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Your guide to making an outdoor BBQ

Life has been so serious of late – with good reason. But sometimes we need a little escape albeit for a few minutes. So please suspend your disbelief and join us in a new magical realm. It’s a place of fable and anthropomorphic animals. Basically we’re talking about animals with human characteristics. Imagine conversations, little outfits…pretty much any Disney film and you’ll be there. This may seem like alien territory to talk about an outdoor BBQ, however hang tight. We may take some artistic license in our narratives but we get there in the end. All fact and no fun makes blog a dull boy. Bonus points if you get the reference.


So within this mystical world live three animals from the genus Sus species, more specifically members of the even-toed ungulate family Suidae. Meet the Three Little Pigs. We know their story. Each one has architectural aspirations and limited construction capabilities. We also know each one is placed firmly in the sights of a nefarious wolf with an increased lung capacity. Long story short there was some huffing and puffing leading to a few collapsed houses and two piggy murders. But one pig survived. His knowledge of materials was far superior to his piggy piers, as he chose to fabricate a domicile made out of brick rather than hay and twigs.  Despite some serious blowing the voracious wolf couldn’t get in to complete his bloody trilogy of kills. And in a blind fit of carnivorous rage he threw himself down the chimney of the piggy’s brick house only to end up in a boiling pot of wolfy soup.  Back to the outdoor BBQ, if you’re tempted to make your own please stay away from straws or sticks. Your design will go up in flames…quite literally. Brick is the perfect material for your outdoor BBQ. And we will break down the process step by step (as well as covering some other key outdoor BBQ considerations). Told you we’d get there.


How to build an outdoor BBQ?

So you’re totally jacked and ready to unleash your DIY skills on an outdoor BBQ area? We salute you. Now we don’t want to burst your outdoor BBQ bubble but we keep it 100% real over here at Big K. Before working on your outdoor BBQ area go stand in front of a mirror. Take a good look at yourself and be honest. Do you really have the skills to get this done? Or is your ego in the driving seat, creating some serious delusions of grandeur? We ask this not to discourage your outdoor BBQ ideas, but to ensure that you are up to the task. You see if you go in all willy-nilly and pumped on self-love, you could end up with a dilapidated pile of rubble. This could seriously affect your motivation meaning that your dream outdoor BBQ could remain exactly that…a dream. To make the fantasy a tangible reality (and for safety, value for money and longevity) we would recommend hiring masonry or landscaping contractors with outdoor BBQ experience. However, deep down if you feel like you’re good to go then let’s do it.


How to build an outdoor brick BBQ?

Another quick disclaimer, we cannot really give exact dimensions and specifications per se. Ultimately, these will be determined by your grills – so we’re giving you some general advice and simple steps, offering a flavour of what to expect when making your own brick outdoor BBQ. First thing’s first (wait…can a first thing ever be second?) you will need a load of kit to build your outdoor BBQ area. Here’s what you’ll need to get your hands on.


  • Bricks
  • Brick setts
  • Sand
  • Cement
  • Barbecue grill set
  • Length of hosepipe
  • Paving slab
  • Trowel
  • Shovel
  • Sprit level


A man is making an outdoor BBQ by laying out bricks around a grill plate to get the correct size


Action 1

To get things going you will need to lay out the first level of bricks for your barbecue. You can use the cooking tray as a guide, placing your bricks around the border of the tray.


Action 2

Next up you will need to mix five parts sand and one part cement. Ensure that you add enough water to obtain a more turgid consistency. Before spreading your first layer of mortar, please check the level of the site using your spirit level. If the reading is level then you have the green light to spread away. However if there are some uneven readings then you can compensate for the differences by adding more mortar.


A man uses a spirit level to help with the positioning of his bricks for an outdoor BBQ


Action 3

Now grab your trusty spirit level and mark the outer edge of the barbecue in your cement. The linear impression left behind will be your guide for laying your first course of bricks. Once you have laid that first layer, check the level again, ensuring that the corners are at 90°right angles.


Action 4

Grab a metal tie and insert it into the mortar, joining the longer wall to the inner wall. The purpose? The tie acts as a power boost, increasing the strength and integrity of your outdoor BBQ.


Action 5

Bring on the bricks! With all these actions complete, you can now start laying the extra courses of bricks. Just make sure that you start at the corners. You will also want to stagger the vertical joints alternatively, using the width of a half brick.

 A man uses a spirit level to check that all the bricks of his outdoor BBQ are level

Action 6

Thank your lucky stars that some genius invented the spirit level, as it’s a DIY outdoor BBQ essential. Take your spirit level and check the corners of your BBQ. Basically you are ensuring that the corners are all vertically straight. You must check from all angles to make sure that your outdoor BBQ is square rather than a dilapidated triangle or some other geometric abomination.

