How to build an outdoor fire pit perfect for gathering together

S’mores, stargazing, crackling flames: there’s nothing like an evening spent around a cozy fire pit. Gathering around an outdoor fire doesn’t have to be restricted to camping trips, though. Making a permanent fire pit in your backyard is surprisingly simple and affordable to do yourself. Turn your yard or patio into a welcoming place to gather with these backyard fire pit ideas.

Planning a fire pit

Rules for fire pits in backyards

Before you get started, it’s crucial to make sure you’re obeying any applicable regulations regarding backyard fire pits. Many areas have restrictions on the fire pit’s size, materials, and location as well as the kind of fuel that can be burned in a fire pit.

If you live in a neighborhood with a homeowner association, check the HOA rules to make sure your fire pit is within the guidelines. You’ll also want to check on local policies regarding open burning, recreational fires, and seasonal burn bans. Be sure to obtain a permit for your fire pit if necessary. 

Choose your site

Make sure you’re a safe distance — at least 15 feet — from other structures, plants, and low-hanging tree branches. Local ordinances may require your fire pit to be as far away as 30 feet. 

You’ll want a patch of level ground for your fire pit, which will require lots of tamping. You’ll also need to prepare the ground to make it fire-safe by clearing away grass and plant matter. While you can build your fire pit on dirt, pouring a thick layer of tamped-down sand and gravel creates a sturdier and more visually appealing base. 

Depending on your budget and backyard layout, you may choose to incorporate your fire pit into your patio or deck. You can also surround the fire pit with paver stones or gravel to create a seating area and prevent any flying sparks from landing in your lawn.

DIY fire pit vs. fire pit kits

DIY fire pit

It requires more planning and plenty of muscle, but if you’re on a tight budget, building a backyard fire pit from scratch is straightforward and comparatively affordable. You will need tools including a hand tamper, rubber mallet, safety glasses and a level. 

Building a DIY fire pit lets you be more creative when it comes to shape, size, and stone color choice. Pick a metal fire ring to line the inside of the fire pit, then design the outer walls using bricks, cast concrete, or stone blocks. Ensure that the inner material is made with a fireproof material such as fire brick.

Fire pit kit

For a foolproof fire pit build, consider a fire pit kit. You’ll still need to prepare the site, but these kits take the guesswork out of shopping for stones. Fire pit kits usually come with a metal fire ring and matching, interlocking stones for easy assembly. Some also come with the paver gravel or sand needed to create the base of the fire pit.

Regardless of which fire pit type you go with, remember to tamp down your base well and check the level frequently. A flat fire pit area is more visually appealing, safer, and more comfortable for your guests to sit around.

What you need to build a fire pit

Ironclad Heavy Utility Work Gloves

Ironclad Heavy Utility Work Gloves

These durable gloves are great for placing heavy paver stones thanks to their snug fit, reinforced palm and fingers, and impact protection across the knuckles. A hook and loop closure strap helps customize the fit.

Sold by Amazon

 

Dewalt 32-inch Fiberglass D-Handle Transfer Shovel

Dewalt 32-inch Fiberglass D-Handle Transfer Shovel

With its ergonomic D-handle and durable carbon steel blade, this shovel makes it easier to clear sod and dirt from your fire pit site. Its compact size, extra-large stepper, and overmold grip help reduce strain on your back and knees.

Sold by Home Depot

 

Craftsman 9-inch Torpedo Level

Craftsman 9-inch Torpedo Level

This level comes in three size choices, but the 9-inch length is plenty to help you check to see if the bricks for your fire pit walls are level. It features shock-absorbing rubber end caps and a magnified center vial to help you determine the level more easily.

Sold by Home Depot

 

Estwing 12-ounce Deadhead Rubber Mallet

Estwing 12-ounce Deadhead Rubber Mallet

This sturdy rubber mallet is a great pick for hammering your backyard fire pit components into place. Its 13-inch hickory handle is dense and shock-resistant. It’s bounce-resistant to provide better control and accuracy.

Sold by Home Depot

 

Pleasant Hearth Wilderness Steel Fire Pit Ring

Pleasant Hearth Wilderness Steel Fire Pit Ring

This fire ring can add rustic charm to your fire pit with its forest-inspired design. It measures 36 inches across. Its 12-inch-high sides help keep sparks contained without disrupting airflow thanks to the mesh walls. It’s made from steel with a black finish.

Sold by Home Depot and Amazon

 

Weston 52-inch Northwoods Tan Round Concrete Fire Pit Kit

Weston 52-inch Northwoods Tan Round Concrete Fire Pit Kit

It’s pricey, but if you’re looking for hassle-free installation, this fire pit kit may be worth it. It comes with a 35-inch metal fire ring and 58 cast concrete stones specially cut to fit perfectly around the ring. The completed fire pit is 52 inches across and 12 inches tall.

Sold by Home Depot

 

Sunnydaze Decor 40-inch Easy Access Steel Fire Pit Spark Screen

Sunnydaze Decor 40-inch Easy Access Steel Fire Pit Spark Screen

Featuring an easy-access sliding lid, this dome-shaped spark screen is thin enough to let the fire’s warmth out while keeping dangerous sparks in. It weighs 12 pounds so it can’t be bumped out of place easily. It has two generous handles for easy opening and positioning. Other sizes are available starting as small as 22 inches.

Sold by Home Depot and Amazon

 

Amerex 5-pound Dry Chemical Class A-B-C Fire Extinguisher

Amerex 5-pound Dry Chemical Class A-B-C Fire Extinguisher

Any time you’re using your fire pit, keep fire prevention tools nearby to deal with any sparks or burning material that may escape the fire. This rechargeable, durable extinguisher can help put out any fires started by dry combustibles or flammable liquids.

Sold by Home Depot and Amazon

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