DIY Outdoor Fireplace Review (2) – AZ

Let’s Take a Trip to Visit a Gorgeous Outdoor Gas Fireplace

Hello all you DIY’ers and welcome to this edition of, “That Awesome DIY Fireplace” where we introduce a DIY homeowner, tell you what state they reside in, and show you how awesome they were at building their own outdoor fireplace.  We’re going to see a stunning outdoor gas fireplace in this article.

Introducing Our DIY Homeowner

We venture down the street and across the tracks from Backyard Flare headquarters to introduce homeowner Jim, who wanted a short in stature outdoor gas fireplace. Jim specifically wanted to burn natural gas.  Jim was restricted to natural gas and a short finished height by his homeowner’s association due to his home’s location on the golf course.  Jim’s backyard was on the 12th tee so there is quite a view.

Jim contacted Dan at Backyard Flare and explained his fireplace design and restrictions.  No sweat at all for the Backyard Flare team.  Dan did a couple site visits to Jim’s backyard and they came up with a plan of action. Dan was contracted to build the fireplace, but Jim was able to save a bit of money because he helped Dan through the process …and Jim learned a lot, very quickly.  It’s always a blast when homeowners can help because they learn and have a great sense of accomplishment.

Getting the Area Prepped

After the fireplace location and width was determined, a diamond blade was used to cut through the existing flagstone patio.  This area was excavated and framed for the concrete slab with rebar inside the pour.  An inexpensive Harbor Freight cement mixer was used which made this job relatively quick for two people.

saw cut flagstone concrete pad
Patio flagstone was cut to make way for the concrete slab.
wheelbarrow used to dump concrete slab rebar
Dan is using a wheelbarrow to dump concrete into the wood form for the concrete slab.

 

 

 

 

 

Once the concrete cured for a couple days, Dan and Jim started laying block in a running bond (staggered) pattern.

cinder block fireplace mortar DIY outdoor fireplace
The running bond pattern was used to build the structure.
diy outdoor fireplace with arched lintels
The firebox and storage voids were built with arched lintels made from concrete.

 

 

 

 

 

The firebox in the middle was sandwiched between two wood storage voids on either side.  An electrical line was routed through the blocks to install a 110v outlet. This outlet was used to plug in a power transformer for the structure and backyard ground low voltage lighting.

diy outdoor gas fireplace with stucco
The fireplace was covered in a stucco finish prior to the stone veneer being applied.
level measuring tape flagstone cutting with a diamond blade
A level was used as a straight edge to mark the cuts on the flagstone.

Lot’s of Finishing Options Were Added

When the structure block work was completed, firebrick was added to the inside of the firebox.

diy outdoor gas fireplace with flagstone and stucco golf course arizona
The flagstone was added to all horizontal surfaces of the fireplace.

The natural gas line was plumbed up the backside of the structure and a shutoff valve was added inline before it was installed into the back wall of the firebox.  This gas line stubbed out a few inches inside the lower right corner of the firebox.  Gas tubing was added to an H pipe and a few test burns were done before anything was solidified.

 

 

The wire for the structure lighting was routed to the front of the hearth and to the inside of the storage voids, figuring out where each light would be located.  The front face of the structure was adorned with a beautiful stacked stone, which was mortared in place.  The remainder of the structure was covered in a smooth coat troweled stucco, which was later painted.

Natural Stone Added So Much

The horizontal surfaces were covered in a gorgeous light tan flagstone which Dan and Jim cut with a chisel method for a rougher edge.  This was a bit time consuming and much slower than a saw cut front edge, but completely worth it in the end.

diy outdoor gas fireplace stacked stone golf course arizona
The finished fireplace sure makes a statement in this backyard.

With the leftover flagstone, Jim extended the flagstone patio to the far-right side of the structure and filled the joints with matching mortar.  After it was pressure washed, you can’t even tell where the old flagstone patio and the new came together. Totally amazing.

A vertical piece of flagstone was added to the front of the firebox after it was chiseled to resemble a mountain range in Jim’s home state of Colorado.  This piece of stone helped contain the local river rock that was added to the top of the H pipe.  This rock completely hid the pipe, making it look as if the flames “originated” from the rocks.

Tying the Structure to the House Decor

For continuity in the backyard, the fireplace stucco was painted to match the house.  New outdoor furniture was added to the patio and many nights have been spent eating, drinking, partying, and relaxing in the backyard.  So many golfers stopped to see the fireplace and to offer kind words, complementing Jim on his design.

