Concrete/mortar question - The HuntingPA.com Outdoor Community
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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-25-2011, 01:17 AM Thread Starter
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Concrete/mortar question

I am going to rebuild my fire pit up at camp, but I want to do it 'right' this time - and make this the "last" time I re-build the pit.

My current/old one has a set of metal window wells bent inward slightly and bolted together to form a circle. I cemented flat stones against it (vertically) and the mortar cracked and the stones are loose or falling off because of the heat. I will be starting with the new window wells, and use a lot more stones cemented flat horizontally around it, and filling the gap between the stones and the metal with "soupy" concrete mortar mix to fill it like a form and make it much stronger and wider.

BUT - I want to use the same mortar used in fireplaces, and have been told that there is a fire/heat-proof mortar mix that is used in fireplaces... I asked at Lowes, Home Depot, and a couple other places and they said they did not have that mortar mix.

...Aren't there stone and brickwork contractors going there to get supplies to build fireplaces?...

Does anyone know where to find fire/heat resistant mortar mix? I have been told that there is a type or grade "S" mortar mix that is harder - and easier to find. Will this work for fireplaces and fire pits? Any ideas or suggestions from the HuntingPA masses who do brickwork?
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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-25-2011, 01:43 AM
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Re: Concrete/mortar question

I did refractory work for 15 years, you want to get refractory castable. It will mix like cement, get hard like it, and it will withstand the temperatures. I'd run a search on refractory contractors and suppliers, you should find something in your area.
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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-25-2011, 01:45 AM
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Re: Concrete/mortar question

The castable I mentioned would be used in your form, they sell refractory mortar also, usually in 55 lb buckets for firebrick, but do not make your joints like regular red brick or block. A standard joint in firebrick is 1/8"
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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-25-2011, 12:05 PM
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Re: Concrete/mortar question

Ttype "S" mortar is a stone mason's mortar. Better suited for laying stone as opposed to the types "M" or "N" used for brick/block. That said, it does nothing to solve your heat issue. Honestly, your best option would be to lay fire brick in the manner you want the pit to look (as opposed to window wells), then use the stone as the veneer to cover the outside face of the firebrick. That should ensure longevity of your firepit.

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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-25-2011, 01:00 PM
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Re: Concrete/mortar question

Go to a regular brick and block yard, they will have fire rated mortar and cement. Take a wide path from Lowes or Home depot when it comes to professional applications like this, they generally have no idea what they are talking about. Glen-Gerry brick yards are national, if you search the web you should be able to find one close to you.

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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-25-2011, 06:31 PM
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Re: Concrete/mortar question

Refractory mortar most likely will not do what you want to do. Refractory mortar is not like regular Type N, S or M mortars. It's a lot more runny. And fishkrane is right...the joints are more along the line of 1/8 of an inch in lieu of 3/8 of an inch. When using refractory mortar, it's more of a "smearing of the brick" instead of "buttering the brick." It will actually run off of the brick if you spread it on too thick. If you're looking for mortar to lay up stonework, you may just want to use a lime mortar and point it with Type N mortar.

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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-25-2011, 09:13 PM
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Re: Concrete/mortar question

my ring is a 22.5 truck rim. welded 4 legs on it to keep off the ground. rock just piled around it. rock gets warm on a cool evening and if a kid happens to fall on them the outer ones arn't in contact with the ring so they don't get burnt. also have a cleaning out piece where there arn't lower rocks , so the ash can be shoveled out from under

if you bought it, a trucker brought it
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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-25-2011, 09:52 PM
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Re: Concrete/mortar question

...unless you are below the frost line..you are wasting your time and even then...without a footer and a moisture barrier on the outside(plus its exposed to nature on the inside since its an open pit)...good luck..you will still repair it even if you are using refactory grade stuff..Very little stops mother nature and frost....Especially when installed wrong...just my 2 cents...

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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-25-2011, 11:43 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Concrete/mortar question

Thanks everyone - and more input encouraged/accepted - for the advice.

Maybe I 'will' have to keep fixing it - but I hope to get quite a few years between repairs.
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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-31-2011, 11:27 AM
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Re: Concrete/mortar question

just a few tips..i am a mason..so here you go..first off type n and s mortars are BOTH ! for laying brick and block or stone..i always use type s because it gets harder..which may or may not be a good thing, depending on its use. furnace cement..Which you can get in a 5 Gal bucket will not solve your problem. my suggestion is this..do away with your metal window well altogether...or if you use it..keep a decent air barrier between your metal and your masonry..don't fasten it except to mabye cap off the top..your stone will last MUCH MUCH LONGER! if you leave an air space between. dig down and get a footer for your stone work..use a minimum of 4" wide stone wall. if i was doing it i would dig a circle around your window well 12" outside and 30" deep or more since you really don't have much weight bearing..a 4 or 6" concrete footer would be plenty. i'd lay up a 4" stone wall and stay 4" away from your metal ring. find yourself some nice flat stone for the cap that are around 10" wide..let them hang out over the outside edge 2" and flush to the inside of your metal ring..make sure your joints are nice and full. should last a long long time
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