What’s the secret to building a curved bar top? Discover the design tips for the proper clearances, layout, fabrication and installation of radius bar tops.
HOW TO DESIGN A CURVED BAR TOP
Over the years I’ve noticed that many people have a preference for curved surfaces in bar and nightclub design projects. Long, flowing and clever curves are very popular, but this comes with a hefty price tag. The finished product – no matter the type – is the end-result of painstaking detail. To achieve a first-class finished product requires a fair amount of experience and attention to detail that culminates in practical design, fabrication and installation. This is especially true with commercial bar design, because there are so many interacting components and everyone who’s involved with the process has to take extra time to ensure all details are correct. The key to successful radius bar top design is consistency in the finished product. To illustrate this, let’s look at an example of one of our recent projects. Here are the key design factors for a successful curved bar top:
1. Long, sweeping curves, which create visual appeal.
2. The radius should be symmetrical about the centerline of the bar, as illustrated here.
3. The overhang needs to be adequate at the ends while not being excessive in the center.
As illustrated in this example, the overhang at the ends is 8 3/8” (21.27 cm), which is the same as the overhangs on the return legs, but the maximum overall depth can’t exceed 32” – the maximum recommended depth for a radius bar top.
TIPS FOR FABRICATING AND INSTALLING RADIUS BAR TOPS
In order to ensure accuracy in the overall finish of your bar, here are a couple of design tips:
1. Draw the entire bar plan in CAD.
2. Include separate layers for the bar top and underlayment.
3. Minimize the number of finished pieces.
4. For wood products, locate a fabrication shop that has a CNC (computer numerical control) router.
5. For solid surfaces, such as granite, quartz or marble, the cutting needs to be performed on a CNC waterjet.
You’ll normally furnish your digital information in the form of an electronic file in the .DWG or .DXF format. If the finished top is a solid surface, you’ll want to have the underlayment cut on a CNC router, as plywood isn’t compatible with water-cutting.
Your contractor should install the bar base and underlayment and can also install wood bar tops. However, the installation of solid bar tops is usually performed by the vendors who fabricate them – who use their own installation crews, as this work is more particular.
BAR TOP INSTALLATION TIPS AND ADVICE
The installation is the “Make-it-or-break-it” phase of every project, and here are some tips to help ensure your project’s success:
1. Make sure that the entire bar base is well-anchored and is plumb, level and square.
2. Always use at least one (1) layer of ¾” (19 mm) plywood underlayment for wood bar tops and two (2) layers for solid surfaces, glued and screwed.
3. Install 3” x 3” x 12 ga steel angles and brackets (76 mm x 76 mm) continuously along both sides of the bar base, as shown in this sketch; these are designed to stabilize the bar tops; refer to the downloadable cut sheet.
4. Stay away from mitered corners, as the material from opposing sides is very tricky to keep level and therefore, aren’t compatible with a good installation. I deliberately used butted seams for this design for this very reason.
Experience goes a long way to any successful bar installation, but the above design tips and advice should help ensure a very satisfactory result. Best of luck!
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