Looking for a detailed guide on how to build an outdoor fireplace? The saying, “if you want something done right, do it yourself,” totally rings true to me. Being a self-proclaimed DIY-er, I pride in doing stuff in the homestead myself–well, I got some help from the family. “No man is an island” too, you know. It's just those times when you pay for a project, it totally goes off the budget, and sometimes, it's not even how you want it. I'm excited about this new outdoor project, a fireplace for the family to gather around and extend our outdoor hangouts. I've laid out the steps here on how to build an outdoor fireplace so you can have a pretty good idea about it too. Help yourself!
How to Build an Outdoor Fireplace | A Step-by-Step Guide
- 1,300 house bricks
- 50 fire bricks
- 150 concrete blocks
- Muriatic acid (washer) and water
- Wood (for support and molding) and bendable board
- 75 bags mortar mix and fireclay or refractory mortar
- 13×13″ ceramic flue pipe
- Angle bar and steel bar
- Sandcrete and pea gravel
- Fireplace grate and a black pipe
- Bricking trowel, brick jointer, and brick spacing rule
- Tape measure, chalk, and strings
- A regular level and a torpedo level
- Rubber mallet
- Acid wash brush, bucket, whisk broom, sponge, and hose
- Drill, grinder, and crowbar
- Bar Clamp
- Wheelbarrow and industrial hoe
How To Build An Outdoor Fireplace
Step 1: Build the Foundation
We start with the foundation if you want your wood burning fireplace outdoor on a permanent stable spot. To make this 27 inches deep by 52 inches wide and 46 inches tall (up to the mantlepiece), follow these steps and ideas to get started:
- Pick the spot you want your outdoor fireplace plans situated, and the edge of a deck or patio would be ideal.
- Dig 3 feet into the ground to make a rectangular hole, around 8 feet long by 2.5 feet wide.
- Pour in 4 inches of concrete and lay in concrete blocks.
- Put some pea pebbles and Sandcrete to make the foundation solid.
- Get some 2″ by 2″ board and make four-foot wooden bars across each corner of the concrete.
- Use the brick spacing wall to mark the wooden post where the strings will be tied.
Step 2: Lay the Bricks for the Wall
You are now ready for laying bricks once the foundation is set. Mix some mortar to start laying bricks with these steps:
- Using the bricking trowel, spread some mortar mix on one corner of the foundation or concrete blocks and lay a brick with the good side out.
- Push the brick down using either your fist or a rubber mallet.
- Lay the bricks on top of each other around the edge of the foundation.
- Scrape some of the mortar mix oozing out of the brick sandwiches to save on the mortar and make it neat.
- You can use a brick jointer and run it along the brick joints for a clean finish.
- Continue to lay bricks around the foundation except for the front.
Step 3: Install the Grill
To install the grill, here are the steps:
- When you've laid 3 stacks of bricks to the front, measure 26 inches from the center of the grill side to make the entrance for the grill door.
- Make the frame for the grill entrance with a height of 35 inches tall, set it in place, and start laying bricks around it.
- To lay bricks for the upper part of the entrance, lay an angle bar across two sides for support.
- For the top part which are called soldiers, cut bricks in half and lay them standing on top of the last bricks applied.
- Take out your box grill and take them apart.
- Mount the doors to the entrance and simply install the grill.
- Use stone slabs or slates to cover either side of the grill and attach the knobs for the fire valves.
Step 4: Build the Firebox
For the fireplace or firebox, measure 29 by 29 inches from the base to the base of the arch to make the entrance. We will be using firebricks and fireclay or refractory mortar so it withstands intense heat. Follow the steps below:
- Mix some fire clay or you can also buy a ready-mix one.
- Lay firebricks on the base of the fireplace to the side or walls of the box.
- You can use a sponge steeped in water to clean off excess mortar.
- Continue laying bricks, adding 8 inches more to make the smoke chamber.
Step 5: Install the Chimney Pipe
Before building the arch for the fireplace entrance, we will see the chimney pipe first. Follow these ideas and steps:
- Set an angle bar across the fireplace interior.
- Get a 2 feet tall, 13″ by 13″ ceramic flue pipe and set it on top of the angle bar and the back side of the fireplace.
- Cover the holes on either side of the ceramic pipe with firebricks or concrete blocks.
- Use some fire clay to seal the holes and spaces on the smoke chamber roof.
Step 6: Build the Fireplace Entrance Arch
For a good old fireplace design, an arch for the entrance would be ideal and stylish. This is how we do it:
- Use a plywood and any bendable material to make the frame by tracing a curve in the plywood.
- Attach the curve to the fireplace entrance frame and lay a pliable board on top to make the support.
- Lay bricks that are cut in half in standing position over the curve frame.
- Leave the bricks to dry for a few days before removing the frame.
- Use a tile saw to cut the triangular pieces that will fit in with the arch.
- Lay more bricks to make the roof of the fireplace and add another lentil to support the mantelpiece which we will discuss later.
Step 7: Build the Chimney
We're almost done and for this step, we will be working on the upper portion of the chimney pipe and the fireplace.
- Set another ceramic flue pipe on top of the first one and connect it nicely with refractory mortar.
- Lay more bricks on top of the fireplace and around the ceramic pipe to make the chimney top or roof.
- You can add 10 more layers of bricks from the mantelpiece.
- To make the cathedral shape roof, continue with layering the bricks and cut the side later.
- For the sides of the fireplace roof, make sure to apply the triangular bricks first before you start with the roof. This will hold the other bricks in place.
Step 8: Do the Acid Washing
A project isn't done yet without cleaning and finishing.
- Combine half a gallon of muriatic acid to 2 gallons of water, use this to clean up the bricks.
- Use a whisk broom to clean up the fireplace and let it dry for a few minutes.
- Hose it with water and if seems to need more cleaning, apply the muriatic acid solution again.
Step 9: Fire Starter and Finishing Touches
We're finally done and the last thing we need to make is the fire starter, complete the flooring, and add a mantlepiece. To do these, just follow the steps below:
- Drill about 6 or 7 holes to your black pipe.
- Attach the gas tank to the fire grill and test fire.
- For the flooring, use the same bricks and install as you would install tiles.
- Add a stone board on top of the arch to make the mantlepiece.
- Add decorations above the mantelpiece like a tile design of your own insignia.
- Insert the fireplace grate inside, and we're done!
Follow the step-by-step guide on how to build an outdoor fireplace and watch this video by HowToLou for a live tutorial:
There you go, self-sufficient DIY-ers! Now you know or got a pretty good idea how to build an outdoor fireplace. Get planning, set a date, gather your homesteading tools, and get your family to help you out finish this project using this guide on how to build an outdoor fireplace!
Will you give this DIY outdoor fireplace a try? We'd be delighted to hear your thoughts about this in the comments section below!
This post was originally published on June 7, 2015 and has been updated for quality and relevancy.