With the ambiance of the lighting in the voids and quick start of the natural gas in the firebox, Jim and his wife have been able to say, “hey want to have a fire?”, and enjoy it in a matter of seconds.  Easy on and easy off is what Jim wanted and it turned out great.

diy outdoor gas fireplace stacked stone golf course arizona
This backyard was transformed with this fireplace overlooking the gorgeous golf course.

You Ready to Build One?

We sure hope you like it too, so let us know how this DIY fireplace inspired you?  Are you ready to build your masterpiece like Jim did?  Even though this outdoor gas fireplace included natural gas, low voltage lighting, and chiseled flagstone, it can all be done by you too.  If you have the DIY mindset, we can help you achieve greatness.  We have assisted hundreds of homeowners who are weekend DIY’ers, realize their potential to build fireplaces just like Jim’s.  You can do it too. Visit Backyard Flare for more information and DIY construction plans.

Thanks so much for reading about another great DIY outdoor gas fireplace build.   We’ll bring you more soon, and as always …happy building.

DIY Outdoor Fireplace Review – IL

Fireplace Review Time

Hello all you DIY’ers and welcome to this edition of, “That Awesome DIY Fireplace” where we introduce a DIY homeowner, tell you what state they reside in, and show you how awesome they were at building their own outdoor fireplace.

Who is Our DIY Builder?

We venture to Illinois to introduce homeowner Mario, who decided to build the Douglas Mini design.  Mario reached out to Backyard Flare and ordered his DIY construction plan.

Douglas Mini DIY outdoor fireplace
Mario started with the footprint on his concrete slab.

Mario’s backyard has a great looking grassy area with a brick patio.  The corner of the patio needed a new addition though, so an outdoor fireplace was the obvious choice.   Mario started building his fireplace as per the construction plan and got to the top of the firebox lintel.

Modification Time

Mario elected to make some modifications to the chimney portion of the build to give the top an angled look.

Douglas Mini outdoor DIY fireplace angled chimney
Metal framework was added to create the angled chimney.

To achieve these angles, Mario used metal stud for the framework, using small self-tapping screws to tie the metal sections together.  It’s very important to make sure the angles are the same on each side.

 

 

 

 

Douglas Mini DIY outdoor fireplace with metal angled chimney
The metal framework was symmetrical on the front and back.

Finishing the Fireplace

Mario finished his fireplace with a beautiful stone veneer and natural stone horizontal surfaces.  The firebox was finished in a red firebrick, providing a cool look.  Mario bought a metal fire grate and it looks like a perfectly cut piece of aspen pine is laying there ready for a good burn.

The brick patio was laid back down to the front of the hearth, giving it an almost seamless look.  If you look closely, the angles of the chimney match the door on the shed behind it.  I really think Mario did this on purpose to tie the backyard together.  It really works, and we love it.

Douglas Mini DIY outdoor fireplaces backyard
Great Douglas Mini design outdoor fireplace built by a homeowner using a construction plan from Backyard Flare.

Are You Ready to Build?  Now is a Great Time

How has this DIY fireplace inspired you?  Are you ready to build your masterpiece like Mario did?  Backyard Flare can help you with any worries or concerns of the masonry word, and even with design help.  We have assisted hundreds of homeowners who are weekend DIY’ers, and we can help you realize your potential to build a fireplace just like Mario’s.  You can do it too.

Check back on our blog page periodically and follow us on Instagram and Facebook for additional photographs and information.  We love to share great pictures and we really enjoy bragging about our customers, so we hope to hear from you.

Thanks so much for reading about another great DIY fireplace build.   We’ll bring you more soon, and as always …happy building.

Dan Heston

DIY Outdoor Fireplace Review – AZ

DIY Outdoor Fireplace Review

Hello all you DIY’ers and welcome to this edition of, “That Awesome DIY Fireplace” where we introduce a DIY homeowner, tell you what state they reside in, and show you how awesome they were at building their own outdoor fireplace.  They do it all by themselves with a little help from us here at Backyard Flare.

Let’s Go Down to Arizona

We venture not far from Backyard Flare headquarters in Arizona to introduce homeowner Jason.  A DIY guy who decided to build the popular Pima II fireplace design using the proven Backyard Flare outdoor fireplace construction plan.

Pima II outdoor fireplace stucco tile
Gorgeous Pima II outdoor fireplace built by Jason in AZ.

Jason has the traditional landscape rock in his yard as most of us do in southern Arizona.  A stunning tile patio was built with a perimeter tile of the same type.  The Pima II fireplace is built on a 45 degree angle to the patio.  The fireplace measuring just wider than eight feet is a perfect addition to this space and with wrap-around seating, lots of horizontal surface is available.

