Today we welcome Richard Dobbins to Daily Dish Magazine to share a bit about getting ready for summer with an Outdoor Fireplace and Grill! Richard is a writer specializing in fireplace design and décor. He also enjoys writing about BBQ topics.
An outdoor fireplace and grill pit is a great way to up your entertainment and culinary fare in your backyard. And one of the great things about installing this outdoor entertainment center is that it’s relatively easy, making it a great weekend DIY project whose benefits will extend into the next decade.
Before you start tossing mortar and brick around, you’ve first got to find a space for your fireplace and grill pit. You’ll want to make sure it’s placed somewhere where the heat won’t damage the house, the landscaping or present other fire hazards—setting up a fireplace next to your paper mache hobby station is probably not a good idea. You might also want to consider whether or not you’re going to want any extra appliances or amenities with your fireplace down the road. Outdoor cooking spaces have been blowing up lately and many outdoor fireplaces and grill pits are attached to outdoor bars and kitchens, sometimes with additional electricity, plumbing and even roofs involved. You can always add that later but if you’re fireplace and grill pit are in the farthest reaches of your yard it might be more difficult.
Now that you’ve got your layout planned, it’s time to start laying the foundation. Both your fireplace and grill pit need a concrete foundation. The size of the foundation will depend upon how big you want each of these amenities sizes to be. The average outdoor fireplace usually has a square or rectangular base of about 3’ x3’, or 4’ x2’; most grill pits can have anywhere from a 2’ to 6’ diameter—keep in mind that the bigger the diameter, the more difficult (expensive) it can be to find grates, covers and other accessories. Each slab should be about 6’ inches thick, which can be dug into the ground. Use a level to make sure it’s balanced and even.
Once you’ve got your foundation set, poured and—most importantly—dried, you can begin the fun part: the construction. Most outdoor fireplaces have mason kits available to construct the frame and oven (pictured above). These kits assure that they can both withstand the intense heat as well as appropriately direct the smoke. For grill pits all you really need is an outer retention wall, which can be made up of anything from cinder blocks, to brick, to marble to limestone and other big rocks. Once you’ve got the frames of each complete, you can begin some of the more cosmetic work; firestone bricks need to be placed in the oven as well as over the base of the grill pit and offer a couple different styles and designs, limestone being the most popular. The veneers on your fireplace and grill pit are going to be the bulk of what you’re seeing so you might want to splurge on some nicer materials like marble or slate, brick works great too. You might want to match your fireplace to your grill pit for cosmetic consistency and take into account how it pairs with your house: although you should not use wood as a veneer for obvious reasons. Once the veneers are in place you can add any final touches like covers and grill racks, both of which can be customized by local tradesmen.
With your outdoor fireplace and grill pit in place there’s only one more step: fire it up, invite over your friends and neighbors, throw a pizza in the oven, toss some steaks on the grill and enjoy.