How to Build a Braai

Laying bricks and mortar for an outdoor barbeque.
  • 8-12 hours
  • Beginner
  • 50-125
What You'll Need
Spirit level
Charcoal tray
Grill tray
Stone slab

A braai, or a stone barbeque, became a popular feature in residences in the 1950s. Many people used to sport built-in braais in their homes right before the mass-produced barbecues and charcoal grills became popular. Today, building a braai can be considered an interesting and useful DIY project.

Brick braais are perfect for a large patio or a garden with a brick wall. If you are planning to build a charcoal braai, it is not a difficult project, and you should be able to complete it relatively quickly. There are two main things that you should keep in mind when building. First, you need to locate it where it will be well-ventilated because you will be lighting a fire in it, and second, you need to leave ample space for the braai and for traffic in front of it. Therefore, choose your location carefully. You will also need to be careful about the masonry you choose for building your braai so that it blends in with the surroundings.

Step 1 – Lay the Bricks

Prepare the mortar by mixing five parts sand and one part cement. Next, add water and mix until the substance becomes stiff and the consistency is even. Use the cooking tray you're going to install to guide the first level of bricks. Lay down the first row using only whole bricks. Then, mark their position using a spirit level and spread the mortar on the mark. Lay the first row of the bricks again on top of the mortar and tap them to remove excess. Once the first layer has been laid, use the level again to check that the bricks have been laid in the intended line and that the corners of the braai are at perfect right angles. Lay five more courses of bricks on top of the first.

Step 2 – Add a Shelf Support

Start building a wall adjacent to the first braai wall. In a manner similar to the first, lay the bricks to eight courses. Then on the inner wall, on the left side edge of it, turn two bricks sideways in order to create support for the charcoal tray. This should appear as a ledge and should be strong enough to support the charcoal tray’s weight. Add another half brick at the outer edge, sideways. Three courses need to be added above it, and you'll have created space for the grill tray to be inserted.

Step 3 – Finishing

Scrape off the excess mortar anywhere you can see it on the exterior of the wall, and make sure that the edges and the corners are clean and sharp. If the edge is not looking neat, add a final course of bricks in both walls to make it more defined. Once you are finished putting the final course, use the spirit level to check all the walls and angles once again. Add the final stone slab for the food preparations.