How to Use Refractory Cement

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Refractory cement is also called firebrick cement.
Refractory cement is also called firebrick cement. (Image: Thinkstock/Comstock/Getty Images)

Refractory cement is used for building brick or stone fireplaces, barbecues or other installations which are subjected to intense heat. While refractory cement is similar to standard cement in how it is mixed, it differs significantly from standard cement in the use of one ingredient. Rather than using Portland cement for a cementing agent in the mixture, refractory cement uses a compound called calcium aluminate instead. This provides the heat-resistant properties needed.

Things You'll Need

  • Refractory cement mix
  • Water
  • Mixing container
  • Trowel
  • Garden hoe
  • Plastic sheeting

Dump the dry refractory cement into a mixing container such as a wheelbarrow or a bucket.

Add water to the mixture and mix with a garden hoe until it has reached the consistency of peanut butter.

Apply the refractory cement to the surface on which it is being installed using a trowel. Like typical cement, the more you run the trowel across the surface of the cement, the smoother it will be as the smaller chunks of sand or broken-up firebrick sink and the smoother, lighter elements of the refractory cement rise to the top. With enough working, you can actually apply a semi-glossy surface to the cement, ideal if you are constructing a pizza oven.

Lay plastic sheeting over the surface of the cement. This will cause it to cure more slowly, preventing the formation of cracks in the surface. After five to seven days, remove the plastic sheeting and leave the refractory cement to cure for another two to three days before using the installation.

Tips & Warnings

  • Refractory cement is applied using the same principles as typical cement, and can be worked with the same tools.

References

  • "Building with Masonry: Brick, Block, and Concrete"; Dick Kreh; 1998
  • "Working with Concrete"; Rick Arnold; 2003
  • "Black & Decker: The Complete Guide to Masonry & Stonework"; Editors of Creative Publishing; 2010
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