Additional Fire Pit Safety Tips

  • Don’t use fire accelerants such as lighter fluid or gasoline. They release toxic fumes and can cause explosions. Optimally use wood shavings, kindling, or commercial fire starters or sticks.
  • Keep a close eye on children and pets. They can move unexpectedly fast, and if you’re distracted with conversation about the latest episode of your favorite show, you could be faced with a disaster.
  • Be sure your pieces of wood are sized appropriately for the size of your fire pit. Make sure ends are not overhanging the edges of the pit.
  • Don’t throw paper or garbage into the fire. Burning bits can easily flutter off and create remote fire hazards.
  • Stop adding wood to the fire about an hour before you anticipate moving indoors. This will allow the embers to die down and make the final dousing easier.
  • When ashes are cool and dry, scoop them out and dispose of them. This will help make the next fire successful.

Stonehenge of Bricks

On the Fly DIY

Invoking the majestic look of Stonehenge, purchase bricks and stack them like dominoes with space in between each brick, then lay a top layer on top, lining them all up and locking them in place. The result: A fire pit with an elegant design has the practical benefit of slotted openings for free-flowing air to stoke the flames.

Video

Suspend a Cauldron

Elena Shevchuk / Getty Images

Classic fire pits are a must-have out in the wilderness or camping; they are the primary method of getting warmth and making food. So, nothing is more old-school and referential to camping than erecting a tripod and hanging a giant cast iron cooking pot or stylish deep cauldron in your backyard. But in this case, instead of lighting the fire underneath the kettle, put the firewood inside the kettle and enjoy the warm glow.

How Much Does an Average DIY Fire Pit Cost?

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A fire pit costs on average $700 to build. The cost of the project might range from $300 to $1,400. Labor is charged at a cost of $55 per hour, or approximately $340 per task, while supplies are charged at a rate of around $400.

Naturally, this will vary depending on the materials you use, whether you hire a contractor or decide to do this yourself, what type of fuel the fire pit is going to use, or what type of material you want surrounding the pit, if any.

If you live in a location where spring and summer bring forth swarms of flying pests, you may want to consider an enclosure.

One of the decisions you’ll need to make before determining the materials and supplies you’ll require, and the cost of your project is the type of fuel you’ll use in the fire pit.

Certain materials are not suitable for all fuel types, the maintenance requirements may vary, and some will require the assistance of an electrician or plumber.

Fire Pit Parts: An Overview

Illustration by Gregory Nemec

A built-in fire pit is a glorified campfire, with sturdy walls of stone that help contain the flames and heat. That’s especially important in the parts of the country where there’s a risk of brush fires. So the first task in building any fire pit is checking local codes on open flames. The pit must be located far from overhanging trees, the house, and any other flammable structure.

To make building stone walls easier, you can use blocks made from cast concrete and molded to look like real stone (available at any home center). They’re flat on the top and bottom so they stack neatly, and some interlock for added strength. Glue them together with masonry adhesive. Choose a block with angled sides, meant to form curves when butted against each other. The optimal size for a fire pit is between 36 and 44 inches inside diameter. That will create enough room for a healthy fire but still keep gatherers close enough to chat.

As an added precaution, the fire pit should be lined with a thick steel ring like the ones used for park campfires. These protect the concrete in the blocks from the heat, which can cause them to dry out and break down prematurely.

A fire pit should sit low to the ground, with walls rising no more than a foot off the ground. But for stability, the base of the wall must be buried below ground in a hole lined with gravel, providing drainage and protecting against frost heaves in winter. The gravel also creates a level base for the stones to rest on. Most concrete blocks are about 4 inches high, so if the first course and a half sit underground, and there are two and a half courses above ground with a cap on top, you’ll end up with a foot-high wall—just right for resting your feet on while sitting in an outdoor chair.

Create Air Holes

  • Leave gaps in the firebrick in four opposite points around the ring and then fill them with half bricks. These gaps are “draw holes” that feed air to the fire.
  • Prop up the half bricks until the mortar sets.
  • Check for level across the DIY fire pit and the vertical level of the bricks as you go.

Pour a Sturdy Footing for Your Fire Pit Base: Stake the Forms

  • The concrete footing will create a stable base for the pit walls and keep the sides of your pit from cracking as the ground moves over time.
  • Stake the forms and mix up ten 80-lb. bags of concrete mix according to the manufacturer’s directions.
  • If you’re using hardboard forms, stake them so they’re nice and round.
  • If the forms aren’t quite level, raise one end and drive a screw through the stake.
  • If the forms aren’t completely round, reposition the stakes.