To keep continuity, Jason used the same tile for the patio to wrap up the hearth of the outdoor fireplace.  This tile then extends to the horizontal seating surface, which gives it a great finished and well thought-out look.  Jason added electrical line for low voltage lighting in the hearth, giving the fireplace a subtle look at night even when it’s not being used.  This outdoor fireplace is backyard furniture for sure, providing a great focal point.

Stucco Is a Cost Saving Veneer Choice

For the main vertical firebox and chimney sections, Jason elected to use stucco as the finish material.  In Arizona, as with many other states, this matches the home’s exterior, which also keeps the theme going throughout.  With the texture and darker earth tone paint, it blends really nice with the natural desert landscape seen behind Jason’s block wall.  The horizontal sections of the chimney and the top were covered with matching tile, which was saw cut with a diamond blade.  Super simple by the way.

Pima II outdoor fireplace with lights and fire
When the sun goes to sleep, the lights come on and the fire burns. how beautiful.

Jason wanted to add some pop, so he finished the front of his outdoor fireplace with a gorgeous piece of distressed wood for his mantel.  Wanting to match other elements, Jason used metal brackets underneath the wood.  These metal brackets match the metal fireplace tool set and the metal fire grate in the firebox.  Jason got ready and stacked a pile of pine in the firebox, ready for a great nighttime burn.  I’m sure the neighbors stare out their back doors at the glow from the chimney and they smell the sweet smell of burning pine.

Help is Available

How has this outdoor fireplace inspired you?  Are you ready to build your masterpiece like Jason did and transition your backyard space?  Backyard Flare can help you with any worries or concerns of the masonry world, and even with design help.  We have assisted hundreds of homeowners who are weekend DIY’ers, realize their potential to build outdoor fireplaces just like Jason’s, and you can do it too.

Thanks so much for reading about another great DIY outdoor fireplace build.   We’ll bring you more soon, and as always …happy building.

Dan Heston

DIY Outdoor Fireplace Built for Cheap

CAN I BUILD MY OWN DIY OUTDOOR FIREPLACE?

DIY outdoor fireplace
Gorgeous light colored veneer and lighting make this a very cool DIY fireplace.

If you’ve gotten as far as thinking you want an outdoor backyard fireplace, then the next obvious thought should be on the construction method.  To lay it out as simply as possible, either you build it yourself or a contractor builds it for you.  And I’m not talking about a prefabricated fireplace where you stack a few pieces and have a fire an hour later.  I’m talking about a permanent cinderblock structure with all the amenities such as seating, shelving, lighting, veneer, firewood storage, etc…  Frankly a DIY outdoor fireplace can be built for cheap.

 

Realistic Contractor Concerns

DIY douglas outdoor fireplace decor
Great DIY corner designed fireplace all decorated and ready for a party.

When you elect to have someone else build your fireplace, you will pay for two specific things.  They are materials and labor, the latter of which will be most of your cost.  Is it easier to have someone else sweat while lifting block and splattering mortar?  Absolutely, but you must then step back and look at the alternative.  You!  Have you given much thought to building your own fireplace?  If the answer is no or even maybe, let me give you some things to mull over.  Just one of them may sway you or the entire list may persuade you that a DIY project may be the way to go.

First off, let’s look at the project as a whole.  Building on a large scale with construction plans can be very enjoyable and rewarding.  Think of it as stepping out on a new adventure with a lot of the guesswork taken out because of the plans you hold in your hand.

Some of us have a small perfectionist attitude making it difficult to sit back and watch someone build something for us, knowing we would do it differently.  I want to build to my taste; with my ideas in mind.  Contractors, many times, provide building crews that are only interested in getting done in order to move on to the next project.  In the end, it’s all about cash flow.  Do they care about the final look of something they may never see again, but that you will have to look at everyday for quite some time?  Maybe, however, I prefer complete control of my projects and how they’re built. That’s why I love DIY and that’s why I always try to persuade others to jump on the DIY train.  It’s a fun train.

It may seem small, but you also need to consider whether you will want contractor building crews in your backyard all day for the duration of your project.  They always seem to show up too early or not at all.  Then there’s the problem with the mess that is always left each day.

Think About a DIY Project

Pima DIY outdoor fireplace LG Green Egg kitchen grill
DIY Pima II fireplace with a great outdoor kitchen attached.

When you build yourself, you control the pace of the project.  Some DIY warriors can complete a fireplace project in as few as 9-10 days while still holding down a job.  Others will spend a few weeks to construct their fireplace working only a couple hours here and there.  When you build, it’s up to you how you structure your timeline.

