how to build a man cave

How to Build a Man Cave

A man cave is a great place for a guy to kick back and enjoy time alone or with his buddies without the interference of family members or the influence of the ‘female touch’. It is a uniquely man space. But once you have decided to set aside a dedicated personal space for yourself how do you go about building it?

How to build a man cave. First decide on location. The process for converting a room in your home is different from converting an existing outbuilding which is also different from building a man cave from scratch. Room conversions are the cheapest and easiest. Converting an outbuilding can be trickier and more expensive.

How To Build a Man Cave

A man cave is a well-designed living space outside or inside a home dedicated exclusively to the male of the home. It can be created in a basement, inside a garage, in a room or even outside in an outbuilding in the backyard. A man cave serves as a room for a man where he can relax, work, play, or kick-back with friends.

There are many ways to construct a man cave and we will look at each of them in turn here.

Although it is a benefit to have a good amount of space in which to build your man cave it is not completely necessary. You can build a fully functional stylish man cave in a small room if space is limited as I have already outlined in the article How to Make a Man Cave in a Small Room.

Building a man cave involves first choosing a space and then preparing it by modifying that space.

A typical location that is usually used for man cave conversion would be:

  • A spare room in the home.
  • The basement.
  • A garage.
  • A shed or similar outbuilding.

By far the easiest man cave conversion involves simply redecorating an existing room in your home.

Next easiest conversion is the basement. Most modern basements are fully protected against damp and mold and already have utility connections.

man cave garageA garage conversion is not usually as straight forward.

A garage conversion can require a little more work than a spare room conversion as most garages are not designed to be living spaces.

Although most have access to electricity and lighting they may not have proper insulation against the weather.

So although the conversion of a garage is similar to that of a spare room or basement it will most probably require a little more work and be more expensive to complete.

Last but not least is a shed or outbuilding conversion.

Although this type of conversion is the most difficult, expensive and time-consuming for building a man cave ,it is actually one of the most popular. Having a completely separate space away from the main building of your home has many advantages for man cavers.

A separate building allows you to freely engage in your man cave activities without the need to worry about infringing on other family members.

Once you have selected a location to build your man cave the next step involves preparing the area to be a suitable living space. Obviously, the amount of work this requires (if any is required at all) will greatly depend on the location you have chosen.

Next, you’ll have to take care of the lights, furniture and decor to give it a man cave look that is unique to you and that reflects your interests and personality.

Building a man cave may seem like a daunting task if you think about it in its entirety but when you break down the process into easy-to-follow and easy-to-implement steps it can be a fairly easy thing to accomplish.

Let’s look at the processes you need to follow to build a man cave in short simple steps.

Choosing a suitable location

You don’t need to have a large, empty space in order to build a man cave.

Any space will do, even a very small one. However, it should just be big enough to accommodate you, some furniture and the items that you ideally want to use in that space – like a TV for example.

If you have a large area to work with then great, if you don’t, then don’t worry. Small man caves work just as well as large ones.

The idea is to create a space just for you, where you can kick-back and relax.You don’t need a huge amount of space to do that.

Once you’ve chosen a space, it’s time to prepare it.

Here are some tips:

A spare room

The easiest way to build a man cave is to do it in a room within your home.

spare room baseball man caveThis room will already have access to all the utilities you need and be in close proximity of things like a bathroom, kitchen etc.

Obviously this location has its drawbacks as your man cave will still be inside your home and so will not be totally isolated from other family members.

This may not be a problem for you but other householders may not appreciate your boisterous antics when you have the ‘boys’ over for a game night.

Any available room will most likely be also very small and, although this should not deter you, it may pose a problem if you plan to have your buddies over for a man cave get-together.

The basement

A basement is a great area for creating a man cave.

Basements are usually very spacious and usually already have access to utilities such as electricity and water. This makes the conversion much easier and less expensive.

a basement bar man caveThe only real drawback to using a basement as a man cave is the lack of natural light.

You can combat this with neon signs and bright reflective surfaces as well as using daylight bulbs, like these ones, but ensuring you also have the option to subdue the lighting with dimmer switches and additional soft lighting in lamps.

