diy projects exterior & outdoor living

Custom Outdoor Seating DIY

Custom Outdoor Seating DIY Lots of people are asking how we built the custom outdoor sofa. I’m not going to lie… Emmett and I weren’t exactly sure how it was going to turn out because we’ve never built anything like this before, but I can gladly say it’s probably my favorite part of the backyard! It’s larger than our living room sofa and provides comfortable, durable seating on the patio. If you’re willing to put in the time, energy, and elbow grease, this gorgeous project is calling your name. Click through for the tutorial… 

Concrete Outdoor Sofa I had initially sketched an idea of a stucco sofa when planning the backyard. Emmett was super skeptical of my idea and did a TON of research prior to agreeing to help me build this thing. I’m really satisfied with the end result and it honestly exceeded my expectations. Here’s everything on the supply list:

Step 1 // Plan and prep the area. We actually sourced the cushions prior to building the structure, which tremendously helped with planning. If you’re going the custom route, it really won’t matter. This is only important if you’re purchasing readymade outdoor cushions. Once we had the dimensions of the cushions, we planned how large we wanted the structure to be. Emmett tripled checked his math and we began prep!

Installing DIY Outdoor Seating Prepping the area is a lot like prepping for a paver patio. We dug out the area, tamped the ground, and added some fine gravel prior to setting our cinderblocks. The key is to make sure everything is level.

Step 2 // Begin setting the blocks. Stack the cinder blocks in a running bond (brick) pattern until you reach your desired size and shape. We opted to leave our sofa hollow inside, so we can use it for storage if needed… this tutorial sticks to our exact process. Use a level to make sure everything is nice and square! It will actually start to look like a sofa frame right away.

Outdoor Sofa DIY Step 3 // Secure the cinderblocks. Once the blocks are perfectly set, it’s time to make them permanent and secure. This part is arguably the worst. It takes a little muscle, but I did this step entirely on my own without Emmett’s help. So lady friends… if you’re worried you need a super strong guy to help you out, I bet you’ll be ok on your own (girl power!!).

Insert one piece of rebar into every other hole, hammering it down with a mallet until it is flush with the top cinderblock, as shown below.

Hammering Rebar

Installing Rebar Into Seating Once all of the rebar rods have been installed, mix up concrete and pour the concrete into the holes surrounding the rebar. You only have to pour concrete into the holes containing rebar rods (every other one). This ensures the structure stays together and won’t shift with time.

Outdoor Seating Pouring Concrete Allow the concrete to cure overnight before beginning the next step. You want to make sure it’s nice and sturdy.

Concrete in Outdoor Seating Step 4 // Add the caps. Next, you’ll want to use concrete cap blocks to finish the top of the sofa. Using a brick exterior landscape adhesive, squeeze a fair amount around the perimeter of the cinderblock.

Building Outdoor Seating Place the cap block onto the adhesive and use a rubber mallet to secure it into a permanent position. Allow these to completely set and harden before moving onto the next step!

Outdoor Cinderblock Seating Step 5 // Mix the QuikWall. This specific product was new to us and one we’ll definitely use again in the future!

QuikWall It’s like traditional stucco, but easier to apply and more durable. It is a little tricky to mix the correct consistency. Add water slowly and a little at a time. It should look a little something like this…

Mixing QuikWall You’ll actually be able to see the fiberglass particles in the mixture. This is what makes this material so strong.

Stucco Step 6 // Apply the QuikWall. Wet the cinderblocks with a hose on the shower setting prior to beginning. Using a trowel, begin to apply the material. It’s best to work from one corner to the other, finishing one section at a time. Fluid motions are also best. Emmett was much better at this… swiping the trowel over the cinderblock in one motion.

Applying Quikwall It’s also worth reading the directions on the package… you want to keep the material wet as you’re working, and even once it’s finished. This assists with the curing process.

