Category: Blog

When and Why to Hire a Chimney Sweep Service

Unlike the windows and doors we use every day, chimneys tend to be an overlooked and neglected part of our home’s structure. Indeed most of us give little thought to our chimney as we enjoy a fire in the wood stove or fireplace. But regular maintenance of a working chimney, aka chimney sweeping, is one of the most important safety precautions you can take as a homeowner. A working chimney expels the by-products of combustion that include smoke, water vapor, gasses, unburned wood particles, hydrocarbon, tar fog, and assorted minerals. If your chimney is damaged or flammable material has built up in the flue, smoke can enter your living space or worse, a chimney fire can result. 

The Risks of a Neglected Chimney

As smoke, wood particles, gasses, and minerals leave your fireplace or wood stove and flow up into the relatively cooler chimney, condensation occurs. As temperatures drop, this deposit becomes thick and sticky, like tar. The resulting residue that sticks to the inner walls of the chimney is called creosote and is very flammable. (While creosote is more of a problem with wood stoves than fireplaces—since the exhaust gasses from stoves are cooler than those from the fireplaces—it’s a concern for any home that burns wood indoors.)

If creosote is left to build up, the chimney and draft opening can be significantly reduced, constricting airflow—and the removal of toxins and smoke—from your home. When creosote builds up in sufficient quantities, and the internal flue temperature gets high enough, the conditions are perfect for a chimney fire. In fact, most chimney fires are caused by creosote buildup and could be prevented by regular cleaning, according to the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA). 

The Importance of Chimney Inspection and Cleaning

The NFPA and the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) recommend that chimneys be cleaned at least once a year, as well as any time you observe excessive soot and creosote inside the chimney,  structural damage to the outside of the chimney, or smoke entering the house. 

The NFPA and CSIA both recommend an annual ‘Level 1’ inspection for chimneys that are used regularly, with no changes to the fireplace or stove and no known damage. Further, NFPA requirements (which are included in the Michigan Building Code) state this inspection be completed by a company that is ‘responsible for the connection, venting, installation, inspection, repair, or servicing of heat-producing appliances’ such as VanderWall (as opposed to a roofer, home inspector or general contractor, for example). 

In a Level 1 inspection, your chimney service technician will examine the readily accessible portions of the chimney exterior, interior and accessible portions of the appliance (fireplace or stove), and the chimney connection. He or she will confirm the basic soundness of the chimney structure and flue as well as the basic appliance installation and connections. The technician will also verify the chimney is free of obstruction and combustible deposits. During a thorough cleaning, a chimney sweep will remove debris, blockages, and creosote.

VanderWall Chimney Sweep Services

If you haven’t had your chimney inspected and cleaned in the past year or if you suspect any damage or obstructions, call VanderWall. Our certified chimney inspectors can confirm your chimney is working properly and free of obstructions or buildup, providing you with peace of mind every time you enjoy your wood stove or fireplace. Contact us today or stop in at our Spring Lake or Grand Rapids store for more information.

Homeowner Information |
Creosote Problem: Chimney Fires and Chimney Cleaning

Gather ‘Round the Fire to Experience Hygge

As winter sets in and the days get shorter, it’s time to embrace the Danish concept of hygge (pronounced hoo-gah). What is hygge, you ask? It’s a centuries-old lifestyle that celebrates coziness, contentment, and finding joy in life’s simple pleasures. 

Ready to give it a try? Grab a mug of hot cocoa and read on to learn more. 

A Cozy Fire is Key to Hygge

While folks in Denmark incorporate hygge into their lives all year long, it feels especially worth pursuing during the long nights and slower pace of winter. And there’s no quicker way to get in the hygge spirit than by pulling up a seat in front of a roaring fire. 

If your existing masonry fireplace is inefficient, you may want to install a fireplace insert into that space. Inserts contain and radiate heat back into the room more effectively than traditional fireplaces. If you don’t already have a fireplace, this might be the winter to add one to your home. Given that there are a number of options that can bring hygge to your home, Vanderwall can help you determine if gas, wood, or electric is best for you, or if you’d prefer a cozy wood stove

Other Ways to Practice Hygge

The art of hygge includes spending informal time with family or close friends and sharing a meal, wine or beer, or hot chocolate. Provide yourself and your guests with comfy chairs and blankets as you sit around the fire. Oh, and don’t forget the candles! (The Danish are Europe’s biggest consumers of candles, burning through around 13 lbs per person each year)!

