Fire pits offer a great opportunity for socializing outside the home, bringing together friends and family alike to converse and perhaps contemplate the stars. As such, if you are thinking about how to build a fire pit without mortar on your property, you can look forward to a cosy place to bond with yourself or with others on cool and hopefully clear summer nights.
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CHECK LOCAL REGULATIONS
Fire pits are obviously fire hazards. It is incredibly important therefore to rely on the local fire planning codes in your area to inform you of how to construct your dry laid fire pit. The susceptibility to bush fires of the location in which you reside can determine the approved height and surrounding landscaping of your fire pit.
CHOOSE A SENSIBLE LOCATION
The how to dry lay a brick fire pit is just as important as the where. Having obtained the necessary approval, it is your responsibility to ensure that the location of your fire pit is ideal. Make sure that your fire pit is not located under any overhanging trees, or close to flammable structures or the home itself. Also take a trip to your local weather station to obtain wind data, which will inform you of the direction of the prevailing wind. This will best inform you on how to construct your dry laid brick fire pit in such a way that smoke is not blown into your house through the doors or windows.
Gathering Materials and Tools for the Project
Before beginning any DIY project, it’s important to gather all the necessary materials and tools. For building a brick fire pit without mortar, the materials needed include bricks (either fire-rated or clay), sand, and gravel. Fire pit rings or grates for cooking are optional but can be useful additions. In terms of tools, a shovel, level, trowel, rubber mallet, and string and stakes for marking out the fire pit’s location will be necessary. Depending on the size and complexity of the fire pit, other tools such as a tamper, hand saw, or wire cutters may also be required. It’s important to gather all the materials and tools before starting the project to ensure a smooth and efficient construction process.
STAKE OUT THE SHAPE AND SIZE OF YOUR DIY FIRE PIT
Marking out the area is one of the paramount decisions required when thinking about how to build your brick fire pit without mortar, as it should reflect the local fire codes in its dimensions. Using marking paint, temporarily draw out the footprint of your fire pit, taking note especially of the number, and in the case of a circular fire pit, the shape of the bricks in your first course, as some of them may need to be cut. When considering how to assemble your dry laid brick fire pit note how close people need to sit in order to chat comfortably. That said, a length and width (or diameter) of 35 – 43 inches or 87.5 – 107.5 cm is will suffice.
EXCAVATE THE MARKED OUT AREA
After marking out your fire pit, proceed to dig a trench of between 7-11.5 inches (17.5 – 28.5 cm) having the width of a single brick, digging deeper for a sloping terrain. When considering how to build a circular brick fire pit without mortar realize that you will have to compensate for the curve by digging a wider trench. Lay the first course of bricks in the trench and notice how they fit. When building a circular fire pit, note the bricks you may have to cut as well as their shape. Do this by scoring the brick where you want to cut it all the way around the brick. Go on to place the brick on a hard surface, then using a chisel and brick hammer, split the brick along the score line. Proceed to cleaning out any jagged edges with the tail of the brick hammer to facilitate a perfect fit when it comes time to lay them.
LEVEL THE TRENCH
After ensuring that all the bricks fit snuggly in the trenches you have dug, remove them and begin to level the trench by pouring a layer of sand of about 2.5-inches (6.25 cm), remembering to compact it. After ensuring that the sand is level, pour in a layer of gravel to further reinforce the sand in the levelled trench which will support the first brick courses. You must note that the first laid brick course must fall within the trench, below the ground level, as such it is important to pour your gravel layer accordingly.
Building the First Layer of Bricks
The first step in constructing a brick fire pit without mortar is to lay the foundation with a layer of gravel. Next, begin building the first layer of bricks around the edge of the fire pit’s perimeter. It’s important to ensure that the bricks are level and fit snugly together, without any gaps or spaces. A rubber mallet can be used to gently tap the bricks into place, and a level should be used to check that they are even. As each brick is placed, check that it is level and adjust as needed. Once the first layer of bricks is complete, add a layer of sand on top to help stabilize the bricks and create a level surface for the next layer. The first layer is the foundation of the fire pit and is crucial for ensuring the stability and durability of the entire structure. Taking the time to lay this first layer carefully will make the rest of the building process much smoother.
Building Subsequent Layers of Bricks
After the first layer of bricks is in place, it’s time to build subsequent layers to create the desired height for the fire pit. As you build each layer, it’s important to stagger the placement of the bricks so that the joints don’t line up, which will help add stability to the structure. Use a trowel to add a layer of sand on top of the previous layer of bricks, which will help stabilize the new layer and provide a level surface for the bricks to rest on. Before laying the second course, it is important to check that the first brick course is even, using a spirit level. Once this is confirmed, the next course is laid in such a way that the joints are staggered. If laid with the joints in line, the structural integrity of your fire pit will be compromised, making it susceptible to collapses. Also, when you are deliberating how to dry lay your brick fire pit, understand that you will have to leave intermittent gaps between bricks, as this will allow smoke to dissipate without creating a smoke mess. As you lay each subsequent layer, make sure to check that the bricks are level and adjust as necessary. Continue building the layers until you have reached your desired height. If you are using fire-rated bricks, it’s important to make sure that you follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the recommended height and spacing of the bricks to ensure the fire pit is safe to use. Once the final layer of bricks is in place, add a final layer of sand on top to create a level surface for your fire pit. With all the layers in place, your fire pit is now complete and ready for use.
