More of us are swapping our frying pans and ovens for a barbecue. Not only is it the healthy option, but it’s also a fun way to cook when the sun is shining.
If you want to make the barbecue a more permanent feature in your garden the ideal solution is to build your own. A well-built barbecue will provide you with hundreds of char-grilled meals, with the obvious advantage of not having to worry where to store it every winter.
Our online guide provides step-by-step instructions for building a basic rectangular brick barbecue. To ensure that you use your bbq safely we’ve also included general safety do’s and don’ts, and the seven golden rules for barbecuing.
Building the BBQ Base
Begin by digging a small trench, approximately 12 inches wide by 9 inches deep, make it in the shape that you want your barbecue. Compact the bottom of the trench by stamping it down before filling it in with cement; you will need to use coarse cement, this can be bought ready-mixed so all you have to do is add water.
Mix the cement on a board measuring at least 3 feet square. Pour the dry concrete mix in the centre of the board making a hole in the top like a volcano. Pour water from a watering can into the centre of the heap. Using a shovel, scoop dry mix from the base of the heap and add it to the centre until it is full.
Make another hole in the top and repeat the process until the mixture is thoroughly wet and a uniform colour. Using the shovel with the face towards you chop into the pile, as if you were slicing it, to eliminate air pockets and ensure an even mix.
Shovel the concrete mix into the trench and tamp it down using the edge of a small board. Check it is reasonably level and leave for a couple of days to harden. Put some sacking or similar material over the top to protect it from frost or direct sunlight.
If you are building your barbecue on top of a patio you should not need to construct a base, simply build onto it. You must however, check that it is level.
When the concrete has hardened start by mixing up the mortar for bricklaying. This can be done in a similar way as used for mixing the concrete. Adding mortar plasticiser will give a smoother mortar, making it easier to use. Use the mortar to lay a row of bricks on top of your foundation, buttering the bottom and edges of each brick. Constantly check, using a spirit level, that the horizontal and vertical surfaces are level.
Start with the corners of the barbecue structure, building them up at first, by three or four bricks before attempting to build up between them. Use a string line stretched across the two corners to ensure that they line up with each other.
You will need to build brackets into the second and third row of bricks from the top of the barbecue. The lower set will hold the fuel tray, while the upper set will support the grill – it is important that you place the brackets ensuring the tray and grill sit comfortably on them, making sure they are level.
After you have completed every third row you should smooth the mortar between the bricks to give a flush and pleasant appearance – this is called pointing. Dry lay a few rows at first to make sure you are happy with the shape and position before committing yourself to proper bricklaying.
Point the vertical joints before starting the horizontal ones, lightly brushing any mortar off the surface of the bricks. When you have reached the desired height you may want to cap the barbecue wall with either coping stones or hard engineering bricks in order to give a more durable finish.
You should leave the barbecue for at least 48 hours to harden before using it.