Custom Masonry and Fireplace Design San Diego

Custom Masonry, Chimneys, and Fireplaces
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Chimney Design and Repair 

Diagnose your fireplace and chimney problems
 Building a Chimney
Adding value and beauty to your home
Before and after results
   Chimney Construction
Building a Chimney - by Paul Walker
Finished Chimney Since 1992, I've been a San Diego masonry contractor involved in chimney design, construction, restoration, renovation and repair.
Between my masonry experience in London, England and here in San Diego, California, I've repaired and built hundreds of old and new chimneys.

Chimney construction is an exacting process requiring strict design elements combined with stringent building code considerations.

Every chimney project is a professional challenge and the finished chimney in my mind is a work of art.

Masonry Chimney - Adding beauty and value to your home
Custom Masonry and Fireplace Design is a San Diego masonry company experienced in building chimneys in a variety of masonry materials.

We can restore your chimney in many architectural styles using brick, stone, Cultured stone, Eldorado stone, plaster and stucco finishes and veneers.

Repair or build a new chimney?
Custom Masonry and Fireplace Design will do a complete inspection of your existing chimney.

Based on the results of our inspection we will give you a detailed description of the chimney repair and a competitive bid.

If your chimney is beyond repair we can construct a new chimney, built to California code and earthquake standards, in a variety of architectural styles and masonry materials.

We are a chimney builder and chimney restoration company serving San Diego county.
Chimney deterioration - fire danger and structural collapse
Chimneys that show evidence of creosote damage, mortar deterioration, and cracks between bricks, are a fire danger.

If the damage is not too severe a new chimney flue liner can be installed, loose mortar repaired, flashing redone, and chimney crown refitted.

As illustrated in the photo on the right, demolition of our project chimney was necessary because of severe deterioration.

The following photos below describe the basics of chimney construction and repair. Enjoy!
- Paul Walker

Construction Process - laying the chimney foundation
In California all chimneys require a building permit. They must be built according to stringent building and earthquake codes, and pass inspection.

The foundation or footing must be substantial enough to support the weight of a chimney and fireplace. Steel rebar increases the structural integrety of the foundation.
California building code requires that footings for masonry fireplaces and their chimneys shall be constructed of concrete or solid masonry at least 12 inches thick and shall extend at least 6 inches beyond the face of the fireplace or foundation wall on all sides. Footings shall be founded on natural undisturbed earth or engineered fill below frost depth. In areas not subjected to freezing, footings shall be at least 12 inches below finished grade.

Chimney block with steel rebar - Building a safe chimney
The California building code requires us to build your chimney using fireproof masonry materials and steel.

The chimney is anchored to the footing with the steel rebar embeded in concrete. We then build the chimney upward block by block, row by row, using more pencil rebar in the process.

All chimneys at minimum must have existing vertical #4 rebar, ” stirrups installed, rebar cells fully grouted, a chimney flue liner installed and be properly grouted.

Anchoring the chimney to your home - more safety
To further protect your chimney from shifting, leaning away from your home, or collapsing in a strong wind or earthquake, building code requires steel straps and stirups be attached to the steel rebar within the chimney.

Straps and stirups should be corrosion resistant and must be installed according to code regarding their size, thickness, and location. They must be also be bolted to your house.

About Earthquake standards in California - Seismic reinforcing
Does your chimney comply with current California earthquake building codes?

Did you know that reconstruction or replacement of a damaged masonry chimney is not allowed with masonry unless completely removed, redesigned and constructed to current code requirements?

Although seismic activity in San Diego is low, an old chimney, not built according to current earthquake standards, may have sustained seismic damage over many years.

Inspect your chimney at least once a year and/or after a > seismic event!

Chimney Flue Installation
The space inside a chimney is called a flue. It starts at the top of the firebox and allows smoke to vent up and out of your chimney. Design and construction of a chimeny flue is the same for a chimney repair or a new construction chimney.

If the chimney had flues that are cracked we generally have to take the chimney down to the point where the last flue is cracked , replace the damaged flues and rebuild the chimney.

Going through the roof
As we build the chimney through the roof, fire safety code requires that we leave at least two inches between the potentially combustible wood framed chimney opening. The space between the framed opening is later sealed with "aluminum flashing" to prevent water intrusion between the chimney and internal home wall spaces.

Next, we'll talk about the importance of chimney height above the roof.

Chimney height above the roof
If the chimney is not tall enough, inadequate draw of fireplace gas up through the flue can cause major safety problems for the home's occupants.
We use the Chimney 2-3-10 Rule to determine proper chimney height.

We extend the chimney to provide a minimum of 2 feet clearance to all roof surfaces and structures within 10 feet of the chimney and 3 feet above the highest point that the chimney penetrates the roof

Chimney Crown and Chimney Cap
The chimney crown, is the top element of a masonry chimney. It covers and seals the top of the chimney from the flue liners to the chimney edge.

It is usually constructed of a portland cement based mixture and formed so it provides an overhang, or drip edge, on all sides of the chimney. This drip edge directs the runoff from the crown away from the sides of the chimney, helping prevent erosion of the brick and mortar in the chimney's vertical surfaces.
A chimney cap helps to prevent rain water from entering the inside of your chimney. Newer chimney caps with flashing are multi-functional and do a great job in preventing water from entering your chimney and fireplace, come with spark arresters, and deter animals and debris.

