Your Guide to Building a Home Bar: Foot Rails: Before You Order

Our Guide to Building a Home Bar series has covered the following topics so far:

1. Exploring Your Options
2. Layout and Design
3. Building Yourself vs. Hiring Out
4. Refrigeration, Part 1: Standard Refrigeration and Draft Beer Systems
5. Refrigeration, Part 2: Wine Refrigeration, Beverage Centers and Ice Machines
6. Look and Feel
7. About Bar Foot Rails and Arm Rests

Today, we’ll go through the steps you should take Before You Order Your Foot Rails, to make sure you’re all set for installation.

Before You Order Your Bar Foot Rails
Planning is important to ensure that you purchase the correct components and lengths needed for your foot rail.

Remember that you will need three main components: tubing, brackets and end caps. You may also need tube splices, elbows or wall flanges, depending on your bar’s layout.

The following steps will aid you in ensuring that you get exactly what you will need for the perfect foot rail system.

Step 1: Select the type of finish you would like to use

Step 2: Determine how much bar rail you will need
You should measure very carefully before you order bar foot railing. Measure for Your Bar RailsFirst, measure each side of the bar that will have a foot railing and make a simple sketch of your foot rail.

It’s helpful to make a virtual rail on the floor around your bar, with string or painters’ tape; doing this will help you to visualize how much space you’ll need for your foot rail.

Once you have laid out your design on the floor, measure each section to calculate how much tubing you will need. Tubing comes in lengths from 2-feet to 8-feet, in one-foot increments. So if your bar is longer than 8-feet, you may have to join two pieces of tubing together to make a rail that fits your bar perfectly. Connecting the pieces is easy with a splicer, an internal connector that you insert into the end of each tube.

When you’re determining the length of a tube that will be connected to an elbow and joined with another tube (to round a corner), remember to include the dimensions of your bracket in your measurements.

When ordering tubing, it’s always wise to round up to the nearest foot. If your bar is not an even full foot increment (i.e. 6′, 7′), but rather has some inch increment (i.e. 6’2″, 7’2″) you will need to order up to the next foot. So if your bar is 6’2″ you will need to order a 7-foot piece of tubing, if your bar is 7’2″ you will need to order an 8-foot piece of tubing. When installing your tubing you will need to cut the rail with a miter saw. It’s much easier (and cheaper) to cut off excess tubing than it is to connect more.

Step 3: Select the type of bar brackets you will use
To support your foot rail you’ll need to install brackets that hold the tubing in place and provide stability for the rail. Select your brackets from a variety of styles and finishes, so they too will match the look and feel of your bar.

How your bar is set up and what materials it is made of may affect your selection of bar brackets. Each of the following options comes in brass and stainless steel.

Bar Rail Basic BracketBasic Bar Brackets

The basic bar bracket mounts directly to the face of your bar, so to install this kind of bracket, you will need access to the back of your bar. It’s easy to mount these bar brackets to the face of the bar with a bolt, however you may need to add depth to the face of your bar to support the weight of the bolt.

Bar Rail Floor Bracket

Floor Mount Bar Brackets

These bracets bear their weight from your bar floor only. Typically, these work best when working on hard wood flooring, as they mount into your floor with screws.

Bar Rail Combination BracketCombination Bar Brackets

Combination brackets, the most popular type of bracket, mount both to the floor and to the face of your bar. Thus, the weight of the tubing is split between the floor and the face of the bar. As these use regular screws and the floor for support, when installing you do not need access to the back of the bar to secure a bolt.

Step 4: Determine how many bar brackets you will need
You’ll want to make sure your foot rail has the right amount of support, so you’ll need a bracket 6-inches from the end of your tubing or elbow and an additional bracket for every 4-feet of tubing to ensure that your foot rail is nice and sturdy. For example, if you have 8-feet of tubing, you’ll need 1 bracket on each end and 1 in the center, for a total of 3 brackets.

Measuring for brackets and fittings is especially important when your foot rail turns corners. For example, if you select a bracket that holds the rail 6-inches from the face of the bar, that bracket will add nearly 6-inches to the overall length of rail you will need. So, add the length of the bracket, minus the dimensions of the elbow you will be using.

There are elbows with 90- and 135-degree bends, so you can choose which works best with the layout of your bar.

Once you’ve determined how many brackets, splicers and elbows you’ll need for your project, make a detailed list of those parts, including sizes and quantities. A written list will be a huge help when ordering.

Step 5: Select the type and number of end caps
Adding end caps to your foot rail adds style and a finished look. You can choose from rounded, flat or decorative end caps that all come in a variety of finishes. Whether your end caps are sleek and simple or detailed and ornate, either way they’re super easy to install!

If you’re looking to use metal end caps with a wooden rail, just make sure to select end caps that are marked as “external fittings”. External fittings are components that fit around the outer diameter the tubing and our wooden rails are solid, so your end caps need to fit around the wood.

In our next post for the Guide to Building a Home Bar series, we’ll teach you how to easily install bar foot rails yourself. Check back soon!


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