Introduction: Palapa Tiki Hut W/Outdoor Kitchen - on a Budget

To start out I have to warn you, this is a daunting task and thus, a really long instructable. The whole build took about 6 months worth of weekends, give or take a few. I will try to break it up into sections for those that just want a part of it. I did tons of research before I even picked up materials and there just isn't an all-encompassing, step by step, instruction manual that exists for this so I am going to take it upon myself to complete that task as well.

It is important to note that the plumbing and electrical already existed where I built this as there was a really old and gross hot tub there that I took apart with a chainsaw - that was kinda fun. If you do plan to run electrical and plumbing you should check with your city about any permits needed. Your city ordinance may also have height restrictions for the canopy. My hut is a few inches below the max and the sink drain was turned into a irrigation for the planters on the right side. That's probably not up to code but meh.

I made my fair share of mistakes on this and I most definitely cut some corners that will likely cause some anger from folks that know what they're doing but my goal here was not exactly to do everything by the book and more to do this for the lowest cost possible and also try to make it look like it isn't homemade. The costs i found online for Palapa hut kits were either cheap and flimsy or started at $5,000 - AND THAT'S JUST FOR THE HUT!! Outdoor kitchens can cost anywhere from $2-$15K and that's not including labor costs. My total cost for the palapa & outdoor kitchen (including beer tapper, 5 burner grill, and plumbed sink) was just shy of $2,000. Now that means i was thrifty and I will add those tips into this as well as links to specific materials used and some you should use instead of making the mistakes I did.

Random Tip: Make sure to wear the same pair of jeans for the length of the entire project. Just sayin - this is a messy job.


Roof & Base Materials:

I used the link provided for pretty much all of the plans and materials list for the pitched roof. the website is for a roofing calculator and provides all the pictures, diagrams and instructions you will ever need. my roof was 9'x12' with a 4 in 12 rise.


pencils - like a billion of them and put them everywhere

Chalkline or String


Miter saw or Circular Saw - I guess you could use a handsaw if you enjoy torture.


roofing square, speed square, carpenters square whatever you want to call it

I also love my adjustable slide T-square and used it quite a bit

hammer or framing nailer - look on craigslist or let go app - you can usually find a decent nailer for under $100.
Harbor Freight has one by porter cable too but i mostly do not trust their tools to last long. I used a hammer and it sucked.

tape measure

level - I used 2 levels most of the time

impact driver or drill

a few 3" screws

Simpson PB46 post bases and lag bolts

Quickrete and scrap wood for temp bracing

Deck waterproof and stain

Fire Retardant - I didn't use this

Typical weather conditions in your area will determine whether it is necessary to use strong ties and bracing. I live in Phoenix where the sun does the most damage and windy rain is only a few weeks of the year. I will probably still add ties at some point just to be safe but considering there is no real significant load on the roof, I didn't deem it necessary at the time.

use the material list from the link above but add 3 - 2x4's that run the width of the roof area - these will be used as temporary ridge bracing if you are doing the roof by yourself

I think thats it.

I will go into detail of the tricks I used to build the roof with no helpers in the next steps - I don't recommend you do it without a helping hand but i will show you how since i had to figure it out.

Palapa Mexican Palm Thatch - Forever Bamboo, Amazon is still the cheapest place to get it -

To attach the thatch you will need at least the following:

Palm thatch - I used 1 60' roll & 1 30' roll and barely made it around, if you don't want sunshine or rain to come through, double it

Roofing nails



Scissors or blade

Tape measure

Helpful (I didn't have this but wish i did): Roofing nail gun - would've gone so much faster, zip-ties for holding the roll in place, extra thatch to account for the overlap, another helper to hold the roll.

Outdoor Kitchen Material:


Recommended: Metal Studs, nippers, self-tapping screws, lumber for backing

What I used: Chem treated/Hot pressed 2x4's, Exterior 2.5-3" Coated Screws, miter saw - If you live in a wet area or want it to last forever then use the recommended version. If you don't care, use mine.

Concrete - 3 bags, more if you want to do it the right way.