You can increase your home’s hygge quotient using what you already have at hand:

  • A comfortable sofa
  • Comfy chairs
  • Some poufs or floor cushions
  • Fleece or knit blankets
  • Plenty of scented candles (think cozy scents like vanilla, winter aromas like pine, or mix and match)
  • A playlist of relaxing music
  • Comfort food (like soup, stew, curry, or chicken pot pie)
  • Warming drinks like hot chocolate, hot apple cider, warm sangria, or hot toddies

Keep in mind, you don’t need to limit yourself to your living room. You can keep that hygge feeling going outside with help from an outdoor fireplace to keep you and your guests warm and toasty.

Bring on the Hygge with Help from Vanderwall

However you decide to bring on the hygge this winter, be sure to practice fireplace safety, and know that you can count on the experts at Vanderwall for help with everything from installation to hearth supplies and tools. Visit our showrooms in Grand Rapids and Spring Lake for inspiration and assistance.

What is hygge | All you need to know about the small joys of life

Practice Fireplace Safety to Enjoy a Cozy Winter

Cozy season is officially here, and that means it’s time to make sure your fireplace is in safe operating condition. By taking a few steps now you’ll enjoy peace of mind every time you and your family use your fireplace.

First Things First

Regardless of whether you have a gas or wood-fire fireplace, have your chimney inspected and cleaned regularly. A certified chimney sweep will remove debris, blockages, and creosote, the chemical mass of carbon that can be formed by wood fires. Creosote can form a thick coating of debris in the flue (the chimney’s passageway for smoke) and cause a chimney fire.

At the very least, visually inspect your chimney flue to be sure there isn’t a nest or other blockage that could prevent smoke from moving up and out of the house. Be sure your damper can be easily opened and closed. Keep the area around your hearth free from home decor or any other combustible material. 

Make sure you clean all old ashes out of the fireplace before stacking wood for your first fire of the season. Sweep or vacuum the cold ashes and dispose of them outside. 

Practice Fireplace and Wood Stove Safety

Once you’ve prepared your fireplace for the season, make sure to follow the do’s and don’ts on this checklist every time you start a fire. (Note that some items only apply to wood-fired fireplaces). 

  • DO make sure your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are in working order. Keep fire extinguishers charged and accessible.
  • DO be sure your grate or andiron—the metal structure(s) that hold wood inside your fireplace—are in good shape, to prevent wood or logs from rolling out of the fireplace.
  • DON’T allow anything that can burn to come closer than 3 feet from your fireplace or wood stove.
  • DON’T burn paper in your fireplace or wood stove.
  • DO keep a metal screen in front of your fireplace to prevent embers or sparks from jumping out. 
  • DO make sure fireplace “on” switches and remote controls are out of the reach of children.
  • DO keep the doors of your wood stove closed unless loading or stoking the live fire.
  • DON’T leave a fire unattended. Be sure the fire is fully extinguished before leaving or going to bed. 
  • DO put ashes in a metal container with a lid. Place the container outside at least 10 feet from your home.

Consider an Insert to Improve Efficiency

A fireplace insert is a great way to upgrade an old fireplace. Traditional fireplaces only radiate about 10 percent of the heat they produce into the room. Fireplace inserts contain and radiate heat back into the room, making them up to 80 percent more efficient while also reducing wood-burning emissions. 

Make Sure You Have the Right Tools and Expert Help

Fireplace doors help retain heat indoors when the fireplace is not being used. For wood-burning fireplaces, screens keep embers from escaping the fireplace. Grates and andirons prevent wood from rolling out of the fireplace. And you’ll want to be sure you’re prepared for the season with tongs, poker, shovel, broom, and fire-safe gloves.

You can count on the fireplace professionals at VanderWall to prepare you for a safe season of cozy evenings by the fire. We carry all the tools and supplies you need, from toolsets to chimney caps and flues. Interested in installing a fireplace insert or a brand-new hearth? From help designing your stone mantel and hearth to running the gas lines, our National Fireplace Institute-certified technicians and friendly staff are here to help. Visit our Grand Rapids or Spring Lake store for inspiration and assistance.

VanderWall Brothers
US Fire Administration

How to Create a Cozy Outdoor Space for Fall

Temperatures are dropping, leaves are turning, and the sun is setting earlier. After a hectic summer, fall is the perfect time to reconnect with family and friends. But the cooler temperatures and shorter days dont mean you need to limit gatherings to your living room. By preparing your patio or other outdoor space youll be able to keep everyone warm and cozy while taking advantage of the crisp air and fall colors. Whether its a tailgate party before the local football game or a get-together with a few close friends, theres nothing like gathering around a warm fire to make the most of cool autumn nights.

