A brick barbecue is a brilliant addition to your garden. It’s a great excuse to get friends and family round, and the fact that it’s brick means you won’t have to worry about finding a place to store it in the colder months – not to mention it will last a lot longer than your standard shop bought barbecue!
The first thing you’ll need to do before you get stuck into building your barbecue, is to decide where it’s going to sit – bearing in mind that it will need to be close to your house to allow you easy access, but not too close so that the smoke produced by the barbecue can enter your home. Make sure you’re also careful not to have it too close to items such as fences and sheds – and that you have all the tools listed below to hand.
Tools you’ll need:
Shovel (for mixing the mortar)
It’s also worth having a hedge trimmer like this one from Black and Decker, which is incredibly handy for quickly trimming any hedges that may be a bit too close to where you want your barbecue to sit.
Once you’ve decided on the location, you’ll then need to make sure you have a strong base, if you don’t already have a suitable area to build on. To pave a new area for your barbecue, you’ll need to lay a concrete base or some paving slabs – ensuring the base is level and sturdy enough to take the weight of the barbecue without subsidising.
There are a number of different ways you can build a brick barbecue, and the way we are going to suggest is almost like an ‘E’ shape, which creates a section to not only cook your meat, but an additional area for you to put your plates on whilst you cook. Just take a look the simple diagram below to see what we’re on about:
Before you start creating the brickwork, make sure you invest in a good quality barbecue grill set – one that is specifically for brick barbecues, with a tray for coals and a cooking grill. You can then use your chosen cooking grill as a rough guide for how many bricks you’ll need for the barbecue, counting how many bricks you’ll need to go around three sides of the grill initially. We would definitely recommend trying to use as many whole bricks as you can, as this means you won’t need to worry about cutting any, and it also helps to prevent wastage.
If you are following the diagram we have included above so you have an additional stand area, you’ll also need to decide what ‘top’ you will be using. As with the cooking grill, you will need to use this as a guide for the width of the secondary area of your barbecue, and of course for how many bricks you will need to build it. A popular ‘top’ for this additional area is a cement paving slab, which creates an attractive yet durable stand for you to keep your plates and meat on while you cook.
Before you begin laying your first level of bricks, ensure you get a nice straight guideline by using a spirit level to mark the outline of the barbecue on your base. To create your mortar, mix five parts soft building sand to one part cement - remembering to use enough water to get a nice solid consistency. Once you have laid your first level of bricks, double check they are straight and that all corners are at right angles.
To help strengthen your barbecue walls, use a metal brick tie to join the inner walls to the back wall – fishtail wall ties are ideal for this sort of job. Simply lay the metal brick tie over the join between the inner and back walls, pushing it down into the mortar. Once complete, you are now ready to begin laying your additional levels of bricks, starting at the corners. We’d recommend staggering your corner bricks, as this will give your barbecue a high-quality and professional finish. Throughout this process, remember to keep using a spirit level to check that all of the corners are straight, and that the barbecue structure is square.
Whilst there is no set rule, normally once you have between seven to nine levels of bricks, you’ll want to add in a ledge for your coal tray. To do this, you simply turn the bricks in the left and middle walls, which then creates a ledge to support your tray. After another level of bricks (laid as normal), repeat this process to create an additional ledge to support the cooking grill. It’s important to remember that the number of brick levels you choose to have before you create your ledges is entirely up to you, as you’ll want to build it at a height you personally feel comfortable cooking at, which you can also use your cooking grill to determine.
If you have built your barbecue with an additional stand area, depending on your preference, you can use the first or second ledge to add in your paving slab, as demonstrated in the photograph at the beginning of this blog. Make sure you put down a layer of mortar to securely fix the slab into pace, which will then create a useful stand to hold additional barbecue items.
To give your barbecue a professional finish, tidy up the joints between the bricks using a pointing trowel – or failing that, you can also use a length of hosepipe, dragging it along the cement lines for a smooth surface. Once you’ve finished building your barbecue, you’ll need to leave it for at least 48 hours before you use it – and always remember to cover it up if you’re expecting rain. Once dry, there’s only one thing left to do – get the burgers and beers out and enjoy your hard work!