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Old 05-21-2010, 10:13 PM   #1
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Stone Veneer Firepit


Well I've recently started another backyard project... this one is a firepit. I was originally going to make it a nice stone one, but there really arn't any good stone yards near and the closes thing was a 'brick and block' shop. Since they are only brick and block, the closest thing they had to giving me what I want was a stone veneer. Unfortunately, it'll have to do. The plus side is that it will end up being a bit cheaper that real stone and it will be MUCH easier to lay.

So I received the materials today, and I'll be starting on this in the morning. The first thing to do will be to pour the footer. I'll probably let it set up for at least 24 hours before laying the block.

For the pit, I'll be using 8" 'half block' as the main portion of the wall. I've got 2-1/4 refractory brick (fire brick) for the inside of the pit, and finally the veneer will lay on the outer diameter against the block. I've also got some similar looking caps. The pit dimensions will be 3' inner diameter and 5' outer diameter.

I'm still debating on what to do as a seating area around the pit. I'm thinking that whatever I choose should be about a 5' wide path around the pit to allow plenty of room for chairs or whatever... this should make the diameter of the seating area 15'. I'm open to any suggestions, but I'm currently thinking of using the black plastic landscape edging around the perimeter, filling the area with a bit of sand, and laying some tan flagstone down. I might use some egg rock or creek rock in the open areas between the large pieces of flagstone and then fill in the remaining cracks with more sand. I'll probably leave them in loose and not fix them with a concrete mixture. I'll post pics of the progress... in the meantime, I'll be open to any feedback or suggestions as far as the seating area.

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Old 05-22-2010, 09:34 PM   #2
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Hi there,

If you got your footing poured today, could I suggest that you leave it a little more than 24 hours before you start to load it up.

I know the concrete may be hard, but it lacks much strength this early. Even 3 or 4 days makes quite a difference.

And was it necessary to add any rebar? Sometimes it isn't...all depends on how much load you will be adding and what the ground is like underneath.

Looking forward to seeing pics of each stage as you go.

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Old 05-22-2010, 09:52 PM   #3
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Yes, pictures would be nice. I plan to reface my brick fireplace in stone veneer and would like to see some DIY pictures... Good luck on your project.
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Old 05-23-2010, 01:22 AM   #4
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Here is the area I'm working with for this project:


cocobolo,
Thank you for the tip. I actually was not able to get around to pouring the footing today and here's why:


Those are 5 gallon buckets for reference. I'm guessing that rock was about 4-4.5' long, about 2-2.5' wide and about 1.5' deep. I have no idea how much it weighed, but it was a whole lot.

Basically, I originally planned to level out the entire 15' circle seating area before outlining the inner and outer pit circles. BUT this rock was underneath. I dug and dug... and dug... the rock just kept growing. I finally got it moving with a lever but I could never actually move it from its hole... way too heavy. I even grabbed a pick axe and tried cutting it in half, but this was taking entirely too long. I probably wasted a good 3-4 hours on just this rock. I was able to shift the rock so it didn't sit quite as high, but because of this thing, I'll probably just work with the level that the ground is at now. It is really not too bad though. My guess is that there is maybe an 8" drop over the 15' from one end to the other.

Ivy,
I will certainly post pics of the veneer and the progress. Tomorrow I can take some pics of the veneer as it sits on the palette, but it probably wont be laid till the end of the week. For reference I'm using something called 'Quick Stack' in a 'Cedar Creek' color. Looks like this:

Hopefully it will take to the curved surface OK. BTW, in the couple of boxes of this stone veneer I got, I had about 1/3 of the veneer pieces broken in half. I was a bit discourage by this thinking they might be fragile. So I tried breaking one with another, and they are actually quite strong. It took several strong hits to even chip one. I'm guessing the busted pieces were from either a really hard drop of the entire box or maybe a QC issue. The place I purchased from was more than happy to give me a new box for about 2/3 of a box of broken pieces so I was pretty happy with that.

BTW, should I mix this quickrete (sackrete) in a paint bucket or something first and then pour it in the hole or is it really OK to just pour the mix in the hole and then pour the water in afterwards like it says on the bags? Also, what are the tolerances on getting the mix/water mixture correct?