Brighten the Space with Pumpkins and Plants

For pops of color, place containers around the patio full of fall-blooming plants including mums, zinnias, pansies, asters, and dahlias. Go vertical with corn stalks picked up at local farms or farmers markets. While youre at it, grab some straw bales to place between seats. They make a great spot for displaying assorted pumpkins and gourds that add more seasonal color.

Light Up Your Nights

Outdoor lights not only help guests make their way safely, they also add a festive touch and help define the space. While small white lights are a timeless classic, you can get in the fall spirit with strings of orange bulbs, with or without faux leaves attached.

Gather Round the Fire

Since the beginning of time, people have been drawn to a communal fire as much more than a place to warm up. If youre making plans for a new patio or improving the one you have, a great place to start is by including or upgrading your fire source. From a simple fire pit to a statement-making gas fireplace, your choice will help set the tone for your outdoor entertainment space.

Here are just a few options to consider:

  • Include a permanent fireplace to anchor the space and create an outdoor room.Outdoor fireplaces offer several advantages, including better defining the space, bringing living room ambiance outside, doubling as a privacy wall, and taking up less space than a firepit.
  • Create a firepit using a round or square smokeless insert, either freestanding or built-in—it’s a great and easy choice that will make a convert out of those who avoid campfires due to irritating (and ever-shifting) smoke. With the Breeo grill add-on, your fire pit doubles as a grill engineered for maximum heat control and durability.
  • Keep things simple and gain table space with a fire table. Fire tables require nothing more than connecting a 20 lb LP tank and hitting the start button to add sophisticated ambiance to your outdoor space.
  • If you’ve got your fire needs covered but are looking for more warmth, mid-wave infrared heaters are a great way to extend your time on your patio or deck, adding two or three months in the spring and fall shoulder seasons.

Help is Close at Hand

There can be a lot to consider when selecting the right fire source for your patio, from choosing between wood burning or gas to understanding local safety and permitting codes. Fortunately, VanderWall can help. For answers to frequently asked questions, check out our outdoor fireplace blog post. For design help and inspiration, stop in our Spring Lake or Grand Rapids store with some photos of your backyard, and our experts will help you determine which fire pit, table or fireplace will best fit your property. If your project involves a high degree of masonry, we can even match you with a local mason who can help you with your project. Or you can always use the “Text Us” tool in the lower right corner of our website.

propane fire bowl

Backyard Outdoor Fireplaces: All Your Questions Answered

When the seasons change and the cool breeze starts to set in, there’s nothing quite as inviting as the warm flicker of a fireplace. Why limit this cozy experience to indoor spaces? In this blog, we dive into backyard outdoor fireplaces, exploring their benefits, design options, safety considerations, and more.

Outdoor Fireplaces: FAQs

Whether you’re a seasoned homeowner looking to upgrade your outdoor living area or a first-time homebuyer excited to create a gathering spot at your new house, we’ve got you covered with all answers to your questions so you can build the ultimate oasis in your backyard.

When you’re ready to install an outdoor fireplace at your home, VanderWall Brothers has you covered!

Do You Need a Permit To Build an Outdoor Fireplace in Your Yard?

The need for an outdoor fireplace permit can vary depending on your location and the specific regulations set by your local authorities. Research your local building codes and regulations first, or contact your city or county’s building department to inquire about the specific requirements for outdoor fireplaces.

As a general rule of thumb, outdoor fireplaces are considered a structural addition, so they will likely be subject to zoning and building codes.

How Far Away Does an Outdoor Fireplace Need To Be From a House?

It’s recommended that an outdoor fireplace should be installed at least 10 feet away from your house, property line, or any other structure, such as a fence.

Code requirements in your area could require more distance and could also regulate chimney height, so always educate yourself on your local building codes.

Do Outdoor Fireplaces Need To Be Vented?

Yes – if your fireplace relies on wood to function, you’ll need a chimney for proper ventilation. This is especially true if you install an outdoor fire feature in an enclosed patio.

How Much Space Do You Need for an Outdoor Fireplace?

As mentioned above, outdoor fireplaces should be at least 10 feet away from your home and other structures. For maximum safety, you should also have at least 3 feet of clear space between the fireplace and anything flammable, such as outdoor furniture, plants, or other decorations.

Does Outdoor Fireplace Add Value?

