Outdoor Fireplaces and Draft Problems

 

Outdoor Fireplace Draft

#outdoorfireplace, #backyardflare, #outdoorfireplacedesign
Gorgeous corner fireplace built along a custom patio. No soot stains means it was built correctly.

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.

 

Three Phases to Plan Your Backyard

Building Your Backyard

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.

Great Patio

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
Phase One
planning

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
PHASE TWO
gathering

Building Your Backyard
Custom Pima Design with added wood storage voids.

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
PHASE THREE

Building Your Backyard
Modified Pima Design with wider chimney stack.

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.

Natural stone was used for the seating surface, shelves, and top.

 

Cinder Blocks Explained

Cinder Blocks Explained

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

8x8x16 Block

8x8x16 block

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.

 

 

8x8x8 Block

8x8x8 block

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.

 

8x4x16 block

8x4x16 block

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.

 

 

 

4x8x16 block

4" block used for your outdoor fireplace
4x8x16

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

Use these cinder blocks for finish work and solid surfaces.
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.

 

 

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!

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.