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Building Your Own Outdoor Fireplace - DIY Part 3

Updated on September 28, 2012

Build Your Own Outdoor Fireplace

Whether you’ve designed your own fireplace or found an outdoor fireplace plan to assist you in your construction, you are ready to go. If you are planning on building your outdoor fireplace using cinder blocks, a few important things need to be addressed. Do you have a concrete slab that is capable of sustaining the weight of a block structure?

Depending on who you talk to, an 8x8x16 cinder block will weigh in at approximately 29-30 pounds. If you use one hundred of these blocks to build your fireplace, it will weigh in at 2900-3000 pounds. This weight is also before the added weight of your finishing material which could be hundreds of additional pounds. What is good to know is that the weight of a fireplace is somewhat evenly distributed over the entire footprint of the structure. For this reason, there will not be a huge amount of weight in any one spot on your slab.

If you do not have a slab, pouring one is not as difficult as it may seem. If you are going to be stepping into the world of masonry construction with regard to your fireplace, you can also frame, pour, and finish your own concrete slab. The issue then becomes whether you can have a professional pour the slab for about the same money you will spend to do it yourself. Chances are the cost may be almost the same after you take into account the tools necessary, the purchase of the concrete, wood, framing stakes, rebar, etc… Do some homework and get some bids. Even if you have to pay a bit more to have someone else do this chore for you, it may be worth it. Many concrete professionals are looking for side jobs and if you elect to go this route, the price will generally be a bit cheaper than contracting the job through a company. However, if you chose to try it yourself, go to your local library or home improvement store and look through the books available on this topic. Don’t discount the knowledge many of your friends, family, and neighbors may have as well. Also check out online links such as YouTube for instructional videos on pouring concrete. Some are very good and many times are produced by trade professionals.

If you have never built with block and mortar, and are feeling a bit intimidated, don’t worry. A good part of the difficult work is lifting the blocks in place as a fireplace structure can be very tall. Mixing and laying mortar is a learned trade and over time, you will get the hang of it. What many people get too involved with is what the block structure looks like while it’s being built. Yes, it is very important to built straight and level but aesthetics at this stage of your project shouldn’t be worried about. What you need to keep in mind is that these blocks will be covered by a finish of some type whether it is stucco, brick, or even faux stone. If the rough structure is built soundly but doesn’t look that great, don’t think you didn’t do a good job. You may have dried mortar stains on the vertical faces of your block and things may look a bit frazzled, but the fireplace may be indestructible still.

There is a stigma that the work done by contractors and specifically masons is so specialized that the average person can’t do it. The fact is, however, that even professional masons who know the project will be covered with a finish coat will not build beautifully either. All they are concerned with is that the dimensions and structural integrity of the project is correct. Don’t be demoralized and intimidated before you even start your project. Think right up front that you have the skills and the patience to build your own gorgeous outdoor fireplace.

If you are interested in building your own outdoor fireplace and are looking for do-it-yourself plans, visit us, Backyard Flare, LLC at We are confident we have designed a fireplace that will look great in your outdoor space and we would love the chance to assist you.


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