Typically, homes with an outdoor fireplace installed can recoup about 80% of the associated costs. An outdoor gas fireplace will offer you the most bang for your buck, adding even more value to your home.

What Should I Look For in an Outdoor Fireplace?

A high-quality outdoor fireplace will feature a chimney, firebox, and hearth and will usually be built on a stone, brick, or concrete patio or paved surface.

How Deep Should Concrete Be for an Outdoor Fireplace?

You will want to install a minimum 4″ thick -up to 8″ thick reinforced concrete pad. If you’re building on a pre-existing concrete pad or one much larger than your fireplace footprint, you should form or cut expansion joints around the fireplace.

What Fuel Options Are Available for Backyard Fireplaces?

There are generally only three fuel choices, each with its own benefits and drawbacks: wood, natural gas, and propane.

How Do I Maintain an Outdoor Fireplace?

To maintain your fireplace and get the most out of your investment, it’s essential to regularly remove built-up ash from the fireplace. You should also use a broom or outdoor wet-dry vacuum to clean debris, soot, and leaves from the fireplace each time you use it.

It’s recommended to do a deep clean once a year. Use a brush and warm, soapy water to thoroughly clean the fireplace inside and out. If you notice nearby foliage beginning to overgrow, cut it back promptly. Keep the fireplace bricks free of weeds and grass–plant roots can cause damage if they infiltrate natural cracks in the stone.

Can I Customize the Design of My Outdoor Fireplace?

With any home addition, personalization is vital. With VanderWall Brothers, homeowners can choose from various design options, materials, finishes, and other customization possibilities. It’s our mission to make your dream vision come to life!

High-Quality Outdoor Fireplaces From VanderWall Brothers

With a commitment to quality, innovation, and customer satisfaction, VanderWall Bros. is a trusted partner for outdoor fireplaces. From an impressive array of design options to expert guidance on safety and installation, VanderWall Bros. offers a comprehensive solution that caters to your unique preferences and requirements.

As you embark on your journey to transform your backyard into your own paradise, remember that VanderWall Bros. provides exceptional outdoor fireplace products and a sense of assurance that you’re investing in a company dedicated to enhancing your outdoor experience. Choose VanderWall Bros. and ignite the warmth and beauty of your outdoor space today.

pellet vs wood stove

Do You Know the Difference Between a Pellet Stove vs. a Wood Stove?

In the quest for efficient and environmentally friendly heating solutions, both pellet and wood stoves are popular choices for homeowners. These two heating appliances aim to provide warmth and comfort during colder months, but which is the better choice? 

We’ll compare pellet stoves vs. wood stoves so you can decide the best choice for your home. 

Comparing Pellet Stoves vs. Wood Stoves

What is a Pellet Stove?

A pellet stove is a modern heating appliance that burns compressed wood or biomass pellets. The pellets are made from renewable materials, such as wood chips, sawdust, agricultural waste, or other biomass materials. 

Pellet stoves consist of a hopper that stores the pellets, an auger system to feed them into the combustion chamber, and a fan to control the intensity of the fire and distribute the heat. They can be easily automated with programmable thermostats, ensuring steady and consistent warmth throughout the space. 

Pellet stove brands we love

What is a Wood Stove?

Wood stoves are traditional heating appliances that burn chopped wood logs. The stoves can be made from cast iron or steel and consist of a firebox and flue that allows smoke and gasses to escape while retaining heat into the surrounding space. 

Using natural firewood for heat offers a rustic and cozy ambiance that many homeowners cherish, but their efficiency can vary based on factors such as wood quality, combustion, and insulation.

Wood stove brands we love

The Pros and Cons of Pellet Stoves vs. Wood Stoves

While pellet and wood stoves serve the purpose of heating homes, they differ in fuel type, automation, maintenance, and environmental impact. Choosing between the two depends on individual preferences, heating requirements, and considerations for convenience and sustainability.

Pellet Stoves: The Pros

  • High Efficiency: Pellet stoves offer higher efficiency than wood stoves, as the combustion process is better controlled.
  • Convenient Automation: Pellet stoves can be easily automated with programmable thermostats, allowing precise temperature control. 
  • Cleaner Operation: Pellet stoves produce minimal ash and emissions, making them a cleaner and more eco-friendly heating option.
  • Consistent Heat Output: With automated fuel feed, pellet stoves provide a more consistent and even heat distribution.

