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Stone Outdoor Bar: Detailed Breakdown of the Top 4 Options, & Outstanding Ideas

By Jayme Muller

June 9, 2023

Want an outdoor bar… But have something specific in mind?

You’ve taken a look at DIY wooden bars, tiki bars, galvanized steel, and the like… But none of these aesthetics are speaking to you.

There’s nothing wrong with them, per se.

But you’re after a more high class aesthetic. You want your outdoor bar to elevate your backyard… And create an impressive presence.

So it’s no surprise that you find yourself looking into a stone outdoor bar.

They look fantastic, but… What are your options? And how do you build one?

We’ll discuss both questions in detail… And share several stone outdoor bar ideas for your inspiration.

Ready to get started?

Quicklinks:

Types of Stone Bars (And a Brief “How-To”)

There’s no question that when it comes to stone… You have a ton of different options at your disposal.

There’s travertine, river stone, flagstone, pavers, and the like… But for the most part, you’re not going to be working with actual stones.

When you’re choosing a solution for your outdoor bar… What you really want to know is — what build method is best?

Some use natural stones… And others not.

Let’s discuss.

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Outdoor Bar Made with Natural Stone

galley outdoor kitchen with bar island and seating

Let’s start with the most literal build method.

That’s right… An outdoor bar solely made from natural stones.

This is also known by the name “hand laid stone”… And there are two slightly different ways to pull this off.

In either scenario, you’ll be laying each stone by hand yourself. You can choose to mortar the stones together… Or you can lay them dry, relying on gravity to hold the stones firmly in place.

Sounds like pretty backbreaking work, right?

That’s because it is.

You’re hauling enormous stones back and forth… Putting them in place… And repeating that ad infinitum.

Plus, you have to deal with the fact that stones are, well… Natural. They’re irregularly shaped. So on top of that, you have to sift through them carefully to ensure a good fit for your bar.

There’s no doubt the results are beautiful… But is it really worth the effort?

Let’s get to the pros and cons.

Pro: Hand Laid Stone Bars are Stunning

close up of stone outdoor kitchen

There’s no doubt in anyone’s mind here… Hand laid stone bars are straight up impressive.

These old-world style structures demand respect… Particularly when you consider the craftsmanship required to construct one.

And in terms of choosing the stone you want to use… Your options are truly limitless.

If you want jaw-dropping results, there’s nothing more impactful than a natural stone bar.

Pro: They’ll Last Forever

There’s no material more hardy to the outdoor environment than natural stone!

Particularly if you mortar the stones together… Durability concerns will never cross your mind.

As long as it’s built properly… Your stone outdoor bar will long outlive you. (And possibly even your children and grandchildren!)

Point is, these structures are made to last the long haul.

Con: This Project is Best Left to the Experts

As we detailed earlier… Hand laid stone bars are an insanely labor-intensive process.

Not to mention, it requires an immense amount of skill. You can’t just stack a bunch of stones and expect a perfect result!

Therefore, it’s best to leave this project in the hands of a true stonemason.

So if you were hoping to DIY a hand laid stone outdoor bar… We commend your ambition. But trust us, you’ll be glad you left it to the experts!

You’ll save yourself time, frustration… And probably save yourself from a back injury as well!

Con: Hand Laid Stone is Massively Expensive

a woman gathering her savings for an outdoor kitchen project

And although this task is best left to an experienced stonemason… They are increasingly difficult to come by.

Therefore, it should come as no surprise that the labor will be expensive!

Their work is always in high demand… So you’ll have to pay a premium for the task.

But it’s not just the labor you’ll pay out the nose for!

Sourcing the natural stone is extremely expensive… And will significantly bump up the cost of your project.

In fact, some stone outdoor kitchens could cost as much as 100k! You can expect your bar to land in the same ballpark… So this project is not for those on a tight budget!

Perhaps CMU could be an alternative.

CMU Outdoor Bar with Stone Veneer

If you’re looking to maintain the hardiness of pure natural stone… A CMU (concrete masonry unit) outdoor bar is a possible option.

Rather than being constructed from pure stone… These bar islands are framed with concrete blocks.

You’ll stack them in place to create your desired layout.

From there, you’ll finish the exterior by mortaring on either a natural or cultured stone veneer.

Once complete, you’ll install your appliances (if any) and countertop… And voila, you have a stone outdoor bar!

This may seem a bit easier than hand laid stone (and it is)… But CMU islands are not without significant challenges!

Let’s weigh the advantages and disadvantages.