If you choose a basement to be your man cave then start by cleaning it with soap water.

This will help you get rid of stain marks, dirt, and debris.

A garage

A garage can be a great candidate for a man cave though it will probably require a bit more work on your part.

Empty the garage and measure the space.

If it is equal to or more than a single room in your house then a man cave can be made out of it.

Clean the space with chemicals and solutions to remove grease stains and oil marks.

You will also need to ensure it has proper insulation which may require some DIY.

The only drawback to using your garage as a man cave is that you will no longer have a storage space for your vehicle or tools and equipment. Though, if you have a large enough garage there is a compromise available.

Half garage half man cave

If you want to split your garage into two separate areas so you can create a man cave in one area then you may want to elevate the floor in the man cave area – though it’s not totally necessary.

half garage half man caveBy alleviating the floor you will create a sense of separation between the two areas.

If you do not want to alleviate the floor consider having a wall placed there to divide it into two partitions.

Once you have decided on how to separate the two partitions follow the rest of the instructions for creating a man cave and apply then to your new man cave partitioned area.

A shed or outbuilding

You can take your man cave outside and build it inside a shed or other outbuilding.

If you do intend to build a man cave in a shed or other outbuilding then there are very specific steps you make you take before you begin the actual man cave conversion.

I advise you to read the article How to Turn Your Shed into a Man Cave in 10 Easy Steps which details the entire process of building a man cave shed from either an existing shed or by building one from scratch. The advice in that article can be applied equally well to any form of outbuilding.

Man Cave Construction in Seven Simple Steps

Depending on the location you have chosen for your man cave you will need to follow up to 7 steps to complete the conversion successfully.

You only need to follow 4 steps (steps 4 – 7) if your location is already a livable space such as a spare room or insulated garage.

If you plan to build a new man cave from scratch in the backyard or intend to convert a she or outbuilding then you will probably need to follow the first 3 steps as well.

How to build a man cave in the backyard

Here are the typical things you need to consider if you want to build a man cave in your backyard.

Construction vs Conversion

A new shed capable of being used as a man cave can cost between $2000 to $10,000.

building a man cave constructionYou are better with a shed kit but you must ensure it has sufficient ground clearance to protect it from groundwater.

Converting an existing shed or outbuilding is obviously much cheaper but does have costs associated with it as outlined in the first 3 steps of the conversion process set out below.

You must also ensure the existing shed has sufficient ground clearance to protect it from groundwater before starting the conversion.

Utilities

Utility connections should be a serious consideration when you want to build a man cave in the backyard.

Although can can almost certainly do without a direct water connection electricity is something you will almost definitely need.

HVAC

In many states across the country it can get very hot in summer. So, heat and condensation can become a problem in a backyard man cave if there are no windows.

Similarly, it can get chilly in winters. So, installing a HVAC system is almost a necessity to help regulate the temperature of the man cave.

There are workarounds such as plug in fans and portable heaters but unless you have windows that open they are unlikely to stop condensation build-up and the inevitable mold that will follow.

Lighting

It can be daunting to get natural light to illuminate a shed or outbuilding that has not been designed as a living space (there will be a total lack of windows).

An easy workaround is to install some daylight bright lighting like these lights.

You may want to also install a dimmer switch and normal reading lights.

Outbuilding preparations:

Below are the three simple steps you need to follow to prepare an outbuilding for a man cave conversion.

The first 3 initial steps outlined apply only to locations that have not already been used for, or converted into, a suitable living space, i.e. the first 3 steps do not apply to room conversions, most basement conversions or to outbuildings that are already being used as a livable space.

You may need to start at step 3 Insulation and soundproofing if you are converting your garage into a man cave though.

Steps 1 – 3:

These first 3 steps for building a man cave apply to the conversion of a shed or other type of outbuilding that has been lying dormant or that has only been used for storage.

The 3 steps are:

  1. Weather proofing.
  2. Utility connection.
  3. Insulation and soundproofing.

Step 1 – Weather proofing

Prepare a soapy solution in a bucket and use a mop to scrub the walls and roof. Do this inside and outside making sure you clean the floor as well. This will eliminate grease and debris so the building is ready for weather proofing.