Pellet Stoves: The Cons

  • Dependence on Electricity: Pellet stoves rely on electricity to power the auger system and the fans, which means they won’t work during power outages.
  • Limited Fuel Source: While pellets are made from renewable materials, their availability might be limited in some areas, leading to higher fuel costs.
  • Higher Upfront Cost: Pellet stoves are generally more expensive to purchase and install compared to wood stoves. 
  • Mechanical Issues: The complexity of the auger and fan systems can lead to potential mechanical problems, requiring maintenance and repairs. 
  • Maintenance: Creates ash and debris that may need to be cleaned out daily. Plus, if the pellets get wet, they expand back into sawdust, which means storage could get messy.

Wood Stoves: The Pros

  • Natural and Traditional: Wood stoves provide a nostalgic and cozy ambiance with the crackling sound of burning logs. 
  • Renewable Fuel Source: Wood is a renewable resource, making it a sustainable heating option if responsible harvesting practices are followed.
  • Independence from Electricity: Wood stoves do not rely on electricity, ensuring continued heating even during power outages.
  • Cost-Effective: In regions with abundant wood supply, wood logs can be a cost-effective heating solution compared to other fuel sources.

Wood Stoves: The Cons

  • Lower Efficiency: Heat is lost through the chimney along with smoke and gasses, resulting in wood stoves typically having lower efficiency compared to pellet stoves. 
  • Regular Maintenance: Wood stoves require frequent cleaning to remove ash and soot buildup, which can be time-consuming.
  • Environmental Impact: While wood is a renewable resource, burning wood releases carbon dioxide and other pollutants into the atmosphere, contributing to air pollution.
    • Note: In 2020, the EPA (United States Environmental Protection Agency) introduced a policy that significantly reduces the amount of emissions released from wood stoves. Now the units burn cleaner and with less particulate matter than older wood-burning units – so that’s a great improvement!
  • Inconsistent Heat: Heating with wood can lead to uneven temperature distribution – the fire’s intensity varies based on the type and quality of wood used.

Vandcl Brothers Is Here to Heat Your Home

Whether you opt for a wood stove or pellet stove, you can trust VanderWall Brothers to be your trusted partner in providing top-notch heating solutions for your home. We offer seamless installation and reliable maintenance services for both stove types, and our commitment to customer satisfaction means we take the time to understand your specific heating needs. We can even help you choose which one is best for your home. 

Contact VanderWall Brothers today for all your home heating needs! 

4 backyard fire pit ideas

Backyard Fire Pit Ideas: 4 Ways To Transform Your Outdoor Living Space

There’s something undeniably magical about gathering around a crackling fire, sharing stories, and enjoying the warmth of the flames under the night sky. Are you interested in installing a fire pit in your backyard so you can start making these unforgettable memories? We’re here to help!  

In this blog, we’ll provide you with inspiration for new and fun backyard fire pit ideas that will take your outdoor entertaining space to the next level. 

4 Backyard Fire Pit Ideas To Try

When it comes to outdoor entertaining, we know what we’re talking about. Here are our four favorite backyard fire pit ideas we’re loving right now. 

#1: Traditional Wood-Burning Fire Pit

wood burning fire pit

Nothing compares to a traditional wood-burning fire pit. This classic piece adds a timeless, rustic charm to any backyard. Wood-burning firepits allow you to enjoy the crackling sound and beautiful sights and smells of real wood flames. We recommend constructing your fire pit with heat-resistant materials like metal or stone. 

#2 Gas Fire Pit Table

Opt for a gas fire pit table for a convenient and hassle-free outdoor fire experience. Gas fire pit tables are available in various styles, shapes, and materials, allowing you to find one that complements your outdoor decor while providing a cozy gathering spot. This is a fantastic option if you live in an area that restricts wood burning. 

Gas fire pit tables combine the functionality of a fire pit with the practicality of a table. With a simple turn of a knob, you ignite the flames and control the heat output, and installing a gas line makes it convenient to use no matter what time of year it is. 

#3: Propane Fire Bowl

propane fire bowl

The propane fire bowl is another popular option on the market for backyard fires. Propane fire bowls are made of durable concrete and can be used with propane or natural gas. They vary in size and come in a wide variety of stylish designs and styles. 

In addition, fire bowls offer quick and easy installation. Plus, depending on the size, they can be portable. So they’re easy to take with you if you ever move homes. 

Pro Tip: Protect your investment and opt for wind guards and other protective devices. They’ll keep the equipment safe throughout the year during inclement weather conditions. 

