Thinking about buying a masonry BBQ? You need our masonry BBQ buying guide, containing the insight and facts you need to make the right choice, pick the right model, and enjoy the fun to the max. Here goes.
Masonry BBQ facts – We’re talking permanent
Masonry is another word for stonework or brickwork. And that means masonry BBQs are heavy items, made from brick or natural stone, composite concrete or reconstituted stone. Whatever you go for, it’ll be dense and weighty. And that means a stone BBQ is a permanent fixture, not a thing you’d want to move around.
This isn’t an item you’d choose if you’re moving house any time soon, unless you’re adding to the property’s value by optimising the attraction of the garden. Ask yourself this: do you really want a permanent BBQ, one that’s going to stay in the same place?
Why masonry BBQ size matters
Next, size. These things are so nice-looking and so much fun to use, it’s easy to get carried away. Think twice before buying the biggest in the collection. Will you be feeding the five thousand every weekend or cooking for two, three or four now and again? How big is your garden? Will a huge barbie dwarf the space, making it feel all squashed and uncomfortable? How often will you really be cooking out there?
Catering for all tastes, we have a choice of stone BBQs from mid-sized to absolutely huge. The Tampere model below, for example, is 195cm tall, 68cm deep and 99cm wide with a 112cm wide mantelpiece. It’s suitable for smaller spaces like this town garden.
This model, the Rondo in lighter colours, is a bit bigger at 206cm high, 119cm wide and 77cm deep.
At the other end of the scale there’s this massive Palazzetti, measuring 270cm wide, 70cm deep, and 237cm high.
Permanent BBQ building tactics – Consider the immediate area
You’ve decided you want one, and you know what size you need, but it still isn’t the time to buy. Your next big decision is the place you’re going to built it. Think about all this before deciding where to put a permanent brick barbie:
- Where does the sun fall throughout the day, and throughout the year? Will you end up too hot because you’ve built it in the full sun? Will you feel chilly when cooking because you’ve built it in the shade or a place where the wind howls through the garden?
- Is there enough room for people to move around in front of and/or behind it? Or have you created an impossible space that isn’t practical unless everyone sits down and stays sat down? Is there room for you to cook, carry food, and serve food, or have you backed yourself into a corner?
- Is it sociable enough? You’ll probably want to place the BBQ so you’re cooking facing people, not with your back to everyone – can you do that?
- Think about the plants. They don’t like being close to fire, so either prune them back, move them, or choose a space where they’re far enough away. Make it at least 1m, which also happens to be the kind of free space you need around a BBQ anyway, for people to move around safely and comfortably
- Our bigger brick BBQs come with cooking areas, built-in surfaces where you can prepare food and plate it up. If you buy a smaller one – which is still pretty large – you’ll maybe want to add a brick or stone built cooking surface next to it, or one on either side. If so make sure there’s room
- Think about the future. Might you want to expand your outdoor entertaining area to add more seating and cook for more people? If so choose a good-sized brick BBQ so you don’t end up wanting more, stuck with a big permanent BBQ that isn’t quite big enough
Tip: Make a quick, simple and low cost food prep area using lightweight breezeblocks, usually around £2 each. Use something more attractive like stone cladding to cover the raw breezeblock box you’ve made, mosaic them, paint them, whatever you like. Then make a worktop for the surface out of marble or stone kitchen worktop material, just like a regular kitchen unit, but outdoors. Real stone can safely go outside unless it’s a very porous stone that absorbs water so could crack in a severe frost. Ask before you buy.
Think about the wider setting
As we’ve mentioned, plants don’t like being near fire. A low-hanging tree isn’t the best place for a big stone BBQ to go under. If the only place is under a tree you could lop off the lower branches. The tree will probably be happier with that than being burned every time you barbecue.
These heavy items need a good, solid base to stand on. The weight means you can’t really build one on a lawn, wooden deck or composite deck. The mighty Palazzo, for example, weighs 950g. Place it directly on the earth or turf and it can sink or topple over when the soil gets soft. The last thing you need is a wonly barbecue.