Action 7

It’s beneficial to check that both sides of your outdoor BBQ are even after about 5 courses of bricks. Reach for piece of wood and spirit level to verify that both sides are indeed even. We’re motoring through the actions now guys. Great stuff!


A man is knocking the bricks of his outdoor BBQ with a trowel so that they set better in the mortar.

Action 8

Back to the bricks.  Dip your arms into some more elbow grease and build up your BBQ wall to seven courses. You need to be thinking about a ledge for your BBQ tray, so on the left-hand and inner wall, rotate your bricks into a side on position. The edge needs to be flush so you can use a half brick at the outer edge. When you have laid three more courses of bricks, add another course side-on. This will support your grill tray and ensure gravity doesn’t foil your beautiful BBQ efforts.


Action 9

It’s about that time to add the finishing professional touches to your outdoor BBQ masterpiece. Break out that length of hosepipe and simply draw it along each and every joint. True beauty lies in the detail so you should also create a neat edge by including a final course of brick setts. Finally check the levels again.


Action 10

If you want to create an additional work surface to create your outdoor BBQ ideas, simply cement a large paving slab on top of the walls of your outdoor BBQ. Et voila, your outdoor brick BBQ is good to go. Stand back and admire your handy work.  It’s ok to give yourself a gargantuan pat on the back and stroke that ego – you’re a DIY BBQ hero in our eyes.


How to build and outdoor BBQ kitchen?

For some, the simplistic outdoor brick BBQ might be the apex predator of outdoor BBQ ideas. For others, it might only be a small faction of your wider outdoor BBQ picture. If you’re looking to push the envelope, then an outdoor BBQ kitchen could be just what you need. We can’t get into all the details here as that is a Magnum Opus in itself. Luckily we dropped a super comprehensive intro guide to outdoor BBQ kitchens  fairly recently, so wrap your inquisitive chops around that. It outlines the main considerations from design concept and processes, to construction and material choices. What we can reiterate is that building an outdoor BBQ kitchen is a serious undertaking. There are many sides and facets to the equation including plumbing and electric, appliance installation, drainage, foundations and more. So if you’re going ahead with your project (we defo salute you for that) then we would recommend calling in some professional contractors.


How to build an outdoor BBQ pit?

A brand spanking new outdoor BBQ kitchen area (complete with all the BBQ bells and whistles) sounds awesome to us. However many people are searching for something a little more visceral from their BBQ experience. What could be better than gathering around an outdoor BBQ pit, cooking over flame like our ancient ancestors?  Here are some super quick steps to help you reawaken your inner Neanderthal.


Your kit

You will need a shovel, cinder blocks, a hand tamp, measuring tape, gravel, water, dry mortar, a spirit level, metal braces, bricks, grill top, trowel and a carpenter’s square.


Action 1

Select the location for your outdoor BBQ pit. The chosen area should be about 15 square feet (3 feet by 5 feet). For the metric heads that’s 4.6 metres square. Please ensure that there are no fire hazards or flammable materials in the surrounding vicinity.


Action 2

Firstly mark out your pit area using some sticks or pieces of wood. Then grab that shovel and dig an 8-inch (20 cm) pit. Afterwards simply level off the bottom of the pit using a hand tamp.


Action 3

Time for some spready spready spreadness. Spread a 2-inch (5 centimetre) layer of gravel in your pit. Then level that off with a hand tamp.


Action 4

Mix some magnificent dry mortar with water. You can add more water throughout the process to keep everything nice and moist. When you’re mixture is nice and thick, spread a 2-inch  (5cm) layer on top of your gravel layer. Finally level the layer with your trowel.


Action 5

Position your cinder blocks around the edges of your mortar area and ensure that you leave a few holes for drainage. Check that all your blocks are evenly positioned by using your spirit level. Lastly you can double check that your corners are at right angles by using your carpenter’s square.


Action 6

More spreading is needed for your outdoor BBQ pit. So spread another layer of mortar on top of your cinder blocks, and then add bricks, positioning each one side by side. Remember to remove any superfluous mortar as you go.


Action 7

Now start stacking those bricks. You will need about 6-9 layers of brick for your outdoor BBQ pit. Apply mortar to the sides and bottom of your bricks to keep everything in place. Check the corners and the level of your layers frequently.


Action 8

The end is now in sight. Add metal braces in your last layer of mortar. These braces will keep your grill top in place, meaning they must face inward. Leave your structure overnight to ensure all your mortar is dry. The next day put the BBQ cherry on top by adding your grill top on top of your metal braces. Hey presto – one outdoor BBQ pit for your enjoyment.

Ok all you Bob and Bobina the Builders out there. You have all kinds of info to help you on your outdoor BBQ mission. Good luck.

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