Outdoor Veneer Fireplace- September 2014
As you can tell from past articles and our galleries, outdoor fireplaces are becoming an increasingly large aspect of our masonry trade. Past clients have referred to fireplaces we’ve built as “…a Zen garden in our backyard that we enjoy immensely and is the envy of our neighbors. It is the focal point of many family gatherings. An outdoor fireplace creates a warm, inviting environment that is irresistible.”
In our most recent project, we were hired to pick up where a previous mason contractor was sent off. The client’s project entailed the building of an outdoor gazebo complete with stone pillars and an outdoor gas fireplace. As a result of the previous mason’s poor craftsmanship with the construction of the stone pillars, the client dropped the company half way through the project and sought out an experienced masonry contracting company who could bring their vision of the fireplace to life properly. They feared falling through with the masonry contractor they hired as a result of the poor craftsmanship displayed. That’s where we came in.
*Here is picture of our stonework. As you can see, the placing of the stones is very clean, square, and appealing to the eye:
*Now, here is an example of the work of the previous Mason hired for the job. The stones aren't placed square, the joints are thick, you can see cement marks, and there isn't the slightest form of repetition or pattern:
Stone veneer is becoming a increasingly popular form of stonework in today's world of masonry. For those of you who are unfamiliar with veneer, there are generally man made stones shaped from concrete. Once shaped, they are shaded and textured to resemble real stone. They are much thinner and thus lighter than classic stones. The common assumption by clients and unskilled masons is that these veneers can be easily installed by anyone since some quarry companies advertise them as “lick em and stick em” forms of stonework. This generalization could not be further from the truth, and these photos of comparison between our work and other bucks county masonry contractors serve as an example.
We started this outdoor fireplace the same way we start any and all of our stonework projects, with a strong foundation. So many mason contractors today are under the assumption that it’s only certain forms of masonry and stonework that need a solid foundation. This couldn’t be further from the truth. As years pass and the earth shifts, solid foundations are a core element which separates the projects that lasts months from the projects that last generations.
After the concrete for the foundation set for several days to ensure strength, we began building the frame for the fireplace out of cinder-blocks and build the firebox out of firebricks. It was requested that the outdoor fireplace be gas operated, so we took that into consideration when building the frame and planned accordingly by setting up the necessary natural gas pipelines. Once the frame was built, we began construction of the stonework. The client requested that the majority of the outdoor fireplace’s base be faced with the veneer, and only partially stuccoed on the upper half.
After a week of taking the necessary time and consideration for placement of each veneer, the fireplace was complete. Needless to say, they were beyond satisfied with the work of the fireplace. So much so, that they are considering having us redo the rest of the job from the previous mason.