You’ve done your initial leg work with figuring out where you want to position your outdoor fireplace. You’ve made sure you could legally construct one and that your home owner association approves. You’ve checked for underground obstructions and you feel as if you have a location that will be safe with regard to fire danger. Decisions from this point might be the most important and certainly are more fun because they involve the actual design of your fireplace.
Chances are you have gone online and have perused the abundance of outdoor fireplace pictures. There are so many different and unique designs and chances are you have found one or two that you could envision in your backyard. Every person’s taste is a little different so a good idea would be to print pictures of the fireplaces you like and make a list of features from each that you want incorporated into your design. Do you want a quaint fireplace or a massive structure? Do you want a mantel or shelf? Do you want built in seating? Do you like the squared or arched firebox opening? It seems the questions concerning outdoor fireplace design never stop.
Once you have figured out what overall shape and structural features you want your fireplace to have, you will need to give some thought to finishing themes. Some examples are brick, faux stone, tile, stucco, paint, flagstone, etc… More considerations will be whether you want lighting on your fireplace and whether you will burn wood or natural gas. You definitely need to take these things into consideration before starting your fireplace construction to make sure everything goes as smooth as possible. The last thing you want to do is de-construct your project because you forgot or decided later to add the gas line or electrical line for lights. You’ll be happier if you plan for everything ahead of time.
There are many building materials available and some are much easier to use than others when constructing your fireplace. Prefabricated firebox kits are also available that make the project simple in some aspects. They also provide a professional look but can be rather expensive. For the overall construction, you can build with wood, metal framing, and/or cinder block. Block construction seems to be the most widely used method of construction for outdoor fireplaces as you “stack them” to achieve your final design. Obviously, it is more complicated than simply stacking blocks as mortar is used and block cutting may be necessary. Block is, however, very sturdy and chances are the fireplace will outlive you. When building an outdoor fireplace with block you can construct the firebox as the fireplace is being built. In essence, the firebox becomes part of the main fireplace structure. This way of building will take some of the cost away from having to purchase a prefabricated firebox kit.