Outdoor fireplaces is one of the most important things in home, giving backyards a decorative and functional focal point. However, outdoor fireplaces demand thoughtful assessment even before one starts its constructions especially when one intend to construct it from scratch.
If one wants to build an outdoor fireplace that lasts for a long period of time, one should follow the following guidelines.
Planning the Basics;
- Consider what purpose you want your outdoor fireplace to serve. Different people have different reasons for building an outdoor hearth, but whatever yours serve, you will want to consider certain elements to bring your project to a successful conclusion. One can build a fireplace that serves as a pizza oven, but these designs are very complex. One should also consider any electrical installations he may need to hide behind the fireplace, including lighting or audial/visual cables.
- Consider the design of the hearth. Although it is not mandatory, many homeowners match the stonework of their fireplace o the stonework of their residence. Brick offers a more traditional stone façade, while-man made stacked stones gives the hearth more of a contemporary look. If individual wishes to go for a stone exterior, stucco is also a popular option.
- Determine the size of the fireplace. The size of the fireplace is one of the important things when building an outdoor fireplace and it should be scaled to its surrounding.
- Look into wood-burning fireplaces. Most outdoor fireplaces are either wood-burning or gas. A wood-burning fireplace offers the attraction of a more “natural” fire. However, they usually require a building permit that one needs to contact the government about setback restrictions, chimney specifications and other requirements. The city will issue a permit to allow one to begin construction, then inspect the result and grand permission for the use.
- Hire a constructor for a gas fireplace installation. As compared to wood-burning fireplace, gas fireplace burns cooler and cleaner with little if any ash, embers and smoke. Therefore, for the installation to be done as required, one should need to hire the gas supplier or a licensed gas contractor to safely connect the fireplace to the gas line. One should be keen while choosing the pipes since many areas require black iron pipes rather than regular steel or galvanized materials.
Choosing a Design:
1. Choose a fireplace kit for ease of assembly and efficiency. Fireplace kits really run the gamut, ranging from simple affairs to ornate pieces, replete with all the bells and whistles. The awesome thing about this kit is that one can usually opt for a wide variety of styles that will fit your budget. Kit can manage both the smaller and large budgets.
2. Find a different design. An experienced home builder doesn’t need have to limit himself to a kit. It is still best to stick to a proven build, but you can start with plans you find online and make small alteration. Most DIY designs employ cinder blocks or another study, economical activity as the skeleton. The skeleton is then covered with stone or another veneer stone after the cinder block is laid. There are three elements of outdoor fireplace that one needs to consider when choosing the design:
- Chimney or Vents- A wood-burning fireplace will require a chimney with a spark arrestor, while a gas-lit fireplace will only require vents.
- Firebox- The firebox will fire the house and should sport fire brick if custom built. On the other hand, one can purchase a firebox (choices of material include stainless steel and other types of brick) if one doesn’t need to build it himself.
- Base- A reinforced concrete base is the best base one can have for a fireplace. Custom fireplace is usually heavier than prefab fireplaces, meaning the base needs to be stronger and thicker than the normal ones
3. Plan on adding any additional features to the fireplace area. The fireplace doesn’t need to be a hearth. If one is building an outdoor fireplace, it makes sense to outfit it with other uses or aesthetic furnishings. When seats are built inside the fireplace, it is awesome since an individual enjoys heat of the hearth which is just but a real treat, so its so fine for one to build seat walls as an extension of the fireplace itself. Wood storage, it is convenient if one is building a wood-burning fireplace, if a compartment or space for wood will make stoking the fire easy and painless.
Building the Fireplace:
- Pour the concrete for the foundation, if you haven’t already. Set up the foundation first by digging a trench and using a plate compactor to shore up the foundation. Mix and pour the cement and allow it to set for at least 24 hours, if not longer. Check with local building authorities to see how low you will need to dig your foundation.
Some locations will need foundation of concrete only 6 inches deep, while others will need to be in excess of 1 foot. Concrete and mortar, although similar, are different bonding agents and should be used differently. You will use the concrete to lay the foundation, if necessary, and the mortar in in order to bond concrete or cinder blocks together.
- Spread mortar on to the foundation and begin laying your concrete or cinder blocks. Follow the building plans precisely, making sure that each row of blocks is level. When creating the base, be sure to use a level in order to ensure a balanced placement of the concrete or cinder blocks. If building using cinder blocks, spread mortar in between each row, as well as in between individual pieces of cinder block.
- If necessary, lay out your fire brick inside your firebox. Fire brick should take special care when installed inside a firebox: laying a pleasing-looking pattern and mixing the right mortar is an important consideration. Choose a nice inlay pattern with which to set the fire brick. A running bond pattern works nicely in a firebox. Find the centre of the firebox and trace a line all the way to the face of the firebox.
Place a fire brick immediately to the left and to the right of the bisecting line, flush against the face of the firebox, leaving about 0.6 cm space in between the two. Lay one brick immediately above the two bricks, offsetting it by placing it exactly in the middle. Above it, lay down two bricks in the same pattern as originally placed.
Mix your mortar with high temperature mortar, so that the high temperature of the fire will not compromise the mortar that is holding the fire bricks together. When laying down the brick, cut it as necessary at corners and edges. While you should be able to get by without having to cut the centre pieces of the firebox, corners and edges will force you to the fire brick down to size.
- Remove any air bubbles from the fire brick mortar with a jointer and a brush. Pack the mortar in each seam with a jointer. Then dust away any excess mortar with a clean brush, leaving your firebox to dry to at least 24 hours.
- Construct or add a chimney for wood burning fireplace. The chimney must be built to exact specifications to ensure proper draw of the smoke from the firebox. It must have a smoke shelf to reduce down-draft and a flue of optimum dimensions. It is best to allow local building codes, but one can start with this typical standards:
- Measure the width and height of the fireplace opening to get its area.
- If the chimney is under 4.6 m tall, make its cross section 1/8 the area of the fireplace opening.
- If the chimney is over 4.6 m tall, make its cross section 1/10 the area of the fireplace opening instead.
- The chimney must also be at least 2 feet higher than any adjacent structures, and 10 feet (3m) away.
- Add the spark arrestor. Like chimneys, spark arrestors are exclusive to wood burning fireplaces. The function of the arrestors is to trap embers from the hearth.
- Install the hearthstones. The hearthstone is the lip of your outdoor fireplace. This should be at least 10 feet (3 m) away from all other structures and from any overhanging objects such as patio roofs and pergolas. Installing it correctly is an important part of building an outdoor fireplace:
- Choose a hearthstone made from completely fireproof materials, at least 4 inches thick. It should extend at least 16 inches in front of the firebox and 8 inches on either side.
- Place mortar in three ¾ inch deep strips, 1 inch from each other.
- Select a stone style for the veneer. Apply mortar to the back of the stones and stick them onto the cinder blocks. Use spacers to separate stones, filling in the area between them with mortar.
- Connect your gas-burning fireplace to the gas line. If the building of a gas-burning fireplace, prepare to hook up gas to your fireplace in order to get it working. After all these methods are followed then it leads to the completion of the fireplace thereby adding value to your home, revitalizing your backyard.