It was always our dream to build a firepit.  We had a ton of bricks leftover from when the french doors were put in and thought it would be cool to use them for the firepit.  Neither of us had ever laid brick before – we figured it couldn’t be that difficult.

We poured a concrete pad on the ground, which was about 18 inches below the deck floor.  We used concrete block to build the firepit walls up to the deck level.  From that point we used 4″ block for the interior of the firepit and brick for the exterior.

I don’t think we would ever try to lay brick for something structural or taller than a few feet.  But for a firepit that is only a couple feet tall it looks great.

Getting started - you can see the hole in the deck that we built the firepit up and out of.

Miriam is toiling away in the hot sun. It was my job to keep the mortar wet and take photos.

Masonry block is in place. Laying the first course of brick.


The first time we used the firepit. It kept the deck from burning down so I suppose it was a success.


Building a deck was high on our list of things to do.  The big things we wanted to include were different levels, space for a large table (or two), and a firepit.  We had to go big to fit all that in.  I think the deck will always be a work in progress – a year after we first built it we are still making changes.  We added steps from the lowest level to the yard a few weeks ago and right now are in the process of redoing the railing around the upper level.

The deck is framed with 2×12’s and 2×8’s.  With the exception of the upper level of the deck we did not use any posts – we leveled all our pilings with each other.  From there it was easy to lay our 2×12’s down and start framing.

We used composite decking for the floor.  We went with the Home Depot house brand, Veranda.  It was almost half the price of the Trex.  The downside is that the colors are not as rich.  We did the deck in gray with red trim.  A year later the colors have faded a lot – I’m not sure if this is common to all composite decking or only the cheaper brands.

The beginning - rough framing of Monster Deck

We used over 1,200 linear feet of board and 2,000 joist hanger nails for the frame.

We used red for the edging. Thankfully my uncles provided help screwing in all the planks. Even with four people helping out it still took a few days.

We built a deck bridge out to the gate. Previously there were steps inside the gate that became a muddy mess in the rain.