Grilling isn't just a means of cooking food -- it's a passion for many. Little wonder, then, that adding a grill surround makes any type of grill -- from gas to coal -- better. It's not that the food tastes better with a surround, but that it provides a custom, built-in feel that improves the grilling experience. A surround also provides work space to hold plates, utensils or other items. Building simple brick walls around the grill, with an opening at front and clearance around the sides, is a simple project that takes less than an afternoon's time.
Things You'll Need
- Tape measure
- Premixed mortar (optional)
- Builder's sand
- Portland cement
- Large bucket
- 2-by-4-inch board
- Carpenter's level
- Masonry adhesive (optional)
- Weatherproof countertop
Position your grill where you wish it to be located once your surround is complete. Ensure it is a few feet away from the house and overhanging trees and branches or other fire hazards. Also check that there is clearance for the grill, along with about three feet extra on every side to allow you room to move around the grill when using it.
Measure your grill, front to back and side to side, to determine the minimum surround dimensions. Flip the grill hood open. Find the height, from the ground to the top of the hood when open, to find the maximum height of the surround.
Add 1 inch to the width measurements to provide a slight clearance on either side of the grill when situated inside your future surround. This clearance allows you to maneuver the grill out more easily to remove it from the enclosure when necessary. Depthwise, the clearance is not as important; add up to an inch or two if you want the grill to set back from the front of the surround or build the surround to the exact depth of the grill to create a flush front.
Transfer your measurements onto the patio surface. Square up the surround with the patio by measuring over from the edge to the proposed enclosure in several spots. Make sure these measurements are equal. Mark the flooring to guide the surround sides, measuring and marking each dimension in at least two places for each side. Align these marks with a straightedge to connect. Use a chalk line if preferred.
Lay the bricks in a dry run, building as many layers as necessary until you feel comfortable with the process and competent with your abilities. Start at one end of the surround, aligning the brick with the outside edge of the surround guide previously marked. This procedure ensures your brick does not encroach on the clearance area provided.
Mix 5 parts of builder's sand with 1 part Portland cement. Slowly stir in room temperature water, creating a mortar that is stiff yet still spreadable, like frosting. The exact amount of water will vary. Alternatively, purchase premixed mortar and stir before use.
Spread a frosting-like layer of mortar over the concrete slab or wood beneath the surround area. Use a trowel like a knife to apply an even layer. Try to avoid spreading it beyond the area needed to avoid difficult cleanups.
Place each brick in position, wide face down. Begin with two bricks running end to end, one on top of the other, and two running vertically right beside them. This is the front corner post. Using 4-by-8-inch bricks, this creates a 16-inch-wide post wall.
Work backward from the front post. The next set of bricks in the side wall will alternate brick placement. For instance, set two bricks vertically, side to side, and the next two, which are along the inner edge of the surround, running side to side -- again, one on top of the other. Continue similarly, staggering the placement until you reach the back edge of the surround side wall.
End the side with half bricks. Score bricks as necessary using a hammer and a chisel, breaking the brick in two with a hard blow once a cut line is completed. Lay the bricks similarly to the previous, but use half bricks for the sideways-running units. This will leave the back corner post half a brick short.
Begin the back bottom layer with a full brick that intrudes into the gap left from using a half brick on the back corner post. You will continue using a similar pattern for every other row until complete.
Spread mortar and lay a single row along the back surround wall. That is, two running sideways and two running vertically in a single line across the back. Cut a brick if necessary to allow you to run a full brick into the opposite surround corner post as you did the first cornet.
Work back toward the front with the final surround side. Lay a carpenter's level across the first layer of brick periodically to check for level. Place a 2-by-4-board across the bricks to protect them, and then pound firmly with a hammer to level as necessary.
Lay subsequent rows the same. Spread mortar across the previous layer of bricks and set the bricks with a staggered pattern. Continue until the back is high enough without blocking the grill lid from opening. Build the sides up further, if desired.
Squeeze a bead of masonry adhesive or use mortar on the top of the final side bricks. Place a weatherproof countertop material, such as stone or even a concrete slab, on top. Allow the construction to dry -- cure -- for two or three days before using.
Tips & Warnings
- You can use concrete blocks or other specialty blocks if desired. The number and placement of each will vary according to the block and the size of your grill. The basic principles, however, stay the same.
- Use eye protection when cutting bricks.
- Photo Credit Seiya Kawamoto/Digital Vision/Getty Images