You Can Do It

Feeling Apprehensive?

You can do it!!!  I remember receiving a phone call from Shelley who said she lived in New Jersey.  Shelley explained to me that she was single, in her sixties, and that she lived on a piece of property that had a small creek running through it down the hill from her backyard.  Shelley explained that she really wanted an outdoor fireplace but that she was super apprehensive about doing it herself.  Because of the limited knowledge she had about masonry construction, Shelley was concerned with her age and ability to do the physical labor.  I asked her some questions about her ability to lift and explained what the project would require.

Shelley Said Yes to the Outdoor Fireplace

We talked it through, and by the end, Shelley was ready to take on the challenge.  A DIY outdoor fireplace does not have to be intimidating or seem out of the realm of possibility if you have the right tools, preparation, and a good plan.  A construction plan that is…something that will take the guess work out of the project.  If you are physically able to lift a 60-pound bag of mortar, or if you have someone who can do it for you, that’s the first step.  If you’re willing to step into a work site with an open mind, then you too can do what Shelley did.

DIY stone outdoor fireplace
Talk about charming. This backyard patio was transformed into a great sitting destination.

Shelley built her very own DIY outdoor fireplace and although it was small, it made a huge impact in her backyard and it is definitely a focal point.  Do you agree, and do you think you want to join the DIY world?  She had us do some special design work to make the fireplace what she wanted.  We angled the chimney on all sides and designed the firebox to be low on the structure, which gave it a neat look.

It Was Fun According to Shelley

DIY outdoor fireplace plan
The fireplace sits on the edge of the patio with the treeline in the background.

After building the structure, Shelley said that she took her time and didn’t push hard to get it done quickly.  She said that if she could do it in her sixties, then anyone could do it.  This is a testament that most people have the capability to do more than they truly think.  There is an inner construction worker in most of us.  Give your insecurities to us and let us provide you with a DIY construction plan.  If you follow it, you to will be able to build a beautiful outdoor fireplace just like Shelley did.

DIY outdoor fireplace with fire
Shelley built her first fire and started making memories.

If you are wanting to learn more about the process of building a DIY outdoor fireplace, visit us online at Backyard Flare.  We know that you can do it and that we can help.  A construction plan may be exactly what you need to overcome the fear of building so you can DIY too.  Thanks so much for reading and we hope to hear from you soon.  Leave a comment and let us know if you think you’re up for a DIY project.

As always, happy building,

Dan

3 Ways to Improve

3 Ways to Improve the Look of Your Backyard

swimming pool umbrella palm tree flagstone planter
An uncluttered and clean backyard is a welcoming backyard.

Okay, I’m going to get right into it today.  Not need to beat around the bush here.  Your backyard…and mine…needs help probably.  Your backyard might be old, dated, tired, messy, and it needs a little “pick me up”, so why not get started?  There are quite a few things that you can do that will make a HUGE difference and at the same time not break the bank.  Here are 3 ways to improve the look of your backyard.

Start By Picking Up the Place

First, pick up the clutter.  If you’re like most of us, you have odds and ends laying around.  You may have a section of your yard that is dedicated to compiling the old car parts or the old bikes that haven’t been ridden in years.  Chances are that if you haven’t needed them in the past year (or five) you won’t need them at all in the future.  Collect them and put them on Craigslist so you can make a few bucks too.  Just cleaning up a cluttered corner will make a huge difference.

Unsightly Patio or Deck?

swimming pool patio umbrella fireplace deck planter
A clean backyard draws you in for an extended stay.

Second, sweep up the patio or deck area of your yard and then look up.  Are there spider webs hanging around the lighting fixtures or the underside of the patio cover?  Take down those spider houses with a broom and make a change up high.  Get a hose or high pressure sprayer and clean up the whole area that is attached to the house.  This includes patios, brick work, decks, patio covers, and even the back of the house itself.  You’ll be amazed at how much dirt your house holds onto.  A quick wash down may bring the color back to your home’s exterior too.

Time to Pick and Trim

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Cleaning low and high will make it look more inviting.

Lastly, pick the weeds growing in your flowers and trim your bushes and trees.  The branches and clippings will usually take a while to get rid of if your garbage can isn’t big enough to handle a lot, but the yard will sure open up.  Getting rid of low hanging branches and unwanted ground plants will make an immediate positive impact on the overall look of the yard.

