This summer we thought about doing something special as a DIY project. We wanted something that would involve the whole family and also make use of all the extra space in our backyard. It seemed a no brainer then to choose an outdoor fireplace. I’ve always liked the look of these, there’s something cozy and inviting about an outdoor fireplace that makes it serve as a rallying point for everyone on a star lite night.
What a job it turned out to be though. We had talked plenty of home DIY projects before but nothing on this scale. Having already designed and built our own patio and a dry stack wall we felt up to the challenge but it proved to be far more daunting than I ever could have expected it. In the end, it turned out ok but there were more than a few things that could have gone a lot better. Learn from our mistakes and perhaps your own outdoor fireplace will turn out a lot better.
If you’re not up to a challenge like this consider hiring a contractor
DIY projects are fun but something like an outdoor fireplace requires special planning and execution. You need to get the foundations right, make sure the chimney is airtight and that there is good air ventilation, to name just a few things. If you don’t feel like you’re up to a challenge like this then hire a professional contractor. As it turned out we needed to call one to shore up some defects in ours. Centuria Masonry was really helpful with this.
Make sure you have all the materials
A job like this requires a lot of tools and building materials. Depending on how you plan to build it you may need some while others you can forgo. Before buying anything go over the design plans you’ve chosen to make sure everything checks out. You don’t want to find yourself without vital tools at a crucial moment like when the cement is setting! (more on that later). Here’s a list of the most basic tools any project like this will need.
- Fire bricks
- Muriatic acid
- Motor mix
- Hollow blocks
- Angle bar
- Bendable board
- Steel bar
- Fireplace grate
- Black pipe
- Brick Jointer
- Torpedo level
- Rubber mallet
- Acid wash brush
- Brick spacing rule
- Tape measure
- Industrial hoe
- Crow bar
As you can see it’s quite a list, make sure you have everything you need or think you’ll need before you start. This is the problem we encountered when building the firebox with no trowel in sight!
Understand how cobbling works
This is where we encountered the most difficult. Make sure you understand the technique of cobbling before you start on the ‘throat.’ This is a building technique in which the stones are overlapped until the opening is reduced to the size for your flute. Make sure you know what you’re doing before attempting this, it’s a lot more tricky than you might think.
While our fireplace didn’t turn out as good hoped it was still a fulfilling and challenging project. If you’re looking to do something unorthodox this summer then give an outdoor fireplace a try.