How to Build an Outdoor Fireplace: A Step-by-Step Guide

How to Build a Outdoor Fireplace?

To build an outdoor fireplace, start by creating a concrete slab as the foundation.

Choose a location that complies with local codes and restrictions.

Next, construct the superstructure using inexpensive concrete cinder blocks.

These blocks are durable and can withstand high heat, but refractory mortar can be used for added heat resistance.

Ensure proper ventilation and make sure to consult with local permitting offices regarding any restrictions.

Lastly, consider using propane or natural gas for fuel instead of wood-burning, especially in areas with poor air quality conditions.

Outdoor fireplaces not only enhance the backyard aesthetic but also provide a cozy gathering space.

Key Points:

  • Begin by creating a concrete slab foundation for the outdoor fireplace.
  • Find a location that follows local codes and restrictions for building.
  • Use inexpensive concrete cinder blocks for constructing the superstructure.
  • Consider using refractory mortar for added heat resistance.
  • Make sure to consult with local permitting offices to ensure proper ventilation and adhere to any restrictions.
  • In areas with poor air quality conditions, consider using propane or natural gas as fuel instead of wood-burning.

Did You Know?

1. The first known outdoor fireplace was built nearly 4,000 years ago in ancient Egypt, during the reign of Pharaoh Amenhotep III.

2. The largest outdoor fireplace ever built can be found in Oudenburg, Belgium. It measures a stunning 41 feet in height and weighs over 50 tons.

3. While chimneys are a common feature in indoor fireplaces, outdoor fireplaces traditionally lack them. This is because outdoor fireplaces rely on open-air ventilation to allow smoke to escape naturally.

4. Did you know that outdoor fireplaces can potentially increase the value of your property? Real estate studies have shown that homes with well-designed outdoor fireplaces tend to have higher resale values.

5. In some cultures, outdoor fireplaces are not only used for cooking and heating but also for spiritual ceremonies and rituals. For example, in Native American traditions, fire is considered a sacred element and outdoor gatherings around fireplaces hold great spiritual significance.

Benefits Of An Outdoor Fireplace

Building an outdoor fireplace in your backyard can significantly improve your outdoor space and create a cozy gathering area. Outdoor fireplaces offer a unique ambiance to any living space and can also double as a privacy wall, creating a sense of seclusion and tranquility. Compared to firepit settings, outdoor fireplaces take up less space and produce less smoke, making them more enjoyable for everyone.

Moreover, outdoor fireplaces can be built with inexpensive concrete cinder blocks, which makes them cost-effective and easily achievable for many homeowners. These cinder blocks are highly durable and can withstand extreme heat, but it is also possible to use refractory mortar for added heat resistance.

Materials Needed For Building An Outdoor Fireplace

Before starting your outdoor fireplace project, you will need to gather the necessary materials. Here is a list of items required to construct your outdoor fireplace:

  • Concrete cinder blocks
  • Refractory mortar (optional)
  • Poured concrete slab
  • Firebricks
  • Metal fireplace insert
  • Fireplace accessories (grate, poker, and screen)
  • Masonry saw or angle grinder
  • Trowel
  • Level
  • Measuring tape
  • Protective gear (gloves, safety glasses)

Gathering these materials beforehand will ensure a smooth construction process and prevent any delays.

Constructing The Superstructure Of The Fireplace

The superstructure of the outdoor fireplace is built using concrete cinder blocks, which provide stability and withstand the high temperatures produced by the fire. Start by laying the cinder blocks in a square or rectangular shape, leaving an opening on one side for the fireplace insert.

Place the blocks in a staggered pattern, stacking them on top of each other. Use a level to make sure the blocks are straight and level as you build upwards. When the desired height is reached, insert the metal fireplace insert into the open side of the structure. This will create the firebox.

Continue building the walls of the fireplace around the insert, ensuring that the blocks are securely cemented together with refractory mortar if desired. Allow the structure to dry and set properly before proceeding to the next step.

Creating A Solid Base For The Fireplace

A poured concrete slab serves as an ideal base for the outdoor fireplace. This slab will provide a stable foundation and prevent the fireplace from settling or shifting over time.

To prepare the site, follow these steps:

  • Clear the designated area by removing any grass, rocks, or debris.
  • Level the ground and create a frame using wooden boards.
  • Mix the concrete according to the manufacturer’s instructions and pour it into the frame.
  • Smooth the surface of the concrete with a trowel and level it carefully.
  • Allow the concrete to cure completely before moving on.