If the previous reasons haven’t convinced you to build your own fireplace then think about the money you could save by not soliciting the services of a contractor.  As mentioned before, most of your cost with a contractor will be for labor.  It is estimated that you can take the total cost of your materials and multiply it by 5-6 to give you an approximate labor cost.  With this example, if you were to spend a total of $1,000 for materials, then the labor could cost as much as $5,000-$6,000, for a grand total of $6,000-$7,000 for a completed fireplace.  That’s expensive!

Not only are you paying for labor, but at times the contractor will make money on materials too. In other words, they will charge you more for each block than what it will cost for you to go to your own home improvement store to buy them.  You’ll only know that though if they provide you with an itemized list of materials and labor broken down.

Nothing is set in stone with how fireplaces have to be built, or even how much you have to pay.  The truth is, however, that you will save money if you step out on faith and build your own outdoor fireplace.  Think about how you’ll feel when you finish your own DIY outdoor fireplace project, knowing that you could have spent so much more.

Look No Further Than Backyard Flare

If you’re looking for assistance in the form of DIY outdoor fireplace construction plans, please visit Backyard Flare, LLC at www.backyardflare.com.  We have many fireplace designs that we’re sure would look great in your outdoor living space.  We would love the opportunity to work with you to make your backyard the talk of the neighborhood.  We’ll give you the knowledge needed and be there for you along the way.  Thank you for reading and we hope to hear from you.

As we always say …happy building.

Please follow us on Instagram and Facebook, as we have lots of cool DIY outdoor fireplace photos and videos added almost every day.  Contact Dan with any questions.

Dan Heston
Backyard Flare, LLC
Tucson, Arizona
dan@backyardflare.com
www.backyardflare.com
www.diyoutdoorfireplaces.com
520-269-9740

DIY Fireplace Reviews – FL and UT

It Started in Florida

Let’s talk about two beautiful DIY fireplaces built by the same people, years apart, in two different states.  These fireplaces transformed their backyards into such welcoming areas.  But first, let’s meet our player

outdoor fireplace pizza oven DIY
Combo fireplace and pizza oven DIY

s.  Husband and wife team, Marko and Kelly, were customers of Backyard Flare years ago and they built a stunning DIY outdoor fireplace and pizza oven combo when they lived in sunny Florida.  They used a Backyard Flare construction plan and the backyard was positively changed forever.  The structure drew lots of accolades from Backyard Flare followers and it was definitely a beautiful, one of a kind, fireplace.  It’s easy to see why so many people were raving about it.  It was so different than most.

DIY outdoor fireplace pizza oven
The red color on the oven adds so much to this design.

I have seen lots of pizza ovens and most are earth tone colors.  Marko and Kelly decided that a bold and deep reddish color would look great on their oven instead of keeping it like everyone else’s ovens.  I have to say, I was impressed with the color choice. It worked so well with the surrounding area and it brought a pop of color not seen anywhere else in their yard.  Coupled with the dark tones of the accent tile and the light color stucco, it was a hit.  I’m sure it made a huge impact in the sale of their home, bringing in more money on the sale, than they would have had with a plain Jane backyard.

And then They Moved

Now fast forward a few years, with Marko and Kelly relocated to the great state of Utah.  They bought a new home and needed to bring the backyard up to a standard they were used to.  The new fireplace structure, although smaller than the Florida fireplace, is no less impressive.

Utah outdoor fireplace diy pergola
Utah backyard with DIY fireplace and pergola

The fireplace sports a square topped firebox and an equally wide firewood storage void under the hearth.  Natural stone is on the horizontal surfaces, including the top of the fireplace.  Keeping with the earth tone feel, Marko and Kelly added a wood mantel and a beautiful faux stone veneer.

outdoor fireplace diy wood mantel storage
This fireplace sports a wood mantel and a firewood storage void.

It’s not just the fireplace that brings the total feel to the backyard.  The natural flagstone table in front of the fireplace draws the earth tones to the patio. A huge pergola with a large outdoor table is the perfect place to have an outdoor dinner or just a place to sit and really relax. The white picket fence in the background with the bold green grass, adds contrast to the whole picture.  The large boulder wall behind the fireplace and the slight hill with natural vegetation adds to the rustic look as compared to the veneer on the fireplace.  The bold color on the pots to the sides of the fireplace make the structure appear to be wider than it is.

DIY outdoor fireplace fire
In action with a raging fire.

