So you went big-time and bought that super deluxe multi-burner barbecue grill for your summer entertaining, and now its time to fire it up and start enjoying all of the bounty it will provide. But something is not right. It sits in the yard leaning a little to one side and the weeds are starting to grow around it, hardly a grand stage for such a prized possession.
Building a small brick patio for your grill, with enough room for you to stand on, may seem intimidating. Don’t be fooled. This project is easy and with some sweat equity it can be done by just about any homeowner.
The tools you will need are more than likely in the garage, but not very expensive if you don’t already have them. You’ll need a tape measure, shovel, garden rake, rubber mallet, push broom, and a level. Depending upon the border you choose you may also need a saw, screw gun, and a hammer. Since you’ll be hauling some heavy stuff from the car to the patio site a wheelbarrow will come in handy, too. Borrow one if you don’t have one, or remember to “bend at the knees” when picking up the heavy items.
The materials you need are relatively inexpensive for the value and beauty of the end result. Three-quarter inch gravel, sand, landscape fabric, and two-inch by six-inch pressure treated lumber are all that’s required for the base. The amount of material you will need depends on the size of the patio you decide to build. Consider the footprint of your grill and measure its length and width. Make your patio as long and add at least two feet in width, so the grill master has standing room to perform.
Choosing the pavers for the patio surface can be overwhelming since there are so many different styles available. For a first timer, go with the simple red brick kind. They are easy to handle, simple to layout and won’t break the bank at approximately fifty cents each. If you choose the averaged sized 4 inch by 8 inch brick you can guesstimate about 4-1/2 bricks for every square foot.
Finding a good spot for the patio is essential. Don’t set the grill too close to the house because it will throw off a lot of heat and could melt your vinyl siding. This sounds obvious, but it’s a common mistake. Look for a level place away from tree roots and underground utility lines. Avoid placing the grill under a porch, gazebo, or trellis because a grease flair-up can burn more than just the hair on your arms.
Before you can start work you need to decide on the pattern for the bricks. Patterns are only limited by your imagination. I find the basket weave to be the easiest and, if you measure correctly, you will not have to cut any bricks. It’s simple, two bricks placed in one direction set next to two bricks in the other direction. With the 4 x 8 brick the width of two bricks will be equal to length of one and this creates a nice and easy to set pattern.
To create the base, dig out a rectangle approximately six-inches deep and the length and width of your desired patio. Add four inches to the length and width for the border. Be sure the ground is free of rocks, roots, and any other debris and it is as level as possible with a slight slope for drainage. This type of dug out patio holds together better than one that just sits on top of the ground.
Using a pressure treated two inch by six inch board, make a frame, which is the border for the patio. This is the toughest part of the process and where your patience and math skills come into play. Make sure the bricks, in your chosen pattern, fit tightly inside this frame. Screw the frame together with exterior screws made for pressure treated lumber and make sure it sits flat and level. The top edge of the frame will be the height of the patio surface.
If you were good in algebra class and have a little more time to spend on this project, consider using bricks for the border. If you stand them up shoulder to shoulder and level off the tops they create a very nice finished look.
Dump the gravel inside the frame in small piles and spread it out evenly with a rake to a depth of approximately four inches. Using the hand tamper, compact the gravel until you have a firm base.
On top of the gravel, spread a layer of landscape fabric. This helps prevent any weeds from growing up through the brick while allowing any water to drain through.
The final step in creating the base is a layer of sand. Pour about two inches of sand on top of the landscape fabric and use a board to level it out. Fill any low spots and flatten any high spots. Use the tamper again to compact the sand.
Now you are ready to set the brick. With a good base and properly sized border it is like doing a jigsaw puzzle with all the pieces the same size and shape. Start in one corner and press the bricks in the sand keeping them as close together as possible. Tap the bricks down with the rubber mallet to set them in the sand. Make sure when the bricks are set they are flush with the top of the border. Try to avoid kneeling on the sand while you work, use a small board to avoid knee divots.
Once you have set all of your bricks, spread some sand over top of them. Use the push broom to sweep the sand into the cracks. This will help lock the bricks together. Lightly spray the bricks with the garden hose to help work the sand into the cracks. Wait until it is dry and then spread a little more sand on top. Use the push broom to fill the cracks and remove the excess.
The patio is ready for immediate use.
Giving your barbecue grill a stylish patio may not make the food taste any better, but it will definitely create a presentation that’s worth showing off.
Jason Gurskis is a licensed home improvement contractor based in Mystic Island, New Jersey dedicated to making homes more comfortable, durable, and energy efficient.