Concrete anchors


Chalk & Pencils

Hardiboard or Cement Board of your choice - blade or handheld cutoff tool & respirator - don't breathe that stuff in unless you want a long a brutal death in your future.

3/4" Plywood - Exterior grade

Clamps - vital part of any build, always have clamps

Everything Else

Cedar for framing doors, plywood and cedar balusters

wood stain

Painters tape

Redwood or Cedar Fencing run through a planer provides a cheap way to do a wood backsplash. Paint grade cedar costs about $7 more per board.

Tile for counters - 2 boxes - Slate style ceramic floor tile. Thrifty tip: Check out Habitat for Humanity Restores in your area or google reuse building supply warehouses for finding overstock options.

Modified thinset - 1 box or bag

Mixing spoon and heavy drill -or- just a stick and a bucket if you like torture

Epoxy Grout - I didn't use epoxy but you should

Silicone Caulk - color to match grout

All of the typical tiling tools: wet saw if you got it otherwise a tile snap should work for any tile that isn't stone, diamond blade on an angle grinder works too, Grout Float, Sponges & towels, snap cutter-handheld, flooring trowel, mallet, gloves - both vinyl and cloth, spacers - i didn't use but you should.

DO NOT USE Fusion Pro Grout - It is the worst product ever AND its expensive - the neighborhood kids learned some new words from me that day.

tile drill bits & diamond hole saw - for beer tapper install

Construction adhesive

that grid looking tape for joints - don't know what its called

Stucco base coat, brown coat, finish - some call it la habra because that's the brand name

bonding additive for stucco base and brown

Elastomeric Paint or color additive for stucco

Metal lath - corner and sheet

Boombox - Play music loud while you do stucco so the neighbors kids don't here you swearing and cursing the gods.


Grill - the kind with all 4 swivel caster wheels, the ones with two fixed wheels will be really hard to get in and out - craigslist $125!! Its a $2000 grill brand new so yep it was probably stolen.

Kegerator & tap handle - bought on Offer Up app for $100

Sink - dishwasher water line adapter to hook up the hose or hose bib to the faucet water line - again, not the right way but it works, sink plumbing kit and about 5' of PVC to run out the side

Solar Light Lamp -

Solar Wall Lights - set of 4 -

I'm probably forgetting something but I will add it in later I guess...

Step 1: Planning and Execution

I spent a good month or two researching the different types and styles of roofing and outdoor kitchens until I was set on this one. I then spent some time deciding the length and width of the roof, calculating exact height and pitch it needed to be and marking out the wall where appliances would need to be. This is important for wrapping your head around all the different necessary measurements that need to take place. If I was a smarter man, I would have also removed the pavers where the cabinetry was going. I did, however, remove the pavers where the grill was going so that I could keep the casters on and lower the height of the counter to a reasonable level. So I got that going for me.

- There was an old hot tub up on that platform that I first needed to get rid of in order to have enough room. The only way I could think to get rid of it was to chop it into manageable pieces with a chainsaw and reciprocating saw and then carry it to the curb to be picked up by a recycling company. If you ever have to do that, where long-sleeved shirts and gloves. I did it without a shirt and it felt much like cooking bacon with your shirt off. And I had to spend some time picking tiny shards of plastic out of my arm. I never claimed to be a smart man.

- Then the whole deal fell into place when my queen palm tree decided to die and I had to cut it down. This time I wore a shirt. I used a chainsaw to cut it and a heavy duty ratchet strap clipped to a crowbar that i pounded into the ground to pull the tree and force it to fall where I wanted, which actually went swimmingly. After cutting it up I saved part of the trunk to try my hand in a tiki chainsaw carving which worked out well and I may add those instructions at a later date.

Recommended - Start the tiki hut first and build the cabinet frames around it.

What I did - Both at the same time. Well I started with the frames I guess.

To build the cabinet frames I used the measurements I drew out on the wall, the width I based off of the grill width and added 6" for the grill door movement i- came out to about 2 feet. A good height is anywhere from 34 1/2-36" (42" being bar height if you plan to add that). I went with 34 1/2 for the box height since that was the average and factoring in 1 1/2" in plywood, membrane, thinset and tile to get an even 36". I used chem and pressure treated lumber which should last quite awhile in AZ climate but I would still recommend metal studs since, no matter what the climate, wood likes to expand and contract and stucco does not. This was just the cheaper route to go and I have much more experience with wood framing than I do with metal.