You’ll need a solid foundation: a flat stone, concrete, gravelled or paved surface that’s man enough for the job. Ask a builder or do it yourself. We like what they’ve done with the Mediterrani model above, sitting on a flat gravel surface in a classy modern setting. Nice.
Build the barbecue a sensible distance from a wooden garden fence, shed, or any other wooden or flammable structure. And figure out the prevailing wind direction to see where the smoke will go. While modern BBQs like these are designed to minimise smoke, if there is any you won’t want it to blow directly through your neighbours’ patio doors!
What style do you like best?
Choose a rounded model like the Rondo or a half-circle style like the Tampere for a softer, more natural look. Can you picture either of these in your garden? They come in different colour-ways too, to suit different gardens. Would you prefer a dark stone masonry barbecue a lot like basalt, or a paler one with a grey and golden slate look?
Pick something chunky and funky for a classic barbie look. We have several brick barbecue designs to choose from made from actual red brick, USA-style, plus others with a Mediterranean feel in top quality refractory concrete with contrasting Marmotech shelving, as tough as stone. See the large Pan American grill below, with its smart red brick and black finish.
There’s a variety of colour-ways, from pale to darker tones. See what kind of colour scheme will look best in your garden, and ask yourself if you want the barbecue to stand out or blend into the background.
How will it fit in with your garden furniture?
This isn’t just about buying a stone barbecue. It’s about the whole alfresco experience. Your BBQ sits at the heart of everything, the source of warmth and light and wonderful food. How will you arrange your garden furniture around it?
You could guess. But that’s not the best idea. Try measuring, and measure everything at least twice. Don’t mix up your centimetres with your inches either – we’ve seen it happen, and it isn’t funny. There’s such a big difference.
- If you’ve already bought your garden furniture, life is a bit easier. You just have to fit the right BBQ in the remaining space
- If you haven’t bought your outdoor furniture yet, you’ll need to leave enough space for it as well as the barbie
You can either plan everything at once or build the BBQ first and take the rest from there. Will you want a garden dining set or one or more bistro sets? How about loungers? Maybe a coffee table?
There’s more to think about. Do you have space for a garden candle lamp or two, a great way to mark out the space and make it feel more like an indoor room outdoors. How about adding lush displays of blooms on plant stands and plant shelves? It all needs to fit into the area while giving people enough room to get up and down, carry food and drinks, and move around each other safely.
Tip: Aim for a sociable space with the BBQ at the core and the furniture facing it, so the chef doesn’t feel left out. If you’re stuck about how to arrange everything, think how you’ve arranged your living room and treat the BBQ like the TV. That’s the kind of natural layout you’ll enjoy most in the garden, too. If you can make your BBQ setting work in the same sort of way, you’ve nailed it.
Masonry BBQ buying guide – What is your garden access like?
These come direct to you from the manufacturer, which is good news because their delivery people are used to dropping off heavy, large items like this. They will contact you to discuss everything and make sure you’re prepared. They’ll deliver to your doorstep, and the rest is down to you. Check the weight of the stone or brick BBQ you want to buy and make sure you get help to shift everything into your garden if the manufacturer recommends it, or if you can’t do it on your own. Many of the ones we sell recommend two or three people for the job.
Easy to assemble whether you’re good at DIY or lost in space
Stone BBQs tend to come in sections you fix together with a special adhesive, either provided or easy to find online. Whichever model you choose, you shouldn’t find the assembly part of the job a challenge. You can tell from the photos it isn’t difficult. The pieces go together logically and you’ll get full instructions. Some of them require two people to assemble. It shouldn’t take long, usually less than an hour.
The only thing we need to say now is happy BBQ-ing! We hope you’ve found our masonry BBQ buying guide handy, and we hope you love your fantastic stone or brick BBQ.