Building your own brick barbecue requires a bit of planning before you start.
It should go without saying, but please, build your BBQ a safe distance from anything flammable (including your fence!), and where the smoke won’t fill your’s or your neighbour’s house.
To get the dimensions for your brickwork you will need your grill set – this determines the internal width of the brickwork.
Put the grill on the ground and place the bricks around it in what will be their fixed position (as shown in fig 1 below).
Safety tip :- Use gloves when mixing/using cement as it can irritate and burn skin, use gloves/safety goggles when handling/cutting bricks.
Make a note of the measurements, allowing a little space for the grill rack and coals tray to be lifted out and removed for cleaning etc.
If the ground is soft then you will need to dig out a small trench around 250 mm wide and 250 to 300mm deep. This can then be filled with concrete to form a foundation for your brickwork. Try to get the foundations as level as possible.
Once the concrete has hardened (this may take a couple of days) you can start to lay the first course of bricks.
If you’re not sure how to lay bricks, have a look at the basic bricklaying tips and advice post, which includes a helpful video.
Don’t make too much mortar as it may ‘go off’ before you have time to use it.
A little tip here is to remember the ratio of sand and cement you mix so the mortar colour is uniform throughout the brickwork. I would do a mix of 4 parts sand to 1 part cement. A little squirt of washing up liquid helps the spreading of the mortar.
Butter (spread) each brick with some of the mortar on the bottom and on one end of each brick, try to guesstimate the same amount of mortar each time, you want to end up with a seam of mortar approximately 10mm deep across each course of brick.
(Watch the video at the bottom of this post – it features a handy tool for making sure you use the same amount of mortar each time.)
Build up the corners first up to the fifth course of brick, overlapping the previous course each time (see fig 2).
Use a length of timber and the spirit level to check the level across the corners.
Take your time checking all levels both horizontally and vertically.
When you are happy with the levels, lay the rest of the bricks up to the fifth course. Use a plumb line stretched across each course to give you a guide line for laying the bricks. You will have to use half bricks which you can cut using a bolster chisel and lump hammer (don’t forget those goggles).
At this point, I would strike all the mortar seams with a metal or rubber tube and use a soft brush to remove any unwanted mortar to give your brickwork a more professional finish (see fig 3).
Let the mortar set and then continue the following day.
Before you carry on, decide what height is comfortable to use the coals tray and grill rack. At this height on the corresponding course of bricks, you will have to lay three bricks each side inwards to support the coals tray and then three more each side one course up for the grill rack (see fig 4).
When your brickwork is complete you could finish it off by cementing some ornamental coping stones on the top. Again don’t forget to strike the seams and clean off any unwanted mortar.
Wait a day for the mortar to set then break out the beers, burgers and steaks.
You can, of course, build variations of this barbecue to suit yourself. Maybe you want a stone worktop at one side or a double grill?
Now you know how to lay bricks and build your own BBQ, the possibilities are endless. The main point I would make is to take your time and keep checking those levels.
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Tools required to build a brick barbecue
- Spot board
- Bricklaying trowel
- 150mm boat spirit level
- 600mm spirit level (if you have one)
- Lump hammer
- Bolster chisel
- Tape measure
- Plumb line (a length of string with a couple of nails attached)
- A piece of metal or rubber tube 20-25mm diameter
- Soft hand brush
Video: How to build a brick BBQ
The bricklaying tool the guy in the video is using is called Bricky. I’ve never used it, but it looks useful. You can buy it from Amazon.
Video credit – Noel Marshall