Build a Stunning Outdoor Living Area

Build Your Stunning Outdoor Living Area

This week’s backyard profile goes out to Adam in the great state of Washington.  What a great job Adam did, building his stunning outdoor living area, with the help of Backyard Flare and their design team.  But… Adam went the extra mile and he constructed an outdoor destination complete with a fireplace, outdoor kitchen, and patio cover on steroids.

Wood framing of patio cover
Patio cover is framed

The blank slate started with the building of the wood framed pergola.  A pitched roof with a decorative underbelly and drop lights covered a large footprint.  This cover offered the living area with a respite from the sun or the probable Washington State rainfall.  The support beams of the patio cover were stained darker than the wood slats.  What a great look.

Pitched roof patio cover
Patio cover with pitched roof

Finishing the Patio Cover

Brilliant white trim accented the beautiful gray tone siding and then fantastic light sconces were set on the vertical corner sections.  These lights provided ample light and amazing ambiance for the outside of the patio cover.  A rugged transition to the ground was accomplished by covering the bottoms of the corner pillars a great faux stone veneer.

Outdoor Living Area
Great looking flagstone walkway
Outdoor Living Area
Lighting always makes the structure look elegant

Flagstone was laid in an erratic pattern to form the approach to the covered patio.  The earth tone colored stone was broken into large sections and then placed into the soil.

Outdoor Kitchen Construction

One corner of the structure was used as a partial wall for a very large outdoor kitchen.  The structure was then equipped with a stainless-steel drop in barbecue grill, stainless access door, and several linear feet of counter top for cooking preparation.

Outdoor kitchen
Outdoor kitchen with barbecue, stainless doors

Outdoor Fireplace Construction

Afterward, lots of cinder block was delivered for the Backyard Flare designed fireplace.  Adam used the construction plan from Backyard Flare to build his fireplace structure with ground level storage voids.  Subsequently, these storage voids worked well aesthetically on each side.

 

 

After the cinder block rough build was completed to the top of the two-tiered chimney stack, the veneer was then applied. This veneer matched the veneer used on the outdoor kitchen and the bottoms of the patio pillars which added a great overall look.  The horizontal surfaces of the fireplace were covered with a dark stone, complimenting the veneer perfectly.

Outdoor fireplace design
Backyard Flare designed fireplace

Outdoor fireplace plan

A mantel was added to the front width of the fireplace and then veneer was added to the structure.  Adam took a blank section of his yard and then transformed it into a very welcoming outdoor living area.  I’m sure he and his family and friends have spent many days and nights making great memories.

If you would like to build an outdoor structure such as a fireplace or outdoor kitchen visit us at www.backyardflare.com.  We will help you with all your design needs and can take most of the guess work out of it.  Thanks for reading and we hope to hear from you.  Happy building!

DIY Outdoor Fireplace – Build Review

DIY Outdoor Fireplace Inspiration

Each week we are going to pick a Backyard Flare designed fireplace built by a DIY homeowner enthusiast.  We will then give you a DIY outdoor fireplace build review to dissect it regarding the construction and finish work.  We hope you are inspired and that you realize that you too can complete this type of backyard project.

DIY fireplace building is achievable for even the average homeowner and the materials are readily available at retailers in your area.  The knowledge of how to “put it all together” is accessible if you know where to look.  Some of these amazing structures look as if they should only belong at a fine 5-star resort, but that’s not so.

DIY Outdoor fireplace built by homeowner
Deck level outdoor fireplace in Maryland

Our featured fireplace, built by Gene, is located in the great state of Maryland.  Gene approached Backyard Flare with a design idea and fireplace concept that became known as the Prescott Fireplace.  Gene wanted his fireplace to be raised to the level of his deck, which was approximately 3 feet.  A wide firebox and matching wide chimney was desired.

Prepping the Space for Construction

Ground prep for concrete pour
Ground prep and formation with rebar is ready for concrete

After getting the construction plans, Gene started building.  He first cut a section of the railing and deck out so the fireplace could be built into the deck.  This would make it appear that the deck surrounded the base of the fireplace.  Gene then excavated a bit of ground just outside the perimeter of his deck posts.  Height concerns were taken into consideration while pouring the foundation slab so the mortared blocks would reach the level of the deck perfectly.  At no time was the fireplace structure to support the deck or come in contact with it.

Gene made sure to use rebar in a grid pattern to pour his needed thickness of concrete taking into consideration factors such as frost line, ground prep, runoff, soil type, and undermining.  This will be different for different geographical areas.

Premixed concrete brought in on a trailer was used to pour the slab resulting in a beautiful foundation.  Not much finishing needed to be done because the block work would be covering the newly poured pavement.

Concrete pad poured
Finished concrete is ready for block work

Work was done on the edge of the deck to perfect it.  The gaps around the slab would ultimately be filled in with dirt once the first few rows of block were mortared in place.

