How to Build Outdoor Grills

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Updated June 27, 2022

If you’re looking into how to build outdoor grills, your best bet is a brick barbecue in terms of access to materials and difficulty. While it can seem like a daunting project, it’s absolutely within reach even if you’re not that handy, if you follow some guidelines.

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • Checking your grill with a level at every step of the building process is crucial to making sure you finish with a fully functional grill that has structural integrity.
  • While your brick BBQ grill can be adapted to use gas depending on the grill kit you use, its basic design is meant with charcoal grilling in mind.
  • Build your grill in an open outdoor space with plenty of ventilation and at least five feet away from your house for the safest use, because a grill will create sparks and can cause fires. 

Even the best grill on the market can’t compete with the charm and simplicity of a homemade brick grill for outdoor cooking. While you’re looking into building one, you may want to look at how to clean a grill, how to dispose of an old grill, and how to use hardwood lump charcoal. Knowing your grill inside and out can help you maintain a functioning outdoor kitchen.

How to Build an Outdoor Grill

Building an outdoor grill or outdoor kitchen with a built-in grill structure can be a complicated and labor-heavy endeavor, but one of the simpler and easier ways to do it, even if you have limited space, is to build a brick barbeque. We’ll go over the basics step-by-step, many of which can apply to several different DIY grill designs, including those based on island plans. If you’re concerned about safety, you may want to look into how hot a charcoal grill gets. Note that this grill station plan may not be ideal for electric grills or pellet grills.

  • Difficulty: Intermediate
  • Tools Needed: Charcoal or gas grill set, bricks, brick setts, sand, cement, spirit level, shovel, trowel, tape measure, angle grinder (optional), paving slab (optional)
  • Time Required: one day
  • Steps: 10

Insider Tip

While most brick types will work, fire bricks are ideal since they’re usually not more expensive than other brick types and are much more heat resistant.

STEP 1

Using the cooking tray from the BBQ grill set as a guide, lay out the bottom level of bricks. Try to keep the bricks as a whole as possible so you won’t have to cut too many going forward.

STEP 2

Make your mortar by mixing five parts sand with one part cement. Add enough water as you mix until the consistency is stuff. Before you pour and spread the first layer of mortar, confirm the level of the building site and make changes if necessary by adding more (or putting in less) mortar.

STEP 3

Mark up the outer edge of the grill in your cement/mortar with a spirit level as a guideline for the first layer of bricks. Then check after you’ve laid the first layer with the level to make sure all your corners are at right angles.

STEP 4

Place a metal tie in the mortar joining the inner short wall and the longer wall. This provides added strength to the entire grill.

STEP 5

Begin adding further layers of bricks until you reach five layers, starting with the corners, staggering the vertical joints alternately the same width as half a brick.

STEP 6

Check to make sure that each corner of the grill is straight vertically, then check from each angle to make sure the entire grill is square.

STEP 7

When you’ve reached five layers/courses and the, check that the two sides are even using the spirit level and a length of wood.

STEP 8

Continue building to seven layers/courses. On the left-hand inner wall, place the bricks on their sides to make a ledge for the charcoal tray, then make a flush edge using a half brick on the outer edge.

STEP 9

Add three more layers/course and then add another layer with bricks placed on their sides to give support to the grill tray. Then create a clean edge by adding one more course of bricks, and check the levels once more to be sure it’s square.

STEP 10

If you’d like to add a work surface, prep space, or counter space, mortar a paving slab on top of the brick walls.

Warning

This DIY outdoor grill is designed for a person of average height (5’7″-5’10”). Since the grilling surface should be waist high, just as it would be for an indoor kitchen, you always measure for the height you want the grill to sit at and build based on that, using more or fewer bricklayers as needed.

F.A.Q.S

What kind of bricks should you use for an outdoor BBQ?

For the outside of the structure, most kinds of brick will work fine, but for the inside or any major heat-adjacent areas, fire bricks should be used. Fire bricks have the highest resistance to heat and won’t crack during long periods of use.


How far away from your house should you use a grill?

This is especially important if your house has vinyl siding, which can literally melt if exposed to excessive heat. Generally, you should place a grill far enough away from a structure so that sparks and ambient heat can’t reach it and you have plenty of extra space for maneuvering. Usually, five feet should be enough for most outdoor kitchens.


Can leftover paver bricks be used to build an outdoor BBQ?

While you could use leftover paver bricks from another project for your outdoor grill, the best bricks to use for this are firebricks, which are more heat resistant.



STAT: More than 2/3rds of the grills sold in 2020 were either gas or charcoal. (source)

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