For an authentic barbecue lover, there is nothing more satisfying than having a brick grill at their home. You may outsource the work to a pro, but the pleasure and happiness are found in making a DIY brick grill. There are many different designs for a brick grill or a smoker but making a simple one is easier and cheaper.
In this article, we will walk you through all the steps needed to build a brick grill in your home. We will also give you some tips related to the whole process.
How to Build a Brick Grill?
We suggest you go through all the steps before commencing the work. Make sure you have all the supplies ready. Remember to wear knee pads, work gloves, and safety goggles before getting to work. It is best to start building a brick grill in the early hours of a weekend. You will need time during this process, so it is better to clear your schedule before beginning.
Time Needed: 24-48 Hours
Difficulty Level: Moderately Difficult
- Barbecue Grill Set (Metal Grates)
- Trowel Set
- Brick Hammer
- Tape Measure
- Gel Knee Pads
- Work Gloves
- Safety Glasses
- Pencil or Marker/Chalk
- Bricks: Be careful while choosing the style of the bricks. You must buy A-grade engineering bricks or fire line bricks. Ordinary bricks will not be able to handle the heat generated during grilling.
Please note that you may need additional tools and supplies if you have selected a soft spot for building your brick grill. These supplies include pea gravel, tamper, and extra cement.
Step 1: Place Selection
The first step is place selection. The barbecue grill must be located at least 10-15 feet away from buildings, windows, overhead wires, trees, or anything that can catch fire. You must check the local codes before starting the process and ensure that the size of the grill, location, and building materials comply with the local codes. It is better to be vigilant now, so you don’t have to demolish the structure later and pay some fines. If you select a spot in your garden or somewhere without a concrete base, you will need to perform an additional step. We have discussed it in step 2.
Step 2: Preparing the Location
Once you have finalized the grill location, you will need to prepare the place. If the location you have selected has a concrete base and can withstand the barbecue’s weight, you can skip this step. If you have selected a soft location like a garden or lawn, you will need to prepare the ground. Start by excavating the area to a depth of 8 inches. Now use tamper and level to balance out the ground. Once it is leveled, add 3 inches of pea gravel and level with a tamper.
Now mix some fast-drying cement to fill the remaining hole. Mix the cement and water according to the instructions given on the cement bag. Pour cement until the hole is leveled with the ground. Use a tamper to level and smooth out the cement. Let the cement cure for 24-48 hours. Once the cement is dry, you are ready to proceed to the next step.
Step 3: Making Measurements
The next step is to set the area of the barbecue once everything is dry and ready. Place your barbecue grill grate in the center of the intended spot and layout the bricks on the grill’s edges. You must leave about 10-15 millimeters between the grid and the bricks and each brick you will place. If you want your barbecue walls to be thicker than one course of bricks, include it in the measurement now. If you have used high-quality bricks, you don’t need to increase the thickness of the walls. One brick grill works fine.
Once everything is fitted nicely, grab your pencil and mark the spots where the bricks will fit in. If the pencil is not working fine on the floor, you can use chalk powder or a marker.
Step 4: Mixing Mortar
The BBQ structure will be small, but you must make it strong and resilient. For this purpose, you will need a strong mortar mix. You can mix the mortar by adding three parts of sand and one part of cement. If you don’t know what is the mixing ratio, read the instruction on the back or ask a contractor. We don’t want you to stop halfway during the process and mix the mortar again.
Begin preparing the mortar by mixing the dry cement and sand. You can also add a colored dye to the mortar to give it a darker look when it is complete. It will give a better finish to your grill. If you add the color, make sure you read the instruction on the back and add accordingly. Give the color and cement/sand pile a nice mix-up with the shovel. Arrange the pile in such a way that it has a hollow area in the center. It will be used to pour in water and will avoid spillage. Once the water is added according to the instruction given on the cement and sandbags, turn the heap upside down with a shovel. Give it a good mix for 4-5 minutes. Once the mix is complete, transfer it into the buckets. You will need the mixture to be soft and fluffy and not too hard. It must not be too soft either. Hold some of the mixtures in your hand and squeeze. If it feels like a sponge, you have done a reasonable job here. Just a safety tip: use safety goggles while working with sand and cement.
Step 5: Laying the First Course of Bricks
Now you are ready to lay the first course of bricks on the ground. Remove the settled bricks and barbecue grill from the spot. Place the mortar on a flat surface and use a brick trowel to form a roll of mortar. Turn it over and over again, and it will take a cylindrical shape. This will help you in laying the mortar on the ground. Once the roll is formed, place it on the marked area with the brick trowel’s help. You may need to settle down the mortar with the trowel. Now place the first brick on the mortar and press it down gently with the brick trowel. Don’t be too hard here; you don’t want all the mortar to squeeze out from under the brick. The extra mortar from the sides of the brick will start to ooze out. You can use the brick trowel to lift it and throw it in on the remaining pile of mortar. Once the brick has been placed nicely, grab your small level and check that the brick is straight and level. If it is not straight, adjust the brick with the brick trowel’s help until it is leveled.
Now grab the second brick, apply some mortar on the end of the brick and press it down to remove the extra mortar. Your goal here is to deposit a 10-15 millimeter layer of mortar on the side of the brick. This side will be placed on the backside of the first brick. Adjust the brick in the same way and remove the extra mortar in between the two bricks. Now grab your level and check that both the bricks are in level with each other. You don’t need to remove any bricks to adjust the level. Strike them gently with your brick trowel, and you will automatically achieve the leveling. Now you can lay all the bricks in the first course. You need to take care of a few things here. Ensure that all the sides of the bricks coming in contact with other bricks are applied with mortar. Check the level of all the bricks after placing a new brick.
