Ever wanted to create the perfect gathering place in your backyard? Fire pits cast a flickering glow that provides a relaxing place for stimulating conversations or elegant dining. They create a perfect place to share with friends and family while unwinding under the bright starry sky.
Learn how to build a fire pit in your backyard that is sure to stun family and visitors alike with this useful guide.
Good Planning For Easier Building
When it comes to accomplishing a task that you have never done before, preparation is the key to success. So before building your fire pit, be sure to plan things out ahead of time so that you can guarantee a better result than simply winging it.
Area You Plan On Installing
Before you buy any material and begin excavation, check local building codes to make sure you are in compliance with their guidelines and ordinances. Then decide whether to build your fire pit on soil or a paved area, as the building process for both are quite different and requires different preparation.
Tools You Will Need
See below the list of tools you will need for this project. For your convenience, have the necessary tools ready and lined up before you start.
- Measuring tape
- Spray paint to outline the shape/size
- Wood stake
- Rubber mallet
- Safety glasses
- Tuckpointing tool
- Cordless drill
Materials For Building A Fire Pit
Gather these materials to start building your fire pit.
- Concrete blocks, or pieces of fire bricks, or landscaping stones
- Sand for a firm foundation
- Masonry adhesive (Mortar, Refractory cement)
- Gravel for drainage
- Metal fire ring (optional)
Fire pits are susceptible to causing accidents, especially when used improperly. Always consider safety before aesthetics when choosing the materials or location for your fire pit. Here are a few safety measures for you to do when setting up your fire pit.
- Set up your fire pit in an open area.
- Do some cleaning, take away any combustible materials around the pit to ensure the fire doesn’t accidentally spread.
- Do not use river stones or any stones collected outdoors to avoid possible explosions.
How To Build A Brick Fire Pit
Use bricks to build your fire pit to get that traditional look that never goes out of style. Follow these steps to create a traditional fire pit made of bricks. If you plan on matching your patio with your fire pit, try using Clay Pavers. They’re suitable to use for fire pits due to their durability. Drop by your local store and check if any seconds or specials are available.
1. Mark Out Your Area
Create a guide to ensure your fire pit is the right form and size. Using spray paint is one of the best ways to create the outline of your fire pit’s location. Create an improvised compass by using a string and stake for a perfect circle.
2. Dig The Pit
Use a shovel to dig a hole of about 8 inches deep within the circle that is marked out on the ground. Use a tamper to compact the soil, make certain that the bottom of the hole is level for the bricks to be laid. Remove high spots by scraping off uneven soil rather than digging.
3. Pour Your Base
Prepare a concrete mix to build your base. The concrete footing is great for ensuring a stable base, and it will also work as a preventative measure against cracks on your pit wall when the ground moves over time.
4. Stake The Forms
If you’re using hardboard forms, stake them, so they appear nice and round.
5. Add The Rebar
Pour the wet concrete halfway in between the forms and make sure it is level with the ground. Leave the center area free of concrete to allow for drainage. Press the rebar ring into the concrete for reinforcement and make sure it does not touch the sides of the form. Continue to fill the form with the remaining concrete and let dry overnight.
6. Mortar The Fire Brick
It is recommended that you use fire bricks because regular clay brick can crack at high temperatures. Mortar each of your fire bricks around the pit, checking the level side-to-side and back-to-front as you go.
7. Create Air Holes
Leave gaps in the firebrick in four spots then fill them with half bricks to feed air to the fire.
8. Complete The Outside Wall
Lay a thick bed of mortar on the outer side of the wall and let it harden for 15 minutes. Lay another fresh layer of mortar then begin to set the bricks in place. Butter one side of each brick and work in sections. Be sure to check the level of each course before proceeding to the next section, tap down the bricks if necessary.
9. Mortar The Brick Caps
Lay the bricks on the edge and mortar the brick caps. Butter the face of each brick on the outside edge as you go. Ensure that you smoothen the joints before the mortar totally hardens.
10. Fill The Pit With Gravel
Fill the bottom of the pit with approximately 2 inches of gravel for the base and spread evenly. Gravel adds durability to the pit as gravel compacts better than sand and is necessary for drainage.
How To Build A Fire Pit On A Budget
It doesn’t matter if you don’t have a lot of cash, as long as you have a lot of creativity you can build your very own fire pit.
You can upcycle materials, like the drum from an old washing machine, or an unused steel box. Find a good area to place them, place a good base if necessary, fill it with wood and voila! You have a fire pit.
If you want a more sophisticated look that is still easy on the pocket, you can buy paver stones and paver sand for just a couple of bucks.
Follow these steps to create your unique ‘on-a-budget’ fire pit.
1. Mark Out Your Area
Mark out your area to your desired form and size.
2. Dig The Pit
Dig out a hole within the guide and ensure the base of your fire pit is level to build a solid foundation for your fire pit.
3. Pour Base Sand
Pour base sand evenly to create a suitable surface for laying paver stones, take your time and make necessary adjustments if needed.
4. Lay Paver Stones
Lay your paver stones starting with the walls according to your guide. Continue to fill the bottom of your pit with paver stones. For a better look, use smaller sized paver stones for the bottom of your fire pit.
5. Pour Layer Of Sand Into The Stones
Pour the paver sand into the cracks and sides of the flooring, spread evenly and you’re done.
How To Build On A Paved Area
It is best to use fire blocks if you plan to build your pit on pavement because the heat from the fire will gradually harm the surface of your patio. Lining the bottom of your pit with fire blocks is the best way to prevent damage. Follow these first few steps in excavating a hole in a paved area, then jump back to the previous section to finish your fire pit built on a paved area.