Weathering proofing an outbuilding, such as a shed, is not a complicated job and can be complicated in a single day.

The outside walls must be coated with a waterproof paint and the inside should be treated against mold due to moisture build up.

Both weather paint and anti-mold paint, can be expensive when sourced locally and so you are often better buying it online.

These latex primer anti-mold paints are the best for inside. This type of paint can also be used for the outside the building though you can use a cheaper waterproof paint such as this excellent fence paint or the even cheaper, but equally as waterproof, patio and floor latex paint.

foundation for protection from groundwaterDo shop around though as you may get a deal available in a local store.

The roof will almost certainly be already waterproof but if it isn’t then you will need to add felt.

You can review the detailed instructions for weatherproofing an outbuilding in this post.

The outbuilding must also be properly insulated against groundwater. This means it must sit on some form of foundation that lifts it from the ground.

If your existing outbuilding is not protected from direct contact with the ground then you may need to have it lifted and a suitable foundation laid. In many cases this can prove to be as expensive, or more expensive, than having a new outbuilding erected unless you can do it yourself.

Step 2 – Utility connection

An outbuilding will almost never have utility connections.

An outbuilding rarely has access to running water. Since, you’ll be spending a lot of time in your man cave you may want running water but unless you plan to build a fully working bar this is something you can usually skip doing.

Electricity though, is a different matter.

Connecting an outbuilding to the electrical supply can be expensive if the building is some distance away from the main house. An electrician will usually charge between $50 – $100 per hour depending on where you are in the country.

If you plan to get running water hooked-up to your man cave you can expect to pay a fairly high price for it.For example, if there is concrete that needs to be cut through to lay water pipes and want to build a bathroom in or near your man cave then it might cost between $5,000 to $20,000.

A plumber will usually charge between $45 to $150 per hour depending on your location.

Step 3 – Insulating And Soundproofing

Insulating the space will keep it cool in summer and warm in winters. You want your new man cave to be comfortable regardless of the weather and climate conditions.

fiberglass foil foam for insulation and soundproofYou can insulate it on your own by buying insulating kits like these ones or, if you have the available budget, you can hire a professional to do the job. The most popular forms of insulation in the USA are batt insulation or lose fill but if you want the man cave to also be soundproof you need something extra.

Once insulated the next step is to make it soundproof. For many people soundproofing will be a completely unnecessary step to take but if you expect things to get rowdy in your man cave then to avoid any disputes with neighbors or arguments with family members taking the time at this stage to buffer the sound would be a good idea as it can be done fairly cheaply.

Instead of using an insulation kit you can instead use this type of fiberglass insulation for both insulation and soundproofing. Fiberglass is a good insulator, sound absorber, and is even fireproof, too.

Man cave preparation (any location)

Below are the finial steps required to create the actual man cave.

These steps should be followed regardless of where you have chosen to build your man cave.

Step 4 – Choose A Theme

Almost every man cave is built around a core theme. This theme helps to set the man cave apart from the rest of your home. But, more importantly a theme really helps you to put your individual “stamp” on the space.

The theme you choose should be a reflection of who you are and what you enjoy doing or just be a fun way to escape from everyday life.

You can pick any theme that you like such as a football themed man cave, a gamer’s man cave, an artistic man cave, etc.

Get creative. Men have built their man caves to be bat caves, pirate caves, mini casinos, James Bond hideouts, Star Wars bars and lots more. There exist man caves in a host of other styles that reflect just about anything you can think of.

Once you have chosen a suitable theme paint the man cave in a manner suited to that theme and populate the area with furniture that compliments that theme.

You can hire a painter or paint the space yourself if you want to save money. We suggest you have a theme in mind before you start decorating the man cave.

If you are short of theme ideas then read the article 7 Top Designs for the Ultimate Man Cave for inspiration.

Star Trek themed man cave
Star Trek themed man cave

Three example themes

Below are three examples of the types of themes used in modern man caves today.

Sports

Sports is one of the most popular themes for a man cave.