This is such a beautiful fireplace and I am sure this backyard will create lots of great memories.  Great job Marko and Kelly.  We are sure you will continue to enjoy your backyard paradise and we hope you will continue to share your fireplace with us.

Kudos Go Out

Special thanks to Marko and Kelly for sharing these great photos with us and allowing us to share them with the world. Also, thank you to all our faithful readers out there and to those who just found us.  We can help you with your outdoor fireplace dream.  Visit our website at www.backyardflare.com for some great inspiration and fireplace ideas.

Check us Out on Social Media

Please follow us on Facebook and Instagram for lots of cool info and fun pics and video.  Thanks for reading and as I always say…happy building.

-Dan

Hanging a Fireplace Mantel

Hanging a Fireplace Mantel

You have probably seen a lot of fireplaces built without mantels and with a clean front face to them above the firebox.  Inversely, lots of fireplaces have been built with shelves, commonly referred to as a mantel, above the firebox.  Either look is cool but I’ve always thought the mantel addition to the front of an outdoor fireplace was a neat touch.  Hanging a fireplace mantel can be difficult depending on the type of material used.  The most widely used mantel material is wood so we’ll cover that in this post.

What Now

So let’s assume you are done with your fireplace rough build, finished to a bare cinder block front face.  You now have a drab gray block wall and you want to know how to hang the large four foot wide, railroad smelling, piece of dark beautiful wood as a mantel. That sure is a descriptive mouthful, but there is a bit of worry in the planning.  The last thing you want is for the mantel to come down or appear to sag at all in the life of your fireplace.

We have an installation method for your heavy wood fireplace mantel, using pieces of steel.  Have you ever paid attention the hinge side of a door in your house?  If not, open one up.  Look at the hinge and see how the edge of the door has been cut out in the shape of the hinge.  This allows the hinge to be recessed into the door, allowing the smaller gaps when the door is closed.

Get Some Supplies

Wood DIY fireplace mantel
Large wooden mantel ready for install.

You can use that same technique when hanging a wood mantel to the front surface of the fireplace.  You will need at least two or three pieces of 1/8” thick steel.  These pieces of steel will be about 2”-3” wide and about 10”-12” long, depending on the size of your mantel obviously.  You can use a chisel and hammer or a router and cutting bit for a faster method.  Cut out the back of the wood from the top, equal to the width of the metal.  As an example, if you have an 8” tall railroad tie, you will probably want to cut out at least 5”-6” down, assuming your piece of metal was about 10” long.

Wood mantel with metal brackets
Metal brackets added to the back of the wood mantel.

This metal will be bolted to the wood with some pretty gnarly screws or bolts.  Using a heavy threaded bolt will insure a good bite into the wood.  You will drill holes in the metal and put a couple of bolts in the wood, per piece of metal.  The metal will be pretty flush with the back of the wood and the head of the bolt may be a bit further out.  No biggie.

Your mantel can now be held up by your favorite helpers or suspended with vertical wood pieces.  Drill some more holes in the exposed section of metal above the wood and mark your holes on the cinder block.  Drill into the block and add lags.  These lags are like wall anchors in your drywall.  They will expand when a bolt is screwed into them.

At the End

DIY fireplace with wood mantel
Wood mantel was added to the front of the DIY fireplace.

Once the mantel is in place, it may have a slight front tilt, but that’s okay for water runoff.  You can shore up the underside of the wood with some shims to even it out if it is leaning too far forward.  The veneer will be applied to the structure and directly over the metal that is holding the mantel in place.  The mantel will appear to be floating and your guests will think you’re a genius for being able to complete such a feat.

We hope you can use this technique and that you’ll send us some pics of your install.  Hanging a fireplace mantel doesn’t have to be a hard task, so we hope you’ll try to DIY the job.  We’d love to see how it turned out for you and in your project so send pics.  If you have any questions about hanging fireplace mantels or anything else about your outdoor fireplace, let us know.  We can be reached at dan@backyardflare.com or at 520-269-9740.  Check out www.backyardflare.com for great DIY fireplace inspiration.  As always, happy building.

Five Ways to Make a Beautiful Backyard

Five Ways to Make a Beautiful Backyard

There are so many ways to make a beautiful backyard and so many different things to make it a ‘one of a kind’.  If a backyard was just a standard layout and everyone did the same thing, where would the fun be?  For as long as people have been living in houses, they have strived to create outdoor living spaces full of functionality and beauty.  Backyard popularity and the drive to create the perfect outdoor space has always been there, and I feel the things to build, construct, and add are more abundant now than ever.  So many options and so little time.  Here is Backyard Flare’s list of ‘Five Ways to Make a Beautiful Backyard’.

