This fire pit project guide will give you all that you need to know about building a fire pit in your home or garden.
Before I go into the steps in building a fire pit proper, I’ll remind you of some important things you need to consider before building a fire pit for yourself.
Also, I’ll tell you the important tools and materials that you need for building a fire pit without stress.
So, let’s get to work about how to build and maintain a fire pit in your backyard.
Plan How You Want Your Fire Pit Design
Figure 1: A Typical Fire Pit
A fire pit is usually a common landscaping feature that serves as a gathering spot for members of the family.
Their attractive and functional design makes the fire pit a very comfortable place to hang out, especially when the weather is chilly.
Ideally, a fire pit is usually constructed using some fireproof materials on a levelled area of the backyard, which is about 25 feet away from the main building.
In most cases, the shape, design, depth, diameter and style of a fire pit do vary based on an individual’s preferences.
However, fire pits are mostly regulated by some local building codes, which usually requires that a fire pit be rounded with a border of gravel or sand.
So, before you go ahead with a fire pit in your home, you have to understand that the local codes about a fire pit in your area says.
Besides, knowing what the local codes governing a fire pit in your area says, here are other important factors to consider.
Safety Factors To Consider Before Building A Fire Pit
1.Chose the Right Location for your Fire Pit
Picking the right spot to site your fire pit is the first step to get the most from your fire pit.
In order to get this right, try siting your fire pit in a place that has some wind protection.
Doing this will help you to minimize scattered ash and smoke whenever your fire pit is on.
Also about choosing the best location, ensure that fire pit is sited some reasonable distance away from your house, hanging tree limbs or other structures.
Still, on your choice of location, ensure that you site your fire pit in a place where you can enjoy the warmth from your fire pit from every side of the pit.
2.Consider The Path of Utility Lines Before Digging
Unknown to you, an important utility line maybe passing underneath your chosen spot for your fire pit.
So, before you begin digging your fire pit, ensure that no utility line has its path across or close to your fire pit.
Doing this will save you a whole lot of money and time, which will be invested in the repair of a damaged utility line.
3.Build and Protect Your Patio Stones
If your chosen site for a fire pit, falls on pavement, investing in some insulating firebricks will help you prevent your patio stone from damage.
This is most recommended because as time goes by, the heat from your fire pit will gradually deface the surface and shine of your patio.
To prevent this from happening, consider lining the bottom of your fire pit with some protective insulating firebricks.
4.Consult and Know What is Your City’s Fire Pit Code Requirement
In order to save yourself a whole lot in terms of money and time, consider knowing what is the permit code of fire pit in your city.
For instance, some city only permits a gas fire on a property while others permit both gas and wood fire pit.
Basic Tools and Materials Required for a Fire Pit
Figure 2: Tools and Materials for Building a Fire Pit
- Tape measure
- Hand trowel
- Hand tamper
- Spirit Level
- Hand Tamp
- Garden hose with a nozzle
- Safety gear
- Spray Paint (only for circular fire pit)
- String (only for circular fire pit)
- Grinder with missionary black (optional)
- ready-mix concrete
- 6″ x 12″ x 2-3/8″ paver stones
- 9″ x 4″ x 2-1/2″ firebrick
- 2×4 screed board
- 2 tubes – Concrete or a Construction Adhesive
- Large bag – Lava or volcanic rocks
Steps on Building A Fire Pit
1.Mark Out The Site For Your Fire Pit
Figure 3: Marking out the area for fire pit
For a circular fire pit, fix a stake at the centre of the place you want to site your fire pit and mark the place to be the center of your fire pit
If you want to have a fire pit with a diameter of about 5 inches, fix a string of about 2½ inches to the stake, and then tie the other end of the string to a can of spray paint.
Gently pull the string to fully stretch out its full length, then gradually spray the paint to form the circumference of your fire pit on the ground.
2.Build The Foundation of Your Fire Pit
Figure 4: Building a fire pit foundation
Start digging the marked area which represents the circumference of the fire pit to a depth of about 6 inches.
After that, use the same procedure you used in marking out the circumference of the fire pit to mark a smaller circle inside the larger one.
The new and smaller circle will serve as the edge and boundary of your fire pit wall. After that, dig out a foundation where your stones will sit upon.
Mix the right amount of concrete that will be sufficient for your fire pit project until the consistency of peanut butter is achieved.
Gently place your concrete in the space between the two circles, and ensure that that the concrete is well levelled to the ground.
Ensure that the center circle is free of concrete since it will serve as the fire pit as well as an area for drainage.
On the surface of the concrete carefully drop blocks along the path of the concrete, and then use a trowel to smoothen the surface. Allow to set for about 24 hours.
3.Raise the Outer Wall
Figure 5: Building the external wall of a fire pit
After the foundation is set, it’s now the perfect time to start laying up stones.
As usual, carefully mix mortar and then take about 2 inches of the mortar using your shovel and place over the concrete foundation.
If you have a small fire pit sections, you can lay up the stones over the mortar.
Also, if your stones are basically natural stone, carefully mix them into various colors and sizes, then chose those stones with beautiful faces to be at the edge of your fire pit.
