With the summer grilling season only a couple months away, grill-masters and prospective grill-masters everywhere are counting down the days and counting down the charcoal. With so many TV shows and books about grilling, not to mention so many famed chefs getting into or emerging from the world of barbecue, many people are looking to get into the outdoor cooking/entertaining game but can’t afford some of the costly setups that come with it. We’ll show you some frugal ways to setup an outdoor fireplace and grill pit so you can smoke and quarter-turn with the rest of them.
While the elaborate, brick and stone fireplaces are certainly gorgeous and would make a lovely addition to just about any backyard, the cost of having a contractor come in and build them is out of most people’s price range. You can, however, still include an outdoor fireplace in your backyard through some cheaper alternatives.
The first alternative would be to install the fireplace yourself. Building your own fireplace involves first laying a concrete slab of about 6” where you would like the fireplace to go; then you’ll have to construct the frame and chimney, which you can find in some pre-engineered masonry kits; once the frame is in place you can install the firestone bricks into the mouth of the fireplace; then it’s simply a matter of covering the facade with a veneer of your choosing. This option gives you a lot more room for customization and the DIY approach means you’ll save a lot of money versus if you’d hired a contractor. However, the cost of the materials is still relatively expensive and not necessarily the best option for everyone.
As a second alternative, you can create a smaller, cheaper fireplace with about a dozen stones or bricks (found ones work and look great) and some cement. You’ll need stones or brick (firestone bricks work best) to place into the floor of your fireplace and then for the retaining wall so the amount you’ll need depends on the size of your fireplace and how thick and high you want the walls to be. (This alternative fireplace is one that will allow you to turn it into a grill pit as well.) A 3’ x 3’ design is pretty standard but you can also try longer rectangular frames like 4’ x 2’, which will make it easier for grilling. Mark out the space for your fireplace and pour a slab of concrete about 4 inches thick; you can also dig this space into the ground. Make sure the top is trowelled smooth and flat. After it’s dried for a day, apply a thin layer of cement or mortar and install flat stones or firebrick to make the floor. From there all you have to do is build up a retaining wall with the rest of the stones/bricks and mortar. Those looking to add a grilling element can purchase independent grates from most hardware stores; if you’re feeling really creative you can try installing the grate with a hinge.
With these ideas, you should be able to build a great outdoor fireplace and grill pit without breaking the bank.