#4: Smokeless Fire Pit

smokeless fire pit

If smoke bothers you or you live in an area with strict regulations regarding open fires, a smokeless fire pit is a perfect solution. Smokeless fire pits often feature innovative airflow systems that burn the wood more efficiently, reducing smoke emissions. This advanced technology allows you to enjoy a clean and smoke-free experience. 

When searching for the highest-quality smokeless fire pits, we recommend BREEO. They’re durable, versatile, and will elevate any outdoor space.

Heat Things Up in Your Backyard

Looking to create a cozy and inviting outdoor space with a stunning fire pit? VanderWall Bros. is your ultimate destination for all your outdoor living and fire installation needs. With our expertise in outdoor design and impeccable craftsmanship, we can transform your backyard into a captivating sanctuary where you can gather, relax, and create lasting memories with family and friends. 

Don’t miss the opportunity to elevate your outdoor living experience this summer. Contact VanderWall Bros. today and let us help you create the perfect fire pit that will become the heart of your outdoor oasis.

5 paver design ideas

5 Paver Design Ideas For Your Yard You Need To Try

Pavers have become popular for enhancing outdoor spaces, offering a versatile and durable solution that can transform any area into a stunning oasis. Whether you’re looking to create a charming walkway, a cozy firepit, or a standout geometrical design, we have a plethora of inspiring ideas to help you make the most of your pavers. 

Read on and discover the best paver design ideas and discover how they can elevate the aesthetics and functionality of your outdoor living space.

What Are Pavers?

Pavers, also known as paving stones, are rectangular or square-shaped building units made from concrete, natural stone, brick, or clay. They’re designed to create durable and visually appealing surfaces in outdoor areas. 

One of the best parts about pavers is their versatility. They allow for endless design possibilities, allowing you to customize your landscaping and hardscaping projects according to your style and preferences. 

The 5 Best Paver Design Ideas of 2023

#1: Create a Charming Walkway


Pavers are commonly used to create pathways in gardens, backyards, patios, or front entryways. Installing a walkway will give your outdoor space a charming feel and guide visitors through your yard where you want them to go, so they’re not damaging your landscaping. 

When using pavers to create a walkway, you can choose a complementary color to your home’s exterior. Or, consider adding a bold accent color to create a unique color palette. For added visual interest, you can make unique formations and patterns like herringbone or basketweave. 

#2: Design a Functional Patio


Don’t go through the hassle of pouring concrete – use pavers to build a beautiful patio in your yard. You can easily create a cozy seating area or an extensive entertaining area using pavers. 

Pavers are incredibly versatile and customizable. You can create a space as big or small as you’d like and in any shape, color, or pattern. The possibilities are endless! 

#3: Install a Picturesque Pool Deck

pool deck

What good is a pool if it doesn’t have a deck where you can relax and soak up the sun’s rays? Use pavers and build a dazzling pool deck or patio! Pavers around a pool not only provide a slip-resistant and durable surface, but they also add a touch of luxury and sophistication. 

Experiment with different laying patterns to create a visually appealing design that matches your aesthetic. We recommend using light-colored heat-resistant pavers to keep the surface cool in the hot summer months. 

#4: Build a Cozy Fire Pit Area

There’s nothing like a chilly evening sitting around a bonfire with your friends and family, sharing stories and laughing. Anyone can make a fire in their backyard, but a thoughtfully designed fire pit area will offer a sense of luxury. 

Use pavers to create a designated fire pit area. They’re a top-notch option for this project because they offer heat resistance. You can construct a circular or square base around the pit and surround it with comfortable seating. 

#5: Install a Versatile Outdoor Kitchen

outdoor kitchen

Do you want to transform your backyard into the ultimate entertainment space? Build an outdoor kitchen! From summertime BBQs to football Sundays to happy hours, your home will quickly become the place to be. 

Use pavers to build floors and spaces for built-in grills and ovens, and more. Pavers provide a durable that can withstand heat damage from cooking, so they’re a good investment for this project. 

Pavers can also be used to create the floor in your outdoor kitchen since they stand up against heavy foot traffic, hefty spills, and weather damage. 

Are You Ready To Transform Your Backyard?

Are you looking to enhance your outdoor living space and transform your landscape into a stunning oasis? VanderWall Bros. has got you covered. We’re your go-to outdoor living and landscaping experts, specializing in top-quality pavers that will bring elegance and durability to your projects. 

