How to Build a Basement Bar

Create the basement hangout of your dreams with these DIY steps

Kristin Luna
Written by Kristin Luna
Updated June 15, 2022
Game room and bar in basement home
Photo: jimkruger / E+ / Getty Images


Perfect for handy homeowners.

Time to complete

16 hours



You’ll spend a lot on supplies, but you may still save money by DIYing.

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What you'll need:


  • Tape measure
  • Speed square
  • Chop saw
  • Circular saw
  • Table saw
  • Sawhorse
  • Paintbrushes
  • Clamps
  • Biscuit joiner
  • Router
  • Table saw
  • Pocket drill rig
  • Screw gun
  • Router
  • Sander
  • Clamps
  • Nail gun
  • Air compressor


  • Birch or maple plywood sheets (.5 to .75 inches thick)
  • Infrastructure boards (2 inches by 4 inches by 8 feet, for example)
  • Drawer slides
  • Hinges
  • Prefinished countertop
  • Screws
  • Nails
  • Glue
  • Pocket hole screws
  • Wood stain or paint
  • Sandpaper
  • Rags
  • Rubber gloves

If your house has a basement level with plenty of space to adapt to your needs, consider yourself lucky. From creating a living room or bedroom suite to building a basement bar, there are plenty of routes you can take for figuring out how to maximize the space. 

If the latter sounds up your alley, check out these basement bar ideas to get a handle on what you’ll need to take this DIY project from concept to reality.

8 Steps to Building a Basement Bar

  1. Come Up With a Game Plan

    Before you even begin building your basement bar, it’s a good idea to figure out how you’re going to use the space. Will it function as a place where you’ll entertain football-loving pals? In that case, you’ll want to add some deep couches and a flat-screen TV or two. Will you primarily use it as a place for entertaining and serving drinks to friends? You might want to add a floating shelf to house your liquor, and you’ll need bar stools and other seating areas with side tables to house glasses.

    Will you serve beer? If so, you’ll likely want a beverage refrigerator. Wine? If you don’t have the means to build a wine cellar but fancy yourself an oenophile, you’ll want to plan enough space to tuck a wine cooler away behind the basement bar and build out a rack system for the reds. 

    You’ll also want to budget out how much it will cost to build a basement bar. If you’re at a loss for where to start, a local interior designer will be able to help you map out a game plan.

  2. Measure and Cut the Boards

    The baseline of any cabinetry project is the boxes that support the interior shelves, drawers, sinks, and countertops. The first step to building the backbone of your bar is to measure and lay out a drawing for the boxes, as well as figure out the final dimensions to match your space. 

    If you don’t have access to tools or simply don’t feel like making this a DIY project, you might look at hiring a local carpenter to do the woodwork for you.

  3. Assemble the Frame

    There are a few different ways you can start to assemble the frame for your basement bar. The pocket drill rig is likely the easiest of the woodworking methods for a medium-skilled DIYer, but it’s not hard to level up if you have the right tools and space in your garage. Carpenters often use biscuits, dowels, or mortise-and-tenon joints because they are stronger methods of building furniture and have a cleaner look than using a pocket drill rig. 

    Tools you might need to assemble your bar frame include:

    • Clamps

    • Biscuit joiner

    • Router

    • Table saw

    • Pocket drill rig

    • Screw gun

  4. Install Doors and Drawers

    Once you’ve built the basic dimensional box for the outline of your bar, you’ll need to assemble and install doors and drawers to the skeleton. Using simple slab maple wood for the faces of each will give your set-up a sleek mid-century modern look. You’ll want to use detailed recessed or raised panels if you’d like a more traditional-looking bar or basement kitchenette. 

    Each has its own challenges and costs, with slab-fronter doors and drawers being the least expensive and easiest to make at home. A slab-front is just a single piece of hardwood that is made to fit the opening, so other than measuring correctly and attaching hinges, slides, and knobs, manufacturing them is straightforward. 