When thinking about how to build a brick fire pit without mortar, for the sake of the durability of your bricks, you can insert steel sheets formed to fit the inside of your fire pit which will protect your bricks from drying out prematurely. Even though steel sheet metal fire rings tend to be costly, they will ensure the greatest protection for your bricks in the long run, making your fire pit more durable. Ensure that your sheet metal has about 11/2– inch (3.75cm) internal offset from the inner side of the brick wall, and sits even with your top most brick course. You may go on to fill the 11/2-inch gap between your steel sheeting and brick with gravel to further protect your bricks, however, realize that this may interfere with the escape of smoke, so it is important that you to consider this before proceeding
Adding a Fire Pit Ring (Optional)
While not necessary for every fire pit, adding a fire pit ring can be a useful addition for those who plan to use their fire pit for cooking or want to contain the flames. A fire pit ring is a metal ring that is placed on top of the final layer of bricks and surrounds the inside of the fire pit. It can be used to hold a grill or grate for cooking or to create a barrier to contain the flames within the fire pit. To add a fire pit ring, first measure the diameter of the inside of the fire pit to determine the appropriate size ring to purchase. Once you have the ring, place it on top of the final layer of bricks and adjust it until it is centered and level. Some fire pit rings come with anchoring pins that can be used to secure the ring to the ground. Once the ring is in place, it’s ready to be used for cooking or as a barrier to contain the flames.
Creating a Grate or Grill for Cooking (Optional)
One of the benefits of a fire pit is that it can be used for cooking, and creating a grate or grill for cooking is an optional but useful addition to a fire pit. To create a grate or grill, first, measure the diameter of the inside of the fire pit to determine the appropriate size. Next, purchase a cooking grate or make one yourself by using steel rebar or metal mesh. To make a cooking grate, cut the rebar or mesh to size and then attach four legs to it using steel wire. The legs should be long enough to raise the grate to a comfortable cooking height above the flames. Once the grate is complete, place it on top of the fire pit ring, ensuring that it is level and centered. With a cooking grate in place, your fire pit can be used for a variety of outdoor cooking activities, including grilling, roasting, and even smoking.
Final Touches: Cleaning Up and Enjoying Your Fire Pit
With the construction of your brick fire pit without mortar complete, there are just a few final touches to ensure that it’s ready for use. First, remove any excess sand or debris from the fire pit to create a clean surface. Next, start a small fire to help cure the bricks and remove any excess moisture. Gradually increase the size of the fire over time to avoid cracking the bricks due to rapid temperature changes.
Fire Pit Maintenance and Safety Tips
Maintaining your brick fire pit without mortar is essential to ensure that it remains safe and functional. One of the most important maintenance tasks is to regularly remove any ash or debris from the fire pit after each use. It’s also essential to check the condition of the bricks periodically and repair any cracks or damage that may compromise the fire pit’s structural integrity. In addition to maintenance, it’s important to follow basic safety guidelines when using your fire pit. Always keep a fire extinguisher nearby in case of emergencies, and never leave the fire pit unattended while in use. It’s also a good idea to establish a safe zone around the fire pit, ensuring that it is clear of any flammable materials or structures. By following these maintenance and safety tips, you can enjoy your brick fire pit without mortar while minimizing the risk of accidents or damage to your property.
Why Build a Fire Pit Without Mortar
Building a fire pit without mortar has several benefits over traditional brick and mortar fire pits. One of the main reasons to build a fire pit without mortar is the ease of construction. Without the need for mortar, building a fire pit can be a simpler and more accessible DIY project for those who may not have experience with masonry. Additionally, a fire pit without mortar can be easily disassembled and relocated, making it a versatile option for those who may want to move their fire pit around their yard or take it with them on camping trips. Finally, without mortar, a fire pit can have a more rustic and natural appearance that can blend in seamlessly with its surroundings, adding to the overall ambiance of your outdoor space.
Conclusion: Your DIY Fire Pit Without Mortar
Building a brick fire pit without mortar is a rewarding and fun DIY project that can enhance your outdoor living space and provide a cozy ambiance for gatherings with friends and family. By following the steps outlined in this article, you can create a beautiful and functional fire pit that will provide years of enjoyment. Remember to gather all the necessary materials and tools, take the time to build each layer of bricks carefully, and add any optional features such as a fire pit ring or grill grate. After completing your fire pit, be sure to perform proper maintenance and follow safety guidelines to keep it in top condition. With your newly built brick fire pit without mortar, you can enjoy warm fires, delicious food, and unforgettable memories with loved ones.