How Do You Brick an Outdoor Fireplace? (Step by Step)

outdoor fireplace

Bricking out a fireplace is tricky, but not that difficult. 

The trickiest part of bricking is the mortar bed, which needs to be perfectly level or all your bricks and effort will be for naught.

Collections of outdoor brick fireplaces are becoming quite popular in certain areas.

Although they look beautiful, costs can quickly skyrocket due to the fact that most homes with outside fireplaces like to complete them with their own personal taste. 

This means if you want your “perfect fireplace” it might cost you more than you think. However, today’s article is about how you can save some money and do this project on your own.

There are at least three ways you can brick an outdoor fireplace if there is already one installed. If your home has a concrete or brick foundation, then all that would be required is to attach some steel lathing (lath) to the mortar joints.

outdoor fireplace

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For those of you who don’t know, lath is simply a flat strip of metal that “lathing nails” are attached to and then hammered into the brick or mortar joints to provide an even surface for laying brick. 

You can find steel lath at just about any local hardware store for around $30 per 4′ x 8′ sheet. Provided your foundation’s exterior walls are already plumbed (straight up and down) and square (90° angles), it should be a fairly simple project. 

If not, make sure you use a level as you lay your brick to ensure things remain straight up and down. You can also attach 1×2 furring strips between the studs using screws if the wall isn’t already plumbed.

Here are the 6 steps on how you can brick an outdoor fireplace:

Step #1: Laying out blocks

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You will start by laying out blocks on some spare pieces of wood and placing them in place so you could test the layout with different bricks. 

You can decide to use some 2×8’s as my base for this project because it made sense to me at the time and seemed like a good size. 

Once you got everything laid out, you can use some more blocks on top of each layer to keep them square before starting any mortar. Once they were square, it was time to start mixing some mortar.

Step #2: Mortar

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Mortar is the core of this whole project, so take your time with it. You want to mix just enough at a time to do one fireplace layer. If you happen to have someone around who would be willing to help, all the better. 

One person should scoop mortar while another adds water until it’s smooth and about the consistency of peanut butter. 

Once your mortar is made, spread some out on each block that makes up your fireplace base before placing your first course bricks in place.  

Once that course has been laid down, push or tap the brick into place using the end of a trowel or another brick if you’re working by yourself like I was for this project. Doing this keeps the brick in place while the mortar sets. 

Continue this process for each layer until you’ve reached your desired height or reached an endpoint where you’re unable to continue construction safely. 

You will be able to do about three layers including my fireplace opening before it becomes too dangerous to continue without scaffolding.

Step #3: Build the chimney section

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Once your base is built, it’s time to set up for building out the chimney section. You can make this as fancy or as simple as you want. 

This depends on how much work you want to put into it and how good of a look you’re going for with your finished product. 

You can go with a 2’x2′ square box with another couple of courses on top of that before calling it quits on doing any more bricks that day.

Step #4: Throw out a fresh layer on the top of the base

Once you have it all put together, you can mix up some mortar and troweled out a fresh layer on the top of my base before setting the stack in place. 

You’ll want to make sure you have some means of supporting your bricks here while they set or you may end up with a stack that decides to teeter-totter back and forth until it falls over. 

Just find something strong enough to hold it in place while the mortar sets and you’re good to go at this point.

Step #5: Add another course on top of the chimney section

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The final step is adding another course on top of your chimney section which will be capped off by whatever bricks you choose for the cap itself.  

You can choose an arch brick for this part because I thought it looked pretty cool, but you can do whatever you want. 

You shouldn’t have much trouble with setting the bricks at this point because the mortar has already been applied to each one and they should be set in place by now.

Step #6: Wait for it to dry

After that final top course is laid, just wait for it to dry before removing your support blocks. 

Adding any final touches such as a fireplace insert or some other sort of cover plate depending on what you used for your opening. 

You can choose an old grill grate from my garage. This is to help you have a way to show off the flames filtering up through the decorative brickwork below, but there are a number of options out there if you’re looking for something different.