Pro: These Bars are Extremely Durable

Although not quite the same caliber of hand laid stone… A properly constructed CMU bar can easily last you a lifetime.

There’s a reason why cinder blocks are a fundamental construction material!

They’re extremely durable, stable… And are hardy to the outdoor environment. (No risk of rot, rust, corrosion, warping, or swelling here!)

Point is, a well-done CMU bar isn’t going anywhere, anytime soon.

Pro: Plenty of Stone Variety Available

While it’s not quite as limitless as hand laid stone… You’ll still be able to take your pick!

There are a massive amount of cultured and natural stone veneer options out there.

Which means, no matter what stone aesthetic you’re after for your outdoor bar… You’ll be sure to find what you’re looking for.

Con: Still Not a DIY-Friendly Endeavor

two contractors finishing an outdoor kitchen with natural stone veneer

While just about anything will be easier than hand laid stone… Let’s not get ahead of ourselves!

Building a concrete block outdoor bar is no small feat.

You’re still hauling around heavy concrete blocks, arranging them into place… And applying the stone finish by hand.

We won’t even get started on making your own concrete countertops… That’s an entire other skillset to get into! (You can also order granite countertops, but that won’t be DIY!)

So once again, this task is best left to the experts. As long as you carefully vet your contractor… You should be in good hands.

Con: Can Be Unsafe (if Installing a Grill Station)

If you’re planning on putting any cooking appliances into your outdoor bar, or attaching it to an outdoor kitchen… This is where some safety concerns can come into play.

Why?

You’ll need ventilation. The hot air and gas coming from your outdoor grill will buildup in your island, and if not accounted for… Can lead to a fire or explosion.

And while concrete is a noncombustible material… These islands don’t have a lot of interior cavity space.

This means that heat and gas will accumulate far quicker than other islands.

If you’re not incorporating any cooking appliances into your bar… You shouldn’t have an issue. But this is something to bear in mind if you do want a grill!

How do ready to finish bars compare?

RTF Outdoor Bar with Stone Veneer

Next in the evolution would be a ready to finish (RTF) kit with stone veneer.

This solution is notably less taxing on the body… But it still requires a great deal of effort.

Instead of using natural stone or concrete blocks for the frame… You’ll generally see kits come with either steel or aluminum frames.

Most RTF kits will come with these frames pre-assembled. So much of the work has been cut down for you there!

However, you’ll still have to get your hands dirty for several steps.

To cover the frame, you’ll need to cut out pieces of cement board to surround the island. And if you want appliances in your bar… You’ll have to make cutouts for those as well.

And once again, you’ll find yourself mortaring on a natural or cultured stone veneer to finish the exterior. (This still requires a lot of time and skill!)

To wrap up, you’ll install your appliances and the countertop.

RTF systems are certainly an improvement… But again, there are disadvantages to this method!

However, we’ll start with the good.

Pro: Can Be Accomplished by an Avid DIYer

This is more of a tentative advantage… But it’s true.

Many homeowners can successfully install an RTF bar kit! However, there is a caveat there.

You must be an avid DIYer, with some level of construction know-how.

And you are still applying the stone finish by hand… So this will require a good amount of elbow grease!

It’s a bit more approachable… But still not for the faint of heart.

Pro: Plenty of Stone Variety

Just like CMU and hand laid stone bar islands… You can take your pick of any natural or cultured stone with RTF!

We won’t belabor the point, since it’s already been discussed.

However, it’s nice to know that whatever aesthetic you’re after… You can make it work.

Con: Least Durable Solution

a metal frame outdoor kitchen falling apart after a few winters

Unfortunately, here’s where RTF begins to fall apart. In some cases, literally.

Most ready to finish islands you’ll encounter are made with metal frames. Some homeowners will build them from wood. (However, we never recommend this.)

So let’s stick with metal.

It’s extremely important that the gauge of your metal is strong enough to withstand the weight of your countertop, finishes, and potential appliances.

Higher gauge metal is thinner, while lower gauge metal is thicker. Therefore, you want your bar to be made with lower gauge metal.

But not all RTF companies provide a sturdy structure! Keep this in mind to ensure the optimal durability of your island.

Con: A Poor Choice in Most Climates

Aside from not always being structurally sound… RTF kits face significant challenges in most areas of the country.

Particularly… In areas with harsh, cold winters or humid, coastal air.

These environments put extreme stress on the layers of an RTF island.

Constant moisture and temperature fluctuations can cause stones to pop off your island… Leaving the interior exposed to damage.

