Building a Brick Barbecue Pit

Building your own brick barbecue pit does not take that much expertise. Most of the work is common sense, and following a plan, most homeowners can achieve very impressive results with a little planning and basic understanding of what makes that barbecue work for the homeowner, bearing in mind different factors which are too individual to list. For example, the following elements have to be considered before even laying the first brick.

* Availability of suitable space.
* Availability of grill parts and sizes
* Number of people the grill is to cater for
* Personalization of needs.

Suitable space.

The first consideration has to be where the grill will be built, bearing in mind safety and convenience factors. For example, it would be unwise to build the pit in an area where wind is high and the barbecue exposed to inclement weather conditions. A little protection from strong winds helps the efficiency of the barbecue.

A barbecue should be located in a convenient place where you can access all the food easily, and nearness to the home is a great idea, though look carefully for where fumes may enter the home, placing it adequately away from open windows. Look also for the growth in the garden as having a barbecue in a bushy area may present fire hazards. All of these may seem common sense, though mistakes in the planning stages can spoil the whole experience.

Measure areas which you are considering and allow at least 60 inches by 90 inches, since this will give you space for the pit, and also for a table next to the pit to keep implements and things needed during the cooking process. Often people forget about the ground next to the actual pit, and it is wise to have a stable base upon which to stand those essential items, instead of relying on bumpy ground.

Grill parts.

In different parts of the world, grills and associated parts will vary in size. Since you are building a barbecue to take these parts, it is essential to establish what size of grills and trays are available in your area as this will help you plan the correct dimensions.

Size of barbecue.

Deciding on the number of people being catered for is also essential, since this helps you to determine the size and number of grills to be used.


In the planning stages, draw your design on paper, and think of all those extras which will make the use of the barbecue easier for you. Here, you can add hooks for utensils during the build process, and knowing what you want to add before building helps you to plan correctly, and to use the strength of the mortar to hold these pieces in place.


The first stage of the build is to ensure that you have a solid foundation. Here building a slab of around 60 by 90 inches, allows room for the pit, and also room for a small table which will hold all of the bits and pieces needed during the barbecue process. The slab should be about 6 inches thick, and the sides can be shuttered with timber framing until the cement slab is dry, giving the base a great edge.

The mix used for the base would be 2 parts sand to 1 part Portland cement, and for additional strength, 2.5 parts gravel. When laid inside the mold of wood formed into a rectangle, the slab can be tamped into a nice flat surface and left to dry. Using a plank to tamp the surface and even out the top edge really does make it smooth enough to take the brickwork to follow.

Planning the brickwork.

For this procedure you will need the following tools:

* Trowel
* Spirit level
* Cold Chisel
* Mallet
* Chalk

These tools are essential since the spirit level helps you to establish the smooth and even laying of bricks and the cold chisel helps you to cut bricks evenly and is very easy to use. The mallet helps you tamp the bricks into place.

The bricks should be soaked in water, the night before laying, and not immediately before laying, since what happens is that if the bricks are too dry, they soak in the mortar and the mortar can fail, though if too wet, tend to encourage the mortar to stain the surface of the bricks, which gives unsightly results.

Lay the bricks onto the base in an attempt to establish what pattern works for that first "U" shape. Lay a couple of courses dry and mark this on the base, so you know where to start. It's always a good practice, because this gives you guidelines for the eventual laying of the bricks in mortar. A "U" shape of approximately 33 inches square will work well.

Laying the bricks in mortar.

With a great mix of 3 parts sand to one part cement which is not too runny, lay the bricks which form the foundation work. After laying several layers of bricks, always clean out the joints with a pointing trowel as you work, so that the cement does not stain the brickwork. As each course is laid, use the spirit level to establish that the course is correctly laid, and this should be placed not only in line with the bricks, but over the corners to establish that all walls are flush with each other.

In many instances of bricklaying, lines are used to establish that the brickwork is even. On a small project such as a barbecue, this is not really necessary, since a long spirit level will do the same thing. Any bricks which are too high should be tamped into place with the mallet, and the level checked again. It is worth checking this on all courses, since uneven layers of bricks will mean that the integrity of the brickwork is at risk, and will look unprofessional.

Corners are very easy to establish with alternate whole bricks laid in opposite directions to solidify the corners, and this is the best place to start the work. Those bricks which need cutting need a simple chalk mark and then can be hit with the cold chisel with a sharp movement, which will cut them relatively straight, facing any uneven edges neatly out of sight, so that at the corners and ends, all bricks have finished surfaces. Do not forget to build in those hooks for utensils as you work your way up the courses laid.

Once the "U" shape is completed, we now have to build an interior skin of bricks to take the grill and cinder area of ​​the barbecue. Measurement at this stage is critical since you are creating a ledge for the grills, and whether this is single or double grill, the brickwork will have to hold the rods which support the grill and cinder tray in place. Try it for size and check that your supporting wall will indeed allow you to slide the grill into position once the rods are in place, and also the tray which holds the cinders. A little bit of flexibility of fit is wise, to enable safe removal of the trays for cleaning.

The inner skin of bricks extends out beyond the original "U" frame and can be made to measure easily allowing for different grill sizes. Lay a floor of bricks though here a dry run will help you determine which cuts need to be made in advance. Place the grill supports into the mortar during the inner brickwork process and try the grill and cinder tray for fit before the cement is hardened, so that adjustments can be made before the cement dries.

After the cement is almost cured, use a hand brush on the cement to ensure that the mortar is neat and tidy and has a great brushed finish. When choosing those utensils to suit your barbecue pit, stainless steel looks great and will not rust.

Now all that is left to do is to wait for the sun to shine, move your table of food and condiments into the space left beside the barbecue, and get ready to light your first outdoor barbecue to treat family and friends to their favorite outdoor foods .