By far the most popular sports themed man cave is based on football. Building a football themed man cave involves putting football related items such as signed footballs, helmets or replica trophies on shelves.

A large LCD and a sofa are essential man cave items that are needed to watch football games.

Posters of favorite players and teams can also be used around the walls and if you have any memorabilia, especially signed items, these should be prominently displayed.

But football isn’t the only sport to consider.

If your prefer golf for example you can lay a grass like carpet on the floor with miniature flags in the corners and place gold clubs in the room or hang them on walls. You can even put a golf simulator in the room.

Baseball and basketball are also popular and very easy themes to create as there are really neat man cave items you can purchase, such as baseball glove chairs for example (they also come in football shapes and soccer balls).

Rustic

Creating a rustic look is very easy, especially if you are building a man cave in a shed or outbuilding which usually will already have a rustic feel to it.

rustic themed man caveMany rustic man caves that are built outdoors have decor to reflect a hunter’s cabin or are filled with tools and mechanical items.

Wood usually features quite heavily in rustic man caves and the older it looks the better.

Nautical

Install all wooden furniture including sofas, racks, chairs, etc.

Put up a hammock.

Populate the man cave with ship souvenirs on racks and make a wooden bar in the style of an old pirate tavern.

Don’t forget to include ship related decor like these fantastic ship wheels.

You can also create 3D flooring with waves or a tropical beach to complete the look and its a lot easier to do than you might think.

Step 5 – Adding Furniture

Like the actual decor of the man cave this step is one of the most crucial factors to get right.

Once you have a man cave made you’ll want your time spent in it to be comfortable. Therefore, having comfortable seating is vitally important.

Seating

You must search for comfortable recliners, sofas, armchairs, beanbags etc.,that will fit in well with your man cave theme.

It is relatively easy to get themed furniture. For instance of you have a sports themed man cave you could get something along the lines of the baseball glove chair with ball-shaped ottoman that is also available as a soccer ball or football as mentioned above.

There is a ton of ideas you can use, but if you are stuck for inspiration be sure to check out the man cave furniture we posted about here.

Bar

If you like a tipple then a man cave wouldn’t be complete without a bar of its own.

You can build your own bar as outlined in the article How to Build a Bar in Your Man Cave.

Grace the bar with attractive beer mugs or wine glasses and install LED dimmable lights on top of the counter to make it look eye-catching.

If you do not have the room or the budget to create a bar there are ways to do it on a budget.

If building a bar, evenly cheaply, is completely out of the question then you can use a simple Kegerator, beer dispenser, decanter or a host of other cheap alternatives that I outlined here.

You will of course also need a fridge.

Fridge

Whether you build a bar or not you will almost definitely need a fridge.

novelty mini fridgeWe suggest you get a mini fridge as well so that you can get ice when you need it. You can also use it to keep leftover food.

Don’t go for a boring mini fridge when for the same price you can get great novelty fridges that will fit in well with any man cave theme.

Again we have covered these man cave fridges here.

You can also use novelty vending machines to store cans of soda of beer.

Flooring

For most man caves having tiled or wood flooring is best as it is easy to clean. Man cave floors are no strangers to beer spills.

Of course you can opt to install carpet on the floor. If you do so, then make sure you go for something different that will stand out.

Let’s assume you’re sticking to a golf theme.

You can make the floor appear like grass by installing a green carpet and sticking small putting hole flags at strategic places on the floor.

Just be aware that carpets can be hard to maintain.

A good compromise is to use rugs and mats. Both rugs and mats can be easily lifted and cleaned separately. Many are machine-washable.

You can get man cave themed mats and rugs like the ones I mentioned here in this article.

Table

Every man cave needs a table. The bigger the table the better.

However, the problem with a large table is often a lack of space.

A great way to use a table in your man cave is to get one that offers a multipurpose design like the 3-in-1 foosball mentioned here and the foosball cocktail table I reviewed here or the amazing dining room table that is also a 7 ft pool table & table tennis table and that also has 2 benches that slide underneath it.

Using tables like these means you can save on a lot of space and also get more fun items into your man cave.

You can also turn your man cave into a workplace as outlined in How to Create a Man Cave Office and place a work table in it.