The best part is that these three de-clutter and cleaning tasks are virtually free to do.  They shouldn’t cost you any money, just a little time and sweat equity.  In the end, you’ll have a nicer, cleaner, and more welcoming backyard area.

Who knows, your clean backyard may go on to inspire other projects.  Start small and work your way up to a finished backyard sporting an outdoor fireplace or outdoor kitchen.  You’ll love it in the end and you’ll marvel at the hidden gem that was under all that dirt and clutter.

Check Us Out

If you are interested in any construction plans for an outdoor fireplace or an outdoor kitchen, look no further than Backyard Flare.  We specialize in easy to follow DIY construction plans that will take virtually all the guess work out of the build.  Follow the plans, finish the structure, and begin relaxing in your backyard.

Call or text Dan at 520-269-9740 or email him at dan@backyardflare.com for additional info, special deals, and some fun discussion.  As always, have fun and remember, happy building.

Outdoor Fireplace Review in LA

This Outdoor Fireplace is Amazing

DIY outdoor fireplace with fire
Blaine and Kristen are enjoying their outdoor fireplace.

Welcome back to my fellow 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.

Let’s go to the southeast, in beautiful Louisiana, to introduce homeowners Blaine and Kristen.  Their backyard needed a little extra something and after a bit of thought, they decided to build an outdoor fireplace.  Blaine and Kristen started their research online through Google searches and read a lot of material on outdoor fireplaces.  While on one of their searches, they found Backyard Flare and decided to use the Pima II design, outdoor fireplace construction plan to build the fireplace.

Blaine’s World…Excellent

DIY outdoor fireplace concrete pad extension
Area next to existing patio was excavated for the concrete extension.

Blaine and Kristen have a brick home with a grassy backyard surrounding a poured concrete patio.  Blaine dug out dirt next to the patio and formed the area for the slab.  Steel mesh was added inside the concrete pour and they successfully poured the slab extension.  The extension concrete was added so the fireplace didn’t have to be built on the main patio concrete.

 

 

Concrete pad for DIY outdoor fireplace
Finished concrete pad for their outdoor fireplace.
DIY outdoor fireplace plan cinder block mortar
Getting the cinder blocks mortared in place.

Blaine and Kristen followed the Backyard Flare outdoor fireplace construction plans and hit it out of the ballpark with their newly found masonry skills.  It really should be noted that Blaine and Kristen are not masons, nor have they worked a lot with cinder block and mortar.  They just followed the outdoor fireplace plans and called Dan at Backyard Flare with questions here and there.

Time For Veneer Choices

DIY outdoor fireplace with veneer and tile
The veneer and tile choices look great together.

After the cinder block was done, Blaine and Kristen decided on a real nice stacked stone veneer in a soothing gray tone.  It turned out beautiful.  For the horizontal surfaces like the seating and the mantel, they picked a tile with a complimenting tone, and because they had covered the seating surface with solid 2” tall cap block, there was a great flat surface for the tile work.

Completed DIY outdoor fireplace with owner and dog
Kristen and their dog proudly stand next to the completed DIY project.

When it was all said and done, Blaine and Kristen added a fire grate in their firebox and started building fires.  They immediately began building memories and are very happy with the final project.  What’s next for them?  Maybe an outdoor kitchen or pizza oven?  Time will tell, but until then we’ll let them enjoy all their hard work on the fireplace.

DIY outdoor fireplace with fire
Get the drinks ready for the first fire.

Where Can You Go?

We sure hope you like Blaine and Kristen’s Pima II outdoor fireplace and that it inspires you to think about one of these outdoor fireplaces in your backyard as well.  It’s really not out of reach to achieve a stunning outdoor living space, so think about your potential.  Blaine and Kristen proved that average homeowners can make it happen in the world of DIY.  If you have the DIY mindset, we can help you achieve greatness.  Backyard Flare has assisted hundreds of homeowners who are weekend DIY’ers, realize their potential to build outdoor fireplaces just like Blaine’s and Kristen’s, so 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

Fireplace and Pizza Oven Review – Tucson

Fireplace and Pizza Oven Awesomeness

fireplace pizza oven granite flagstone gas fire patio cover pergola heater veneer diy
Relaxing by the DIY gas fireplace during a dinner party.

The other day, my wife and I attended a dinner party at the home of a previous fireplace and pizza oven customer.   We were able to spend some time outside enjoying the fireplace and just the awesomeness of the backyard.  Homeowner Tom helped me build this structure, so this is technically a DIY build in a sense.  Tom learned a lot and he was able to add lots of great value while we had a blast constructing his masterpiece.