Here at Australian Paving Centre, we cater to a wide range of blocks that are suitable for building fire pits.
If you’re looking for a concrete type of block, you can choose between our Versastone and Versawall. Want to match your garden edging or garden wall? Try our Mini Wall or Stonewall Block for a seamless backyard.
1. Measure Your Area
Use a measuring tape when you measure the area, mark off the spot on your paver patio where you plan to put your fire pit.
2. Dig a 12-inch Deep Hole
Cut the pavement using a circular saw with a concrete blade or a stone chisel and hammer. Once done, use the best digging tool you have and dig a hole of about 12-inches deep.
3. Follow Steps Above
See instructions above for How To Build A Brick Fire Pit and follow steps 3 to 10.
How To Build With A Fire Pit Ring Insert
Use a steel ring insert if you plan to add a cooking grate in your fire pit and enhance the beauty of it. Follow these steps to create a fire pit with a ring insert.
1. Measure Area
Measure your area to ensure that you get the right steel ring size. Use the ring to form a circle and leave a mark around it.
2. Dig Pit Based On The Ring
Dig a hole that is about 2-inches deep. Compact the soil with a tamper to make sure the base is level.
3. Lay Your Stone Based On The Ring
Lay down your base stones with the steel ring in the middle as a guide. Then carefully remove the steel ring once the base is done.
4. Lay Them Up To 3 Layers
Continue laying the remainder of the stones up to 3 layers.
5. Finish By Placing The Ring Insert
Complete the process by placing the ring insert into your fire pit.
How To Build A Custom Fire Pit
Make your fire pit unique and follow these steps to create your very own custom built fire pit.
1. Choose The Shape You Want
Find the shape and style that works well for you. Have fun and be creative, make your fire pit square-shaped or long and rectangular to add style, depth and dimension to your backyard.
2. Place The Materials On Top And Mark
Visualise the layout you have in mind and play with the materials until you are satisfied with the look that you have created. Make sure to leave a mark that will act as a guide when you lay your materials.
3. Check If The Sides Are Equal
Whatever shape you chose for your fire pit, always ensure that the sides are equal. Use proper measurement tools and a level at all times.
4. Follow The Steps Above
Continue making your fire pit with the usual steps as seen above on how to build a brick fire pit.
How To Build An In-Ground Fire Pit
Make the conversations easier with an in-ground fire pit. Here are the steps to take in creating one.
1. Mark Your Area
Find a good spot that is safe and won’t easily collect water. Mark the layout with a spray can. You may need to create two outlines depending on the design you want to achieve. One for the actual fire pit and one for the patio surrounds.
2. Measure Your Materials
Learn the measurement of your materials because the depth of your pit will depend on the thickness of your concrete lining.
3. Dig Up Your Pit
Dig up the marked area. The actual fire pit should be deeper than the surrounding patio.
4. Add Paver Base
Tamp the ground to form a solid surface then add the paver base.
5. Place Your Concrete Blocks
Once the paver base has been poured around the perimeter of the fire pit circle, wet the paver base and tamp down, then assemble the concrete blocks on top to form the shape of your fire pit. The blocks should be touching and level. You can add stones to help hold the concrete blocks in place.
6. Add Paver Base Outside The Pit
Continue to add paver base, but this time, outside the pit. Wet the paver base and tamp down till smooth.
7. Place Your Patio Stones
Lay your stones in the surrounding patio.
8. Pour Sand
Once the mortar around the inside edge of the fire pit has dried, fill the joints between the pavers with polymeric sand to securely lock the blocks in place.
9. Tamp The Patio
Tamp down to create a firm foundation and ensure that everything is level.
10. Finish With Gravel Or Soil At The Edge
Put some gravel or soil at the edge your surround patio for a clean finish and better design.
Avoid accidents by being prepared and knowing how to prevent them in the first place. Before lighting an outdoor fire, check the weather forecast. Never risk starting a fire in windy conditions to avoid flammable items to blow into your pit. Also, stay up to date on any burn bans or burn ordinances that might be in effect at different times during the year.
Using The Correct Wood
If you choose a wood-burning fire pit, be selective of the type of wood you choose to burn as not all types of wood are the same. When burning wood, use a piece of newspaper instead of flammable liquids to avoid accidental flares and harmful toxins.
Types Of Wood You Shouldn’t Burn
- Avoid using pressed wood, painted wood, stained wood, and treated wood such as plywood, particleboard, chipboard, or railroad ties for they emit harmful toxins.
- Do not use wood that can cause sparks like pine and other softer wood.
- Stay away from green wood because it generates extra smoke.
- Flammable fluids such as gas or lighter fluid should never be used to light wood fires.
Consider A Screen
Contain the fire inside your pit with a screen. Screens are excellent in preventing sparks and embers from breaching the pit and burning people, pets or the surrounding area.
Ensure That Water Is Nearby
Have a fire extinguisher or garden hose close by or always keep a bucket of water and a shovel nearby in case of unexpected incidents.
Safely Enjoy Your Fire Pit
Cool summer evenings and starry-filled nights take on an extra special feeling when they’re enjoyed with a fire pit. Appreciate its warmth together with family and friends, create the perfect ambience to mingle and converse. Set up camp in front of the warm crackling heat. Make sure to have fun and stay safe.
Blazing with inspiration? Start preparing your materials with us!