Last edited by eemichael83; 05-23-2010 at 01:41 AM.
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Old 05-23-2010, 01:33 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eemichael83 View Post
Here is the area I'm working with for this project:


cocobolo,
Thank you for the tip. I actually was not able to get around to pouring the footing today and here's why:


Those are 5 gallon buckets for reference. I'm guessing that rock was about 4-4.5' long, about 2-2.5' wide and about 1.5' deep. I have no idea how much it weighed, but it was a whole lot.

Basically, I originally planned to level out the entire 15' circle seating area before outlining the inner and outer pit circles. BUT this rock was underneath. I dug and dug... and dug... the rock just kept growing. I finally got it moving with a lever but I could never actually move it from its hole... way too heavy. I even grabbed a pick axe and tried cutting it in half, but this was taking entirely too long. I probably wasted a good 3-4 hours on just this rock. I was able to shift the rock so it didn't sit quite as high, but because of this thing, I'll probably just work with the level that the ground is at now. It is really not too bad though. My guess is that there is maybe an 8" drop over the 15' from one end to the other.

Ivy,
I will certainly post pics of the veneer and the progress. Tomorrow I can take some pics of the veneer as it sits on the palette, but it probably wont be laid till the end of the week. For reference I'm using something called 'Quick Stack' in a 'Cedar Creek' color. Looks like this:

Hopefully it will take to the curved surface OK. BTW, in the couple of boxes of this stone veneer I got, I had about 1/3 of the veneer pieces broken in half. I was a bit discourage by this thinking they might be fragile. So I tried breaking one with another, and they are actually quite strong. It took several strong hits to even chip one. I'm guessing the busted pieces were from either a really hard drop of the entire box or maybe a QC issue. The place I purchased from was more than happy to give me a new box for about 2/3 of a box of broken pieces so I was pretty happy with that.

BTW, should I mix this quickrete (sackrete) in a paint bucket or something first and then pour it in the hole or is it really OK to just pour the mix in the hole and then pour the water in afterwards like it says on the bags? Also, what are the tolerances on getting the mix/water mixture correct?
The problem with simply pouring water on the concrete mix is that you don't necessarily get any kind of accurate mixing.

Most concrete products require a specific amount of water per cubic foot of mix. So really, the best thing to do is to mix it properly in a wheelbarrow first, then dump it in to your hole. It should say on the bag how much water is required for each bag. I think it is around 3 liters for a 55 lb bag.

Looks to me like you are going to have one heck of a strong base under there!
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Old 05-23-2010, 05:52 PM   #6
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Thanks for the tips cocobolo. To address the rebar question from before, I was going to put a few pieces of 3/8" in there just as 'insurance' that it wont ever crack. Also, I didnt have a wheelbarrow and I didnt want to spend 40-50 bucks on one just for this, so I ended up using the two 5 gallon buckets. I'd fill one with the concrete mix while someone poured a little water in at the same time. I mixed it by pouring it in another empty 5 gallon bucket and just pouring them back and forth into the empty bucket and adding a little water if needed. It was pretty tiring and a little hard on the back but it did save me a few bucks. Fortunately the concrete wasnt setting so fast that it wasnt still workable by the time I finished with the 8 60lb bags. I didnt get the rebar in though... the mix was thick and I just felt like I was having to force it in too much and I didnt want to compromise the strength and the compactness of the concrete as it was. So I'll just have to cross the fingers on no cracking. On to the pics!

After spray painting the 3' circle and 5' circle, I dug out the trench for the footing:


Concrete poured and putting on some finishing touches. I think I got it pretty level, level enough at least:


IVY, here is what the stone veneer looks like before going on:
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Old 05-23-2010, 07:35 PM   #7
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Cool, thanks for the pics! I see Lowe's is selling stone veneer now. I've always heard that they are reasonably priced too.
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Old 05-23-2010, 08:37 PM   #8
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That definitely looks great.

In future, if you want to put some rebar in something like that, what you could do would be to bend the bar to the shape of the circle - then you put about 2" of concrete in, then add the rebar, then the rest of the concrete.