Massive Structure Size

fireplace pizza oven granite flagstone gas fire patio cover pergola heater veneer diy
What an amazing and welcoming space in this backyard.

There is so much to his fireplace and pizza oven structure.  To get started, the whole circular structure is a whopping 31 feet in diameter.  It’s massive to say the least.  It surrounds a seven-foot-wide natural gas fireplace.  Inside the four-foot-wide firebox is an “H” pipe covered with bright red fire glass.  The fire glass color is great because, if you look closely at the picture, it turns blueish purple when it heats up.  Such a great look.

 

fireplace pizza oven granite flagstone gas fire patio cover pergola heater veneer diy
Fireplace is 7′ wide with the gas “H” pipe covered in red fire glass.

The front of the fireplace is covered with a great stone veneer and the remainder of the structure was stuccoed to match the texture on Tom’s house.  The seating is all smoothed flagstone cut to match the curvature of the seat back wall.  On the hearth, there are several low voltage lights that add that extra something.  It looks amazing every night, whether there is a fire blazing away or not.

Pizza Anyone?

fireplace pizza oven granite flagstone gas fire patio cover pergola heater veneer diy
What an amazing backyard for parties and even some quiet time.

The left side of the structure holds the pizza oven built around a BrickWood Ovens DIY mold.  It didn’t get any easier than that mold to build around and then wait until the mortar cured.  The pizza oven is covered in stucco that is painted the same color as the rest of the structure.

To the left side of the pizza oven, we added a piece of polished granite, so Tom could roll out his pizza dough and prepare his pizzas.  No need to run into the house every time, the counter is right there.  Seeing how much Tom and his family has used the fireplace and pizza oven makes me smile that they are building lots of great memories.  The parties with family and friends are a lot of fun and the quiet nights in front of the fire are special for them too.

fireplace pizza oven granite flagstone gas fire patio cover pergola heater veneer diy
Conversation and drinks around the DIY outdoor gas fireplace.

Check us Out

fireplace pizza oven granite flagstone gas fire patio cover pergola heater veneer diy
The view of the Tucson valley from this backyard is amazing.

If the idea of a fireplace and pizza oven sounds like something you would want to step into, there is a great place to go, Backyard Flare.  You can look through the great design ideas and also figure out what you want in your backyard.  Big or small, every fireplace structure looks great.  We want you to begin living in your backyard again.  What better way to start than by building your own fireplace and pizza oven?

If you have any questions about anything, please let me know.  I am always excited to hear from a fellow DIYer, or someone wanting to learn.  You can certainly do it yourself and beautify your backyard space.  I can be reached at dan@backyardflare.com and as I always say, “Happy Building”.

Dan

DIY Outdoor Fireplace Update – Tucson

Our DIY Fireplace Customers Rock!

Backyard Flare DIY fireplace customers are everywhere.  We don’t just cater to the Tucson, Arizona area for our customer base.  Our amazing customers are in warm, cool, and even frigid areas.    In fact, they are all over the country and even abroad.

Cold is Upon Us

But, the cold weather is here and the country in a lot of places is already under a blanket of white.  Oh my gosh, and it’s only just November, so there are a few months of cold left.  Because of the weather, a good portion of the U.S. is unable to build in their backyards.  There is no possibility of digging into the frozen rock-hard ground for the concrete slab foundation.  There is no way to add water to mortar to lay blocks because it would be so unbearable to work with icy hands in that environment.  You get the point.  Some of you will have to wait, sorry.

It is great that we have a customer right down the street from Backyard Flare headquarters.  Rob in Tucson found Backyard Flare online and contacted us for help building his outdoor DIY fireplace.  When Rob realized we were right down the street, he asked for design help.  I spoke with Rob and he introduced me to his backyard.  He wanted a corner fireplace with gas and together we brainstormed some cool outdoor fireplace layouts.  Rob decided to use the Douglas Mini design and morph it a bit to match his and his wife’s vision.

And the Process BEGAN

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Rob’s DIY fireplace is visible from the driveway.

Rob started with his DIY fireplace and he had a lot of questions.  All in all, he has done a fantastic job and I have visited his work site a few times to check in with him.  As a husband, father of two small tykes, and a professional from Monday through Friday, Rob doesn’t have a lot of time during the week to work.  He has spent the weekends building and has rocked the progress.  It has taken him a couple months, but he can see that completion is close.