Brick Chimney - finished Project
Finished Chimney Custom Masonry and Fireplace Design

San Diego's #1
Chimney and Fireplace Builder.

"We take pride in our work and guarantee quality craftsmanship on every chimney that we build"
....Paul Walker
Chimney Construction

Raising a Chimney

Why would we occasionally raise the height of a chimney ?

There are a few reasons that might lead us to want to add height to an existing chimney .


Firstly, chimneys should finish two feet higher than anything within ten feet of itself, three feet higher than a flat roof. The reason for this is that, if too low the wind may blow directly over the top of the chimney and not around it. This causes the smoke to be unable to vacate the stack quick enough and can cause smoke to enter the house from the fireplace opening.

The second reason is that in certain unusual scenarios, there is a weird wind situation that can cause correctly designed sized chimneys to behave badly. This is mostly in hilly areas, or homes with large trees or obstructions in close proximity. Also from my experience, in areas that have lots of open space in front of the house where the wind picks up a bit more speed. I have diagnosed hundreds of chimneys over the years that did not function correctly for one reason or another. I have been able to resolve most of these problems with various learned methods.

Thirdly, the taller a chimney is built will change the ratios needed. Generally a chimney under fifteen feet in height will be based upon a ratio of 1 to 8, of the flue size in correlation to the fireplace opening size. Taller than fifteen feet move to a ratio of 1 to 10 in the calculations. This can help a over sized opening sometimes come back into the sweet spot zone. We can also reduce the opening size of the fireplace with use of a smoke guard. This is a piece of trim that sits at the top of the fireplace opening on the face. It will reduce the volume of air passing through the opening, this can sometimes be all that is needed to bring the chimney back to functionality.

Clay Brick Chimneys

Brick Chimneys
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When you're building a fireplace or chimney for your home, there's simply no substitute for genuine, clay brick.  »Why choose brick?

 Brick is naturally beautiful. It has warmth and human scale. Put into place by hand, one by one, only brick gives that touch of craftsmanship, authenticity, and timeless elegance you want for your home. Brick comes in a wide range of colors, tones, and textures-from the soft, historic look of a classic handmade, to the clean, precise lines of a wire-cut. And when you consider all the different colored mortars that are available, your design possibilities become practically endless.

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Stone Chimneys  

Stone Chimneys
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Custom Masonry and Fireplace Design uses Eldorado Stone to customize and embelish the look of your fireplace or chimney.

For over 30 years Eldorado Stone has been refining the art of creating architectural stone veneer that's exceptionally beautiful, affordable and above all, believable. To achieve this, Eldorado Stone is cast from its own technically advanced molds made from thousands of hand-selected natural stones selected by their artisans.

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Stucco Chimneys  

Stucco Chimneys
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In San Diego, stucco is a popular and practical finish on fireplaces and chimneys for many architectural home styles.

Stucco is used as a building material in historic architectural styles, including Prairie; Art Deco, and Art Moderne; Spanish Colonial, Mission, Pueblo, Mediterranean, English Cotswold Cottage, Tudor Revival and Spanish Colonial Revival. Stucco is also a choice building material used in San Diego new home construction developments for Spanish and Mediterranean style homes.

With so many homes built with stucco, repair is inevitable. Custom Masonry and Fireplace Design are experts in repairing your stucco fireplace or chimney in San Diego county.

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Outdoor Fireplaces

Outdoor Fireplaces
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Custom Masonry and Fireplace Design
- San Diego's Number 1 Outdoor Fireplace Contractor.

Whether it's an outdoor Rumford fireplace, Spanish Stucco Fireplace, or custom stone fireplace, we have an outdoor living solution for your home backyard patio or cozy courtyard retreat.

Call us today

619 287-6464
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San Diego Masonry Contractor: Paul Walker
Trained in England, he has 24 years of experience in masonry construction. The first five years were in and around London, where he served working with tradesmen who passed down their skills and knowledge acquired from previous generations.

Paul has been building fireplaces in San Diego since 1992 and is a recognized expert in fireplace refacing, fireplace repair, and relining chimneys to prevent fire hazards.  

He is trained in all areas of masonry construction focusing mainly on the comprehensive aspects of  fireplace and chimney construction, including outdoor cooking ovens and barbeques using real stone stonework, True stone, Rox Pro rock, Eldorado and Cultured stone.

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"We take pride in our work and guarantee quality craftsmanship."

- Paul Walker

  • New construction masonry fireplaces
  • Chimney inspections
  • Acquire permits from city
  • Reline existing chimneys
  • Reface with brick, tile, veneer stone, precast mantles
  • Repair existing chimneys, crowns
  • New dampers, Spark arresters, Heat shields
  • Custom Masonry Barbeques
  • Expert Masonry brickwork, wainscots, piers
  • Eldorado and cultured stone specialist Truestone,Rox Pro rock
  • >Masonry cooking ovens
    (Pizza Ovens)

Call us today!

Custom Masonry & Fireplace Design Inc BBB Business Review

Licensed C29 Masonry Contractor # 851233

Liability Insurance $2 million/$1 million per occurance
Member Golden State Chimney Sweep Guild California
licensed C29 masonry contractor # 851233
Liability Insurance $2 million/$1 million per occurance
Custom Masonry & Fireplace Design Inc BBB Business Review
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