You may use a chipping hammer to shape each stone to fit in the slight curve of your fire pit circumference.
After you have successfully laid up the first level of stones, and they’ve taken the shape of your proposed fire pit, start laying up the insulating firebricks for the inner wall of your fire pit.
4.Build Up Inner Wall Using Fire Blocks
Figure 6: Building internal wall with firebricks
Continue laying each brick of fire bricks on another while filling up gaps in between each brick using the premixed mortar.
As you continue laying up the bricks, ensure to always measure the external and internal edges of the wall at intervals.
Doing this will ensure that the thickness of the fire pit and its circular shape is maintained.
Figure 7: Measuring the internal and external diameter of the fire pit
As you continue raising the internal bricks using fire brick and the external wall using stones, continue doing so while filling gaps with mortar and stones as the wall keeps growing.
Note that in order to have a nice looking and a stable fire pit, you have to stagger the seams of bricks and stones as you continue building the walls.
After laying up the bricks and stones to the desired height, finish the structure by laying the final layer of pre-selected flat fieldstone over the wall of the fire pit.
While doing this, add about a one-inch layer of mortar on the surface before beginning to lay up stones.
While this continues, ensure that the top is kept flat and even throughout the circumference.
To finally complete the fire pit, add more mortar in between the capstones.
Figure 8: Adding mortar for bricks
5.Completing The Fire Pit
Once the basic structure of your fire pit has been completed, it’s now time to pay more attention to some finishing touches that will bring out its beauty.
Using a regular paintbrush, you can brush off loose debris around the exterior wall of your fire pit.
Once that is done, you can then use a garden hose to apply a light spray to remove any mortar that has been left over by the side.
As part of the finishing touches to your fire pit, you may choose to give the insulating fire bricks inside the fire pit a uniform finish.
To achieve this, simply use a black spray to paint the bricks black with high-heat stove paint.
Figure 9: Spraying fire pit with high-heat stove paint
Fill the base of your fire pit with a layer of river rocks to provide a good drainage system whenever there is rain.
Similarly, to prevent weed from growing around your fire pit, you may consider covering the entire area with gravels or crushed stones.
Figure 10: Filling the center of a fire pit with gravel
Tips On How To Maintain Your Fire Pit
Although most fire pits don’t require so much attention in terms of maintenance before you can enjoy them, you still need to do a few upkeep.
With these few upkeep, it is certain that you’ll get as much life and warmth from your fire pit as you will expect from it every single time.
Although not a mandatory toolkit for your fire pit, a simple fireplace toolkit will be a handy kit to help you tend your fire with much ease.
Included in a typical fireplace toolkit set is a long poker, an ash scoop, and a log tong to help you boost your fire intensity easily.
1.Be Choosy About Your Choice of Fuel
Well, it is very common and tempting to burn off trash and garbage in your fire pit.
Unknown to you is the fact that burning garbage in your fire pit can release some toxic smoke that may affect your lungs as well as the surface of your fire pit.
Similarly, using fire accelerants can deface and damage your fire pit within a short time. For this reason, it’s best to burn only mature and split wood in your fire pit.
2.Cool Off Gradually To Avoid Cracks
A quick shift in temperature is one of the most common causes of cracks on a fire pit.
This is usually the case when you are in a haste to put off the flames, and then dramatically flood your fire pit with water, which causes a rapid shift in temperature, and so leading to cracks on the walls of your fire pit.
My usual recommendation is that you allow the fire in your fire pit to die off gradually.
However, you may need a bucket of water handy in case of emergencies or to help you put off some lingering embers.
3.Examine Walls For Cracks
Most often than not, some small and hairline cracks can lead to deeper and larger cracks that may affect the beauty of your fire pit. This may even lead to structural damage to your fire pit.
For this reason, I advise that you check your fire pit regularly for cracks that may require patching.
In case you find some, different types of cement or fillers that can withstand a high temperature can be used to fill the cracks.
4.Always Scoop Out the Ashes
Long term accumulation of fire ash is an easy way to corrode the walls of your fire pit. This is so because fire ash is extremely acidic.
So, as a way of maintaining your fire pit for the best performance, consider removing fire ashes regularly using a shovel into a bucket.
Even after removing the fire ash into a bucket, allow them to sit for several days before disposing of them off to avoid fire hazard from lingering embers in the ashes.
Better still, you can mix the cooled fire ash with mulch, and sprinkle them over your garden for improved fertility from the rich potassium and lime content of fire ash.
5.Get A Fire Pit Cover
Getting a cover for your fire pit can be an easy way to prolong the life span of your fire pit.
With a metal copper or metal cover, you can easily put off the fire from your fire pit whenever you are done using it.
However, with a vinyl cover, you can protect your fire pit from wear and tear from changes in the weather condition in your area.
A fire pit is a landscaping feature that provides a warm area you can hang out with your family and friends.
When considering to build a fire pit in your backyard, endeavor to check the guidelines within your local area governing a fire pit in homes.
After successfully building your fire pit, ensure that you adopt some common maintenance practice to prolong its lifespan and keep it glowing in beauty.
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