard patio and ideal for entertaining throughout the year. The bar can be a simple design or as elaborate as you can imagine. Even with a built-in refrigerator, a BBQ Grill, shelves and even a sink, but either way, it can be customized to fit your specific needs. The construction process is quick and easy for even the most novice do-it-yourselfer. The base is constructed using a simple dry stack block process with an application of QUIKRETE QUIKWall to give it a beautiful stucco finish.

QUIKRETE QUIKWall is a special, fiberglass reinforced stucco that is simply troweled over the surface of a dry-stack block wall… QUIKWall can create beautiful stucco surfaces that are stronger and faster to build than traditional block and mortar construction. The bar countertop is made of concrete using QUIKRETE Countertop Mix and melamine forms.

Before you get started, make sure your base slab is solid and level.If you need to build a pad for the outdoor bar. High Strength QUIKRETE 5000 is the recommended product for slab construction…because of its high strength and rapid strength gain. To get started, it is important to stage the first course of block and snap a chalk line on each side of the block wall as a reference line to ensure that your corners are square and your base walls are straight. Also check to make sure the base course is level.

If the base slab is not level, remove the blocks and lay a ½ inch bed of QUIKWall under each block on the slab. This will help keep the first course level if there are imperfections or a slope in your concrete base. For this application, the QUIKWall mix should be workable but firm enough to support the weight of the first course.Because there are no mortar joints in this construction technique, your first course of block will determine if your base will be level and square.

Now, set your bottom course; check your alignment and level every 3 to 4 blocks. Once your first course is set, dry-stack the remaining block in a running bond pattern to the desired height. All corners should use an interlocking pattern. QUIKWall can be successfully mixed by hand or machine. The size of your project will often determine which method you choose.

Hand mixing can be done in a mortar tub or wheelbarrow with a mixing hoe and is suited for small projects. Always wear rubber gloves and safety glasses, when working with cement-based materials. Each 50 pound bag of QUIKWall will require about a gallon of water. Additional water can be added in small amounts to achieve a workable mix. Adding liquid cement color to standard white or gray QUIKWall can add a decorative stucco finish.

One 10 oz. bottle of QUIKRETE Liquid Cement Color will color up to two pounds of 50 pound QUIKWall. To achieve a consistent color throughout the mix, the Liquid Cement Color should be blended into the mixing water, before adding it to the mix. Using the same water-to-color ratio will help maintain color uniformity from batch to batch. This is especially important when working on large areas. The proper consistency is achieved when the wet QUIKWall will “hang” on a trowel held at a 90’ angle.

Before applying QUIKWall, thoroughly dampen the block wall with water; dampening the block will make the mix easier to finish and will help prevent inconsistent color and cracking, especially in hot temperatures. Apply a consistent 1/8 to ¼ inch coat of QUIKWall to both sides of the block. Use a square finishing trowel held at a 45 degree angle and work from the bottom of the wall to the top.

One 50 pound bag of QUIKWall will cover approximately 50 square feet at 1/8 inch thick. The coverage may vary based on the texture and thickness of the QUIKWall application. After applying QUIKWall to the base, water cure the entire surface with a fine water mist. This is especially important for color consistency and to prevent surface cracking.

Once your base is complete, confirm the measurements for the concrete countertop. Concrete is a very durable, but heavy building material; so it is best to build the countertop in manageable sections. For example, a 2 foot by 3 foot countertop, 2 inches thick will weigh about 145 lbs. In addition, if your countertop sections are 4 feet in length or less, steel reinforcement is not necessary.

The best way to achieve a dense, smooth surface for your concrete countertops is to use a precast method. In a precast process, the countertops are poured in forms constructed from ¾ inch melamine – coated particleboard. Cut 2 inch strips of melamine for the form sides to create a 2 inch thick concrete countertop. Drill pilot holes every 6 inches along the length of the side forms and attach the side forms to the base using 2 ½ inch deck screws.

Use a carpenter’s square to make sure all corners are square. Then run a thin bead of silicone caulk in all form seams and smooth with a fingertip. This will give the countertop a smooth edge. Now the form is ready for the countertop mix. Countertop Mix can be mixed using a standard drum mixer, or in a 5 gallon pail with a ½ inch drill mixer and mixer blade. QUIKRETE Countertop Mix is designed specifically for countertops… the high density, high strength concrete mix can be removed from the forms in just 18 hours and achieves over 6000 PSI in compressive in 28 days.

