With just enough prep time before the warm South Africa weather arrives, Sephaku Cement shares top DIY tips to build a concrete braai in time for summer. There’s nothing quite like the sweet smoky smell of meat sizzling on a wood or charcoal fire, but there’s one thing that makes the experience that much more impressive – burning a fire on your own DIY braai!

One of the most commonly celebrated characteristics of our heritage and even with its own public holiday positioned on National Heritage Day (Braai day) on the 24th of September, braai-ing is one of South Africa’s most favoured pastimes. Where many of us rely on portable braai equipment such as the trusty Weber, gas braai alternatives or other portable options, nothing beats a concrete barbeque catered for in your outdoor entertainment area. 

To follow find tips to building possibly one of the easiest DIY installations you can add to your outdoor entertainment area, see Sephaku Cement’s steps to building your own barbeque.

Tip 1: Best Braai by Design

The most sensible place to begin building a concrete braai is to start by preparing a sketch or plan of what your ideal concrete braai design looks like. Include measurements, clearance, foundations as well as materials and finishes. The more detailed the blueprint of your concrete barbeque is, the less chance of error and omission of critical considerations.

Tip 2: A Sound Foundation     

With your concrete braai design in hand pay as close attention to the foundation as what you would to the aesthetics of your DIY braai. The most ideal material used to form your braai’s foundation would be to begin with a sunken subgrade of level set concrete which can then be followed by the desired masonry work.

Tip 3: The Build

With a sturdy foundation in place you can now begin to translate your concrete barbeque design into reality. Placing bricks set 1cm apart, glued together with a cement mortar mix. Be sure to use a level, guided by a Mason’s string line so that your brickwork is evenly placed. Building layer by layer allow for some time between each level for the concrete mortar to gain strength and cure, firming up each layer as you go. With various masonry design techniques, make sure to stick with your layout so that the brick work is consistent and uniform.

Tip 4: Make space for the Grill

As your brickwork gains momentum don’t forget to account for space for the grill. For first time builders keep things simple avoiding designs such as a vaulted oven. The best approach is to follow a pyramid design that has a square base for the charcoal and wood. Secure the grilling area to the sides of the staggered bricks anchoring a frame between brick layers into the cement mortar. Creating a movable grate, place two pairs of brackets at different heights that will allow varied levels of heat for grilling.

Tip 5: the Finish

For a more smooth and polished appearance once the brickwork has been placed, before the mortar has completely dried, using a gloved finger, smooth the mortar between the bricks removing any excess. Where opting to place cladding, once secured use a soapy sponge to remove cement stains, splashes and debris cleaning the surface of the cobbles.

So simple to install and offering striking aesthetic appeal to patios and Lapa’s, from brickwork to cladding, built to fit or free standing, a DIY braai brings all the boys and girls to your yard!