Building A Roof For Your Tiki Hut Or Bar

By Richard Armen

The image of the carefree tiki hut has captured Americans’ imaginations since the beginning of the tiki craze in the 1930s. Today it is more popular than ever to recreate this look in your own home. Whether you are building a basement tiki bar or a huge tiki hut in your backyard, the most important thing is making sure you get the look just right. A tiki hut just isn’t a tiki hut without that characteristic thatched roof. Without this material, your ‘tiki bar’ is just a bar serving tropical drinks. To get the traditional look of a tiki hut, place a pitched roof atop your bamboo tiki poles.

When it comes to the roof of your tiki hut or tiki bar, there are several options to get that great look of a tropical island. The most popular materials for tiki bar roofing are grass or palm fronds. Both types of roofing are in common use in many tropical locales around the world. Stitched or stapled down to a sturdy roof, these materials will instantly transport your guests to a sunny island. If you do go with this option, look for materials treated with fire retardant, especially if you hope to use tiki torches near your new bar.


If you are building a tiki hut, you may be reading references to a ‘thatched roof,’ without really knowing what this entails. A thatched roof is made of straw, dried palm leaves, or other natural materials, layered together and waterproofed. The result is a warm, water-resistant, and sustainable roofing material that has been used for thousands of years around the globe. A thatched roof looks casual and natural, not to mention giving your bar a great tropical feeling. It’s easy to apply this primitive style to your home tiki bar. You can buy rolls of tiki thatch by the foot to roof your tiki bar. A well-made thatched roof can last up to seven rainy years before it must be replaced.

Another choice for tiki hut roofing, though less commonly seen, is bamboo. This quintessential construction material of Polynesia is most often seen in the walls and the structure of the hut, but there’s no reason you can’t use it on the roof as well. You can buy half-sections of bamboo trunk, with one edge that can be placed flat across the top of your tiki hut, and then nailed, glued, or screwed into place.

Finally, one of the newest methods used to roof tiki huts are tiki style grass shingles. These relatively new building supplies are standard shingles with a covering of shaggy synthetic grass. Though they look a little less realistic than using natural materials for the roof, they are also a great choice for those who are building an outdoor tiki hut that will be exposed to rain and wind. Applied in the same way as plain asphalt shingles, the material used for tiki shingles sheds water much better than grass or palm fronds. They also last longer, especially when exposed to weather. In areas where fires are a concern, you may opt for tiki shingles because they are less of a fire hazard. Grass, palm fronds, bamboo, or tiki shingles alike can be applied on top of a standard piece of plywood. This is the typical construction used for both indoor and outdoor tiki bars.

Once you’ve finished constructing your tiki bar, now comes the fun part! The best part of decorating a tiki hut is choosing tiki accessories, from tiki masks and carved figures to tiki mugs in which to serve your tropical concoctions.

About the Author: Royal Tiki’s genuine Hawaiian


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