This summer I, JayZ, a summer student here at Barkman Concrete, was given a challenge to build a Compact Fireplace. At first, I did not think I would be able to build it because of my total lack of construction skills, but after some reassurances and encouragement, I decided to give it a go. Now, in hindsight, I realize I had absolutely no reason to be concerned about my lack of skills.
To begin the install, you need to know where the fireplace will go. This process was made easy by having an existing patio on which the fireplace was to be built. All I had to do was make sure that it was far enough away from any other structure and conform to local regulations.
Since I had the base in place already, I could begin the assembly. I placed the first layer of bricks, made sure it was square and centred them on the patio. Once this step was in order, I could start building the body of the fireplace. Soon into the build, I realized that what I was actually doing was very simple and easy. It felt a bit like building a giant LEGO set, and I was having fun! I used a level and a dead blow mallet to make sure I was keeping it straight and stable. Soon the body of the fireplace was built high enough for the firebricks to be installed.
To install the firebricks, which are a different type of brick specifically designed for fire insulation, I made sure that all the dust and debris were cleared away from the area, so that the adhesive for the firebricks would properly cure. The firebricks were a bit trickier than the normal bricks as they were more fragile, due to their insulating properties, but by keeping this in mind, and by being a bit more careful, this step was also easier than I thought it would be.
After the firebrick was installed, I began working on the chimney portion of the fireplace. This portion required some large mantelpieces to be installed, which required some extra manpower (a.k.a friends). Once we put the mantelpieces in place, the chimney could be built next. Like the body of the fireplace, this went up quickly and painlessly. After a few layers of this, the final chimney cap pieces were installed on top, again with the help of a friend.
Once these pieces were done, I had the chance to step back and look at my finished work, and, I must admit, it was incredibly satisfying building something from the ground up and at the end of it, having a product people can use and enjoy. All my fears of not having any prior construction experience were completely unfounded and if I can do it, so can everyone else. If you still think it sounds complicated, check out the time-lapse to see the build from start to finish.