DIY Stucco Seating

How to Stucco Step 7 // Wait… then add the seat. Once the entire structure has been covered and you’ve followed the curing instructions (spraying it from time to time), allow it to harden for at least 24 – 48 hours. It should look like this:

Sofa DIY Measure and use a chalk line to mark where the seating will go. Pre drill holes to mark where the structure will be installed. Again, this is all to your preference- structure size, cushion size / style, etc.

Adding seating Emmett used treated, weather resistant lumber to build the grid support structure. Once it was completed, I helped him screw it directly into the structure. Contrary to the image below, the wooden support will be mounted just below the seat. This was before we pushed it into the appropriate position…

DIY Outdoor Sofa Cut a piece of treated plywood to size, and sit it into the niche, on top of the grid support. It should be perfectly flush with the stone seat and look something like this…

Outdoor Sofa Tutorial Step 8 // Add the cushions! The best part is adding the cushions and seeing the finished result. Even though there are multiple steps to this DIY, this project went relatively quick in comparison to some of our other backyard projects (the paver patio, the fence installation, etc).

Custom Stucco Seating DIY

DIY Outdoor Couch I’d love to hear your feedback! I’m pretty impressed that Emmett was able to find a way to make my vision come to life… and best of all- we built it together. We’re already spending a lot of time enjoying our yard and now we finally have a comfortable spot to hang out. This sofa comfortably seats eight. Hit me with any questions in the comments below… I’m all ears!

*This post is brought to you in collaboration with Lowes. All content, ideas, and words are my own. Thank you for supporting the sponsors that allow us to create unique content while featuring products we truly use and enjoy! 

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  • Reply
    Beth
    August 2, 2017 at 4:25 pm

    Omg!!! That is the most awesome backyard couch ever!!! I want it now! The finished space is dreamy!

    • Reply
      Sarah
      August 2, 2017 at 5:17 pm

      Thank you!! Come sit on it with me and drink cocktails ;) xo

    • Reply
      Eve
      July 19, 2019 at 10:43 am

      It will be nice to use seat are as storage

  • Reply
    Teryn
    August 2, 2017 at 5:23 pm

    Loved watching the progress on your insta stories, you guys made it look so easy! The white Quikwall looks fabulous!

    • Reply
      Sarah
      August 2, 2017 at 5:36 pm

      Thanks so much for following along! I think that’s what kept us going and focused… everyone following on Insta kept sending nice messages. Ha! Thank you. xo

  • Reply
    Robyn
    August 2, 2017 at 9:08 pm

    I thought this was a store-bought couch that you customized to the space!!! I’m beyond impressed with how you two did this. So beautiful!

    • Reply
      Sarah
      August 2, 2017 at 10:06 pm

      Ha! Thank you SO much :) what a compliment.

  • Reply
    Brittany
    August 2, 2017 at 11:45 pm

    Gosh this looks AMAZING and the DIY seems pretty straightforward! Kudos, you guys rocked this one!

    • Reply
      Sarah
      August 3, 2017 at 12:24 am

      Thank you so much, Brittany! xo

  • Reply
    Amanda
    August 3, 2017 at 6:55 am

    This is amazing! So impressed! I can’t imagine anything else for this space – you’ve done it again!

    • Reply
      Sarah
      August 3, 2017 at 3:33 pm

      Ahhh!! Thank you :) I love how Emmett can figure out how to make my visions come to life. It looks just like the sketch. I really appreciate your comment! xo

  • Reply
    Ashley
    August 3, 2017 at 1:53 pm

    Wow. Just wow. This is the chicest, most welcoming and comfortable backyard ever!

    • Reply
      Sarah
      August 3, 2017 at 3:32 pm

      Thank you so much, Ashley!! xo

  • Reply
    Kim @ Yellow Brick Home
    August 4, 2017 at 2:40 pm

    This is so hardcore. I can’t believe you guys MADE this! Ahhh-mazing.

