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.

 

 

Great Ways to Finish Your Outdoor Fireplace

Great Ways to Finish Your Outdoor Fireplace

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.

Lighting adds a great look to any fireplace
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.

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

Stacked stone added to the fireplace hearth.
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.

faux veneer outdoor fireplace
DIY built fireplace with faux veneer.
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.

outdoor fireplace wrought iron
Adding wrought iron definitely adds character.

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.

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!