Cinder block construction of outdoor fireplace
Gene reached the level of his deck

With the block work started, Gene quickly built upward until he reached the height of the deck.  The structure was set back a couple inches so the veneer could be applied down the front face of the fireplace.

 

Time to Finish the Fireplace

Once the structure was completed in rough form with the appropriate chimney measurements and dimensions, the finish work was planned. Lots of possibilities were posed and a few were chosen.

DIY Outdoor fireplace built by homeowner
Veneer was added to the structure

The structure’s vertical surfaces were covered in a beautiful faux veneer which looked great with the accented dark pieces.  The horizontal surfaces were covered with a thin earth tone colored flagstone that worked well with the color of the veneer.  Mortar was used between these stone pieces thus giving it a nice finished look.

DIY Outdoor fireplace built by homeowner
Finished outdoor fireplace landscaping

Landscape was completed around the finished structure which gave this space an amazing final look.  An elevated fire grate was added to the firebox and fireplace tools were bought to manage the fire.  Gene did a great job on his outdoor fireplace and made us here at Backyard Flare, LLC very proud.

We’re hoping this DIY outdoor fireplace build review inspired you and that you consider this type of outdoor project. Visit us at www.backyardflare.com if you would like to build your own outdoor fireplace and would like more information about how it’s done.

DIY Outdoor fireplace built by homeowner - build review
First fire in the newly completed fireplace

 

Outdoor Fireplace Design

The Backyard Transformation

Build a focal point in your backyard.

Outdoor fireplace design was on my mind from the beginning but how it happened was luck on my part.  Sometimes an opportunity to step into the do it yourself (DIY) world leads to a fantastic learning experience and you have to grab it by the horns.

I was standing in my house years ago looking out the window into my backyard and I knew something was missing.  We had even worked on the backyard for a couple years and felt done.  I walked out the sliding glass door onto my drab grey patio and took it all in.  My backyard is exactly 60’ wide and 60’ deep.  Our 5′ tall cinder block perimeter wall is the usual property division method in southern Arizona.

The primary addition to the backyard was a pool which was surrounded by brown landscape rock.  Flagstone was laid down as the extension of the concrete patio at the back of the house.  At the back corners of the flagstone were knee high planters constructed from stackable prefab blocks.  The right side of the yard was bare and needed something else.  The planter looked a bit out of place and it wasn’t that interesting.  I needed balance and aesthetics.

Outdoor Fireplace Design Explained

My wife and I had seen outdoor fireplaces and fire pits on image searches while perusing landscape websites and I strongly considered one of these fire structures.  I had knowledge of masonry construction but had never built anything large scale.  We decided that a fireplace largely outweighed the fire pit idea after discussing our backyard layout.  We wanted the larger focal point so the fireplace was our decision. Continue reading “Outdoor Fireplace Design”

Firebrick in Your Outdoor Fireplace

Firebrick Explained

Firebrick is fairly simple to explain.  There is no secret to it but there still seems to be a lot of questions about it.  It is a necessary material in your fireplace and it is both functional and great looking.

How many customers have I spoken to asking what type of firebrick to purchase?  Countless is the answer.  How many customers have I spoken to asking where to buy the brick?  Countless in the answer again.  How many customers have I spoken to asking what to use to adhere them on heir structures?  You guessed it…countless is the answer.

Firebrick, or refractory brick, is a ceramic material “brick” that is used to line the walls of an outdoor fireplace.  The main job of the firebrick is to insulate the fireplace from the heat produced and to give you a nice-looking firebox.

Firebrick Sizes

Firebrick will wear on the edges if not cared for before installation.

Most of your vendors will have two basic sizes, 4.5x9x2.5 (full) and a 4.5x9x1.25 (split).  Basically, the split is half the thickness of the full brick.  The brick is very smooth to the touch and somewhat light weight even though they are solid bricks.  They are machined very precise so they won’t vary very much on size.  Most of the time they resemble a piece of sandstone, in that they wear down easily if rubbed on a hard surface like a cinder block.

Most of your big box home improvement stores like Home Depot and Lowes will sell you firebrick but you’ll pay a premium as compared to the price you’ll pay at a small mom and pop masonry supply vendor.  Get on the computer and search for “masonry supply” in your town or area.  Call a few of them up and ask if they sell these specialized bricks and most of the time they’ll have a few pallets of them available at their yard.

Pallets of firebrick can be found at many masonry supply stores.

Purchasing

Your geographical area will dictate the price for these little bricks.  For instance, I can buy them here in Tucson, Arizona, for approximately $1.60 each, split or full.  A customer once called me and said that they couldn’t find them for under $4.00 each.  He was in the densely populated New England area so I got his zip code and did a few internet searches.  My search resulted in phone calls to a few mom and pop vendors and I found a vendor who carried the split firebricks for $1.30 each.