Adding man cave decor:

Man cave decor is without a doubt the most important aspect of any man cave.

There are a few key areas that you need to consider though before you go gun-hoe with the paint brush.

vintage feel decor in man cave

Step 6 – Decoration

Stick to your theme and decorate the man cave appropriately.

Try to locate decor that reflects the theme of your cave but also add items that are meaningful to you, even if they don’t strictly fit with your theme.

Another way of decorating the area is by installing a showcase where you can put up trophies that you have earned over the years or where you can place items that have meaning to you, such as signed memorabilia.

Be sure to use decor that is unique and that is relevant to you and your interests. You can also add things simply because you like them.

Check out the article 100 Unique Man Cave Gift Ideas for some great items you could add to your man cave.

Step 7 – Entertainment

If you plan to socialize in your man cave then some form of entertainment is a must. But, even if you are going to use the cave as a solo retreat then you may want some type of entertainment in it even if it is just a TV or radio.

Consider including some games. If you have the room include a table game such as foosball or a pool table.

If you have available space and the budget consider getting one or two arcade style gaming machines. A cheaper option of course would be to get a large wide screen TV and a gaming console.

A gaming machine like a PS4 or Xbox can supply many hours of enjoyment across a vast genre of game types.

Even if you don’t play video games at the very least make sure you have a television set.

I have outlined some great entertainment items for your man cave here.

Costs Associated With Building a Man Cave

Now that you know how to build a man cave I will outline some of the costs you can expect to incur from building one.

These costs can vary widely depending on several variables.

how much will building a man cave costNamely:

  • The location of the man cave: a garage conversion will cost more than room conversion while an outbuilding conversion will cost less than building one from scratch.
  • The man cave theme: a futuristic man cave will cost more than a rustic man cave for example.
  • The man cave decor: The types of items you want to put in your man cave: obviously some items are more expensive than others.

Cost of building a man cave in an outbuilding

The cost of building a man cave in an outbuilding varies, depending on whether it’s a shed, garage or room in your home.

Here is a quick bullet list of potential costs:

  • If you’re going to build your man cave in a new shed then you can expect to pay about $17–$24 per square foot.
  • If you buy a ready-made shed then you can expect to pay anywhere from $300 – $10,000.
  • Utility connections can be expensive, plumbing can cost about $4.50 per sq foot while electrical wiring will be in the region of $500.
  • Weatherproofing inside and out can also be expensive as it requires specialized paint. A latex primer anti-mold is by far the best option for inside at about $50 per gallon and an outside waterproof paint will set you back about $40 per gallon. For the best value-for-money paint see Step 1 – Weather proofing above.
  • Insulation and soundproofing: a few hundred dollars.

If you are on a strict budget then read the article how to build a man cave on a budget.

Cost of building a man cave in a garage

For most of you who plan to use a garage the above costs involved in building a man cave in an outbuilding will not apply. Modern garages are already weatherproofed, mold-proofed and connected to electricity.

You will probably need to connect it to the water mains though if you require running water and may also want to properly insulate and soundproof it.

Here is a quick bullet list of potential costs:

  • Plumbing should cost around $4.50 per sq foot.
  • Insulation and soundproofing: a few hundred dollars.

Cost of building a man cave in your home

Turning a room within your home into a man cave is cheaper than all the other options because a room in your home will already be a livable space. All you need to do is add decor and man cave toys.

The biggest expense will be the decor and furniture as you can get paint fairly cheaply.

Bare in mind that the cost of a room conversion must also be added onto the costs associated with a garage or outbuilding conversions.

How to keep costs down

To keep costs low you must preplan your man cave building strategy. The most important thing is to make a budget and stick to it.

You should know how much you can afford to spend on your man cave and then preplan its complete construction. This means having a list of items with their prices so you know exactly how much the project is going to cost.

cut costsAlthough you are not guaranteed to stay within budget, having a budget means you will be aware of what you are spending and when you are overspending.

Do a bit of math and calculate a feasible range for the different aspects of the man cave build.

Building a man cave can be very expensive if you need to start completely from scratch and you only use high-end items and new items for populating it.