How do you brick an outdoor fireplace made of tile?

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If you are in need of bricking an outdoor fireplace made of tile, it is best to hire a professional who has experience in this type of job. 

However, if you are determined to do this project on your own, here are several tips to consider before beginning your installation.    

Make sure that when shopping for mortar mix/adhesive that it will adhere to the surface being bricked.   

When laying out your tiles on a sheet of plywood, make sure that the adhered surface is against the plywood. Also not sticking up where you might step on it or brush against it with another object.

1). If you are in need of bricking an outdoor fireplace made of tile, it is best to hire a professional who has experience in this type of job. 

However, if you are determined to do this project on your own, here are several tips to consider before beginning your installation.   

2). Make sure that when shopping for mortar mix/adhesive that it will adhere to the surface being bricked. 

An outdoor fireplace with tiles may require more than one adhesive or mortar mix because some tiles may be stone or marble or other groutable material. 

Tile adhesive is usually greyish in colour, which will make it more difficult to see where the mortar has been applied.   

3). When laying out your tiles on a sheet of plywood, make sure that the adhered surface is against the plywood and not sticking up where you might step on it or brush against it with another object.

If you are in need of bricking an outdoor fireplace made of tile, it is best to hire a professional who has experience in this type of job. 

However, if you are determined to do this project on your own, here are several tips to consider before beginning your installation.  

Make sure that when shopping for mortar mix/adhesive that it will adhere to the surface being bricked. 

When laying out your tiles on a sheet of plywood, make sure that the adhered surface is against the plywood and not sticking up where you might step on it or brush against it with another object.

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Benefits of Brick and Outdoor Fireplace

Outdoor fireplaces provide a variety of benefits. Here are five things to consider when choosing an outdoor fireplace for your home:

1). They can help you save money on heating costs – A fireplace does not require wood like most traditional fireplaces, but they do produce heat which can be beneficial in colder weather conditions or during the winter months. 

The warmth provided by an outdoor fireplace will allow you to turn down your thermostat slightly, thereby allowing you to lower overall monthly energy bills. 

Additionally, if you opt to use propane with your outdoor fireplace rather than natural gas, wood, or electrical sources then you can even further reduce your energy usage without sacrificing too much convenience-of-use.

2). They can provide an extra seating area – Outdoor fireplaces are not only functional heating units, but they are also beautiful elements that can be used for decoration. 

They can even create a cozy seating arrangement or dining area in your backyard that may not have existed otherwise.

3). Outside decorating options are endless – There are so many styles of outdoor fireplaces available on the market today. 

You will be able to choose exactly what you want based on both your personal preferences and your budget requirements. 

However, if you opt for gas or electric models then you can get creative with where exactly you place your fireplace. This is because these do not require any installation work which means there is no need to decide on specific placement prior to purchase.

4). There are countless safety benefits – The main reason why many homeowners choose to own a fireplace or wood-burning stove inside their home is that they believe it makes the interior of their house safer. 

This same concept applies to outdoor fireplaces as well. Outdoor fireplaces decrease the likelihood of starting fires in your backyard. 

Additionally, they can be particularly important during warmer months when things can dry out easily and ignite rather quickly. 

Especially if you have young children around who could accidentally cause a spark that turns into a forest or field fire.

5). They are relatively easy to install – Installing an outdoor fireplace should not take more than a single day’s worth of work from any qualified contractor. It is recommended that you have any necessary permits pulled before having the work started. 

As for the installation process itself, most of the time it is as simple as digging a hole in your yard, filling that hole with gravel, and then building the fireplace on top of that gravel. 

Granted, this can be rather expensive and many people opt to hire professional contractors for this job which means there will likely be additional costs associated with finding and working with a qualified contractor.

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Conclusion

This is a very common practice for attaching drywall to exterior walls and it’s actually quite simple, as long as your foundation’s exterior is already straight up and down. 

Once you have the lath attached, stack your bricks on top of each other (bricks should be laid end-to-end), making sure that they’re touching or nearly touching at all corners.