Outdoor Fireplace

Outdoor fireplace beautiful backyard
Outdoor fireplace with flagstone seating and stone veneer.

First and foremost, we love outdoor fireplaces and bang for your buck, they are amazing.  They seem to be the one thing outdoors that will bring you a massive return on your investment.  What you may spend a few hundred dollars on could gain thousands in return at time of sale.  Outdoor fireplaces are our bread and butter and it’s what we think about day and night.  We are always talking to DIY homeowners about different layout possibilities and available building footprints.  It seems like people are building fireplaces in spaces small and large.  Even places that seem to not work for a fireplace, people seem to build in.

Now, you don’t have to build a massive structure to have it be the focal point.  If you position your fireplace in a way that the flame is visible from inside your house, it becomes a very cool feature in that you can build a fire for ambiance.  It’s so peaceful to have a fire crackling and you don’t even have to be sitting next to it to enjoy it.

Outdoor Kitchen

Outdoor kitchen beautiful backyard
Outdoor kitchen with drop in grill and access doors.

Holy cow, who doesn’t like to grill?  I don’t know anyone right off the top of my head.  Most homeowners will have a small Weber grill or a cheap standalone grill on their back patio.  Over time, it will probably be in a state of rust and full of cobwebs.  It’s probably because the backyard wasn’t welcoming.  It wasn’t a place where the homeowners wanted to spend their time.  Ah, but build a nice outdoor kitchen and it becomes a destination… a “cooking” destination.

beautiful backyard
Outdoor kitchen with black granite countertop.

Adding an outdoor kitchen, can be as simple as encasing your existing standalone grill, with countertop to the sides.  More extravagant structures may have a raised bar area with stools, a refrigerator, a sink, or even a pizza oven added.  The possibilities are endless and will de

pend on how much room you have to work with.  The layout could be rectangular, built like an “L” shape, or even a “U” shape.  Drop in grills can be purchased for reasonable costs if you look around enough, and you can opt for propane or natural gas.  Building a sunken pit into your structure could even accommodate the use of charcoal, which in our opinion tastes wonderful.

Outdoor Lighting

beautiful backyard
Lighting adds a great look to any fireplace

Spend some time looking into your backyard at night and think about where you would add low voltage lighting.  Adding a transformer and some perimeter lights in the yard can add a lot of character.  Upward lighting on trees and bushes can add visual depth that all but fades away at night.

Outdoor lighting fireplace beautiful backyard
Lighting along the front of a fireplace hearth.

If you add the lighting to a structure such as a fireplace or outdoor kitchen, you will bring those structures to a focal point.  Many homeowners will incorporate lighting throughout their entire yard and through structures, having it illuminate all at the same time.  This is a really elegant look.

Lighting outdoor kitchen beautiful backyard
Lighting brings out the beauty at night on the outdoor kitchen.

Potted Plants

Potted plant beautiful backyard
Colorful flowers in a white potted and textured pot.

The right pot or three with colorful flowering plants puts the finishing touch on many backyards.  The flowers provide a visual pop of color not usually found anywhere else in a backyard.  With colorful pots or textured pots, you can add lots of cool looks.  Change the flowers each season for different colors or type of plants.  If you add a drip line into the pot, you’ll be able to minimize the maintenance time and possibly forgetting to water the plants.  They don’t tend to live very long if they don’t get water.

Shaded Seating

Adirondack chair beautiful backyard
Comfy Adirondack chairs begging for usage.

Last on our short list for a beautiful backyard but not even close to being the least important, add some shaded seating to your outdoor space.  On cool mornings, I will grab a cup of coffee and sit in my Adirondack chair with my feet propped up.  This chair lives under my patio cover, adding lots of protection from sun fading.  When I want to venture out from the confines of the patio cover, I can relax in one of my teal colored padded chairs.  The rectangular shaped glass table sports a teal colored umbrella providing great sun protection for most of the day.

Outdoor chair beautiful backyard
Teal padded chairs and umbrella around glass table.

Just adding a few different places to sit comfortably in your backyard will offer the look of a welcoming area.

Over time, with these few things added or built in your backyard, you will have transformed your outdoor space and you will hopefully have a beautiful backyard that begs for usage.  Lots of usage.  And who knows, maybe you’ll add all five recommendations, completely renovating it to the envy of all your neighbors.

If you have any questions about any of the suggestions, or if you want to build an outdoor kitchen and/or outdoor fireplace, visit www.backyardflare.com.  We’ll help you with your project and provide you with a very comprehensive DIY construction plan.  Most if not all the guesswork will be gone.

