The best part about fire pits is that they are perfect in every season. On a cold winter night, a fire pit can bring warmth and life to the party. On a warm summer afternoon, an outdoor fire pit can create the best dessert in the world. Firepits not only create warmth and food, but they also create memories.
Picture an outdoor barbeque. Some people are playing cornhole in the yard. There is a volleyball net set up. The grill is currently creating the best burgers this world has ever seen. A roaring fire is positioned perfectly with chairs and blankets around it.
People are laughing and telling stories around the fire pit. The magic of a custom fire pit can’t be underestimated. Something so small has the potential to bring family and friends together.
When it comes to outdoor fire pits, it’s more than just buying something online. You deserve a fire pit to match your style and home. We have all purchased a firepit that barely lasted the year. Standard fire pits can’t stand the tests of time between rust, water, and natural elements. So, what makes a good outdoor fire pit? Let’s look at some of the details of the gadget that helps bring people together. But before we go any further, let’s ask the age-old question. How much is this going to cost?
How Much Is An Outdoor Fire Pit?
Wood burning will be around that $3,000 mark, but you will maintain the flame and get it started each time.
Gas burning is around $3,300 + plumbing expenses. Depending on your meter and regulators for the appliances, this can bring the cost up significantly.
Building Your Own Outdoor Fire Pit
If you enjoy DIY projects, you may enjoy building your custom fire pit! We highly recommend that this project wouldn’t be the first DIY project you undertake. A few steps in this process would better be reserved for people who have attempted them before. Here are the main steps in building your outdoor pit!
- Pick Your Spot – If you have an open spot in the yard or have a nice space on your patio pavers, it could be perfect for a fire pit. Make sure there are no surrounding trees, and make sure it isn’t right next to your house. For specific spacing measurements, consult your local township.
- Create Spot Dimensions – It would be beneficial to use the material you are creating your custom fire pit with to outline the dimensions. This will give you a good indication of the base width and length. Make sure that your rectangle or square has straight edges. If you are doing a round fire pit, you simply need to be satisfied with your shape. Then take a shovel or any backyard tool with an edge and outline your materials. Create the shape in the ground by etching with your device.
- Lay The Foundation – Now it is time to begin “constructing” your new fire pit. First, it is important to remove grass & dirt around a depth of 9” inches. Then, you can pack down the underlying soil flat. Next, add your base (6” of gravel) and spread that out evenly. Proceed to pack down as well, wetting it if necessary. Use a level to ensure the base is completely flat and level. A hand tamper may be used, but a small plate compactor has the best results.
- Set Fire Pit Material – Making sure your bricks, stones, or any other material are touching when you lay them…begin placing them around the edge of your foundation. You can then do the 2nd row, and later, depending on how big you want your fire pit to be, a third. If you need to cut your material to fit, make sure you have a circular saw present. Removing one block at a time from the 2nd row, apply your construction adhesive to hold them in place. Most fire pits will have 4-5 courses of block. The first course should be wholly or partially buried below grade.
Photo Credit: Lowes
Firebrick Set-Up – Finally, you can line the inside of your outdoor fire pit material with firebrick. These are designed to withstand the heat and make up the inside part of your custom fire pit. Before doing this, make sure you have the height you want for your pit. You can then line and cut the firebrick to fit nicely along the inner walls. Stainless steel liners are a popular choice, and some significantly reduce the amount of annoying smoke generated by a wood fire. They even have grills and sear plates available for outdoor cooking!
It is also essential to know that fire safety is critical. Ensure access to a fire extinguisher or a significant source of water nearby.
Outdoor Fire Pit Heating Methods
Wood Burning – Wood burning fire pits are the classic style of backyard fires. These are simply structures that hold wood, rocks, and ash without catching your property on fire. They can include inserts or just be made simply. Typical horizontal setbacks from combustible materials (like a home or deck) range from 15-25’, depending on the local codes.
Gas – Natural gas custom fire pits are a little bit different. They feed off a permanent gas line that allows you to control exactly when the fire starts and stops with a simple ignition switch. They also give the appearance of a traditional fireplace, adding to the decor of your property. Gas outdoor fire pits may be plumbed to a sizeable onsite propane tank or connected to a natural gas system if it is available. It is always recommended to hire a gas plumber to make the connections! When ordering a gas fire pit insert, you must specify either propane or natural gas.