Cement board in particular is susceptible to moisture, which doesn’t leave much of a protective barrier for your frame.

Thus, humid air (even worse if it’s salty) is able to come in contact with your frame… Completely uninhibited. It won’t be long before your frame begins to rust and corrode.

And within a few short years… Your bar will be in severe need of maintenance (or even replacement).

Con: Can be Unsafe (if Installing a Kitchen)

Similar to CMU islands… Ventilation is a significant concern with RTF kits if you install cooking appliances into your bar.

Many companies aren’t even aware of the need for ventilation… So it won’t even be included in your plans.

Or if vents are planned for, it won’t be enough to adequately flush hot air away from the island.

This is extremely dangerous!

Again, if you’re just installing a bar with no cooking appliances… You’ll be alright. But don’t say we didn’t warn you!

Now, let’s take a look at our final solution.

Ready to Assemble Bar Island with Faux Stone Finish

We’d argue that the final frontier of outdoor bar construction lies with the ready to assemble (RTA) kit.

Why?

Simply put… It’s the easiest way to get a stone outdoor bar.

Rather than hauling stones… Or arranging concrete blocks… Or cutting cement board and applying a veneer…

You can get the job done in mere hours, with just a handful of steps.

RTA bar kits come delivered to your door as concrete panels. These concrete panels are monolithic… Meaning they are structural, and have the stone finish fully incorporated already.

No finishing work on your part!

You’re just unpacking the crate… Arranging your panels into place… Bolting them together (with provided hardware)… Sliding in any appliances, and placing the countertop.

Done.

A stone outdoor bar in no time flat.

However, RTA does have some drawbacks as well… But let’s kick off with the pros.

Pro: Most DIY-Friendly Option Available

RTA offers the most DIY friendly solution out there… Bar none. (Forgive the pun!)

As we’ve touched upon a moment ago, there’s no finishing work involved for an RTA stone bar.

You also don’t need any special equipment!

All you need is a power drill… And we provide the rest.

So if you know how to use a drill… You can figure out how to assemble an RTA bar island!

Point is, you don’t need a background in masonry or construction. You’ll even have access to a Project Experience Manager, who will guide you through the process on the day of installation.

That’s as DIY friendly as it gets when it comes to building a stone outdoor bar.

Pro: Customization without Stress

RTA stone outdoor bars also allow you to fully customize your island… Without the stress of having to plan out every single detail yourself.

With all of the previous options, you either have to create a design from scratch… Or work diligently with a mason to get the look you’re after.

With RTA, the process starts with a self-serve online design tool.

This 5 step tool guides you through creating your outdoor bar design… And you get the instant gratification of seeing the results presented before you!

We also have a suite of Design Experts, ready to advise you on creating the best design for your space.

No matter what you’re looking for… You’re in good hands.

Pro: Durability without Sacrificing Safety

RTA bar islands are made with concrete that has been rated for 100 years.

So just like concrete block bars and hand laid stone… An RTA island isn’t going anywhere for a long time!

These bar islands are no match for freeze/thaw cycles, humid air, rust, corrosion, rotting, and the like.

And if you want to include some cooking appliances in your stone bar… There’s no need to worry about safety.

Our islands have cavernous interiors, which significantly reduce the risk of gas and heat buildup.

Additionally, these islands feature ventilation in 7 unique locations… Well exceeding the guidelines from our appliance manufacturer.

Enjoy your stone outdoor bar (with appliances!)… Safe and sound.

Con: Stone Finishes are Limited

Stacked Stone Graphite
Stacked Stone Terra
Stacked Stone Chalk
Modern Stone Ash
Modern Stone Bright

While there’s a lot to gush about with RTA bar islands… It’s not all sunshine and rainbows.

Unfortunately, our stone finish options are limited.

Currently, we offer a stacked stone and a modern stone finish. The stacked stone finish is offered in 3 color variations, and modern stone offered in 2 color variations.

In total, that leaves you with 5 different options to choose from.

If these aren’t the aesthetic you’re after… This may be a stumbling block for you.

We understand! You want reality to match your vision as closely as possible.

If these finishes don’t speak to you… Check our website periodically, as we work tirelessly to release new finishes that appeal to our customers.

Con: We Can’t do Everything

It’s true that our design flexibility is impressive… But not everything is possible with our system.

Do you want a curved island? Two tier bar? A massive bar island that’s over 14’ long?

Currently, these are design elements that we can’t pull off.

So if these features are a must-have… You may have to reconsider one of the previous options!