The Perfect S’more

The Perfect S’more

Is there a day that goes by where you don’t contemplate the perfect S’more or the ingredients that it takes to construct one?  I don’t think so, as these quandaries are what keep lots of people up at night.  I often lie there for hours at a time, beads of sweat collecting on my forehead, while I count marshmallows and small squares of chocolate.  Did I break the graham cracker perfectly, so the two sides are equal? Is the marshmallow gooey enough?  The perfect S’more…oh my…so much to consider.

Funny to think about, and “no” I really don’t drive myself into crazed sleeplessness over something as simple as a S’more.  Having said that, I thought this would be an amusing blog post to write about how to build the perfect S’more and to get some feedback on what constitutes your perfect S’more.

So Many Questions

What is the perfect roast level of the marshmallow?  How much chocolate is necessary for these tasty and crunchy dessert sandwiches?  These seem like crazy questions and an over analyzation of a simple sweet snack, but really think about what you do when you build the perfect S’more.  You make a lot of micro decisions when you are in the S’more frame of mind.

Marshmallow on a stick
Marshmallow on a Stick

You will usually impale a helpless marshmallow on a skewer or metal stick and hold it over the open flame without mercy.  The question lies; however, do you hold it just outside the flame or catch it on fire?  Do you require a golden brown slow roast, or do you prefer the stick mounted flaming marshmallow ball like a torch used by Indiana Jones?  How long do you let the marshmallow burn before you blow out the flame?  Is there a point when too much burn is too much, and intending to start over, you resort to flinging the sticky mess off the stick for the dog to devour?

Chocolate
Perfect Milk Chocolate

Do you prepare your graham cracker and chocolate before the marshmallow torture or do you yell at others in panic to get your cracker and chocolate ready?  If you’re like most, you do the latter.  You were so focused on the marshmallow torture and open flame that you “tunnel-visioned” yourself out of paying attention to the chocolatey crunchy portions of the sweet treat. Remember that your failure to prepare the cracker and chocolate should not constitute an emergency on the part of your family and friends.

S’more (Some More) Questions

Do you forget and leave the graham crackers open, so the dog gets into them, “Pavlov Dog Style”?  Do you viciously eat a good portion of the chocolate beforehand, and then realize that there may not be enough to go around?  Are you the one that puts the hot and sticky marshmallow skewer down on the chair in haste not realizing that it will glue itself to the seat cushion?

The Perfect S'more
Building the Perfect S’more

With so many things to consider, should we as humans even be stepping into the tough decisions necessary to build the perfect S’more?  Is it better done as a team event?  This blog post has not done anything except make me hungry for a S’more and nervously anxious at the thought of building one.  I hope the next time you decide to make the perfect S’mores that you talk it over first with your guests.  Think about logistics and have a game plan before indulging in such glorious delicacies.

S'more
S’more Time Anyone?

Or just have fun.  S’mores are a great way to share memories with family and friends.  Leave a comment and let us know some of your S’more memories or thoughts.  We’d love to hear them.

Build Your Own Marshmallow Fireplace

Please visit www.backyardflare.com if you are interested in a DIY fireplace or outdoor kitchen construction plan.  They are perfect places to build a fire necessary for your marshmallow torture.  Thanks for reading, and as always…happy building.

Dan

DIY Summer

Get Excited

Oh my gosh, I am excited about this DIY summer.  So many people are diving into great DIY outdoor fireplace and outdoor kitchen projects.  We have received countless emails and calls about custom fireplaces and are really pumped to see these structures built.  There are so many great ideas and backyard spaces that are begging for a stunning outdoor fireplace.  Do you have one of those spaces?  If you said yes, we want to hear from you too.

The best part about a late spring and summer build is that you can take your time on the construction.  By doing most of the building during the hotter parts of the spring and summer, there won’t be any rush to complete the structure.  Your construction can be solely a few hours each weekend or sporadic hours throughout the week.  Those cooler days will arrive and when they do, the fireplace will be ready to go.

I was at a graduation party a couple days ago and it just so happened to be at a friend’s house where I built Backyard Flare’s second ever fireplace.  This structure is absolutely huge.  I remember building this structure in the heat of the Arizona summer, under the beating rays of the sun.  Plenty of water was consumed and I think we are still paying off the credit card bill from our purchase of sunscreen.  We killed a saw while cutting block and even drew a little bit of blood during the build.  Those things at the time were a nuisance, but now I look back on them and smile, remembering all the fun we actually had during construction.

