Oh my…the Christmas season is in full swing and decorations are being added to everything indoors. Why not add some spice to the outdoors too? Add some small things or even some big things to your fireplace and make it spectacular. Some people add great decor to their structures and turn them into a “Christmas Fireplace”. We have seen some spectacular outdoor fireplaces this 2017 Christmas season that we just have to share.
Does it get much better than a decorated outdoor structure with signs of noel and joy? I don’t think so. Check out the mantel covered in red berries and a green pine wreath above it. With the vases full of flowers, this fireplace makes me want a warm glass of cider or some hot chocolate with extra marshmallows.
It doesn’t take much to turn an already gorgeous outdoor fireplace into a seasonal masterpiece. Another wreath makes this fireplace step right into the Christmas season and the lighting overhead adds a lot too. By adding reds and greens, as well as lighting and images of Christmas, you will turn a nice space into an even more welcoming space.
What are some of your holiday decorating ideas? Write a comment and let us know and even share a picture of how you designed. Thanks and we hope you have a great holiday season. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
Care to add a DIY fireplace to your backyard? Visit us at www.backyardflare.com for great information and ideas for your next project.
I was surfing the web the other day as I do quite often and I noticed differences between good and bad drafting structures. If you know what to look for, it’s very apparent, an it almost always has to do with the outdoor fireplace draft. Some of the best looking fireplaces seemed to be the dirtiest. I started paying attention to the fireboxes of some of these fireplaces.
Gas Fireplaces – The Good and Bad
A lot of fireplaces are designed and plumbed to burn natural gas or propane. Gas fireplaces are easily controlled and can be turned on and off quickly. This can also be problematic if the structure isn’t built correctly.
Even with a gas fireplace, burning either natural gas or propane, which are very popular, soot build up can still be a problem. This occurs if the fireplace does not vent well. Heat rise in a fireplace is most often referred to as the draft. The single most important aspect of any fireplace, inside or outside, is its functionality and whether the smoke rises effectively. This will be either through the chimney or out the front of the firebox and up the front of the structure.
Now some may think that because a gas fireplace doesn’t produce smoke that it shouldn’t matter. The truth is that gas fireplaces are sometimes dirtier than a wood burning fireplace when it comes to soot discoloration of the structure.
Pay attention to the inside of outdoor fireplaces that you see around your town. Stick your head inside and look up. Do you see a tiny chimney opening, or a large opening that will collect the smoke before allowing it to evacuate upward? Most of the time, there will be very apparent issues with regard to the path of least resistance. When a firebox height in is equal to the chimney opening, you will have problems with a bad draft.
Importance of a Good Fireplace Draft
The smoke or invisible soot from a gas burn will exit the structure through the front when draft is affected. This smoke and/or soot will travel right up the front of the structure and the front will turn black. A wet rag and some dish soap can easily remove the soot from a fireplace. It’s just a hassle to deal with.
If you’re interested in building a beautiful outdoor fireplace in your backyard or if you just want to explore the possibility and learn more about them, please visit us at www.backyardflare.com. Thanks for reading.
After building your outdoor fireplace, outdoor kitchen, or other outdoor structure, there are endless ways to finish the look. You will have to consider options for both your horizontal and vertical surfaces as well as extra bling such as lighting.
This article isn’t long enough to possibly explain or list the seemingly endless combinations of veneer and seating options so we’ll just briefly talk about a few of the more popular looks. There are a lot of manufacturers that make and deal in different types of products but they all effectively do the same thing. They add a beauty to the outside surface of your outdoor fireplace. Faux stone, tile, stacked real stone, and stucco are among the most popular looks.
The basic purpose of these vertical veneers is to cover the drab gray cinder block. Let’s go through them one by one. Faux stone looks very realistic and it can add a rustic look like the fireplace was built entirely out of rock. Lots of different looks are available. Tile veneers can expand into regular ceramics or even a natural travertine stone. These tile veneers will give you a more modern look most of the time.
Stacked stone is a real stone that has been milled and shaped so the pieces fit together nicely. Some of the better products will look seamless. The small size of the stone allows for several different colors and stone variations to be used in conjunction with each other. Very elegant. The final veneer that offers a great look is stucco. Stucco can be textured or applied as a smoother surface. The beauty of stucco is that it weathers well and it can be painted to match other items in your backyard.
When it comes to the horizontal surfaces of the outdoor fireplace, look to natural stone for a smorgasbord of different textures and colors. Most of this stone is very easy to work with. You will cut the sections of stone with the same diamond blade you used to build your cinder block structure.