Liquid Nails – Fuze It is a great tool for adhering firebrick

The adhesion method I gravitate toward is high heat construction adhesive such as Fuze It by Liquid Nails.  It hasn’t failed me for years and I’ve built many structures using it.  This method is mainly for a firebrick install that does not have mortar gaps between them. Tight packing the bricks gives you a neat look to the firebox and it is less work as they are consistently the same size.

I hope this helps answer some of the firebrick questions.  Visit us at www.backyardflare.com for more information on firebrick and the uses on our fireplaces.  Thanks for reading.

Fireplace Building Tools

Tools for DIY Construction

DIY fireplaces vs contractor built fireplaces – which one would I choose?  You can probably guess that one based on the URL of this website.  I always gravitate toward trying to build everything myself and because of this I rely on a few specific fireplace building tools.

Picture of DIY outdoor fireplace built using a Backyard Flare construction plan.
Beautiful outdoor living space

I believe that most people have what it takes to build their own outdoor fireplace.  When you think about the cost savings alone, you will understand that it just makes sense.  If you can lift 30 pounds repeatedly and occasionally a bag of mortar, then you can do it so if you choose this route you’ll need a few different tools to start construction.

Fireplace Building Tools

This is not a comprehensive list of tools needed but it’ll definitely get you going.  A wheelbarrow, hose, and hoe for mixing the mortar, as well as a trowel for laying the block are helpful items.  You’ll need a level, preferably about a 4-footer and a measuring tape.  The wheelbarrow and hoe will be to mix your concrete and mortar.  There are many different sizes and shapes of trowels, and it will become apparent which one you prefer once you use a couple different ones.  You’ll need one that is big enough to transfer and apply the mortar but not so big that you feel as if it’s inhibiting your ability to work cleanly without dropping mortar everywhere.

Block Cutting

If blocks will be cut, you will need some type of saw with a diamond blade.  I have used a circular saw as well as a 10” grinder.  The grinder is by far my go to method for block cutting as it is very easy to control.  This cutting process is best done dry, but make sure to use eye protection as small pieces of concrete from the block will be flying around.

When you cut blocks, make sure to account for a mortar gap.  You will want it to be around 3/8”.  If it is slightly smaller or even larger than 3/8” you don’t have to worry.  Mortar will make up for any imperfections.

When you have a design to follow or a plan that will guide you along the way, you will be ready to start laying block.  Good luck with your construction and happy building.  We always welcome questions and additional information to follow to our other readers.

Cinder Block Measurement Mystery

Cinderblock Construction

Building with cinder block is the most versatile way to construct both a functional structure and a structure with great strength and integrity.  Cinder block, otherwise known as a concrete masonry unit (CMU), can be purchased at most home improvement stores such as Home Depot and Lowes.  The prices for CMU at these big box home improvement stores are most of the time very comparable to local block vendors.

Close to Backyard Flare, LLC here in Tucson, Arizona, is a block manufacturer/vendor named AZ Block.  At the same location where they manufacture the block, you can enter the facility to buy direct instead of dealing with a middleman.  This at times can make the block more cost effective for the DIY builder.

Picture of 8x8x16 cinder blocks.
Common 8x8x16 cinder block with voids. Great block for fantastic strength and structural integrity.

The most common block used to build the fireplaces is referred to as a 8x8x16.  This is literally the size of the block in inches.  Now there is a small “but…”” involved though. The block is not exactly 8x8x16.  In fact, the block measures 7 5/8” x 7 5/8” x 15 5/8”.  Notice that 3/8” is subtracted from each measurement. This is comparable to a 2×4 piece of wood not actually measuring 2” x 4”.  They are actually 1 ½” x 3 ½”.

Continue reading “Cinder Block Measurement Mystery”

DIY Outdoor Fireplaces at a Glance

Assess Your Outdoor Space

Do you have a boring or just unattractive backyard?  Is your outdoor space mostly dirt or is it missing the focal point or pizzazz it deserves? This is the time to get off the fence of indecision and build your own outdoor fireplace.  The DIY outdoor fireplace is a great way to transform your backyard.  With our assistance, you can get the backyard of your dreams.

DIY Outdoor Fireplace built by homeowner using a Backyard Flare construction plan.
http://www.backyardflare.com

Imagine hosting parties and gatherings around a beautiful outdoor fireplace.  This can be a reality centered around a transformed backyard living space, thus you will literally be creating an extension of the inside living space into your backyard.  Build today and then begin enjoying what you deserve.

DIY Outdoor Fireplace Plans

Visit us today at www.backyardflare.com for lots of great information and an assortment of great looking construction plans.  One of these construction plans is sure to look amazing in your backyard.