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How to Build an Awesome Outdoor Fireplace: An Interview with Randy Pape of Estonework

By Randy Pape

Please tell us a little bit about your company and the services you offer.

I have been in business for 37 years. We specialize in all phases of residential masonry. From stone facing on houses, swimming pool decks,walkways, patios, walls, stairs, porches, outdoor kitchens, BBQ. We do everything on residential masonry.

What are some of the basic decisions homeowners need to make before building an outdoor fireplace, or fire pit?

What are they trying to accomplish? A primary focal point, highly used or not, capacity for seating and most important now is gas or wood burning.

What should be taken into consideration for the location of the fireplace?

There are quite a few dictating forces for fire pits or fireplaces. First would be visibility, seating, primary wind direction and size, height and width.

Can you briefly talk about a few of the most popular designs and materials for outdoor fireplaces in Connecticut?

Originally it was about 8 feet wide with the fireplace in the middle. There would be a mantle at the top of the firebox and the chimney would narrow to 3' by 2' for 6 or more feet. Fieldstone was the the most popular and now split face fieldstone so the surface is clean and bright, not weathered and darkened.

What do you think are one or two of the biggest differences between hiring a professional mason/paver to build your fire pit versus doing it yourself?

Knowing your limitations. Most of the homemade ones are a circle of stone on dirt. A professional knows the foundation is the most important ingredient in any masonry project.

Do you have any tips about maintenance after the outdoor fireplace is built?

They are usually maintenance free. Be sure when they are built there are two drain holes in the back to allow rainfall to escape. Other than that just keep the firebox clean when not in use, just like an inside fireplace.

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