Outdoor Fire Pit Styles
Traditional Fire Pit – The traditional fire pit is built on your patio or in your yard. It can be rectangular, square, or round. There are generally 3-5 levels of walls and a simple inside featuring firebricks or an insert
Outdoor Fire Place – An outdoor fireplace is exactly what it sounds like…a giant fireplace outside. These allow for a more “home-like” feel even when outdoors. It’s a different take on the firepit and allows for less wind because of the back and sidewalls. An outdoor fireplace has very different requirements than a fire pit, and costs may range from $10-25K.
Copper or Stainless Insert – A copper insert is generally used when firebrick is not used. It will allow the burn not to reach the outer walls if needed. This will change the look of a firepit, so it will be up to you and how you want your backyard to look
Tiered Fire Pit – A tiered outdoor fire pit is a step up from the traditional. This allows you to extend the height and possibly the width of your firepit. You can also build in unique styles, matching the feel of your backyard.
Fire Table – A fire table is typically fueled by natural gas or propane. Fire tables are great because they also provide a place to eat on top of the warmth and feel of fire. With chairs and food, a fire table becomes a family dinner table.
Smoke-Free – Smokeless or smoke-free fire pits capture the smoke to be re-burned so that fewer escapes into your faces. This is done with a specific insert. Our team uses the Zentro insert.
Outdoor Fire Pit Materials
Retaining Blocks – Normally used to create retaining walls, these blocks can also double as fire pit walls. With the stylish look and a simple copper insert, you will be ready to have a fire in no time. Most manufacturers have a specific block that can be purchased as a kit and installed with no cutting.
Bricks – Bricks bring the iconic red hues to your fire pit. Often accompanied by an insert for protective purposes, bricks are another easy way to craft a fire pit.
Stones – When it comes to stones, you want to ensure that they are not highly absorbent. When water accumulates in stone and is exposed to high temperatures, it can get dangerous. If you have an insert, it should be fine but stay away from flagstone and limestone just to be safe
Cement – A cement fire pit gives a smooth and clean look. With no rock edges, you can use cement for your base and your walls as well.
Natural – A natural look may use stones or blocks, but it still gives little indication of a man-made structure. It takes elements of nature and adds something extra. Natural fire pits do not follow the standard smooth edge feel. They are wild and sought after because of this.
Outdoor Fire Pit Tools
This fire pit tools list isn’t exhaustive, but here are some of our favorite fire pit accessories you may need!
Fire Poker Stick – This tool allows you to maneuver the logs in your wood-burning fire pit. This helps with oxygen flow and fire height. You can also help direct the smoke as well.
Wood Stand – Whether simple or elaborate, a wood stand can make it a lot easier to add to your fire without making a huge mess. With a cover, you can keep the wood dry while also displaying it in a better way than a chaotic pile.
Fire Pit Shovel – A fire pit shovel is used mainly to clean the ash from the bottom of your fire pit. This helps by allowing oxygen to get beneath the fire to sustain it while also keeping your fire pit clean.
Ash Bucket – The ash bucket works with the shovel to help dispose of all your ashes. This is also a safety measure to make sure no fire will re-ignite. Pouring a little water over your ash bucket can ensure this. You can also use this ash to gain a little traction from slippery conditions in the winter.
Screen – A fire pit screen or spark screen helps to encompass the sparks and flames from your fire. If you are worried about it getting out of control or simply want to lay back while your fire slowly dies down, a screen can help.
Wire Brush – If you have a metal insert, a wire brush will be needed to help keep that clean. A combination of wood, smoke, ash, and the fire’s heat can create some messy circumstances.
Firewood Retriever – When a fire poker isn’t enough, a firewood retriever can act as a large pair of tongs. A fire retriever can help you get unwanted things out of your fire or move logs exactly where you want them.
Grilling Grate – There’s nothing better than a meal cooked over a fire. Grab a grilling grate for your hamburgers, hot dogs, vegetables, steaks, corn, chicken, and more!
Cover – A cover is needed, especially in the winter. After all the hard work and money of creating an outdoor fire pit, keep it nice by not exposing it to harsh elements.
Smores Sticks – Using a stick in the woods may be a little old-fashioned. Grab re-usable smores sticks for the perfect toasting for the whole family!
Outdoor Fire Pit: Conclusion
Whether you are in the market to buy or build your own outdoor fire pit, there are a few things to consider. Before jumping into it, you want to think about money, DIY vs. purchase, heat source, style, materials, and tools that you will need to make this project perfect. You deserve relaxing nights outside with friends and family, and we want to help give those to you.
If you want to contact us for quotes and more information, we would love to help talk you through the process. If you have started your own DIY project and have questions, let us help! Either way, in the end, you will have a beautiful outdoor fire pit that will create memories for years to come. We have loved helping hundreds of people create their dream backyards. Take a look at these projects to help with ideas for your next one!