What Stone Is Best for a DIY Fire Pit?

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Almost any type of rock can explode, particularly porous and moist rocks. When wet rocks become heated, the trapped water and air expand rapidly and violently shatter the rock, occasionally causing it to explode. 

River rocks, gravel, pumice, limestone, and sandstone are all examples of rocks that should be avoided when building a fire pit due to their porous nature and proclivity to retain water. 

Due to the density of hard rocks (such as slate, marble, or granite), they are less prone to absorb water and burst when exposed to heat. Additionally, fire-rated brick, poured concrete, lava rocks, and lava glass are all safe to use around and in your fire pit. 

This is one place where lava rocks can be used to ensure the safety of a fire pit. If your fire pit contains or is surrounded by rocks, exercise caution when igniting flames after it has rained. 

Wet rocks have a far greater chance of exploding than dry rocks. If you use your fire pit frequently, you may want to consider covering it during inclement weather to keep it dry and to keep yourself safe.

#4 Don’t Do Custom Anything

You can have a fire pit designed just for you. One-of-a-kind. But unless you’re a trust-funder or just like spending money like one, stick with a contractor’s standard build. Most offer prefab, modular units that cost at least half as much as a custom build.

“I’ve put in custom fire pits that cost as much as $7,000 — just for the pit,” Rogers says. That means the patio cost even more. Yowsa!

Tools Materials

  • Brick hammer

    Brick hammer

  • Cold chisel

    Cold chisel

  • Spade

    Spade

  • Hoe

    Hoe

  • Metal rake

    Metal rake

  • Tamper

    Tamper

  • Level - 2 foot

    Level – 2 foot

  • Level - 4 foot

    Level – 4 foot

  • Mallet

    Mallet

  • Caulk gun

    Caulk gun

  • Pointed trowel

    Pointed trowel

  • Power grinder

    Power grinder

3. Half Wall Fire Pit

If you are someone who is particularly safety conscious, this fire pit with a half wall is a great pick. The added stone paving around the pit reduces the possibility of the fire escaping, while the wall protects the area behind.

source: www.flickr.com
source: www.flickr.com

9. All Squared Away

If a concrete square is a little too spartan for your tastes, but a circle seems passé, try a concrete block square! Using blocks in a square avoids the time consuming process of cutting the blocks to fit into a tidy circle.

source:
source:

Fire Pit on a Paver Patio

Everyday Shortcuts

This fire pit plan is for those of you who already have a patio made of pavers that you'd like to use as your base for a fire pit. We love that it's an easy DIY project that utilizes supplies you already have on hand.

Fire Pit on a Paver Patio from Everyday Shortcuts

How to Build a Fire Pit

Stickers and Stilettos 

Learn how to build an in-ground fire pit in just a few hours time with this free DIY project. After scouting the perfect location, you'll use a metal fire pit ring and rocks to build this nature-inspired pit. Head to Stickers and Stilettos' website for the full plan.

How to Build a Fire Pit from Stickers and Stilettos

FAQ About Building a Fire Pit

What do you put in the bottom of a fire pit?

You’ll want to start with a layer of sand at the bottom of the pit, and then top the sand with gravel, lava rocks, fire pit glass, paving stones or even bricks for your fire pit. Alternatively, you can simply use dirt.

How do you prepare the ground for a fire pit?

Clear away all grass and plant material. Excavate about 8 inches of soil, ensuring that the bottom of the pit is level and the soil is compact.

Can you build a fire pit on dirt?

Yes, you can build a fire pit on dirt. Make sure the dirt is compact and level.

What is the best base for a fire pit?

You have several options. Plain dirt is fine, but sand topped with gravel makes a more attractive base.

#9 DIY the Patio, Too

 If you’re building the pit, why not build the patio, too? It’s just a floor, so no design skills required.

In order of difficulty: A decomposed granite patio is easiest to DIY. Pavers are next, followed by flagstone.

“Fifty to 60 percent of a patio cost is the labor,” Rogers says. You can do this, thrifty homeowner. Go to YouTube, search “How to build a patio,” and get going.

Related: 6 DIY Fire Pits That’ll Make You Feel Oh-So-Warm

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