After the concrete is fully cured, place the cinder block superstructure on top of the concrete slab to ensure a solid and level connection. Make sure to double-check that the fireplace is straight and secure before proceeding with finishing touches.

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Ensuring Compliance With Building Codes And Restrictions

Before embarking on your outdoor fireplace project, it is essential to consult with your local permitting offices to understand any codes or restrictions that might be in place. Building codes can vary from one area to another, and it is crucial to ensure that your outdoor fireplace complies with all regulations.

By verifying the building codes and restrictions, you can avoid any potential fines or legal issues and ensure the safety and longevity of your outdoor fireplace. Additionally, obtaining the necessary permits and following the established guidelines will give you peace of mind and allow you to enjoy your fireplace without any concerns.

Considerations For Wood-Burning Fireplaces

While wood-burning fireplaces can create a charming ambiance, it is essential to consider their potential impact on air quality. In certain areas, wood-burning fireplaces may be prohibited during periods of poor air quality to prevent the release of pollutants.

To ensure responsible use, it is crucial to be aware of local regulations concerning wood-burning fireplaces. Exploring alternative fuel sources like natural gas or propane can be beneficial, as they produce fewer emissions and are generally more environmentally friendly.

By being mindful of air quality conditions and abiding by any restrictions, you can enjoy your outdoor fireplace while minimizing your environmental footprint.


Building an outdoor fireplace is a rewarding project that adds value to your backyard and creates a cozy gathering space. By following the step-by-step guide outlined above and considering the benefits, materials, construction, base, building codes, and wood-burning restrictions, you can create a beautiful and functional outdoor fireplace that brings warmth and ambiance to your outdoor living space.

Remember to always prioritize safety and consult with local authorities when necessary.

With proper planning and execution, your outdoor fireplace will become a beloved focal point, providing countless memories for years to come.

To-Do List:

  • Follow the step-by-step guide
  • Consider the benefits, materials, construction, base, building codes, and wood-burning restrictions
  • Prioritize safety and consult with local authorities

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Frequently Asked Questions

Can I build my own outdoor fireplace?

Certainly, you can build your own outdoor fireplace, but it is important to consider and comply with any State, Local, or HOA codes and restrictions that may exist. These regulations typically involve meeting clearance requirements from structures and property lines, and you may need to install a spark arrestor as a safety measure. Although it is unfortunate, some areas might prohibit open fires, so it is crucial to ascertain the regulations in your specific location before proceeding with the construction.

Can you build an outdoor fireplace with brick?

Yes, you can certainly build an outdoor fireplace with brick. Bricks are one of the fireproof and heat safe materials that are suitable for constructing the exterior of an outdoor fireplace. Not only do bricks offer a rustic and classic aesthetic appeal, but they also have excellent fire resistance properties. Compared to concrete blocks, bricks are more resistant to high temperatures, making them a reliable choice for constructing a durable and safe outdoor fireplace. With their ability to withstand heat, constructing an outdoor fireplace with brick offers both functionality and charm to your outdoor space.

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Is an outdoor fireplace safe?

An outdoor fireplace can be safe if used correctly and with precaution. It is important to never use it on a bare wood deck and to keep a safe distance from any structures, tree limbs, or wires. Knowing how to use the vents effectively, directing smoke and embers up and not out, is crucial for safety. Additionally, having a hose or fire extinguisher nearby in case of an emergency is recommended. Following these guidelines can help ensure that an outdoor fireplace is enjoyed safely.

Why are outdoor fireplaces so expensive?

Outdoor fireplaces can be quite expensive due to the combination of factors that contribute to their overall cost. Firstly, the choice of fuel source can significantly impact the price. Outdoor fireplaces can be fueled by wood, gas, propane, or even ethanol, with each option having different associated costs.

Additionally, the decision to go with a prefabricated fireplace kit or a custom-built fireplace can also influence the price. Prefabricated kits offer a more affordable option as they are mass-produced, while custom fireplaces tend to be pricier due to their unique design and specialized construction. Furthermore, the choice of materials used, such as stone, brick, or concrete, can significantly affect the cost, with premium materials often commanding a higher price. Overall, these various factors contribute to the higher expense of outdoor fireplaces compared to other home improvement projects.

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