Get in the Know on Wet Bars
The boldest of moves to create the perfect
entertainment room culminate in a new wet bar. No party palace is complete
until it has a bar complete with sink and running water. Wet bars create a
haven, an assurance that your entertainment room will remain entertaining and
your guests’ palates quenched, all without making several laborious trips to the kitchen. Wet bars can be manufactured or custom, freestanding or built-in,
simple and inexpensive, or elaborate and pricey. Below is your extensive guide
to all things Wet Bar.
Custom Wet Bars
You can choose to build these yourself or hire a qualified
contractor. Either way, custom built wet bars are like miniature kitchen
remodels and will require several choices.
- Space and Design. The amount of space available will say a lot about design. When space is significantly limited then freestanding, pre-fab bars are most popular because they allow more flexibility. Assuming your bar is in an open space (finished basement, large game room, etc.), then your main considerations will involve function and service. The vast majority of bars are 42 inches tall and it is best to stick to this (finish) height. Typical bar top overhangs are about 12 inches and you need two feet lengthwise per bar stool. Locating the bar as close to existing water lines as possible is another wise choice.
- Structure. Freestanding bars especially must take care to maintain stability. That is why cabinets, sinks, and beverage chillers are located beneath the bar and serve as built-in supports for the bar top. Built-in models often have cabinetry for glassware, utensils, and wine racks behind the bar against a rear wall. For these designs, an L-shaped or curved bar design is advantageous because they are stronger. The wider your support wall can be, the better (go for 2x6 or 2x8 if space allows). L-shaped walls are often connected to existing framing as well, which can come in handy when tying into existing plumbing.
- Finished Facade. Beadboard, wainscoting, or some type of finish wood product are most popular with wet bars because they best create that old pub style. Some consideration must be given to trim, possibly backsplash, and molding for built-ins. Cherry, oak, maple, walnut, mahogany; any of these traditional hardwoods will do. Locating a new or vintage bar footrail is an excellent finishing touch ... and don’t forget the purse hooks for the ladies!
- Bar Top. Granite, glazed hardwood, marble, almost any typical countertop material will suffice. Natural stone is quite popular because it is easy to clean and maintain. If you are custom building your wet bar MAKE SURE to call and meet your local stone fabricator before driving a single nail—stone is a very heavy product and single-wall or L-shaped bars may require added supports, such as a steel plate beneath the bar top (fastened to top of bar wall).
- Cabinets, Sinks, Fixtures. Conventional wood cabinets are the usual, although glass doors are often used to show off stemware. Space for bar-specific utensils and built-in or under-counter wind chillers, refrigerators, even Keg-erators for beer must also be considered. Sinks are usually smaller, prep sinks but come in a range of materials, stainless steel being the most popular because it is affordable, easy to clean, and fits the bar motif. Double bowl sinks can be useful if you have the space and enjoy larger cocktail parties—what could be more convenient than a sink-full of ice! One more fixture worth noting—a wall-mount flat screen TV in the corner or somewhere behind the bar.
- Electric Lights and Cool Water. A wet bar with refrigerator, wine chiller, blender, microwave, or any electrical device is going to require a decent-sized electrical load when in use. Available water and electricity are vital to any wet bar design.
Types Of Bars
In addition to custom bars are several other types of wet
bars, mostly differentiated by style and placement.
- Pantry Bar. Pantry bars are usually built in and closed in. Cabinet fronts (high and low) hide the inner workings of the wet bar. They are often called Buffets and resemble a large piece of furniture and may have ornate wood trimmings. The upper cabinets typically house glass and stemware while the lower will house chillers, ice makers, etc. If there is any sink it will be small. Buffets are usually built within close proximity to the kitchen for that reason.
- Closet Bars are a great choice for those with limited space. Many times a handy closet can even be found near an existing water line, then converted into a built-in and set-in wet bar. They make the most out of a little space. They do tend to be limited in counter space but nonetheless provide a working wet bar without stealing any space from the room at large.
