Gaining Confidence to Build Our Outdoor Fireplace
A few years ago we built an outdoor fireplace on our porch overlooking the lake. Candidly, we are not experts by any means, but over the years, we have gained the confidence to tackle projects by just jumping in with both feet! Our approach is breaking down projects step-by-step and just figuring it out by researching. Let’s just say that we have watched a lot of YouTube videos and use a “learn as we go” approach.
The picture below is a before and after picture of our lakeside porch. The “before picture” is prior to us renovating and adding an addition to our lake house, which, included adding a double window and covering the block wall with simulated stone. Consequently, the “after picture” encompasses other porch projects such as wrapping the cedar posts (to become white columns), installing old barn wood on the ceiling, and tiling the floor.
We have broken down our “Porch Project” into several phases:
- Adding the apron and wrapping the columns on the porch;
- Covering the ceiling with old barn wood;
- Adding crown molding; and
- Tiling the floor
Hence, here is our fireplace story . . .
- pick axe
- concrete (for base)
- lumber to build the frame
- heavy-duty nail gun and nails
- measuring tape
- miter saw (for building frame)
- Tyvek HomeWrap and grip-rite (plastic round cap roofing nails) to hold Tyvek in place
- mantel (we used cedar)
- electrical boxes and electrical wire (or an electrician)
- felt paper
- metal lathing screws
- mortar mix for creating a scratch coat, sticking stones, and piping between stones Note: We used a different color (Savannah Ivory) for piping between the stones.
- bin to mix mortar
- hoe to stir mortar
- Gas logs
- Simulated stone (flat pieces and corner pieces)
- Plywood scrap to use as a mortarboard
- Mortar piping bag
- Brush to wipe the mortar joints after they partially dry
The Foundation for our Outdoor Fireplace
Hardworking Neal dug a foundation for our outdoor fireplace.
We built a frame for the concrete and poured it several inches deep. So, one side is thicker than the other because it is on an incline.
Framing the Fireplace
Next, we built the frame. In essence, we built a box with an opening for the actual firebox.
We covered it with plywood. Also, notice the 2x4s at the bottom on which the firebox will rest.
Next, we wrapped it with Tyvek Home Wrap.
Installing Electrical, Cable and Mantel
In addition, we removed some of the ceiling so he could add electrical. Thus, we ran power and cable through the ceiling and through the inside of the fireplace from the top to add power and cable outlets on the front of the fireplace. In the picture below, you can see the electrical boxes.
Next, we added a mantel. Consequently, this cedar beam was originally part of our lake house before we renovated it. We sanded it and installed it. From the inside of the fireplace structure, Neal added a few very large carriage bolts to attach the mantel; he wanted it to be secure . . . for many generations!
Wrapping with Felt and Metal Lathing
Next, we wrapped the entire structure in felt paper. You can start to see it take shape.
Next, we wrapped the entire structure with metal lathing. We cut several pieces and used special screws to secure the lathing. It was essential that the screws went into the studs.
I helped too!
Spreading Mortar and Creating Scratch Coat
Neal spread mortar over the metal lathing.
Moments later, I came behind Neal with a mortar trowel to create the ridges/lines in the mortar. This creates texture on the wall, which helps the rock adhere.
Here is the tool we used to apply the mortar and create a scratch coat.
Below is the completed mortar scratch coat. Notice below that we covered the mantel with cellophane to keep it clean (working with mortar is messy). As a result of good planning, you can also see Neal’s wiring in the electrical boxes.
Inserting the Firebox
We inserted the firebox.
Installing Simulated Stone and Brick
Thankfully, it was finally time to add the stone! We did not use real stone but instead used manufactured (simulated) stone. It is more cost-effective than real stone and yet it looks like real stone. We used Hermitage simulated stone and Savannah ivory mortar. This stone is also on the bottom of the exterior of our house and also on our inside living room fireplace.
In the picture below, we show how we added soldier bricks to match the top of our windows. Neal added this horizontal piece of wood and two 2/4 wood braces to support the bricks as the mortar dried. Now it was time to add the gas logs.
I was the mortar stirrer. Oh, joy!
Notice the corner pieces, which are specifically designed in an “L shape”. We wanted to vary the pattern on the corners and throughout; it was like putting a puzzle together. Prior to installing the stone, we laid out several stones; this helped us put our “puzzle” together.
We finished sticking all the stones and were pleased with the random look.
And from the backside. I like how some stones are horizontal and some are vertical. (Also notice that the fireplace fits perfectly under our inside fireplace).
And one more look of the back . . .
One more picture…
Adding Mortar Between Stones
The next step is to add mortar between the stones. Neal used a mortar bag (as if icing a large cake) and squeezed mortar between every rock.
Here is the backside after Neal added mortar between each rock.
Our Outdoor Fireplace Dimensions
62″ WIDE X 42″ DEEP X 9′ TALL
Our Finished Outdoor Fireplace
Thankfully, it turned out great! It is functional and beautiful! The picture below is before we tiled the floor.
Voila! What a relief that finished just in time to enjoy our outdoor fireplace with our family at Christmas!
The following spring, we installed a television after we wrapped the columns, added old barn wood to the ceiling, added crown molding, and tiled the floor. We enjoy this space year-round with family and friends as we talk, laugh, and make memories!
We love to cozy up by the fireplace in the evenings.
The Gas Line
In response to several questions from readers about the gas line, I have added additional pictures to show where it is installed. We hired a professional to install the gas line.
The picture below shows the gas line through the side of the firebox and connected to the gas logs.
Click HERE to learn how we completely transformed our Porch.
Undoubtedly, there is never an end to our projects, so subscribe to our blog and stay up-to-date about life with Neal and Suzanne! We will share our learning, including our failures and mistakes with our followers!