    • Reply
      Sarah
      August 4, 2017 at 3:03 pm

      Ha!! I’m just glad it wasn’t a giant fail… I had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. Thank you so much! Have an amazing weekend.xox

  • Reply
    Allison H
    August 9, 2017 at 4:05 pm

    Looks awesome! we are getting ready to move the the new house patio would be perfect with something like this! can’t get more durable that a concrete sofa! and i love that you can make it any size and configuration!! wall done Sarah and Emmett!! Cheers!!

    • Reply
      Sarah
      August 9, 2017 at 4:11 pm

      Thank you so much! That was our thoughts exactly… durable, weather-proof, customizable. xo

  • Reply
    Jessie
    August 14, 2017 at 7:23 pm

    This is SO beautiful! We are looking to makeover our backyard and this is so impressive and inspiring!! Do you mind sharing basic dimensions?? (Like how high the seat is from the ground, depth of seat and height of back support?)

    • Reply
      Sarah
      August 15, 2017 at 7:46 pm

      Thank you so much! The seat height is 20″ (including a 5″ cushion). The seat depth is 19″ to the back cushion / 27″ to the structure. The back height is 39″, and the arm rest height is 26″. Hope this helps! xo

      • Reply
        Jenny Agaran
        January 11, 2019 at 6:59 am

        Hi! what do you mean by seat depth at the back cushion and to the structure? can you give me a sketch pls?

  • Reply
    Dana
    August 16, 2017 at 6:52 pm

    I’d like to do this in an area that is already a concrete patio surrounded by brick walls. Kind of like a sunken patio. Do I need to remove the concrete down to the dirt or can I put the cinder blocks directly on top of the patio? Wondering about the rebar step because it would stop when it hits the concrete.

    • Reply
      Sarah
      August 16, 2017 at 7:19 pm

      Hi Dana! It really depends on the existing concrete patio. If it’s really sturdy and in good shape, I’d say you’d be fine to leave it and skip the rebar. The concern is about ground settling and shifting. We added rebar as a precaution, but according to the QuikWall product we used, it’s not necessary. You could either skip the rebar completely, or drill into your existing patio and set the rebar before stacking the cinderblocks. Make sense? Good luck!! xo

  • Reply
    Derek
    August 21, 2017 at 4:14 pm

    Would you be able to share the estimated project cost? Specifically, the material costs for the concrete bench itself?

  • Reply
    Grissel Guerra
    August 21, 2017 at 5:24 pm

    Sorry I just asked about the sofa and here it is… DO you recommend setting up the pergola before starting the sectional?

    • Reply
      Sarah
      August 21, 2017 at 5:46 pm

      Hi Grissel, I would definitely recommend setting up the pergola prior to the seating so that you can have shade while working. It’s also nice because it will appear to be more built-in and custom.

  • Reply
    Maria
    September 18, 2017 at 2:56 pm

    Did you complete the paver patio after completing the sofa? I am trying to decipher from pictures and it appears the sofa was completed on the gravel with the pavers laid around it to make it look built in. Any additional information would be great!

    • Reply
      Sarah
      September 18, 2017 at 3:59 pm

      Yes, the pavers were installed after the outdoor sectional!

  • Reply
    Chris
    December 19, 2017 at 5:37 am

    Hello Sarah ,
    Really nice concrete sofa ! Exactly what I want !
    Could you tell us how much time it takes to do it , hours spend and how much blocks there is ?
    Thank you !

    • Reply
      Sarah
      December 19, 2017 at 7:25 am

      Thanks so much, Chris! I’m not sure the exact number of cinder blocks used, but we’re guessing around 200. We had a palette delivered and didn’t end up using all of them (not even close). We’d estimate we spent around 30 hours total (with both of us working on it). Hope this helps!

  • Reply
    Scarlett
    April 3, 2018 at 8:08 am

    Hi! This is fabulous! I’m wondering if you could point me in the direction of cushions. I’m having a hard (say impossible) time finding them that aren’t just flimsy tie on pieces instead of comfortable deep seated pieces. (And I wish I had time/will to make my own but I don’t trust myself to do that.

