Building a Backyard Fire Pit

Fire Pit
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Backyard fire pits are a popular landscaping feature that add beauty and functionality to your space while creating a gathering area for family and friends. For safety purposes, a fire pit should be constructed from fireproof material on a flat, level area at least 25 feet away from structures and trees. As styles and shapes of fire pits vary, it is important to research building codes and homeowner associations prior to construction.

Materials

Fire pits can be constructed out of stone, concrete pavers, or other materials so long as they are not flammable, porous, or water-retaining building materials. The inner wall must be made of fireproof building materials, and the outer walls should still be heat-resistant, but can be made stone, masonry blocks, and concrete pavers.

It is very important to choose your building materials wisely. Hard rocks like granite, marble, or slate are dense and less likely to absorb water, therefore safer to build your fire pit with. Additional rocks that are safe to use are fire-rate bricks, lava glass, and lava rocks. You must choose stones that can withstand high temperatures. Follow these best practices when building a fire pit.

Constructing Your Fire Pit

Step 1: Select the location and shape of your fire pit. The style and shape (ring or square) will determine the types of stone you will need to purchase.

Step 2: Mark the fire pit site and prepare the area.

  • For circular fire pits, pound a stake into the ground to mark the center of the fire pit wall. Tie a string to the stake and also tie it to the can of spray paint you will be using to mark off the outer edge of the fire pit. Pull the string taut (ensuring you do not pull too tight, causing the stake to move) and walk around the stake as you spray your circumference. Dig the space out to a depth of about 7 inches, keeping the ground level. Measure the inside of the fire pit wall and mark off that area using the spray paint.
  • For a square fire pit, lay out the first layer of stone for your design on the ground and check the layout. You can use a shovel to outline the perimeter, and then remove the blocks to excavate the land. Pack down the land with a hand tamper.

 

Step 3: Build the base of the fire pit. You can add gravel on the compacted dirt (about 5 inches) to create a base for your pit or use a concrete solution. For circular pits using concrete, you would lay the concrete in between the two circles. If using gravel, wet it thoroughly with a hose and use a hand tamper to compact it into a hard layer a couple of inches below the surface.

Step 4: Lay out the perimeter. For a gravel base, place the stones around the perimeter of the hole, pushing them together, ensuring they are touching. Use a level to make sure the height stays consistent. For a concrete base, mix mortar and shovel it on top of the concrete base for a depth of about 2 inches. Lay then stones around the outside perimeter on the mortar.

  • If you are not using an inside wall for a gravel pit, continue layering the stones on top of the previous stones to get your desired look. You will need to add construction adhesive to each layer to bond everything in place (after you have laid out the design). Once the adhesive has been placed, refit the stones, and continue the process until your desired height is achieved. Test fit the fire pit bowl and make sure the lip fits fully on the edge of the top row. The fire pit bowl remains removable, which makes for easy cleaning.
  • If you are building your fire pit on an existing patio, you will need to cement the bottom layer to the patio to keep it from shifting. The gravel inside the pit is also not necessary.

 

Step 5: Lay out the inside wall of the fire pit. With mortar in place, you can now start placing your inside stone around the inner perimeter of the fire pit. Make sure each stone is level and fill the gaps in between each stone with wet mortar, scraping away excess. Continue this process of building both the outside and inside perimeters, using mortar to adhere each stone to one another. You can use additional stones to fill in any gaps between the two walls.

Step 6: Spray the stones on the inside of the fire pit with a high-heat stove paint. Fill the base layer inside the fire pit with crushed lava rock or small volcanic ash of about 3 inches. When everything is complete, remove excess mortar.

If you want to add an additional layer of beauty around your fire pit, you can dig out the surrounding area of the fire pit. After the dirt has been removed, add landscape fabric to the area to prevent weeds. Then add crushed stone to make the area fire safe.

At Fieldstone Center, we have all of your stone, masonry, and landscaping needs, including a fire pit with steel ring and grate 4 tier. Our team of experts and dedicated staff are here to help answer any questions you may have. Call us today or stop by!

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