Another characteristic that makes Countertop mix unique is that it requires very little mechanical vibration to consolidate and densify the mix, which minimizes voids and helps provide a smooth surface. Countertop Mix is available in two base colors: gray and tint base white. Gray can be used for a natural gray concrete color and to achieve darker colors with the addition of liquid or dry pigments. Tint base white is designed to be used with pigments to achieve a lighter color range.

The concrete should be mixed for a minimum of 5 minutes until the desired consistency is achieved. The mix is formulated to perform equally well in a plastic or flowable consistency. To give the countertop an integral color, liquid cement color can be added to the mixing water before it is added to the mixer. After mixing, fill the form, making sure the mix is consolidated into the corners of the form. Complete the pour in two equal “lifts” about 1 inch deep.

Work from the bottom-up rather than side-to-side. This will minimize any surface color variations. If necessary, structural steel should be embedded after applying the first lift. Then continue placing the mix, overfilling the form slightly. Then using a metal straight edge, screed the surface in a sawing motion. You will want to do this in both directions several times. Screeding will level what will be the underside of the countertop.

After screeding, use a rubber mallet to vibrate the form to consolidate the mix and remove air voids that would cause surface imperfections. Another option is to use a vibrating palm sander. Once the finishing process is completed cover the forms with plastic sheeting and allow to stand undisturbed for 18 hours. After the forms are removed, flip the countertop and use fine sandpaper to smooth edges and remove imperfections.

Every countertop contains natural surface variations that make each countertop truly unique, the countertop’s appearance can be enhanced with surface treatments such as staining and sealing. QUIKRETE® Acrylic High Gloss Sealer – Wet Look is a water-based, high-gloss, clear acrylic sealer designed to seal concrete surfaces from water, dirt, oils, and grease, and to enhance the natural surface color.

Wet-Look Sealer can be applied after the concrete has cured in about 28 days. To guarantee a proper seal, wipe down the countertop surface, before applying the Wet Look Sealer. This is necessary to remove any dirt or dust that may have adhered, during the 28 day curing process. Once the surface has been cleared of any particulate matter, apply QUIKRETE Acrylic High Gloss Sealer. The wet look sealer can be applied with a roller or a brush.

 

Project Instructions

When working with cement-based products, always wear eye protection and waterproof gloves.

Step 1
Stage the first course of block, on top of solid, level concrete slab.

QUIK-Tip: If you need to build a pad for the outdoor bar, use QUIKRETE 5000

Step 2
Snap a chalk line on each side of the intended block wall, to make sure the corners are square and the wall is straight.

Step 3
Set the first course, against the chalk line.

QUIK-Tip: Make sure the first course is level by checking every third or fourth block.

Step 4
Once the first course is set, dry stack the remaining block in a running bond pattern, making sure the corners are interlocking.

Step 5
Mix the necessary amount of QUIKWALL, following the directions on the bag.

QUIK-Tip: The mix is the right consistency when the stucco will hang from a trowel at a 45 degree angle.

Step 6
Dampen the block with water using a garden sprayer.

Step 7
Apply the stucco at 1/8” to ¼” thickness using a square trowel, starting from the bottom and working up the block wall.

Step 8
Once the stucco is applied to the entire base, water cure with a fine mist to prevent cracking.

Step 9
Re-confirm the dimension for the countertop by measuring the top of the block base.

Step 10
Build forms from ¾” melamine by screwing four 2” strips to a base sheet, according to the countertop dimensions.

QUIK-Tip: Concrete is heavy, so use multiple forms that don’t exceed 2’ x 3’ and 2” thick to manage larger countertop projects.

Step 11
Squirt 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. Remove any excess.

Step 12
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.

QUIK-Tip: 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.

Step 13
Over fill the forms slightly, before pulling a 2×4 in a sawing motion over the surface several times each direction.

Step 14
Consolidate the mix, and remove air voids by tapping the forms with a rubber mallet or vibrating with an orbital sander without the pad.

Step 15
Let cure for at least 18 hours, before removing the forms.

Step 16
Once each countertop section us removed from the form, smooth the edges with fine sandpaper.

Step 17
Place, as desired, on newly formed bar base.

Step 18
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.

 

For more project ideas just like this, visit QUIKRETE.com.

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