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Outdoor Fireplace Build

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A patio fireplace is a delightful way to extend your outdoor living during the cooler seasons. Whether you choose a wood or gas fireplace, the design & construction techniques are similar. Follow along as we take you through a typical construction project. This particular fireplace is under a roofed portal, but it could just as easily be built in the open or under a shaded ramada.

Wood framing with finish stucco is common in Santa Fe. Steel stud framing, masonry block, or stone are other construction choices. Whether you do the work or you use a licensed contractor, be sure to adhere to applicable building codes, and in particular, be sure to follow the manufacturer instructions for products you install.

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Left: Arrow shows the planned location of the fireplace in the corner of the portal. Chimney will go between the roof rafters.
Middle: Fireplace sits on a wood platform at the desired height. Virtually all manufactured fireplaces have an insulated bottom so the unit itself can sit directly on wood. A section of chimney is on the fireplace to aid in planning the exact final location.
Right: Cutting the roof for the chimney penetration. Safety first! Wear eye & ear protection, sturdy shoes, gloves, etc.

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Left: A pair of offset elbows align chimney between the rafters. The square metal plate is a required firestop which attaches to the rafters. Dangling metal straps will be screwed to the rafters to support the chimney.
Middle: Completed chimney with cap. Roof braces stabilize the exposed chimney from winds that can exert considerable pressure against the chimney. Alternatively, a chimney chase structure is commonly built to enclose the chimney and finished to match the house.
Right: Test fire the unfinished yet functional fireplace. Do this before the fireplace & chimney are enclosed, so that any issues can be resolved  while items are still accessible.

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Left: Bancos with firewood storage underneath. The gray board & wood pieces in the hearth area temporarily there for planning the finished hearth height.
Middle: Fireplace and banco walls are framed. Metal standoffs above the fireplace keep wood framing from directly touching the top of the unit.
Right: Framing for the chimney is in place.  Be sure to follow manufacturers requirements for clearances to wood. Insulation may be put between the studs, but do not place insulation directly touching chimney or fireplace surfaces.

This construction was done entirely with recycled wood from the old portal and scrap from the new portal.  Hence the mashup of dimension lumber, plywood, glue lams, & TGI. A penny saved is a penny earned.

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Left: Bricks were used to meet the manufacturer requirement for thickness of non-combustible material under the hearth.
Middle: Framing is skinned with construction board. This project used 1/4" thick Hardi-Backer brand.
Right: Fireplaces like this are often framed directly against the portal structure, but here the beams, post, and corbels were left exposed. The notch in the chimney chase required careful measuring. Note how the construction boards do not meet directly, resulting in more rounded corners when the stucco is applied.

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Left: When projects proceed at a leisurely Santa Fe pace, Christmas still gets celebrated.
Middle: Black water resistant construction paper is applied and then covered with metal lath.
Right: A plaster coat is applied over the lath.  Fireplace doors have been installed to prevent wind from blowing ashes out of the firebox.

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Left: Finished structure leaves beam and corbel exposed.
Right: Color stucco has been applied. Banco seating surfaces were given a smooth troweled finish.  Dimmable LED accent lighting highlights the fireplace when not in use.

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