DIY Rob is Doing Great

diy outdoor fireplace douglas mini propane gas lighting cinderblock fire mountain arizona
Dusk has arrived and the fireplace is lit.

I went to see Rob’s DIY fireplace the other day again and it looks great.  Rob is ready for firebrick, horizontal material, and his veneer.  At that point he will be done.  We hope you love it as much as we do with the gas setup, arched firebox, and the LED lighting he added.  He told us he has never built with mortar and was skeptical as to his abilities, but he was happy he did it.  He learned a lot and he realized that he was a lot more capable than he thought, especially with his construction plan from Backyard Flare.

diy outdoor fireplace douglas mini propane gas lighting cinderblock fire mountain arizona
The DIY fireplace is burning bright. The LED lighting is on adding that special look.

We will continue to bring you photos of his progress and we will definitely feature Rob and his finished fireplace in an upcoming blog post.  If you think you are ready to step into a DIY outdoor fireplace build, like Rob, and are ready to transform your backyard, visit Backyard Flare and we can help.  We know that you can do it, and, just like Rob, you just need a DIY construction plan to follow.

We Are Here For You Too

If you have any questions about anything, please let me know.  I am always excited to hear from a fellow DIYer, or someone wanting to learn more about how to beautify their backyard space with a DIY fireplace.  I can be reached at dan@backyardflare.com and as I always say, “Happy Building”.

Dan

Outdoor Lighting

Outdoor fireplace lighting fire LED veneer
Lighting was added to the hearth and inside the storage voids.

Killin’ Time

The other day, I had to drop my car at the tire shop and because I had a few minutes to spare, I walked across the busy street to some stores.  As always, I was drawn to one of my favorite stores, Lowe’s Home Improvement, and I found myself standing in the outdoor lighting aisle.  If I go to Lowe’s, I almost always want to at least walk down some of my favorite aisles to see if there is anything new on the shelf. This day was no exception.

I should back up a bit and say that whenever I build any type of structure in a backyard, whether it is an outdoor fireplace or outdoor kitchen, I always look for ways to spice up the final look.  One of the things that I have written on in the past is my love for outdoor lighting.  It just makes a backyard, and specifically, outdoor structures, come alive at night.  The shadows created and the way things look in the dark with some light are just awesome.

Outdoor fireplace lighting fire LED veneer
Lighting was added above the firebox.

So, back to Lowe’s and the outdoor lighting aisle…  In the past, if I needed lighting, I have just gone to the store and picked up what I needed to complete the lighting project.  I have never shared with my audience how inexpensive it really is to add this great feature to your DIY outdoor fireplace or outdoor kitchen.  Well, wait no more.  Here we go.

Outdoor fireplace lighting fire LED veneer
This DIYer added lighting to the hearth and the sides of the fireplace.

Outdoor Lighting Components Explained

With most outdoor lighting, there are three main components involved.  They are a power source, otherwise known as a power transformer, wire, and the lights.  The transformer is a heavy cube that plugs into an outlet.  Many of these transformers will turn on at dusk with photo eye technology and you simply tell it through a setting, how long you want the lights to stay on from that point.  Pretty cool!

Outdoor fireplace lighting fire LED veneer
Four lights were added to this curved hearth.

The neat part is the lights will come on automatically and shut off automatically; no work for you. They come in different wattage’s starting from around 60W to several hundred watts.  For powering a structure, the smallest will be completely sufficient, especially if you’re using LEDs.  A 60W transformer will sell for around $50.

The wire will hook into the transformer with screws and the wire will snake through your structure’s block work.  We’ll get into the install in a different post.  The wire will transfer (Direct Current – DC) low voltage as the transformer’s output to the lights, so it won’t shock you any more than holding on to a flashlight battery.  It’s nothing like the power from an outlet in your house.  A 50’ length of this outdoor lighting wire will cost around $20.

LED Lighting Is awesome

Lastly, the lights.  Today’s technology has put LED lighting at the forefront for efficiency, longevity, and amazing power savings.  LED stands for light emitting diode.  An LED is a small electronic component (diode) that will glow when power is applied.  No more changing incandescent bulbs, right?  Can I get an amen on that one?

Outdoor fireplace lighting fire LED veneer catalina
This Catalina fireplace had lighting added to the hearth for a great look.

