Do Fire Pits Get Hot Underneath?

photo of how heat from a fire pit can affect underneath
The heat from a fire pit can be damaging to what's underneath it, so it’s vital to take steps to avoid damage to your deck, patio, or grass.

Today, we’re going to explore a question that’s crucial for anyone who loves gathering around a wood burning fire pit with family and friends! Understanding how to use a fire pit and handle the heat that comes from a fire pit is key to ensuring safety and protecting your outdoor space.

The Heat Beneath: A Closer Look

First things first, let’s address the burning question: do fire pits actually get hot underneath? In short, yes. The heat from both wood burning fire pits and a gas fire pit can be significant and it’s especially important to manage this heat properly to avoid damage to your deck, patio, or lawn. Of course, having a fire feature or fire table in an enclosed space is always going to require some consideration for heat, but fear not! With a little know-how and some simple precautions, you can keep your outdoor gatherings safe and delightful.

So, what works the best?

When it comes to enjoying a fire pit in your outdoor space, safety is paramount, particularly in protecting the area underneath from the intense heat. Over the years, fire pit enthusiasts have devised various methods to shield their decks, patios, and lawns. In this section, we’ll explore the most common and effective strategies people use to ensure their fire pit experience is both enjoyable and safe.

1. Fire Pit Mats and Pads: The First Line of Defence

One of the simplest and most popular methods to protect the ground beneath a fire pit is using fire pit mats or pads. These are specially designed to withstand high temperatures and are often made from heat-resistant materials like silicone, metal, or composite materials.

They come in various sizes and shapes to suit different fire pit designs. Simply placing one of these mats under your fire pit or fire bowl can significantly reduce the risk of radiant heat damage to wooden decks or grass.

2. Pavers and Bricks: Building a Durable Base

Many outdoor enthusiasts opt for a more permanent solution by constructing a base using lava rocks, pavers or bricks. This method not only provides excellent heat insulation but also adds an aesthetic element to your outdoor area. The process involves clearing a level area, laying down a layer of sand for stability, and then arranging the pavers or bricks in a desired pattern. This creates a sturdy and heat-resistant foundation that not only protects the surface underneath but also enhances the overall look of the fire pit area.

3. Gravel Beds: A Natural and Effective Barrier

A gravel bed is another effective way to protect the area beneath a fire pit. This method involves digging a shallow pit in the desired location and filling it with gravel. The gravel acts as a natural barrier, absorbing and dispersing the heat. This method is particularly popular for those who prefer a more rustic or natural aesthetic. Additionally, gravel beds offer excellent drainage, which is beneficial in areas prone to rain.

4. Metal Fire Pit Stands

Using metal or stone stands specifically designed for fire pits is an increasingly popular method. These stands elevate the fire pit, reducing the heat transfer to the surface below. Metal stands are often preferred for their durability and ability to withstand high temperatures, while stone stands offer a more natural and visually appealing option.

Whatever you choose, an elevating stand will almost always increase the air flow to the fire, and cause it burn hotter and cleaner with less smoke too! Bingo!

5. Combining Methods for Enhanced Protection

Often, fire pit users combine several of these methods for added protection. For instance, placing a wood burning fire pit mat on a brick base can offer double the protection, ensuring that the heat impact on the ground is minimal. This combination approach is especially useful for those who have fire pits in versatile locations, like wooden decks or in the middle of a lawn.


“I always recommend creating a solid base and keeping a fire extinguisher handy. And, of course, never leave your fire pit unattended. These simple steps have made my fire pit experiences safer and more enjoyable.”

Benjamin May, CEO & Founder of MAX Fire Pits

6. Regular Maintenance and Care

Beyond these physical barriers, regular maintenance of the fire pit itself plays a crucial role in safety. Ensuring that the fire pit is in good condition, with no excessive rust or degradation, can prevent unpredictable heat flare-ups. Additionally, proper ash disposal and cleaning can further reduce the risk of heat damage.

FAQ

What’s the best way to protect my deck from my fire pit’s heat?

Opt for a protective barrier like a fire pit pad or create a sturdy base using non-flammable materials like bricks or pavers. This not only guards against heat but also adds an aesthetic touch to your outdoor space. Almost all fire pits will require some level of care to stop the heat output downwards.

Is it safe to leave my fire pit unattended?

Safety first! Always have a fire extinguisher nearby and never leave your fire pit unattended. This is crucial for both wood burning and gas fire pits as its not hard for hot embers or coals to jump out of the fire pit and land on a deck or patio.

Building a Heat-Safe Base: A Step-by-Step Guide

Creating a heat-safe base for your fire pit can be a fun and fulfilling DIY project. Here’s a simple guide to get you started:

Build Time 1 hour

Choose Your Materials

photo of pavers for a fire pit base to potect grass

Pavers or bricks are great choices for building a fire-resistant base. You can easily order these online, although its much cheaper to go to somewhere like Bunnings to grab them as the shipping costs really start to add up.

Prepare the Area

using a shovel to cut out turf and prepare the ground

Select a level spot in your outdoor space. Clear it of any debris and outline the area for your base.

Be sure to keep an eye on low hanging trees and other objects around the area, as sudden flames, embers or messy ash can escape the fire pit and cause issues.

It’s also wise to keep a minimum distance of 3 metres from the house. Many homeowners like to control the situation a little more and ensure they keep the fire pit in the yard, away from any structure, and I think this makes sense. You can never be too careful!

Measure out the foundation

photo of using a tape measure the area

If you are making the base on your lawn, measure out the area you need with a tape measure and mark it out with either a spray can or some string.

Cut out the turf

Use your shovel to cut around the border of the measured area and remove the layer of grass. This gives you a flat base to lay your sand and pavers.

Lay down the bedding sand

Adding the sand allows you to level out the area for the pavers with the best result. Pavers can move up and down in the sand when you level them out.

Put down the pavers and level it all out

always wear protective gloves when laying lage pavers

Drop your pavers into place, then use your spirit level to ensure they are as flat as possible. Fill any gaps between the pavers with the bedding sand and give it a light watering with a hose to bed them in.

Final touches!

Once your base is complete, place your fire pit on top and start to use a fire pit at your next gathering!

What about if I put it on my lawn?

The grass can get dry, turn brown, or even die if it gets too hot. Also, the soil under the fire pit can get hard and lose its nutrients, making it hard for new grass to grow. To keep your lawn looking green and healthy, it’s a good idea to use something like a heat shield under your fire pit, or place it on a surface that doesn’t catch fire. This way, you can enjoy your fire pit and keep your lawn happy at the same time!

If you’re planning to set up a fire pit on your lawn, it’s important to think about how the heat might affect your grass. Fire pits can get really hot, and that heat can be extra tough on the grass underneath and around it.

Get out there!

So, there you have it! Keeping the ground safe under your fire pit is super important for a great time outdoors. Whether you go for an easy-to-use fire pit mat, get creative with a sturdy base of bricks, or mix and match a few different methods, the main thing is to pick what’s right for your own backyard setup.

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photo of how heat from a fire pit can affect underneath

Do Fire Pits Get Hot Underneath?

The heat from a fire pit can be damaging to what’s underneath it, so it’s vital to take steps to avoid damage to your deck, patio, or grass.