It may sometimes happen that the floor base is not always accurate. You will have to accommodate it with some extra mortar underneath the bricks. Your goal here is to achieve a leveled finish. Once you are done laying the first course of bricks, remove all the extra mortar from the ground. Check the results by placing the barbecue grill in the center and ensure that you have a 15-millimeter gap between the bricks and the grill. Double-check the level of the first layer with a large level.
Step 6: Laying the Second Round of Bricks
If everything is ok in the above step, you are now in a position to lay the second round of the bricks. Placing the second round of bricks involves a bit of technicality. It is better to get some brickwork design in your grill. To do this, you will need to place bricks in a slightly different order. The second layer’s first brick will protrude by 50% over the edge of the first layer’s corner brick. It will give you a brickwork design and will make the final structure look aesthetically pleasing. You need to begin laying the second round of bricks from the back corner (closed side) of the first layer of bricks. Start by laying mortar on top of the bricks in the same way you did for the first round of the bricks. You will need to deposit a layer of mortar approximately 20-25 millimeters in height. Grab the first brick and straddle it across 50% of the last brick in the back corner. Settle it down gently until a 10-15 millimeter mortar bed is left between the two bricks. Remove the excess mortar from the side of the brick. Grab your small level and check the horizontal (both sides: parallel and perpendicular to the brick) and vertical balance. Adjust the bricks until perfection is achieved. Now grab the second brick and apply mortar exactly in the same way you did for the second brick while laying the first round of the bricks. Check the level in the same way you did in the first step and check the vertical level after placing each brick.
If you have straddled the bricks exactly as we discussed, you will be left with two halves on the front ends. You will have to cut the bricks in half to fill this space. To do this, place a full brick on the empty space and mark the spot where you will want to break the brick. The easiest and quickest way to break the brick is with the help of a brick hammer. Start by gently tapping the brick at the marked point on all sides. Once the brick starts to fracture, hit a little bit harder, and the brick will fall apart. Place the broken piece on the empty space and check if it fits nicely. Now apply mortar on the broken edges of the brick and place it on the second layer. Remember to fill the mortar in the grooves of the brick. The finished edges will be on the outside and broken edges will be inside. Check the level of all the bricks vertically and horizontally.
Step 7: Laying the Third and Fourth Layer
The third layer will be placed exactly the way you placed the first layer, and the fourth layer will follow the design of the second layer. Remember to check the leveling and ensure that the mortar is not too wet along the bottom. The weight of the bricks may force the mortar to ooze out from the bricks. Once 4 layers are complete, give the structure a drying time of 1-2 hours under full sun.
Step 8: Add some Brick Layers
Once the structure is dry, it is now time to place the remaining brick courses. Once you are at the 7th or 8th course, you may notice that the mortar in between the bricks is uneven and may have empty spaces. It is time to fill in the gaps. You can use a pointing trowel to fill the gaps. Pay attention to this step. The sturdiness of the entire structure depends on the mortar’s ability to hold the bricks together. Now you can remove any excess mortar with your pointing trowel. Leave it to dry for a couple of hours. Once it is solid and dry, use a soft brush to remove any mortar attached to bricks. Removing the extra mortar will give waterproofing to your structure. You can also remove the excess mortar with the help of a pointing bar. It will help you force the mortar inside so that it will not come off in case rain falls over it.
Step 9: Making the Charcoal Grid Support
It is now time to lay the next course. During this course, you will need to place 3-4 bricks perpendicular to the below course. These bricks will be placed in the center of the two walls facing each other. You may need to place some small pieces of bricks to cover any empty spaces on the sides of the perpendicular bricks. These bricks will hold the weight of the charcoal grid. Keep on checking the level and apply mortar in the same way you have been doing in all the above steps. For perpendicular bricks, you will need to apply mortar on the longer side of the brick. Double-check the level after placing each perpendicular brick. Use the bigger level to check that perpendicular bricks on both sides are at the same height as each other.
Please note that before placing this round of bricks, you can add more rounds of bricks to increase the height of your grill. It is advisable for tall people.
Step 10: Add another Course of Bricks
Once you have added the perpendicular bricks, spread another course of bricks exactly as you spread the first course of bricks.
Step 11: Preparing the Course for Cooking Grill
The next course will have a support system for the cooking grill. It will also have perpendicular bricks for holding the cooking grill in position. Lay the mortar on the top of the bricks. Place perpendicular bricks one by one. Check the horizontal level and vertical level (with the charcoal grid bricks). Settle the bricks with the brick trowel’s help and check the levels after placing each brick. Grab the bigger level and check that recently added perpendicular bricks are in level with each other.
Step 12: Adding the Final Courses
The next step is to add two more courses of bricks. They will be the final rounds. Grab your level and double-check that every brick in the top layer of the structure is leveled. Check any gaps for mortar in the recently added bricks and fill them up with pointing trowel. Once it is dry, remove the extra mortar from the bricks with the help of a brush. Let the structure dry under the sun for 4-6 hours. You can place some quarry tiles on the top layer and perpendicular grills to give a nice finish to your brick grill.
That’s it. You are done. Place the charcoal grid and cooking grill, marinate your favorite meat, burn some charcoal, grab a pack of wood chips and call over your friends for a perfect barbecue and exhibit your recently built brick grill.
Some Tips for Getting a Perfect Brick Grill
- Pick the right bricks.
- Setting up the first course is very important as the first course will dictate the rest of the structure.
- Keep the ratio right while mixing sand and cement. Follow the instruction on the bag or consult a contractor.
- The mortar bed between each layer of bricks must have the same size.