Whether you’re dreaming of a beautiful patio, captivating walkway, or breathtaking outdoor kitchen, our team of skilled professionals is here to turn your vision into reality. Contact us today, and let us bring your outdoor dreams to life!

outdoor kitchen trends

The Best Outdoor Kitchen Trends of 2023

As winter begins to fade away, we can’t help but get excited about the upcoming summer season. Are you ready to transform your outdoor space this year and give yourself a summertime oasis right in your own backyard? We can help! 

If you want the most fabulous backyard on the block, it doesn’t get better than having an outdoor kitchen. Keep reading to discover the best outdoor kitchen trends of 2023. 

The 5 Best Outdoor Kitchen Trends To Try

Whether you’re an avid cook, an entertainer, or simply someone who appreciates the beauty of outdoor living, these outdoor kitchen designs can elevate your outdoor space to new heights and give you a “resort” type of feeling in your own backyard.

1. Various Cooking Methods

When it comes to cooking in the great outdoors, it’s no longer just about traditional grilling. One of the latest outdoor cooking trends is exploring and incorporating various cooking methods.

Wood-fired ovens have gained tremendous popularity in outdoor kitchens, allowing you to cook various dishes, from pizzas with a crispy crust to succulent roasts and bread. Outdoor kitchens with smokers offer a fantastic opportunity to indulge in mouthwatering dishes that are tender, juicy, and bursting with smoky goodness. And the addition of an outdoor range can allow you to make sauces and sides that will compliment your meal.

At Vanderwall Brothers, we are massive fans of outdoor pizza ovens. There’s no better way to make memories with friends and family during the summertime than by making homemade pizzas and enjoying them in the comfort of your backyard. We recommend the Forno De Pizza Oven from HPC Fire

forno oven

2. Multi-Level Outdoor Kitchen Designs

In recent years, outdoor kitchens have evolved from simple grilling stations to elaborate culinary spaces. One trend that has gained significant popularity is incorporating multi-level outdoor kitchen designs. These designs provide a visually appealing layout, enhance functionality, and create a dynamic atmosphere for outdoor cooking and entertaining. 

Multi-level outdoor kitchen designs effectively use vertical space, allowing you to maximize the available area. By incorporating multiple levels, you can separate various functional areas, such as cooking, dining, and entertaining, creating a sense of organization and purpose. 

You can include a bar or a countertop with seating on one level, allowing your guests to socialize and enjoy drinks while you prepare meals on a different level. The multiple levels can also accommodate additional amenities like built-in grills, pizza ovens, refrigerators, and sinks, providing convenience and accessibility to both the cook and guests.

3. Customized Storage Solutions

When you install an outdoor kitchen, you’re likely to get very excited and buy new accessories to go with it, such as plastic plates and cups, placemats, cooking utensils, and more, but where will you keep it all? Your indoor kitchen is probably full already, with limited additional storage. 

Here’s the solution – customized storage solutions in your new outdoor kitchen. Outdoor kitchens are becoming more functional, with homeowners opting for storage options that can hold everything from cooking utensils to outdoor tableware.

Built-in cabinets and drawers, as well as open shelving, give you plenty of places to store supplies outside. Here at VanderWall Brothers, we recommend products from Stoll Industries such as their outdoor kitchen islands with built-in storage. Their custom kitchen kits make them easy to install in a configuration that works in your space.

stoll storage

4. Outdoor Heating

While in the middle of summer, you may not think about needing any additional heat on those hot nights, but adding a heating element, either a fire table or outdoor heating unit, can lengthen the time you are able to use your outdoor kitchen and entertaining space by two or three months. While other people are sitting inside in the early spring or late fall, you can enjoy your outdoor space longer. 

We recommend Bromic heaters for your outdoor kitchen due to their performance and reliability. They work on a variety of fuel sources, including electric, natural gas, and liquid propane. They can be hung above the dining table or can be purchased in a portable option so you can move it to where you are most comfortable. They even have heaters that are rated for marine use and can be placed near a pool or if you are lucky enough, lakeside. These sleek heaters blend in with their surroundings and can be used with a remote or added to your smart home technology.


5. Versatile & Functional Spaces

By creating spaces in your outdoor kitchen that serve more than one purpose, you can maximize the functionality of your outdoor living space. For example, if you love using fresh herbs and vegetables in your cooking, consider adding a garden area to your outdoor kitchen design. Incorporate raised garden beds or vertical gardens nearby to grow herbs, vegetables, and flowers so you can always harvest fresh ingredients. 

Combine your outdoor kitchen with a comfortable lounge area to create a multi-functional cooking, dining, and relaxing space. Add comfortable seating, an outdoor fireplace, and a TV to create a cozy outdoor living space that can be used year-round. You can even install Bromic heaters to extend your time spent outdoors into the nighttime.