    • Reply
      Sarah
      April 3, 2018 at 8:35 am

      Thanks Scarlett! We bought these cushions: http://bit.ly/2EgGdnZ and they’re holding up really nicely. We’ve only used them for one season, but they’re wet-rated / outdoor, and fit into the budget nicely. Hope this helps! xo

  • Reply
    Michaelyn
    April 10, 2018 at 10:37 am

    Hi Sarah! My husband and I fell in love with this project! It’s so unique and beautiful. Thanks so much for sharing!! We are about to start the project but are having difficulty finding the quickwall bonding cement in white. We may have to special order. Do you recall the number of bags you used? Our project will be very similar in size.

  • Reply
    Blair Moore
    May 24, 2018 at 9:02 am

    Hi Sarah, It looks like you had to cut some of the cinder blocks by the arm rest if so, do you mind saying how you did it?

    • Reply
      Sarah
      May 24, 2018 at 9:26 am

      Hi Blair! We did… you could easily avoid it by doing a slightly different size, but we wanted it to fit perfectly inside the pergola, so we used an angle grinder to cut the blocks. Luckily we didn’t have to cut very many. Hope this helps!

      • Reply
        Blair Moore
        May 29, 2018 at 7:57 am

        Oh another question, when applying the surface bonding material on the seat part did you use something to plug the holes in the cinder block or does the seat have a cap block as well? Picked up all our cinder block yesterday now just trying to track down the surface bonding stuff as nobody within a 100 miles sells it. Looking forward to starting the project this weekend. Thanks for the great idea.

        • Reply
          Sarah
          May 29, 2018 at 9:06 am

          Sure thing, Blair! We used the rebar and concrete method for the seat “holes” as well… just to ensure everything stays in place. Good luck finding the material- I’d maybe call your local Lowes and see if they can order it for you! xo

  • Reply
    PATTI J MANZONE
    June 6, 2018 at 7:28 am

    I’ll have to build this on a concrete patio. I don’t think I can use rebar for stability. Do you know of a different way?
    Also was it hard to drill into the cinder block?

    • Reply
      Sarah
      June 6, 2018 at 9:20 am

      I’d still use the rebar to hold the structure together- even if it’s not anchored to the ground. It’s really heavy, so I doubt it would shift on a concrete patio. It does require some force / pressure drilling into the cinder block, but it’s not difficult. Hope this helps, Patti! xo

  • Reply
    michelle
    August 3, 2018 at 10:14 pm

    Love it! Just wondering how many cinder blocks you used to help me work out costs as I’m in Australia.

  • Reply
    Justin
    December 28, 2018 at 9:39 am

    This project looks phenomenal!! I wanted to ask… Is there a mathematical process (or advice you can give) to calculate the layout of the cinder block running bond taking into account the cushion sizes?

    • Reply
      Sarah
      December 28, 2018 at 11:43 am

      Thank you Justin! We actually did do a lot of match to calculate the number of cinder blocks, as well as where to begin the running bond pattern. I bought the cushions first, measured those, then divided the length of the cinder blocks to determine how many we needed. I always find it helpful to sketch things out prior to beginning! Hope this helps.

  • Reply
    Daniel
    March 6, 2019 at 9:43 am

    Thank you so much for sharing this project! Magnificent! I stumbled across this as I live a little further North, in Canada, and am considering making an outdoor couch with a rocket mass heater in it. Would be wonderful to sit or lay on in the colder parts of the year, and gaze up at the stars.
    Yours looks wonderful, and gives me a great basis to start from!

    • Reply
      Sarah
      March 6, 2019 at 3:47 pm

      Thank you Daniel! Ooooh- I LOVE the idea of constructing a heated outdoor couch. That would be so nice! You’ll have to let me know how it turns out :)

  • Reply
    Karen
    March 19, 2019 at 10:52 pm

    This couch is soooooo beautiful? Two questions. Do you wish the back was more than 90 degrees for comfort? And do you ever bump your head on the cement since the back is so high?