- Freestanding Bars. Quite simply, these are wet bars not connected to any adjacent wall. These are nearly always manufactured and come in a range of styles from modern to the classic English Pub design. They come with every amenity you can choose built in. They can range from the very simple (and relatively cheap) to the very elaborate and expensive. They often have built-in wine racks as well as racks for hanging glassware. Basically, a high-end freestanding bar will have everything you’d expect in a commercial bar, just packed into a much smaller space.
- Back Bars come with a backer—usually a mirror—that enhances the image and quality of your home bar. In some cases a back bar may come with a separate, freestanding “partner” bar as part of a bar set. Hanging racks for glassware as well as small shelves for liquor or decanters are other common features of back bars.
- Stainless Steel Bars are growing in popularity because of their modern look, durability, and ease of maintenance, as well as their potential for indoor and outdoor use.
Buying a Wet Bar
There are a slew of wet bar manufacturers (names like Howard
Miller come to mind but finding any online direct link is difficult). It is
much simpler and more revealing to provide online sources for purchasing home
bars and wet bars which sell from a variety of manufacturers. Following is a short
list of retailers of all types of manufactured wet bars in all price ranges and
styles. All of which sell a very wide range of bar stools as well, so they may
be a worthy resource even for custom-built bar owners.
- Home Bars Online offers a wide range of standalone wet bars from small to large to extravagant to sleek, simple, and modern. They also offer free shipping. Although they have no specific category for wet bars, so you’ll have to seek out those products with wet bar capabilities.
- Home Bars Inc. is another wet bar avenue. Again no category for wet bars ... but trying searching the site using the keyword “sink.”
- Great Home Bars separates Indoor bars by material—wood or metal—other materials will fall under the main heading. You can always return your bar within 30-days if you are not satisfied, so long as you’ve never used it and it is still in the original packaging.
- Bars and Stools USA has the most user-friendly of main pages. They allow you to select products by style (straight, right return—L-shaped), color, length, and more. They also offer free shipping and, based on price, seem to cater to higher-end bars—$1,000 being the cheapest for a home bar. Once again, however, it seems that wet bars does not qualify as a category on these sites, although many indoor home bars have sinks so the search should not be too troublesome.
Looking to turn your entertainment room into the perfect party hotspot? Then installing a wet bar is a must. Here’s a guide to getting the best wet bar to fit your home.
The cost of installing a wet bar can vary greatly depending on the size, countertop and cabinet materials, whether it’s custom-built or manufactured, as well as the cost of labor. A basic wet bar with three cabinets, a sink, faucet, electrical outlet, and Formica countertop should cost between $2,500 and $3,000. Talk to contractors and receive a more specific estimate for your home.
Wet bars ensure that your guests are served without making back-and-forth trips to the kitchen.
They can be manufactured or custom, free-standing or built-in.
Wet bars can fit a variety of budgets—there’s certainly something for everyone.
Not all entertainment rooms have the space to make installing a wet bar feasible.
Some homeowners wouldn’t use a wet bar often enough to make it worth the cost.
Freestanding bars are not necessarily very stable.
Most often, wet bars require the same regular cleaning as your kitchen—wiping down the countertops with a sponge, warm water and soap, and occasionally cleaning off the cabinets as well. Check with your manufacturer for directions on how to care for your particular wet bar.
Common Questions and Answers
What are the choices involved in creating a custom wet bar?
- Space and Design. Assuming your bar is in an open space (a finished basement or large game room, etc.), then your main considerations will involve function and service. The vast majority of bars are 42 inches tall, and so i
What are the types of wet bars available for purchase?
There are a few types available: a pantry bar that is usually built in and closed in; closet bars for entertainment rooms with limited space; freestanding bars that aren’t connected to any adjacent wall; back bars that come with a backer - usually a mirro
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