Its important to note that at this time you should have the grill, fridge, and sink on site as these are not one size fits all types of things and you must adhere to the items that cannot be manipulated.

I built the cabinet frames as boxes with butt joints and made sure the top studs were as level as possible. 2 exterior screws per joint. The exact cuts i made for the vertical pieces are 27 1/2" (factor in that the studs are 2x4 when they are rough sawn, after planing and pressure they are 1 1/2" by 3 1/2") - 3 1/2" x 2 for top and bottom provides the extra 7" to get to 34.5". The corner cabinet frames were two separate pieces that I leveled with sand and brick and then screwed them together.

I added cross support studs that were 12" on center for supporting the counter top which is a little overkill, you could do 16" centers.

Make sure to leave room for the sink installation.

Some of the frames I anchored to the wall to make sure they remained level. - Sorry I am really bad at remembering to document the work as I go.

Step 2: One Man Roof Build Part I

After the frames were in place and level I realized my mistake of not putting in the palapa posts. So I had the awkward task of removing pavers while crouching inside the cabinet frame.

For this the task is pretty straightforward:

using your chalk line or string as a guide, mark out your post centers

Dig down about 1.5-2ft hole at each post(if you want to do it right dig deeper and drop in some crushed stone)

mix up the whole bag of concrete in a tub or tote, whatever you got.

Pour the crete into each hole and level it

You have few different options here you can drop the post in the hole and pour concrete around it or you can use post bases and the pricier they are the stronger they are. I used 4x6" cast in place, wood to concrete post bases and pushed them into the wet concrete.

make sure that the anchors are in line with your chalk or string centers - measure corner to opposite diagonal corner for each side and make sure they measure the same - too much of a difference will result in a weak structure.

Let the concrete set - 24 hours - keep it wet by misting or use a damp towel. The longer the cure the harder it gets.

place the posts into the base and level on all sides until it is plumb. It helps to nail a few long scrap pieces of wood to the post to adjust and brace while doing this. The two posts in the cabinet can be fixed right to the cabinet with whatever offcuts you have laying around.

drive screws into the smaller holes at the base, check plumb again and then predrill the larger holes at each post.

Insert Lag Bolts into larger holes and use an impact driver or ratchet & socket to install and tighten

I plan to wrap the posts with some decorative wood and tiki carvings to cover up the base one of these days.

leave the scrap wood that is nailed on in place while the concrete remains curing.

I used 2x6" boards to the posts together at the top and 2 Lags with washers at each end to secure it. Since I did this on my own I made a rudimentary hold out of two pieces of scrap wood shaped like a shelf that I clamped to the post 5.5" below the top end. this allowed me to focus on leveling it, drilling and attaching the board to the other end.

I also added 2x4's at the same length to sit on top which helps to add width to the top plate and keep the rafters from pushing the board outward.

If you are also doing this on your own there is 1 extra step involved:

- you will need to build a temporary ridge holder. The ridge is the peak of the roof where all rafters connect, is impossible to hold up on your own while also installing the rafters at the beginning and its a very important part of the structure. If you look in the picture you can see the two cross beams that run the span. The link I provided will tell you the rise from the seat cut to the peak, subtract the thickness of the crossbeam and the width of your ridge to determine the length of the two studs holding the ridge up. attach those lengths to the ridge and then center them on the two beams which will leave the ridge suspended exactly where it needs to be. I used two beams in order to allow me to attach the center rafters without having to remove the bracing. I built this separately and then hoisted it up onto the top plate, centered it and loosely nailed it allowing me to remove it later.

Cut and attach the king common rafters using the templates provided in the link in the materials list. they provide drawings and cut lengths that will be as accurate as the widths and lengths you entered in the calculator. It helps to cut a template rafter, test it for accuracy and then use that for all of the common rafters - just remember not to attach your template rafter like I may or may not have done once or twice. I found that the easiest way to cut the birds mouth is to make the plumb cut with a miter saw and the seat cut with a jigsaw or circular saw and finish with a handsaw.

