Build an Outdoor Fireplace


January, 2017


Build an Outdoor Fireplace

More and more homeowners are bringing their living spaces to the outdoors. Outdoor fireplaces are becoming increasingly popular. They can be a beautiful centerpiece while providing a nice place for the family to gather around. If you’re ready to jump on the bandwagon, warm up to the idea of an outdoor fireplace DIY project.

Set up a Plan

To start, think about the type of fireplace you want and the style you’re going for. Also, make sure the plans for your fireplace meet the requirements of where you live. You’ll most likely need to obtain a building permit. Building code might be different in certain areas, so be sure to take this into consideration. A lot of people try to match the style or stonework that is on the rest of their house. For example, if your home is contemporary, you may opt for man-made stacked stone. In addition, you need to think about the size you want your fireplace to be. On one hand, you don’t want an outdoor fireplace that overshadows your house. But also, having one that is too small isn’t going to complement your house either. Don’t forget, you need to choose whether you want wood burning or a gas fireplace.


Once you’ve got all the basic planning done, you can move on to the design phase. For those that are limited in the design arena, you could choose to use a fireplace kit. Not only will this make it somewhat easier, most kits are cheaper. However, fireplace kits are not unique, and if that bothers you, a custom design might be the right fit. When designing your own fireplace, there are three components that are most important. The first component is the base, normally a reinforced concrete base. Next is the firebox, which is the area that houses the fire. Third, is the chimney or vents. If you are building a wood burning fireplace you’ll need a chimney. On the other hand, if you’re building a gas fireplace you only need vents. Once you’ve got the design for the outdoor fireplace, consider adding some additional features.

Brick and Mortar

You’ve got the plan, and the design. Now it’s time to put them into action. Start by pouring the concrete base. Once poured, it’ll need to set for at least 24 hours. Once dry, mortar will need to be spread on the foundation. Follow your plan exactly, and continually measure to insure everything is level. Lay the cinder blocks, spreading mortar in between every row. Most people try to put a nice looking pattern in the firebox. Another tip is mixing mortar with high temperature mortar so a fire won’t compromise the mortar once built. You’ll most likely need to cut the brick around the corners and edges. Remove any air bubbles from the mortar with a jointer and brush. Make sure to pack the mortar in each seam with the jointer, then remove any excess with the brush. The firebox will need to dry for at least 24 hours.


Wood-burning fireplaces will need a chimney. Make sure to build the chimney exactly as the plans say, as its function is to draw smoke from the firebox. Another element specific to wood-burning fireplaces is a spark arrestor. The role of the spark arrestor is to trap embers form the hearth.


Outdoor fireplaces that are gas-burning will need to be connected to the gas line. Always turn off the gas before this step. In order to connect, use plumber putty on the threads. Now, you’ll need to tighten the connection which can be done with a wrench. Spread dishwashing soap on it in order to test the connection. Once that’s done, then it is ok to turn the gas back on. If you see any bubbles appear then you’ll need to refit the connection.

Hearthstone and Veneer

The hearthstone could be a focal point and care should be taken to install it properly. Mortar needs to be placed in 3/4 inch strips, and should be 1 inch from each other. A rubber mallet can be used to set down the hearthstone. Next you’ll place stones on the exterior walls using mortar. Spacers will help separate the stones, and then you can fill in the space with mortar. The mortar needs to set for an additional 24 hours, or more if possible. Now you’re outdoor fireplace is ready to enjoy!

Want new articles before they get published?
Subscribe to our Awesome Newsletter.