    • Reply
      Sarah
      March 20, 2019 at 9:55 am

      Thanks Karen! I really liked the shape and the back angle. It was perfect for lounging, but you could also sit comfortably with food or drink and not worry about sinking or spilling. I only bumped by head on the back once (after one too many margaritas, haha!)… I just liked the aesthetic of seeing the back structure poke from behind the pillows. It also was a great ledge for a plate or drink- the arms and back were super handy for that.

  • Reply
    Phill
    May 20, 2019 at 11:08 am

    Absolutely awesome. I’m definitely going to copy this, I love it. Can I ask how deep you made the seating (front to back), to allow the storage to be incorporated.

    Thanks!

    • Reply
      Sarah
      May 20, 2019 at 11:37 am

      Thank you Phill! We actually don’t live at that home anymore, so I can’t run out to measure- but I’d highly recommend getting your cushions first, then build the seat to fit the size. Any additional negative space in the center would be great for storage :)

  • Reply
    Jessica
    June 3, 2019 at 5:10 pm

    Love it! We are in the process of purchasing the materials to do this! I see that you did it before the pavers, what did you use to level the ground? I see you have pea gravel in the list of materials but don’t see what step they were used for.

  • Reply
    barbara
    June 15, 2019 at 1:43 pm

    THis is EXACTLY what i envisioned for our space! If the dimensions ( how high etc) are not listed can you share? Also since the seat is flush with the base ( as opposed to over hanging) do you have any problems with legs against the base? I ask as my hubby built a window seat but it is not comfortable for me as my legs hang against the bast/ heel marks etc. GREAT JOB!!!!!

    • Reply
      Sarah
      June 16, 2019 at 11:13 am

      Aww yay!! So happy to hear that Barbara. The size can definitely be customized depending on your cushions or floor plan. Each cinder block is 8″ x 16″, and we did 2 cinderblocks tall for the seat height (16″ not including the cushion) and 5 cinderblocks tall for the back height (40″). Hope this helps. We didn’t have any issues with comfort and hitting legs against the back.

  • Reply
    Paul Angelle
    June 24, 2019 at 6:59 am

    I have a large flat backyard (3 acres) with no trees. Backyard patio furniture must be heavy to withstand the wind we see. I watched a double barbecue pit/smoker roll like a tumbleweed. A concrete couch looked perfect and yours looked perfect. I’ve been fixated on this project for over a year. Last year we made a large paver patio and I used the front corner as a retaining wall, with plans to add the rest in phase II.

    Well phase II is upon us. https://www.dropbox.com/s/ecbgpcb29yueuxp/IMG_4534.JPG?dl=0

    I’m needing to fill a few gaps between blocks… any suggestions?

    Thanks for keeping this project available. We love it.

    • Reply
      Sarah
      June 24, 2019 at 10:08 am

      Oh wow, Paul! I’m so happy you gave the concrete sofa a try… it’s looking great! I’d fill the gaps with concrete, then cover everything in the stucco mix. Hope this helps!

        • Reply
          Sarah
          July 10, 2019 at 11:43 am

          Looking good, Paul!

          • Paul Angelle
            July 16, 2019 at 8:35 am

            I successfully obtained sofa cushion donations (7inch foam is stupid expensive) and learned 5 yards wasn’t enough, but I did get one side complete. https://www.dropbox.com/s/1tk35eazmtj3bw9/IMG_4905.JPG?dl=0

            I’m really getting into this project… I might be scaring the fam lol

            Luckily I could order more fabric

            I’ll put 2 6×6 posts on the ends to support a square sail shade. What stain did you use for your posts?

          • Sarah
            July 16, 2019 at 4:28 pm

            Haha!! Great job, Paul! We actually didn’t stain our pergola- it came as a kit and had treated wood… so that’s just the color we bought. I’m excited to see your shade sails!

      • Reply
        Paul
        July 7, 2019 at 8:58 am

        https://www.dropbox.com/s/19sdepm4yq3p175/58405063279__0991013A-4DB8-48B6-B46F-0B681B956B4C.JPG?dl=0

        An update.