I pre-nailed the rest of the common rafters at the birds mouth end with 10d nails, held it in place at 16" centers with a clamp and then toe nailed it into the top plate and ridge. Toe-nailing is best done by tapping the nail into the side of the rafter at a 45 degree angle until it reaches the top plate and then giving it a good whack or two when it is in the correct position. Sometimes I used exterior screws to keep it in place at the early stages when the ridge was still wobbly.

After the commons are in place you will no longer need the temporary ridge holder and can remove those boards to be cut up into the hips.

The remaining parts will be the hip rafters (difficult cuts) and creepers (Shorties). I'd say just refer to the link directions for these as I will probably just make it more confusing.

After everything was attached I poured deck stain & waterproofing into an airless paint sprayer and gave the whole thing two coats - wish I wouldve thought to do that beforehand though.

DO NOT attach plywood layers to this if you are planning on using natural thatching. Thatching needs airflow to prevent moisture and mold, thus, plywood lessens the lifespan of the thatching significantly.

With all of that said and done that canopy cost about $150-$200 - you cant find that kind of deal anywhere

Tip: attach thin strips of wood horizontally up the rafters at 1.5' intervals for attaching palm thatch and preventing sagging, I did not do this until I was done with the thatch and that is a hard mistake to make.

Step 3: One Man Roof Build Part II

The hard part is done.

Now comes the OSHA violation part.

I didn't have a ladder tall enough to reach over the peak so I decided to trust my structure's integrity and climb on top with a nail pouch and hammer on my belt, balance myself on a rafter and roll out the palm thatch.

I pre-cut the palm thatch to go from hip to hip. these were square cuts with scissors, not angled to cover the hip just to reach it since you will need to go back with 2ft squares at each hip anyway to cover those angles, overlap and blend.

Make your way around the roof with the first layer of thatch going end to end. Start at the edge of the roof making your way around and up to the ridge overlapping the thatch layers at about a 3rd of the total width of thatch.

Use roofing nails and zipties at the knots that will be covered up from overlapping.

The hips involved a lot of guessing since there are barely any instructions online or with the product for this type of roof. I don't know why it needs to be a secret but here is what I figured out:

Cut 2' pieces - 1 piece for every half width of thatch installed - so 2 per layer

at the top of the piece cut through the knot and down about 4-6" - this is so you can bend it around the hip without creating a ripple.

The corner pieces need to hang out farther to reach the overhang so it takes more pieces. attach the first one starting at the edge again but put the edges of the corner piece under the side layers and at about half the width. do the same for the next piece letting the ends hang over the previous. - I will try to find a picture because that was hard to even write.

Do this for each corner and if your feeling ambitious - do it again with another layer of the stuff to really block out the rain and sun.

There, you are done with the tiki part and all-in costs about $550.

Step 4: Are We Done Yet?


lets go back to that kitchen thing.

Attach the cement board to all outside walls of the cabinets using either the specialty screws the sell in those big box improvement stores or you can use your exterior screws.

do not overlap the edges of the cement board at the corners, that will be taken care of later.

be sure to mark out where doors will be and cut the board accordingly. a razorblade works well for cutting the fibers in the board and then you can snap it like drywall or bend it and cut the fibers on the other side. for cutting holes use a diamond blade on an angle grinder or cut off saw and definitely wear all of of the respirators and safety glasses that you own because that stuff is nasty - just hold your breath too.

At the same time you are doing this you can add the plywood sheeting, tile backer board, and moisture barrier to the tops of the cabinets with screws. It helps to mark out where the supports are for the screws to grab and then alternate the screw positions for the backer board. You can also use this step for adjusting the top of the cabinets by shimming the plywood before you set it and making sure its all level.

Before attaching the backer board, cut out the sink with a jig saw or plunge cut with a circular saw and finish with the jig. If you got your sink for $30 like i did, chances are it didn't come in a box with a template so just flip it upside down, trace it, and measure about 5/16" inward and draw those lines in and use that line for the cut line- this only works for drop-ins.

