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.