If you decide on the color of the vertical veneer and the horizontal surface material at the same time, you can pick great matching elements. Certain colors and textures really complement each other but there is definitely no “one way” to complete the finish work of the structure. As far as veneer and horizontal surface material is concerned you have more options than you can imagine.
Lighting is a great way to add that special flair to any outdoor fireplace. It brings a certain elegance to the fireplace and if used along the bottom of the hearth, it will frame it nicely. Low voltage lighting is the way to go for this look and the addition of this lighting is relatively inexpensive.
Comment on this article with your thoughts. Share your favorite final look and/or what you did to make your fireplace a one of a kind.
Visit us at www.backyardflare.com for great content and ideas for your outdoor fireplace.
If you have ever wondered how to go about building your backyard to perfection, then keep reading. We hope this article will give you a bit of guidance.
For many, their backyard area is an eyesore. Others just need a bit of spicing up. If you are in either category, you can achieve the perfect backyard if you adhere to the right phases in the right order.
Building your backyard
The first phase is planning the layout. Step back and really look at what you have. This will be a great time to brainstorm with a tablet of paper and pencil to sketch out different scenarios. By drawing different layouts on a piece of paper, you can compare the different possibilities and see what works the best for your space. You may find that certain layouts will make better sense than others. Talk your ideas over with family and friends and take in their ideas. You never know, you may not have thought of everything.
Building your backyard
The second phase is gathering what you will need to get the job done. This includes everything from a construction plan, the tools necessary, and the materials needed to build your project. If you are wanting to build a masonry structure, have the vendor deliver the blocks, mortar, and cement on a pallet to as close to the work site as possible.
The tools needed are sometimes specialized so you won’t have too many other opportunities to use them again. These will be trowels, masonry cutting blades, etc. Borrow what you can and don’t buy them if you don’t have to. If you must buy a tool, buy cheap, and even if you must buy two, it still may not be as expensive as one professional grade tool.
Building your backyard
The third phase is the best part, the building of the project. A solid foundation is paramount for many masonry structures due to their weight. A lack of stability under a masonry structure could result in shifting and cracking. The building phase is a great time to get help from family and friends. Sometimes a pizza and beverages go a long way.
The building phase will be the part everyone will see so definitely take your time and pay attention to the small stuff, the detail, the minutia. It’s the attention to detail that will make your project a stand-out backyard.
When you get to lighting and irrigation make sure you don’t have too much of the project finished. This is especially irritating if you have to rip out some of the progress to add electrical and water lines.
While building your backyard, pay attention to the phases and your project will turn out to be the talk of the town thus your neighbors and family will be in awe. Be careful because you will then be the go-to for the how to.
If you need any assistance on a masonry structure like a fireplace, kitchen, pizza oven, and want a DIY construction plan, visit www.backyardflare.com. Building your backyard does not have to be a chore or burden. We’ll help you along the way and give you the insight you’ll need to get it done and on a budget. Happy building.
Cinder block sizes vary and many different shapes are available for your outdoor projects. There are short ones, tall ones, solid ones and some are made with holes/voids. Not only are they different sizes, but some that are classified with the same dimensions can be slightly different allowing them to be used in a different manner.
You can build outdoor structures such as fireplaces, kitchen, and pizza ovens using primarily the blocks that are described in this article. Just for a bit of clarification, most people will call them cinder blocks but there is a slightly more technical term for them. They are sometimes referred to as concrete masonry units (CMU) by the folks that make them and sell them. When shopping for these blocks, you only need to call them cinder blocks though and know a little about how they are sized. The cinder blocks sold in the United States are sized in inches.
Cinder Blocks and Sizes Explained
The most common cinder block is an 8x8x16 as seen in the adjacent picture. These measurements are the depth, height, and width respectively. Most construction projects, needing any structural integrity, will be built using this size block. These blocks have voids, designed to be filled with concrete, which provides great strength.
These 8x8x8 cinder blocks are perfect cubes that are widely used in conjunction with the 8x8x16 cinder blocks. These blocks also have voids which allow them to be filled with concrete.
Some have notches manufactured into them for rebar, but the notch will not be used most of the time. When you are building using a running bond/staggered pattern, these will certainly be useful.
An 8x4x16 cinder block is half as tall as standard 8x8x16 cinder blocks, so they are very good to incorporate into your structure. These cinder blocks are used as a transition block when only a little bit of height is needed as they are only 4” tall. These blocks also have voids.
Occasionally, you will need a cinder block that is only 4” in depth. These cinder blocks are measured 4x8x16. They have much smaller voids in them which makes them harder to fill with concrete.
A lot of cinder block walls are constructed using these blocks.