Add a little something extra with a table top gas lantern by Outdoor Great Room. Incredibly easy to install, they fit right where the umbrella would go on your patio table. Powered by a small propane tank they are set up to create a small whirlwind of flames.  They safely transform the space to create a warm ambiance with some interesting flare. 

outdoor great room lantern

VanderWall Brothers Is Here To Help

Are you ready to open up a world of possibilities and elevate your culinary adventures to new heights? Contact VanderWall Brothers about creating a one-of-a-kind outdoor kitchen and entertaining space. We have everything you need, from grills to ovens to storage solutions to fireplaces. Visit us online to stop by our showroom to learn more! 


cmu block

Everything To Know About CMU Blocks

CMU blocks, also known as concrete masonry units, are widely used building materials for commercial and residential construction projects. These blocks offer a range of benefits, including durability, strength, fire resistance, and energy efficiency. 

Whether you’re building a retaining wall or a foundation, CMU blocks can provide a sturdy and long-lasting solution. Are you interested in learning if CMU blocks are right for your next project? You’re in the right place!

Everything You Need to Know About CMU Blocks

This blog will tell you everything you need to know about CMU blocks, including their best features, benefits, applications, and more.

What is CMU Block?

CMU block is a type of precast concrete block used in construction for building walls, foundations, and other structures. CMU blocks are known for their strength, durability, fire resistance, and energy efficiency, making them a popular choice for construction projects of all types and sizes, including outdoor fire structures. 

What is CMU Block Made Of?

CMU block is typically rectangular in shape and made from a mixture of cement, aggregates, and water. The aggregates are raw materials produced from natural sources, like pits and quarries, and could consist of sand, gravel, or crushed stone. 

Lightweight vs. Ultra Lightweight CMU Blocks: What’s the Difference?

CMU blocks are available in lightweight and ultra-lightweight versions. Both are types of CMUs that are designed to be lighter in weight than traditional CMU blocks. The primary difference between the two is the level of density and weight reduction.

Lightweight CMU blocks are made by replacing heavier aggregates with lightweight materials, like expanded clay, shale, or slate. Lightweight CMU blocks typically weigh between 28 and 35 pounds. 

Ultra-lightweight CMU blocks are made using a mixture of highly lightweight aggregates, like expanded polystyrene beads or perlite, and cement. Ultra-lightweight CMU blocks can weigh as little as 10 to 20 pounds.

What Sizes Does CMU Block Come In?

No matter what your project is, there is a suitable CMU block. CMUs come in various sizes and densities, with varying finishes and textures. 

The width and height of the blocks are usually consistent at 8 inches by 8 inches or 8 inches by 10 inches, while the length can vary from 16 inches to 24 inches. Smaller and larger sizes are also available, such as half-high blocks or jumbo blocks, depending on the specific project requirements.

The most common sizes for standard CMU blocks include the following: 

  • 8″ x 8″ x 16″
  • 8″ x 10″ x 16″
  • 8″ x 12″ x 16″
  • 10″ x 10″ x 16″
  • 12″ x 12″ x 16″

How Much Does CMU Block Cost?

The average price of CMU blocks depends on their size, density, the region from which they were purchased, and the quantity ordered. The average cost of standard 8″ x 8″ x 16″ CMU blocks ranges from $1.50 to $3.00 per block. 

As a rule of thumb, lightweight and ultra-lightweight CMU blocks are slightly more expensive than standard CMU blocks. 

What Are the Benefits of CMU Block?

Concrete masonry unit blocks offer several benefits in construction. Some of the best advantages of using CMU blocks include the following:

  • Durability
  • Strength 
  • Fire resistance
  • Energy efficiency
  • Sound insulation
  • Low maintenance
  • Sustainable 
  • Thermal insulation
  • Versatility
  • Cost-effective 
  • Resistant to rot and pests

What Are the Common Applications of CMU Block?

CMU blocks have a wide range of applications in the building industry. Here at VanderWall, we use them often for foundations and buildings. Some of the other common applications of CMUs are: 

  • Load-bearing walls
  • Retaining walls
  • Interior walls
  • Fences 
  • Sound barriers
  • Exterior walls
  • Garden walls

When you need expertise for a new project, you can trust VanderWall. With our knowledge, experience, and expertise, we can assist you with various home projects utilizing CMU blocks and more. For more information, please feel free to contact us or come in and visit our showroom to see our samples!

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