Brickwork Around Your Home

Build Your Own Brick Barbecue and Planter

brick bbqPick a suitable spot to build your barbecue and remember to consider the late afternoon and early evening sun before deciding on a site. Begin by dry laying the bricks to establish a basic shape. Ensure the final barbecue design fits your barbecue coal pan and grill by placing it within the design.

Now is the time to make any adjustments. Once you’ve decided on the final shape you can remove the bricks and begin to lay them with a sand and cement mortar mix made of one part cement to three parts sand.

When laying your first course of bricks, make sure they’re all well embedded into the mortar. This can be done by sharply tapping the bricks with the edge of your brick laying trowel. It’s important to lay your first course of bricks with care, as these are the main foundation of your barbecue. If you’re unhappy with any of the bricks you’ve laid, don’t be afraid to take them up and re-lay them. After completing your first course of bricks you must make sure all your horizontals and verticals are true. Use a good quality level to achieve this. This is especially important if you plan on adding other components to your barbeque area, such as an ice maker or small refrigerator for drinks. An uneven surface for a refrigerator may lead to premature need for an appliance repair, so it’s worth getting it right.

Now remove any excess mortar. Make sure that the legs extend from the back wall to exactly the same distance. Any fine adjustments can be made at this stage. By using the level, you can align the faces of the bricks by hand or by using the edge of your trowel. Measure the width of the rear wall and transfer this measurement to the front. Adjust the front if the two measurements aren’t the same. This coupled with your previous adjustments will make for a completely square base. Once you’ve completed the barbecue base you may want to think about customizing the main design. This can involve extending any side to provide a useful shelf.

At some point during the construction, you’ll need to cut a brick. It’s very important that you follow this procedure. One, mark your brick allowing for the mortar joint. Two, always wear eye protection. Three, make sure the brick is on a sandy surface, use a wide bladed chisel and strike it with a lump hammer. Finally, neaten out the cut edges with a chisel and hammer. Always lay the cut edge of a brick inwards leaving its natural face outwards. Remove any excess mortar.

Continue to lay further courses, remember under no circumstances should the joint in one course of bricks be matched up to another joint on the next course. Joints must always be staggered for optimal strength. Spread the mortar over a few bricks and tidy up to minimize any spillage when tamping down your next brick. Then, form a “V” down the center of the mortar. This allows for easier adjustment and leveling of the brick to be laid on top. After you’ve laid a few courses, check your vertical and horizontal alignments with the level. Make any adjustments required now. This should be done to all laid faces, sides, backs, and so on.

We’ve now reached a point where the support for a barbecue pan is required. In this instance, we’ve used a full brick and rotated it 90 degrees to the side walls. When laying one break on top of or next to each other, make sure that the joint is full and that there are no air pockets in the mortar. This will stop any water building up in bad weather which would eventually lead to cracking should there be a frost. Remember to level off as you go along. At various stages during the construction check your verticals and horizontals, making minor adjustments when necessary.

In some instances, you want to leave a joint to dry by putting no mortar between two bricks. This will allow for reasonable air flow, which will help out when lighting barbecue coals. Now you can lay the last few courses to finish off the barbecue. Always remember with a project like this, there’s no hard and fast rules for design so feel free to be individual about your projects!

When the mortar is firm to the touch it’s time to start pointing. You’ll notice a pointing trowel is smaller than a brick laying trowel. This enables you to reach the corners and generally makes the job a lot easier. Pointing is a fairly simple process. It enhances the final effect and also improves resistance to water penetration. Never attempt the pointing process when the mortar is still wet. This will only make the job more difficult and can spoil the professionalism of your job. Any gaps can be filled with small amounts of mortar.

Now clean out any of the mortar that may have blocked the air hole you made earlier. Brush down your brickwork with a soft bristle brush to clean up any loose bits of mortar after pointing. You can also decide at this point to include an integral wine rack with your barbecue using land drains.

First lay a bed of mortar to build a support wall but leave enough space for the wine rack between here and the barbecue wall. Lay your bricks as before. You may need a quantity of half bricks so you can pre-cut these in advance of building this addition. After laying a couple of courses, lay mortar to start laying the wine rack. Make sure you achieve a tight fit and use the same procedure to lay as many drains as you like.

It’s advisable to cap these off with a garden slab or something similar. This wine rack can now be leveled out. Next to the barbecue, you can also build a brick planter by removing a slab from the patio. Dry lay the bricks as before to determine your size. You may wish to remove two or three slabs. Lay your bricks on a mortar bed and use the same exact process you used to lay your bricks for your barbecue with the staggered joints and so on. Even though this is a small structure it’s still important to level out your horizontals and verticals with the level.


  1. I’m actually looking for someone to do some brickwork for us at our home. Do you have any recommendations for good brick work companies in Tucson? Would appreciate any specific company (or individual’s) names. Thanks!