At this home in Concord, MA we are hired for an outdoor fireplace installation at the back patio. The homeowner wants a fireplace that throws a lot of heat, and that has a nice hearth for sitting on so they can enjoy the patio and fireplace during the colder months. To accommodate this we design a custom Rumford Fireplace. Named after Count Rumford’s design from the late 1700’s, the Rumford Fireplace is a tall, shallow fireplace that narrows towards the back and reflects more heat outwards. We follow the specified dimensions for the firebox itself, and then we custom design the surrounding stonework.
The fireplace design has a wide, wrap around hearth good for seating, and a cavity below for wood storage. The face of the fireplace is handsome and proportional with sloped sides and a chimney matching the width of the firebox. We will use a gray stacked stone veneer, granite for the hearth and caps, and reclaimed wood for the mantle.
Outdoor Fireplace Installation
First we excavate and pour a concrete pad, and then block up the hearth. Once the hearth is up we start the brickwork for the firebox. The firebox is made from a special brick and mortar both of which can withstand very high heat.
As the firebox goes up we block around it forming the body of the fireplace. Once we reach the top of the firebox we need to transition the opening to meet the chimney. This is either done by corbeling the brick, or by using precast Rumford parts. In this case we corbel the brick until meeting the 1′ x 1′ size of the chimney liner.
Once the first chimney liner is in we are done with the brickwork and continue blocking up the slopes and chimney until we reach full height.
Fireplace Veneer and Cap Installation
The blockwork for the outdoor fireplace installation is done and now we can begin the finish work of capping and veneering. First we make a test fire to make sure the fireplace is drawing properly. Proper draw is important for any fireplace so the smoke goes up and away and not out the front. Outdoor fireplaces can be extra challenging in that swirling winds, downdrafts, and other outdoor variables can blow smoke where you don’t want it. To guard against this we make sure the opening of the fireplace, chimney liner, and chimney height are all to the proper proportions to ensure the best possible draw. In this case the fireplace is drawing great and no adjustments need to be made.
The hearth goes in and we veneer up the face until reaching the sloped portion of the caps. The sloped caps take some extra care as it is a steep slow, so we pin them onto the backing block with metal ties before mortaring them in place.
Once the caps are on and dry we continue veneering. We leave a wooden spacer where the mantle will go and finish veneering to the top.
The mantle is a hand hewn hardwood beam that we pick out from an architectural salvage yard. We pin it onto the face to give it a ‘floating shelf’ look without the need for any corbels or brackets below.
The mantle is in. Next we add a granite cap to the top of the chimney, give everything a cleaning, and the outdoor fireplace installation is complete and ready to enjoy.