Step 5: Tile Countertop

If you love tiling, you are a masochist and I am scared of you.

lay out all of your tile with spacers BEFORE attaching it permanently. Make all of the cuts before you open up the thinset, like don't even look in the vicinity of the thinset until you have everything else ready. Use tile nippers and a snap cutter unless you are trying to get fancy with this, in which case maybe you're in the wrong instructable. I did use a diamond hole saw to cut the access for the beer line on the kegerator so i guess I can be fancy when beer is involved.

ok now you can mix up that modified thinset - oh btw you should try to match the color of the grout you plan to use just so the color doesn't bleed through and get splotchy.

Remember that cement board you attached to the sides of your cabinets? smash some of that thinset into those non-overlapped corners and edges, mush some cement board tape into it and smooth it out. I guess I should've mentioned you should also do this with the seams of the backerboard but it isn't entirely necessary.

Go back to your tile, using your trowel, slap on some thinset and spread it out straight. don't do those swirls you always see people doing, its incorrect and doesn't provide the necessary coverage. Now, I like to go East to West, some lunatics go North/South with it and if that's your way then fine, live on the wild side, but stay over there.

Place the tile on the thinset, wiggle it in there to close the gaps and line it up with the spacers. Now you know how to tile and just do that a thousand more times.

The edge tile is the same tactics just use a piece of blue painters tape to hold it in place so it doesnt slip down or off.

*Some say to do the stucco first and then tile and others say the opposite so you just have to make that decision for yourself.

Step 6: Stucco -

You should probably just read someone elses instructable for this part.

I am not a native of Arizona or warm climate, just like half the population of AZ I came out here from the frozen midwest where the only houses that had stucco were the houses that were falling apart.

I wanted to give it a shot though because it is the classic Arizona look and how hard could it be to slap some concrete looking stuff on & smooth it out?!

I should've tested it out first on the side of my neighbors house or something because I was pretty clueless.

here goes:

Attach metal lath - technically you don't have to do this but I bet it makes the next steps about a thousand times easier.

buy stucco

mix up the base (scratch) coat, add that additive, turn your music up loud for the rest of the steps

struggle aimlessly to apply concrete like substance to cement board

Curse the gods and people who invented this devil substance

Catch most of the stucco on your pants - or you could use a piece of ply as a pallet for catching stucco

Figure out a way to get it to stay on - start at the bottom and push it UP the wall with the trowel at about a 30 degree angle

make a huge mess - prep for that

when your done let it set for about 15 mins and then scratch grooves into it to prepare for the brown coat.

This one is easier - mix up the brown coat

Turn the music up

apply it when the scratch coat is kinda dry

it also helps to spray that bonding adhesive on... I bet.

some sort of deal as the first one but I actually started getting the hang of it and attempted to try different finishes

messed it up a bit.

Finish coat goes on when that brown coat dries up a little - I made the assumption that its better to not let the layers completely dry since there is cement in this and you want it to harden as much as possible - no idea if that's true.

Finish coat was easier and actually accomplished the texture I was trying for the whole time

Go take a shower, make a stiff cocktail and silently weep into it.

take like a 2 week break from touching this project - for stress and sanity purposes.

Step 7: Finishes

Exterior waterproof caulk - for the seams where the stucco meets the wall

anything you can do to try to make those cabinets watertight will help in stretching the lifespan of the framing lumber.

Primer - For stucco. I used that Zinsser Bullseye 1.2.3. Primer - the best.

Elastomeric Paint - I chose a white paint for the stucco so it would match the walls and give a seamless appearance.

Drop in the sink, seal with silicone, attach and plumb the faucet and drain pipe. run the drain at a slope through the side of the cabinet and into a predug basin filled with stone. I also dug trenches to use the run off to water my plants.

Grout the tile - I chose a black non-sanded grout and a matching grout for the seams. Do the grout first, wait for it to dry then tape off the edging tile and paint the stucco.

Tile and grout sealer

Install the beer tap tower and run the lines - use the silicone from the sink install to seal the tower on the tile.

frame the cabinet door openings with cedar 1x4" boards, use exterior waterproof caulk to cover up inconsistencies between stucco and cedar.

