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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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”.
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.
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.