8x2x16 cap block
One of the last widely used cinder blocks is an 8x2x16 cap block. When you only need to add a couple inches to your structure or to close off a section, you will use these blocks. These cinder blocks are solid and are also used when a flat surface is needed for finish work.
If you are interested in building an outdoor fireplace or kitchen there are great ways of building them. Cinder blocks are just one way of constructing them, but it’s a fantastic way to build a structure with great integrity and strength. Visit www.backyardflare.com for great outdoor fireplace designs, ideas, and DIY construction plans.
There are some great ways to finish your outdoor fireplace. Basically, there are endless of ways to add the finishing touches which will make your outdoor fireplace a one of a kind. Even if you build the basic rough structure that another person constructed, yours will look different.
If you pay attention to detail, your fireplace and backyard landscape can look like something in a magazine. We will cover five of the big finishing touches and things you can do to give your fireplace the wow factor.
1. Low voltage lighting
Even when the fireplace is not being used, low voltage lighting is a great way to add a great night time visual aspect to it. The lighting is powered by a transformer specifically designed for these types of lights. By connecting the fireplace lights to landscape lighting in your yard, everything will be illuminated at the same time.
2. Natural stone seating surface
By using a natural stone material for the seating, you will have a very durable, and inexpensive surface. There are a couple widely used stone options, such as flagstone and bluestone. Both can be purchased at landscape supply retailers and you will have tons of colors and patterns to choose from. Cutting the stone is as simple as using a diamond blade for a smooth edge or a chisel and hammer for a rough rustic edge.
3. Stacked Stone Veneer
Stacked stone is a great way to finished the vertical surfaces of the fireplace, but it can be somewhat expensive as compared to other finish options. This type of material is purchased in arrangements that will fit together seamlessly. The stone is real and engineered during the cut process, meaning that it will be very easy to install. Cutting this stone will take a bit more time and patience as it is sometimes brittle.
4 . Faux Veneer
Faux veneer is a fabulous way to add a cheaper finish to the outside of your fireplace than natural stone. The great thing about faux veneer is that you can find virtually any texture, color, shape, and size imaginable. The faux stone is basically a manmade product that is painted and finished to look just like a real material. The faux stone is very easy to cut but it may take a bit of extra time fitting it together. There is no “one way” to put it together most of the time, so using your Tetris skills will come in handy. Faux veneer will usually require corner pieces that will give you a great finished look as the material wraps from one vertical surface to another.
5. Wrought iron accents
Wrought iron accents will add both a décor and some functionality to your fireplace. First, add an elevated fire grate in your firebox. This will both give you a great look, but it will aid in keeping your burning wood elevated for proper air flow. Fireplace tools will give you the capability of working and stoking your fire as you need to. Many tools sets will come with a holder as well keeping it nice and neat.
Well there you go, five considerations that if done right, will set your fireplace on a pedestal. You don’t have to do them all to achieve a great look, but they certainly won’t hurt.
If you want to build your own outdoor fireplace, check out www.backyardflare.com for some great ideas and inspiration. We are sure you will get a vision for how you can transform your backyard into a great destination.
The latest fireplace profile comes to you from South Carolina. Builder and homeowner Nick had plans of building a dream backyard and he contacted Backyard Flare, LLC for help. Nick is a DIY enthusiast and he knew he could build his own outdoor fireplace. He chose the Douglas design and got his construction plan from Backyard Flare.
Starting Off With a Blank Slate
Nick had an existing stamped concrete patio in his backyard with a small flowering garden on one corner. The patio wasn’t designed or constructed with weight bearing in mind so Nick poured an additional slab for the fireplace. Nick built a wood frame to see the footprint of the structure as well.
Drainage was added to the slab so that water would not accumulate. This is a very smart move when building a non-linear structure. The drainage was built through the entire slab so any water drained behind the structure.
Nick’s DIY Construction
The cinder block work was started with the wing walls built to the same height as the main seating section. The normal Douglas design has the side extensions higher than the center seating section so this modification was Nick’s vision.
The entire structure was built in rough form, then it was time for veneer and finish work. Nick covered the horizontal surfaces with a neutral flagstone. The edges were left rough for a great outdoor look. Nick chose a great looking faux stone with a relatively small pattern. The pieces were not all the same size so there was a bit of puzzle piecing the veneer together. This task slows down the construction but it makes for a great looking veneer pattern.
After the construction was completed, Nick added a couple colored deck chairs and a rustic piece of log for a small “beer holder”. The chimney was adorned with a great looking wreath and a log holder was added for spare firewood.
Build Your Own Dream Space
If you would like to explore the possibility of building 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 so most of the guess work will be taken out of it for you. Thanks for reading and we hope to hear from you. Happy building!
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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!
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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”