DIY Network

How to Build a Brick Fire Pit

A raised fire pit is built from bricks.

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Step 1: Mark the Location

After setting the location of the fire pit, measure and mark the location with a chalk line (Image 1). For this outdoor-kitchen fire pit, a contractor pre-installed a drain (tied into the home's existing drain system) and a gas line (Image 2).

Step 2: Lay First Course of Bricks

Place the mortar on the floor surface, and carefully lay each brick following the chalk lines as a guide (Image 1), thinly buttering the adjoining brick surfaces as you go (Image 2).

Step 3: Lay the Second Course

With the first course of bricks laid, begin laying in the second course (Image 1) with the long, smooth side of the bricks exposed (Image 2), following the chalk line as a guide. The smooth side of the brick will provide a good adhering substrate when the Tennessee blue-stone is installed later.

Step 4: Stair-Step Bricks on Opposing Sides

Apply an ample amount of mortar for securing the second course of brick, making sure that the mortar keeps its cake frosting consistency (Image 1). Continue building in this manner until you have five courses of brick built forming two sides of the fire pit (Image 2). Lay the bricks to create a stair-step effect at each corner (Image 3). This will allow the adjacent sections of wall to fit together properly, jigsaw-fashion, for a nicely finished corner.

Step 5: Finish the Other Walls

Continue laying courses of bricks to form the other two walls of the fire pit (Image 1). As you reach the ends of the walls, where the corners come together, you'll encounter situations where you'll need half a brick (or a portion of brick) to finish. To solve this dilemma, simply use the gap you're attempting to fill to measure and mark a single brick to size (Image 2) then break the brick to the appropriate length with some solid taps of a brick mason's hammer (Image 3). Safety Alert: Always wear eye protection when breaking bricks in this manner, as chips will likely fly when the brick is struck.

Step 6: Add Cinderblock and Top with Bricks

Set in a course of cinder block on the inside of the fire pit. This will form part of the support for the bowl-shaped concrete floor of the fire pit. The floor will slope toward the center drain, where rainwater can drain so the fire pit doesn't fill with water. On top of the course of cinderblock, three courses of brick are laid in. Only the top course will be exposed in the finished pit, since much of the fire-pit interior will be filled in and built up with mortar.

Step 7: Cap With Bricks

A final course of brick is installed, with the bricks situated perpendicular to the others to form a top cap.

top cap is final course of brick to be installed

Courtesy of Lucie Rowe

Step 8: Pile Scraps in the Pit

With the top cap complete, use scrap bricks and mortar to fill in the center of the pit. Pile bricks and mortar into the center of the pit, one layer at a time, until the proper height has been reached. Remember to slope the mortar on all sides toward the center-drain of the fire pit.

use scrap bricks and mortar to fill in the center

Courtesy of Lucie Rowe

Step 9: Complete by Filling in With Mortar

Fill the center with mortar and slope the mortar toward the center of the fire pit. Use a trowel to smooth out the mortar on top for the finishing touch (Images 1 and 2). Later, blue-stone veneer will be added to the outside of the pit. Tip: Consider using brick tongs to help you carry bricks when working on a project like this. This handy tool won't lighten your load, but it makes carrying several bricks at once from place to place on your work site much less cumbersome.