    For more detailed doors and drawers, you’ll need more sophisticated carpentry tools and prep areas. Make each panel slightly larger than the door or drawer opening to overlap the cabinet box for a clean look. Some tools you might need for building your basement bar doors include:

    • Table saw

    • Chop saw

    • Router

    • Sander

    • Clamps

    • Nail gun

    • Air compressor

    If you don’t own the tools already, you can rent from your local equipment store or bring in a carpenter for this phase of your DIY project.

  5. Install the Bar Backing

    Now that you’ve got a solid bar box with drawers and doors, you’ll want to take a look at the side that faces your room. This is an opportunity to install a fancy pattern like herringbone or chevron, shiplap siding, or glossy tile, or if you intend to use the wood that makes up the box as the base to stain and varnish your bar. 

    If you opt to install a fresh face to the bar on the back of the skeleton, after measuring carefully, use your chop saw to shape the pieces of wood for the bar back and mount the pieces with a nail gun or glue. If you’ve decided to use tile, you’ll want to float the surface with mastic prior to cutting and installing new material. 

    This surface will be the centerpiece of the bar and complement the entire room. Depending on your tastes, you can then accent your bar backing with plush, velvet pull-up chairs or rustic, rough-hewn wooden stools. 

  6. Install Countertops

    Depending on how upscale you plan for your basement bar to be, you may want to add a granite or soapstone countertop. What countertop material you choose for your bar top will ultimately depend on your budget. You can easily DIY with a pre-fabricated piece of engineered laminate, for example, by visiting a neighborhood big-box store and having it custom cut to fit. Once you have the piece sized exactly for your space, you simply need to secure it to the cabinets with glue or screws. Alternatively, you can cut the laminate yourself with a circular saw and a couple of sawhorses. 

    Working with a custom piece of stone installed by a local countertop contractor will add more value to the project but has a much higher price point. Stone countertops are not commonly within reach of DIYers because of the heavy machinery required to make cuts in the solid rock, so plan on getting multiple bids to ensure you’re getting a good deal.  

    If you’re on a budget and are repurposing old materials, like plywood, you already have around the house, you can still get creative with your DIY basement remodel by painting the countertops once installed for a more custom bar look. 

  7. Paint or Stain the Bar

    Painting and wood maintenance oil-wax
    Photo: gkrphoto / iStock / Getty Images Plus / Getty Images

    No matter if you’re keeping your basement bar a natural wood or if you’re giving it a colorful finish coat, you’ll want to put a sealant on top. Applying a good coat of primer to all raw wood, then sanding and adding a topcoat will protect your basement bar investment for years to come. 

    Start by thoroughly cleaning the raw wood before putting a thick coat of primer on top. Once that’s dry, give it a solid sand, caulk in any exposed seams, and apply two topcoats of a good quality paint. 

    Rubbing on a high-quality stain followed by the varnish of your choice is also a classic look for a bar. To apply stain, wear rubber gloves and gently brush on a thin layer of product. Working in sections, remove the extra stain by rubbing it off with a cloth or paper towel until it looks even. 

    Finally, apply two coats of varnish, with a light sanding in between, to make the cabinets shine and protect your stain work. It’s important to remember that stain and varnish are fire hazards, as are the rags and brushes used in their application. Dispose of them safely.

  8. Add Accessories

    Once the hard part of building your basement bar is complete, now comes the cherry on top: adding accents to the space. If you have enough room in your basement, you may want to add a pool table, foosball, or other entertainment options. 

    To incorporate some pizzazz to your newly finished basement bar, you also might consider adding bar accessories like a mixology set, wine rack, and wall-mounted bottle opener.

DIY Building a Basement Bar vs. Hiring a Pro

Building a cabinet itself is no easy task for the typical DIYers, so if you’re not comfortable making boxes, drawers, and doors, then you’ll want to hire a local cabinet maker to build your basement bar for you.

By building the bar yourself, you can easily save thousands of dollars with price variables like countertop quality and how high-end you want the cabinetry to be. However, know that it requires a certain level of skill and time commitment. Expect to save between 20 to 30% if you do the majority of the work yourself. 

Need professional help with your project?
Get quotes from top-rated pros.