Reminiscing an old DIY Summer

During the graduation party, I ventured out into the backyard and walked around the fireplace to reminisce.  It was built on an old basketball court after the homeowner’s kids grew up and moved out.  I wanted to stoke up a fire, but because the temperature was still in the 90s, I decided that that wasn’t necessary.  I took a few pics to show my wife that the fireplace still looked great after more than ten years.

DIY Outdoor fireplace in Tucson.
Decade old outdoor fireplace in Tucson, Arizona.
DIY outdoor fireplace with stucco and tile finish
The memories around an old fireplace are great. Build your own memories.

What I’m getting at is that a well built outdoor fireplace or kitchen becomes backyard furniture in a sense. A decade later, a fireplace will still be there, begging to be used.

Contact Us

Let us know how we can help if you are interested in stepping into a fantastic DIY build.  Visit us at www.backyardflare.com, email us at dan@backyardflare.com, or call Dan at 520-269-9740.  We would love the opportunity to help you design a beautiful fireplace or kitchen.  Take care and as always…happy building!

 

Dan Heston

Shaping and Cutting Natural Stone

Shaping and Cutting Natural Stone

You’re done with your DIY outdoor fireplace or DIY outdoor kitchen and you are contemplating what you will use to cover the horizontal surfaces.  Look to natural stone for a possibility.  Shaping and cutting natural stone does not have to intimidate you.  There are ample resources that will help guide you through the process of getting your stone to fit the seating, shelving, and the top of your fireplace or kitchen.  And it looks beautiful.

Flagstone seating material and lighting on a DIY outdoor fireplace
Flagstone seating material and lighting on a DIY outdoor fireplace

Do Your Research

Do an online search for DIY outdoor fireplaces or DIY outdoor kitchens and you’ll see some amazing structures.  Pay attention to the horizontal surfaces and you’ll see that these DIY homeowners have used lots of different materials.  One of the widely used materials for the horizontal surfaces is natural stone.  The use of the natural stone will require some cutting and shaping of the material before it can be applied to your structure though.  This can be done via a couple different methods.

Cutting Natural Stone
Method One – Use a Diamond Blade
Flagstone on a DIY outdoor fireplace
Mark your cuts on the stone using a long straight edge.

The first and most common method of stone shaping is to use a diamond blade to cut it.  This is a very effective way of cutting the stone and curved cuts are even possible.  The final look will be a smooth edge that can be rounded off for a finer look.

The diamond blade you use to cut your cinder block can double as the stone cutting blade.  Depending on your saw, diamond blades can be used dry or wet.  Dry cutting is dusty so use a mask and prepare to be covered in the colored dust.  With a good blade, some stone, such as flagstone will cut through like a hot knife through butter.  Don’t try to cut too deep, too fast though as you will bog down the saw.

Check out this video showing how easy cutting natural stone can be using a diamond blade.  This is an example of a dry cut, using a 9″ grinder.
https://www.facebook.com/BackyardFlareLlc/videos/630083177148781/

One more thing to keep in mind about dry cutting is that your blade will become super hot and it will begin to soften and warp. When this occurs, simply stop cutting to allow the blade to cool down.  If you proceed too long with a warping blade, it may maintain that warped out-of-round shape even after it has cooled.

Cutting Natural Stone
Method Two – Hammer and Chisel Cutting

If you want a more rustic look, you can opt to chisel cut the stone.  This is a bit more of an art form and could require an extra piece or two of stone that you can practice on.  You will use a hammer to hit the chisel, but don’t hit too hard.  For the best cut, you will use small movements of the chisel head as you impact the chisel with your hammer.

If you are cutting a 12” straight cut using a 4” chisel head, you will probably hit the chisel at least eight to ten times along the way.  The stone may not break after the first pass so start again and continue as you first did until you see the stone begin to crack.

It is not uncommon to go from end to end three or four times before the stone breaks.  At times, you may have a stone that will not break exactly on your intended line.  This may be a result of a stone that already has cracks and fissures in it.  The stone will break where it is most vulnerable but it may not be exactly where you intended it to break.  This is the frustration of chisel cutting versus cutting the stone with a blade.

DIY outdoor fireplace, stone seating
DIY outdoor fireplace with chisel cut stone seating

Check out a great video on cutting natural stone using the hammer and chisel technique.
https://www.facebook.com/BackyardFlareLlc/videos/289085947915174/

Cutting Natural Stone – Practice Makes Perfect

A great idea is to purchase a small piece of stone ahead of your construction.  You can practice cutting lines, both with a blade and chisel.  With enough repetition, you will find the preferred method and look that will look great on your structure.

As always, happy building.

Dan