Warm Up Your Winter with a DIY Outdoor Fireplace

Planning to improve your outdoor experience and ambiance during the winter?

Want to be able to enjoy your outdoor areas during cooler seasons and even the winter?
Then an outdoor fireplace is what you’ll need! 

On cool evenings, imagine enjoying fun times with friends and family by the fireplace in your patio or backyard space.

But building an outdoor fireplace can be costly when you hire an outside contractor. If you want to cut costs, why not do it yourself? Is it really possible? 

Keep on reading to find out some of the things you should consider before taking on an outdoor fireplace yourself and a few tips to get the job done if you decide to try it.

Things to Consider Before Building an Outdoor Fireplace

Anytime you’re dealing with a DIY project (like an outdoor fireplace) that involves expensive materials and fire, it’s a good idea to thoroughly think it through before starting. 

Here are some things to consider.

Codes and Regulations

You’ll be wasting your money if you build an outdoor fireplace only to find out it’s illegal. So be sure to check with local authorities before starting.

Be sure to check:

Skills and Tools

Building a DIY outdoor fireplace is no easy task. On a scale of 1-10 DIY difficulty – with 1 being easy like painting a wall and 10 being complicated like rewiring your house – a DIY outdoor fireplace is about a 6.

You should be comfortable using basic hand and power tools like a level, tape measure, angle grinder, and ladder.

If you’re unsure of yourself, try starting with a DIY outdoor fire pit. A fire pit involves similar skills but is a much easier project. Plus, you still get the warmth and ambiance of a fire without as much of the hassle or expense.

If you tackle a fire pit project easy enough and want to go bigger, then try a simple fireplace design.

Whether you’re going to hire someone to build your fireplace or you plan to DIY it, you need to think about how you plan to use the fireplace.

The answers to these questions will help make sure your fireplace complements both your home and lifestyle.

Cost Considerations

Outdoor fireplaces and fire pits come in a range of costs. 

These start at around $100 for small portable fire pits and go up to $10,000 or more when you hire a professional mason for a large fireplace job.

Some mid-range options are

If you want a large outdoor fireplace and aren’t sure if you can do it yourself, give us a call at Alexander and Xavier Masonry in Garland, Texas, and get your FREE outdoor fireplace quote.

How to Make a DIY Outdoor Fireplace

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If you think you have the basic skills and want to try your hand at making a simple outdoor fireplace, here are some of the steps you’ll need to take.

A lot depends on the size, shape, and style of your fireplace. But still, some of the basic materials are:

6 Steps to a DIY Outdoor Fireplace

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Follow these basic steps to get your do-it-yourself outdoor fireplace done before it gets cold!

The first thing to do is to layout the fireplace area. Ideally, it should be placed with the opening near the patio where most outdoor group activities are happening.

Be sure to leave at least 2-3 feet between the front of the fireplace opening and the front of any patio furniture.

Insider Tip! – Before deciding on the final measurements of the fireplace, check into the dimensions of the fire bricks, stone and/or block you’ll be using. That will help you plan your fireplace’s size so as to minimize the amount of stone/brick you’ll need to cut – less work for you!

If you don’t want the hassle of figuring that all out for yourself, then just go with a premade fireplace kit that comes with everything cut to size – all you have to do is assemble it.

Fireplaces, even small ones, are heavy. They need a solid base to sit on so they don’t settle and lean with time.

Once you’ve determined the size of your fireplace, excavate an area the size of the base to a depth of about 9 inches. Fill a little over half of that with gravel and then the rest with concrete. 

If you’re planning a big fireplace or just want a little extra peace of mind, cut pieces of ½” rebar and lay them out in a grid pattern about 8-inches apart. Add them once you’ve filled the concrete pad halfway, then finish adding the concrete to the pad.

Once the concrete foundation is hard, you can add a layer of foundation blocks.

On top of that, you can build your firebox. The firebox is usually made up of two layers – one with the structural and/or aesthetic blocks or stone and the innermost layer with fire bricks.

Fire bricks are made to withstand the intense heat of direct contact with the coals and will protect your entire fireplace from damage.

Over the fireplace opening, you’ll place the steel lintel or angle iron that will support the next layer of block.

The next step is the tapered throat and smoke chamber. Once again, a lot depends on the overall design of your fireplace, but the idea is to “rack” each course (start each layer a little farther back from the previous one).

After a few courses of stone, you can continue straight up with the next part.

Once you’ve tapered the block to the desired width, continue straight up with the chimney.

The total height of your chimney may depend on the look you’re going for or even what is around your fireplace.

And once you get to the top, don’t forget the finishing touch – the chimney cap. This is usually just a large flat stone placed on top of a few smaller stones. The cap lets smoke out but keeps rain and debris from getting in.

I know you’re excited about your first fire but be sure to let a few days go by so all of your mortar or glue has time to cure and harden. Then it’s time for a test fire!

Check the back, side, and front of the fireplace and make sure smoke isn’t going anywhere it shouldn’t. If you find some gaps, just add a little mortar to that area and cure.

Now it’s time to invite some friends over, have a nice meal, and enjoy your new outdoor fireplace!

Common Mistakes When Building an Outdoor Fireplace

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Want an outdoor fireplace but can’t do it yourself? Alexander and Xavier Masonry, based in Garland, Texas, can help you out.

Go to our Contact Us page today and be sure to fill out the form to get your FREE quote.

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