It is therefore a good idea to try to source your man cave materials and items as cheaply as possible.

Here are a few tips to help you keep costs to a minimum.

Use paint in place of wallpaper

Painting the man cave rather than applying wallpaper is a budget-friendly decision.

You can paint a room of 400 square feet with a gallon of paint. One gallon of good quality paint costs around $20 – $50.

You will need rollers, tape, brushes, and tarps to carry out the job which will cost  you an additional $50.

Hence, painting should cost you around $100+ depending on the size of your man cave.

This is still considerably cheaper, and much less hassle, than hanging wallpaper. Wallpapers typically cost between $75 to $100 per roll with one roll of wallpaper only covering around 27 square feet.

Fill the wall space with posters and signs

You don’t need wallpaper when you hang posters and man cave signs.

Not only do posters and man cave signs fill the empty wall space but they greatly increase the atmosphere of your man cave.

You can get man cave signs and vintage signs that are perfect for a man cave like the ones I reviewed here.

Recycle household stuff

Look for spare furniture in your home or for things that you can make into furniture.

Do you have a store room or closet bulging with unused items?

Re-using discard homeware is a great way to save a lot of money.

Upcycle old junk

Upcycling is the newest trend to hit DIYers.

Simply take a piece of old junk and turn it into something useful.

You can easily repurpose old junk in a myriad of ways with just a bit of creativity and a few tools. If this idea is new to you then you can read more about how to recycle old junk for your man cave here.

Below is a video showing man cave furniture upcycled from old junk.

Search out discounts

Before you buy an item price it in several different stores. Take the lowest price and search discounts stores that can beat that price.

You can turn to online deals and count on special days like Black Friday, Cyber Monday, etc. to find even cheaper prices

Shop in used stores

Used stores are a goldmine for man cave items.

In many instances you will find new or almost new items that will fit perfectly with the decor of your man cave and you will be able to pick them up for a fraction of what they cost retail price.

The same advice applies to garage sales and charity stores.

DIY it

Hiring a painter, carpenter or a technician is not cheap. And, in many cases the services they offer are nothing that you cannot do yourself.

You can save quite a bit of money by taking the matter in your own hands. Turn to creative DIY tutorials on YouTube if you are lacking in certain skills.

The only thing I recommend you positively do not attempt to DIY is anything connected to electric! Just don’t do it.

A Few Man Cave Ideas to Get You Started

There is a plethora of man cave ideas you can opt for.

Here are just a few:

The neon bar

neon man cave barIf your man cave is going to have a bar then its highlight can be the lighting.

You can give it a chic look by installing neon lights around the bar counter and having neon man cave signs hanging from the wall. You can even get personalized neon man cave signs made for you like these brilliant ones.

A neon bar look gives your man cave that club feel and truly sets it apart from the rest of your home.

Of course you can have a neon look without the bar also.

The gaming grove

Install a large TV and create a sitting area to watch your favorite games.

gaming man caveMake sure you have at least one gaming console hooked up to your TV so you are your man cave visitors can not only watch the games but play them too.

There’s nothing better than settling arguments about the game in the game.

Games for the PS4 and Xbox One, like the NFL and the NBA, are great for those of you who are couch-competitive but at the same time love to have laugh with your buddies while you’re trashing them on the virtual court.

You can also keep a pool table and other such equipment for more physical activities.

Luxurious man cave

Go for wall textures and install a carpet on the floor if you want a more luxurious feel to your man cave.

Install round flush ceiling lights for a cool sophisticated look or hand a chandelier that sparkles like diamonds.

Fit lush deep pile carpet and hang reprints of the Great Masters.

Some other unique man cave ideas include:

  • truck seatA cowboy saloon (the bar is focal point).
  • Car lover’s cave (car souvenirs, sofas made from car seats or a bench made from the back of an old truck).
  • The Animated Cave (3D framed posters, 3D wallpapers – like these amazing 3D posters).
  • The Comic Cave (comic posters, games, quotes).

Be creative and don’t be afraid to try something new. Your man cave should be a place that is your haven and refuge away from the worries and pressures of the world so make it your own no matter how crazy it might look to others.