LED lighting fixtures are sold individually, and they can run anywhere from a few dollars on clearance to around $20 for each fixture.  I add at least two LED fixtures to any structure, so it is aesthetically pleasing. Two is really all you need for a structure width of only six to eight feet.  The LED fixtures will have power cord on them.  This cord will connect to the wire and the connectors will pierce the wire to be powered.  The best part is that each LED is around 2W to 4W so you could hook up to 30 of these 2W LEDs to a 60W transformer.  Do you see the math? This is turning into an electronics training course now.

Outdoor kitchen with lighting refrigerator and bar
This DIY Tucson Grill design had lighting added around it for a finished look.

How Cheap is It Really?

If you were to add two LED lighting fixtures to a fireplace, you would be able to spend as little as $110.  Now that’s a bargain when you consider the look you’ll achieve.  I hope this post helped you understand how simple outdoor lighting is and how inexpensive the components are.  It’s really not that complicated.

Check out Backyard Flare, LLC to learn more about building your own DIY outdoor fireplace or outdoor kitchen and peruse our gallery for great ideas in design.  See what other homeowners have done.

If you have any questions about anything, please let me know.  I am always excited to hear from a fellow DIYer, or someone wanting to learn more about how to beautify their backyard space.  I can be reached at dan@backyardflare.com and as I always say, “Happy Building”.

Dan

 

DIY Outdoor Fireplace Review – PA

We Love DIY Outdoor Fireplaces

Hello again all you fellow 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 DIY outdoor fireplace.

diy outdoor fireplace kits phoenix backyard masonry firebrick
Finished backyard party area complete with a DIY outdoor fireplace and outdoor pavilion, kitchen and bar.

Let’s go to the northeast, beautiful Pennsylvania, to introduce homeowner Mike.  Mike had a very cool outdoor pavilion space with a long entertainment bar, bar stools, outdoor kitchen; and it was party central.  To the side of that space, Mike had a bare corner concrete spot that begged for something like a fire structure.  In April 2018, Mike visited www.backyardflare.com, and picked his favorite design, the Phoenix fireplace.  He wanted a smaller footprint for the fireplace structure but something big enough to not feel dwarfed by the surrounding features, which were trees and a wrought iron fence just outside the corner of the concrete slab.

Construction Starts

diy outdoor fireplace kits phoenix backyard masonry firebrick
Rough build of Phoenix design DIY outdoor fireplace is done.

Mike started laying block, paying attention to the block layout and instructions of the construction plan. Before he knew it, Mike was a DIY mason who had never really tried to do a project of this caliber.  Mike stated that he just needed a little bit of help and that the construction plan was what he needed to give him the confidence to start.

Mike kept a super clean work site and made sure he didn’t let the mortar remain on his concrete pad for very long.  This made the final cleanup easier than it would have been, saving time and aggravation in the end.

Adding the Final Touches – Detail Work

When Mike was finished with the rough build, he started the lining of the firebox with firebrick.  This process was pretty quick and before he knew it, Mike was ready for the final veneer material.

diy outdoor fireplace kits phoenix backyard masonry firebrick metal art firebrick
Mike finished his DIY outdoor Phoenix design fireplace. Getting ready for a party.

Mike chose to cover his outdoor fireplace with a stucco finish.  Mike’s technique was to go with a smoother final finish.  The seating was covered with dark stone material giving a great contrast to the white color of the structure.

Mike added a smoke arrestor to the top of the chimney to catch and extinguish embers that tried to escape from the top.  With the fireplace facing right into the entryway of the outdoor pavilion, Mike’s party central area became even more stunning.

Mike added a very cool fire grate in the firebox and a piece of chain suspended metal art to the front of the fireplace.  With a raging fire, behind the fire screen, it is just gorgeous.

metal art fire screen DIY outdoor fireplace kits phoenix backyard masonry firebrick
Nighttime fire in Mike’s outdoor fireplace.

We Know Mike is Now a Mason

Mike told Backyard Flare, “your plans were fantastic”, and that he wasn’t a mason.  We beg to differ and debate that last statement.  We see what Mike did and with no previous masonry experience.  Mike, you’re a mason now and we’re very proud to include you into the Backyard Flare DIY family.

We sure hope you like Mike’s fireplace and that it inspires you to think about one of these fireplaces in your backyard as well.  It’s really not out of reach to achieve a stunning outdoor living space.  Mike said he wasn’t a mason, but we know it’s just the unknown.  We’ll help you through it.  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 Mike’s.  You can do it too.

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

Dan Heston
520-269-9740