Build the doors out of quarter inch ply and square cedar balusters with a quarter inch groove on one side - easiest way to build a custom door.
miter saw, wood glue and brad nailer makes quick work of it. Attach hardware and T hinges to the door and cedar framing. I stained the doors with the same deck stain as the tiki hut but I brushed it on to make it textured and darker

I wanted a backsplash that I could add shelving to over time so that meant I needed a wood backsplash. I cut the leftover balusters to the height of the wall and used 'liquid Nails - Fuze it' to attach them to the stucco wall. that stuff so strong so make sure you want it to be permanent!

I used redwood fencing that I ran through the planer and cut at random intervals and attached it to the balusters on the wall with construction adhesive and finish nails. I will need to treat that wood with something in the near future before it turns gray.

since it would be a fire hazard to have wood behind the grill I went with Cayman series blue tiles that I picked up at one of those reuse warehouses and again used liquid nails to attach it to the stucco wall. you can use thinset but you have to strip and grind the paint off the wall first and at this point I was done doing unnecessary work. I grouted it with the worst product Ive ever used in my life called Fusion Pro grout. That stuff should be banned from entering hardware stores.

Also pictured: Tiki toss game, Monkey Statue, solar wall light, removable toe kick to hide grill caster wheels - painted white to match cabinets

Step 8: Cocktail Table

Originally I planned to build a bar that wrapped around the front post but I don't really want to go through all of that again so I settled on a re-use cocktail table build that we like to call 'the pineapple'

This consists of the following:

Whiskey barrel from a local distillery - empty

an old Aloe Vera shaped kitchen table - disassembled

Wood spool top, sander, wood stain

Epoxy resin

spray paint - black white & yellow

One of those wood cut out/Art/Signs of a pineapple from stores like At Home/Hobby Lobby/Walmart - they all have it

Wood glue and a couple screws

- I attached the Aloe Vera part of the table to top of whiskey barrel with screws and glue bringing the height to 40.5"

- Separately sanded and stained the wood spool top, placed the home decor pineapple cut out on, centered it, sprayed with black, shifted it about a quarter to half inch up and to the left, hit it with some white ( not a lot just enough for it to show up)- this gives it a 3D look, I let it dry then sprayed yellow into the fingertips of my glove and flicked the yellow paint on.
When it was dry to the touch I brushed one coat of epoxy on thin to seal it, let it set til it was tacky but not removable and poured a second coat on. Make sure to lay down tarps and canvas below it while it sets because this stuff will drip and stay there forever.

I sanded the edges and smoothed out any bumps in the resin. then I used an epoxy-filled brush to hide the sand marks.

The top sits on the bumpers of the Aloe Vera leaves and is not attached so that I can move the table easier.

The whole thing kinda resembles a pineapple and it was a pretty quick build

Step 9: Tiki Carving

Pretty simple but time consuming.

1. do some research and print out the style tiki you want

2. strip the palm trunk of the outer bark - there is a hard inner bark that you don't want to pierce just yet. Do this outside it makes a huge mess.

3. Mark up the trunk with a chalk outline/ drawing of your tiki face, color in either the areas to keep or the areas to remove and remember which one it is.

4. using a chainsaw or grinder cut along your outline making about 1.5" deep cut
Palm trees aren't really like trees and are more like a big celery stick - the inside is like a bunch of compressed wet toothpicks that are all tangled up so you want to use that hard inner bark as the structural part of it.

5. Use a torch to burn off the straggler stringy pieces and darken the facial features to provide some contrast.

6. Optional - Cut off the back and pull the inside out. I wanted to get those wet toothpicks out so that he wouldn't rot from the inside out. I also contemplated using it to wrap the post closest to the pool.

7. I used the remaining pedestal from the cocktail table build to keep the tiki head off the ground.

8. Paint it, carve it, seal it - whatever fits your fancy, you are done!

I hope you liked the instructable, let me know if I am missing any details and I will try to fill it in. There are still odds and ends that need to be completed but the intention here was to cover all the hard parts of the build.

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