        I wish I had read the comments and built the sofa to the measurements of cushions ( custom cushions are not in this budget LOL )
        I’m now taking sofa cushion donations, and it’s amazing how many people I know have a sofa they don’t want in storage and are more than happy to give me the cushions. My seat depth is 24 1/2 inches which is longer than standard so I’m basically turning cushions longways and cutting them (an electric fish filet knife is amazingly effective on foam FYI) … I’ll need to number the bottoms because no two will be the same and it will fit like a jigsaw puzzle.

        I toyed with the idea of using waterproofed canvas painting tarps… but my wife convinced me to have some sort of print.

        We chose this one… BRYANT INDUSTRIES Bryant Indoor/Outdoor Corinthian Driftwood, https://www.amazon.com/dp/B075NPR33W/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_i_4EGiDb4HDE9WA

        To cut costs I am making a thin plywood base putting the cushion on top of that, and then wrapping the fabric around it stapling … once that’s done, I will start acquiring some outdoor throw pillows (the color will add a lot i hope) and I pray it looks great. This has been a lot of work.

        Phase 3 is the Pergola, and so far I’ve kept that a secret (Shhhh) ;)

        • Reply
          Sarah
          July 10, 2019 at 11:45 am

          That’s so exciting! Yes- we bought the cushions first and built the sofa accordingly to fit. I hope your wife loves the pattern! It’s looking good, Paul.

      • Reply
        Paul
        July 17, 2019 at 9:06 pm

        https://www.dropbox.com/s/r5phldg6944logx/IMG_4998.JPG?dl=0

        I’m gonna seek out some larger pillows, but how’s this?

  • Reply
    Jessica
    June 30, 2019 at 11:23 am

    I have another question! On the second picture in step 4, I see little (almost brick sized) blocks on the lower half of the bench. What did you use here? Are these just different size caps? It’s hard to tell in the pic and I don’t see them listed in the materials. Thanks!

    • Reply
      Sarah
      July 1, 2019 at 9:03 am

      Great question Jessica! Yes… our pallet came with a few different sizes and we ended up cutting a couple too. It totally depends on the configuration of your sofa :) Hope this helps!

      • Reply
        Jessica
        July 1, 2019 at 9:31 am

        Ok cool, can you remember anywhere else that you used something other than the standard 8x8x16s? We got the same cushions as you guys and starting to build today! Any help is appreciated!

  • Reply
    Jessica
    July 8, 2019 at 2:21 am

    Love this smart and beautiful creation of yours! How comfortable is the sofa? Debating building one of our own but going for a minimalistic look so I don’t want to add chairs for extra comfort. Worth it as the only seating for entertaining?

    • Reply
      Sarah
      July 10, 2019 at 11:48 am

      We’ve since moved from this house, but we used it ALL the time- it was honestly really comfortable. I’d build it to fit your back height / arm height / and seat height accordingly.. that way it’s the most comfortable for you and your family. We sat on the sofa more than we did the lounge chairs.

  • Reply
    Katie Whelley
    September 8, 2019 at 5:38 pm

    I live in a row home right in the middle of the city. Our 15×15 patio is surrounded by a high fence (giving us some privacy from the neighbors who are literally on top of us. Would you think we could just set this up against the fence and use the fence as the back of the sofa? Basically we’d be making a bench rather than a sofa? Thoughts?

    • Reply
      Paul Angelle
      September 8, 2019 at 7:29 pm

      What’s the fence made of?

      • Reply
        Sarah
        September 10, 2019 at 9:40 pm

        The fence is vinyl.

    • Reply
      Sarah
      September 10, 2019 at 9:40 pm

      I’d think you could definitely do a bench style instead. As long as you don’t skip the concrete and rebar step- it should be secure and just fine… nobody will ever see the backside anyway :) Hope this helps!

      • Reply
        Paul Angelle
        September 11, 2019 at 5:51 am

        I can say as a 1st timer playing with stucco… I’d probably try to stucco the whole fence… I love that stuff lol. But just be conscious of the contrast… add pillows.

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