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Old 06-07-2011, 04:32 PM   #1
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Building a Fireplace, Need Advice

Several years ago I built an outdoor fireplace using river rocks and supposedly heat resistant mortar. Well, after a few years it is basically a neat stack of river rocks with mortar stuck to them. They are no longer attached to each other.

So I've been researching how to properly build an outdoor fireplace. I know there was a recent thread about fire pits, but I want an actual fireplace. I've searched online, and the best looking ones seem to use cinder blocks as a basic structure, with flat rocks then mortared onto the outside to make it appear made entirely of stone. Something like this, but probably not as fancy:


The problem is, I've seen other sites saying that you can't use concrete or it will potentially explode from the heat. As far as I know, cinder blocks are made out of cement/concrete. I can't seem to find a definite answer anywhere.
So my question is, does anyone know if it is safe to use cinder blocks for a fireplace?
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Old 06-07-2011, 04:37 PM   #2
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Cinder blocks will hold up to the heat. Concrete has the potential to fail because of the water content. Cinder blocks are dried. FYI, fully cured concrete won't explode but constant exposure to high heat makes it crumble over time.
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Old 06-07-2011, 07:33 PM   #4
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Use firebrick in the firebox , that's what it is made for
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Old 06-07-2011, 07:36 PM   #5
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ours is brick around the fire area, the chimney and rest of the sides look like smooth river rocks but bigger held to form with cement. been using it for years and it looks perty cool.. another tip, if you can make a couple lips of brick and set a grate on top to hold your firewood, the intake of oxygen through the base and flow out the chimney heats the fire quite rediculously melts beer cans in minutes
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Old 06-07-2011, 07:40 PM   #6
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sub'd..... I have been doing lots of research on outdoor fireplaces this year. I actually wanted to have a 3 in 1 built ( fireplace, pizza oven and grill altogether). I recently went to my local nursery that has just started to sell outdoor fireplaces that are very similar to what you have built. I have not priced any of the products they carry, just so you know. I do remember the product I believe, without walking out to my truck to get the brochure but it was called the Cambridge collection. So start there if you want.... but do give us some before and after pics.....
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Old 06-08-2011, 07:23 AM   #7
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Thumbs up

Thanks guys, all good suggestions. I've looked at the fire bricks, and man they are expensive! I'll probably have to get them though, I want to do this right. Keep the ideas coming.
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Old 06-08-2011, 08:04 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cleanTRDmachine View Post
probably going to have to use brick around the fire area, then you can use cinder block around the brick to create the shape you're going for.
For the one above, with the "chimney" you'll need some chimney forms stacked on each other held together with mortar. or all using this ..
http://www.amazon.com/Lindemann-7206.../dp/B003KVF4C0
Yeah, shaping the chimney section is what has me most uncertain. I called the local home center who were very helpful, but they didn't know what I meant by 'chimney forms'.
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Old 06-08-2011, 08:09 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AeroCooper View Post
Yeah, shaping the chimney section is what has me most uncertain. I called the local home center who were very helpful, but they didn't know what I meant by 'chimney forms'.
He might be talking about the chimney liners. Something like this...
http://www.superiorclay.com/flue-liners.php
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Old 06-08-2011, 02:37 PM   #11
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Use fire brick for your firebox and make sure to use a heat stop mortar for your firebox and chimney flues.For the block and river rocks portland cement mortar is fine.
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Old 06-08-2011, 06:17 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AeroCooper View Post
Yeah, shaping the chimney section is what has me most uncertain. I called the local home center who were very helpful, but they didn't know what I meant by 'chimney forms'.
Quote:
Originally Posted by bstaco View Post
flues.
Sorry, I had just woke up and couldn't think of "flues"
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Old 06-26-2011, 05:18 PM   #13
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Ok, I've started gathering the supplies. I'll continue to update this as I go along. But first, here's the original fireplace that I threw together a few years ago that is falling apart and is being replaced:






Here's some of the supplies I've gotten so far. The local stores all wanted $2.95 each for the firebricks, but on a whim I checked a place about 45 miles away and scored them for $1.47 each!! Well worth the trip as I saved over $150, but I should have gotten a picture of the Taco sagging under the weight of 110 firebricks and 240 pounds of concrete sacks.
Today I got an additional 800 lbs of concrete, but it's not all pictured here.


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Old 06-26-2011, 05:32 PM   #14
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Dang its goona be a bit bigger than the old one eh!?
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Old 06-26-2011, 05:38 PM   #15
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I hope your using that concrete (has gravel) for a footing. You want portland cement mortar (no gravel) for laying any bricks, blocks, and stone.
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Old 06-26-2011, 05:45 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kroggy View Post
I hope your using that concrete (has gravel) for a footing. You want portland cement mortar (no gravel) for laying any bricks, blocks, and stone.
Yep, this concrete is for the slab it will sit on. Then I'll be laying one full layer of cinder blocks as a base, using mortar, then the actual building will begin.
Thanks for the tip though, I'm learning as I go, so all tips are welcome!
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Dang its goona be a bit bigger than the old one eh!?
Oh yeah, MUCH bigger!
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Old 06-29-2011, 06:17 PM   #19
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I started digging the hole for the concrete slab. It looks bigger in person, it is 80" x 32" (a little less than 7' x 3') so far, but I'll have to make it a little bigger for the forms to fit in, and need to clean it up still, of course.


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Old 06-30-2011, 03:49 PM   #20
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Picked up more supplies today - this shows roughly how wide and tall the lower section (not counting the upper chimney section) will be.
There's also some bags of marble chips I picked up to use as a bed for the concrete slab.


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