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How To Build A Fireplace From The Ground Level Up

1. THE HOLE. When looking at how to build a fireplace, get the foundation right and half your job is done. Mark off the desired area with stakes and string, allowing at least 1" extension beyond desired foundation size. Dig out this area to a depth of 10" to 12".
2. THE FORM. Build a form of l" x 6" or wider boards. Set it in the hole and nail to stakes at each corner. Be sure tops of alt boards are level and corners are square, and that the form rises 2" to 4" above the ground The slab may be slightly sloped for water drainage.
3. THE BASE. Using a mixture of sand and gravel, fill the form to about 6" from the top. Tamp until firm and level. This will provide good drainage beneath the slab and help prevent frost damage.
4. THE CEMENT. Use a ready-mixed ce­ment or mix your own from one part cement, three parts clean sand, and four parts gravel. Mix the dry ingre­dients first and add just enough water to make the mixture workable.
5. THE REINFORCING. After laying a few inches of concrete, place a strip of heavy wire fencing or other reinforcing material on this layer, then fill with concrete to the top of the form. Tie down reinforcing form with tie wires driven into the ground to prevent float­ing of reinforcement.
6. THE FINISHING. Level the concrete with a board long enough to rest on the sides of the form, sawing it back and forth. Do not remove the wooden form for at least a week, but your work can go on after a couple of days.

When continuing on with what you know about how to build a fireplace, take time on this phase of your building and you will save time on the rest. A sturdy, level foundation makes the whole job progress better, look better, and last years longer by withstanding frost damage. A foundation of this type, if not connected to any adjoining structure, will be free to ride up and down with the rising and falling of the earth. If your slab is exposed to the hot sun. it should be covered with wet burlap to prevent drying out the top too quickly. If a completely smooth concrete slab is desired, sprinkle raw cement on the slab as it begins to "set-up." Trowel off smoothly.

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