It doesn't look like you are ever going to have any sort of problem there, that's going to be pretty strong.
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Old 05-24-2010, 11:46 AM   #9
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Wa, your project sounds great! I think the garden will be very beautiful once you'll complete it. Like the stone veneer very much :x
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Old 05-29-2010, 09:20 PM   #10
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OK, let the concrete set up for several days and today was the first long day without rain so I got back on it. Progress was much slower than I thought! A large part of the time was spent having to hand mix the sand, mortar, and water every hour (~every 4 half blocks) in a 5 gallon bucket! A lot of mortar had to be used to since the half blocks had large gaps on the outer diameter. I filled these pretty well I think. Its already pretty hard and immovable







Also, I swapped out the veneer type that I was going to use with a different one. I'll be using the same color but I picked a veneer with smaller pieces; or at least with the large pieces, they can be turned vertically and it still look natural. The first veneer I picked had some pieces that were about 16" long and it would not form around the 5' circle without creating pretty bad corners and open gaps. The style of the old veneer also prevented me from being able to turn the pieces vertically... it would have looked kindof bad.

I've also decided that I'm going to go with the brown/tan flagstone as the seating area. I believe I'll use sand to level everything out and build some sort of very short retaining wall on the low side to hold the sand in. The on the sand, i'll place the flagstone. The flagstone is backordered for about 2 weeks though.

Hopefully with the long weekend I'll at least be able to finish the blocks and put up the refractory brick. I doubt I'll get to applying the veneer or the caps till next week.
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Old 05-31-2010, 12:39 PM   #11
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Also, I swapped out the veneer type that I was going to use with a different one.

Good idea, I was going to suggest you do so. Those stone were far too long for the radius you have.

Hopefully with the long weekend I'll at least be able to finish the blocks and put up the refractory brick. I doubt I'll get to applying the veneer or the caps till next week.
What are the FB going to be sitting on? Do you have a plan for drainage inside the pit?

Make sure to use exterior rated (hydraulic set) refractory for your FB as well if you want them to last.
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Old 05-31-2010, 02:40 PM   #12
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What are the FB going to be sitting on? Do you have a plan for drainage inside the pit?

Make sure to use exterior rated (hydraulic set) refractory for your FB as well if you want them to last.
Ya know, originally I was planning to have the Firebrick sitting on the concrete pad I thought I had made the ring wide enough for both, the block and the Firebrick, but it ended up only being wide enough in a few places around the inside. I'm open to suggestions, but I was probably going to set the firebrick on the dirt or maybe some small stones/sand (on the concrete where its wide enough) and rely mostly on them adhering to the cinder block. I do have refractory mortar to use with the bricks.

For drainage, I was probably going to put some 2-3" Egg Rock that I found at Lowe's in the center of the pit and allow that to do most of the drainage; I kept the center free from concrete to allow the ground to absorb the water.

I look forward to hearing your input on what to place the firebrick on since my original plan to set in on the pad isn't quite panning out. If necessary, I can probably dig a few more inches around the inner circle and pour a little more concrete. Not my favorite idea, but if it must be done, then that's what I'll do. I would however be a little concerned about how the concrete may react with the heat of the fire, although it may not be an issue since the fire will be raised a few inches by the Egg Rock.

Thanks for the input so far
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Old 05-31-2010, 03:30 PM   #13
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What area of the country/type of climate are you in?

Are you sure you have the "correct" refractory?
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Old 05-31-2010, 04:51 PM   #14
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What area of the country/type of climate are you in?

Are you sure you have the "correct" refractory?
I'm in Bowling Green, KY. Wikipedia classifies our climate as 'Humid subtropical climate'. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bowling_Green,_Kentucky

It says average lows in January reach around 25F. Of course it will occassionally get colder than that. I'm not really sure how to describe the type of soil here... my best guess would maybe be sandy loam? but I'm really not familiar with different soil types. Regardless, I want the thing to last.

The type of mortar they gave me for the firebrick is called Heat Stop II Refractory Cement. This is what they picked out for me to use at the local brick and block shop. Thanks for the help!
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Old 06-01-2010, 08:27 PM   #15
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Finished up the cinder block wall. I also bought a couple more bags of quickrete to extend the concrete pad on the inside for the firebrick. Didnt get to that part yet but will hopefully tomorrow. After that, it will need to set up for a few days before laying the brick, I plan to take that time to try and lay out the veneer pieces to see how it will look and how they'll fit. I'm still a little kinda 'meh' on whether or not I like the veneer or not... the color just seems OK in the box. Perhaps it will look better outside in the sun all put together and after they've been rinsed off. We shall see. Here's the progress today:



It is surprisingly almost perfectly level. This was one of the biggest concerns I had before starting, was being able to get it level. Its only off by at most 1/4" across the 5' width, in most places it is right on

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