Which leads us to the question…

What’s the Best Stone Outdoor Bar?

outdoor bar with swivel bar seats on deck

Of course, since you’re embarking on this project… You want to make sure it gets done properly!

And in order to make the right choice for your home… You want to choose the best outdoor bar solution.

In truth, any of these solutions could be viable. It depends on your needs.

But for the vast majority of homeowners… An RTA bar island is going to be the most natural fit.

It’s the most streamlined, the most DIY-friendly, and the easiest to customize. As long as you like the stone finishes available… RTA provides the most stress-free experience possible.

But you’ve already read the proof… So let’s look at some real-life examples.

Best stone custom bar island

Design your stone bar island using our free 3D design tool and customize to your hearts content. Get started today!

Stone Outdoor Bar Ideas

In order to see what’s possible for your stone outdoor bar… You’re going to need to see some ideas!

So without further ado… Let’s take a look at some RTA outdoor stone bar designs.

Stacked Stone Outdoor Bar by the Water

linear stacked stone island on patio by the water

What better way to enjoy your waterfront property… Than sitting at your outdoor bar, overlooking the calm waters?

We certainly can’t think of anything better.

And this bright stacked stone bar is exactly what we love to see!

There’s no sink or drop-in cooler installed in the bar top… Which frees up that entire space for guests to relax and rest their drinks.

With four matching bar chairs on the back… You and your loved ones will have plenty of space to cozy up at the bar, and enjoy the view.

Plus, there’s even a pavilion to keep the area comfortably shaded… Allowing you to spend the entire day surrounded by the solace of your outdoor bar. (A pergola would also be great for partial shade!)

Impressive Outdoor Stone Bar Idea

stacked stone graphite bar island with refrigerator and trash and kegerator

Let’s take a look at another waterfront stone outdoor bar… Although, this landscape design is set up quite differently!

By creating a U-shape layout, this homeowner was able to incorporate two bar islands into their design.

It’s joined by a grill island in the center… So guests can watch you on either side while you cook al fresco! (Talk about a hibachi-like experience.)

This homeowner also has a drop-in cooler and outdoor fridge for keeping refreshments on hand… And a pull out trash bin to keep the area tidy.

There’s seating for six guests in total… With an expansive waterfront view that all can enjoy.

All in all, this stacked stone outdoor bar is quite impressive!

DIY Outdoor Stone Bar with TV

Who said your garden bar always needs to include seating?

It’s a popular choice… But depending on your desires, it’s not always necessary.

Take this outdoor patio bar, for instance.

It’s lined up against the wall, which offers no seating potential… But it does provide an excellent bar prep station!

There’s drawer storage, a drop in cooler, a pull out trash, and a sink… All of which provide the perfect recipe for an excellent (and efficient!) cocktail station.

You’ll also note a side burner well off to the right side… Which is a great accessory to accompany the rest of this homeowner’s outdoor kitchen (not pictured).

And when you’re done mixing drinks or grabbing your favorite wine… You can flip on the TV, and enjoy the game with your guests!

The only thing that would make this space better is to add a fire pit to cozy up to!

L-Shaped Stone Bar Outdoor

stacked stone chalk l shape with bar island

This stone outdoor kitchen bar offers the best of both worlds… You’ve got a complete outdoor kitchen, mashed together with a bar island!

The BBQ island has a stainless steel gas grill, side burner, and double access doors. This is perfect for searing steaks… And whipping up a delicious side dish on the burner.

The bar island is well-optimized, too. The outdoor refrigerator and pull out trash are an excellent use of space… With the open countertop leaving room for bar stools as well.

This home bar has everything you need… Without the excess.

Starting to feel inspired?

Let’s discuss how to get started.

Getting Started with Your Outdoor Stone Bar Plans

At this point… You’ve heard us discuss the benefits of RTA DIY outdoor bar kits at length.

So instead of repeating ourselves, let’s talk about how to get started.

Earlier, we mentioned a free online design tool.

This is the perfect way to get started with your stone outdoor bar/kitchen design.

It will take only a few minutes of your time… And you’ll officially be on the path to making your dream bar a reality!

Not sure what you want?

That’s where our team of Design Experts come in.

If you’re not sure where to start, or what would be best for your space… Our Experts are ready to swoop in and provide assistance!

With their expertise… They’ll be able to work with you to create the ideal solution for your outdoor entertaining space.

So, how does that sound?

If you’re ready to transform your outdoor living room… Check out our free online design tool, and we’ll be in touch with you!

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