How to make a fire pit

Picture of Max Firepits

Max Firepits

Our thorough guide will show you all the materials and step-by-step instructions on how to build a fire pit in your backyard.

There’s nothing quite like gathering around a diy fire pit in your own backyard, whether it’s toasting marshmallows with the kids, sharing a drink with friends, or simply enjoying the warmth on a cool evening. Building a fire pit is a rewarding project that enhances your outdoor space and creates a cosy atmosphere for socialising and relaxation. Also, it gives you the perfect excuse to visit your local hardware store on a Saturday =)

“Building a fire pit transforms your backyard into a cosy retreat, perfect for gatherings or quiet evenings under the stars.” – Max Maynard, Owner of MAX Fire Pits

In this guide, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about how to make a fire pit, from planning and materials to step-by-step instructions and safety tips.

Key Takeaways

  • Choose a safe, level location for your fire pit.
  • Plan the size and shape based on your needs.
  • Consider using a fire pit kit for convenience and cost-effectiveness.
  • Gather all necessary materials and tools before starting to build a fire pit.
  • Follow the step-by-step guide to ensure a sturdy and safe fire pit.
  • Always prioritise safety when using your fire pit.
  • Enhance your fire pit area with seating, lighting, and decorations.

Planning Your Fire Pit

Before you start building, it’s important to plan your fire pit project. First, choose a suitable location in your backyard with enough space. The spot should be level and away from any structures, trees, or overhanging branches to ensure safety. Check local regulations to see if there are any restrictions on building fire pits in your area.

Size and shape

Think about the size and shape of your fire pit. Do you want a large gathering space or a smaller, more intimate setting? Sketch out your design and measure the area to make sure everything will fit as planned. Proper planning helps avoid any surprises during construction and ensures your fire pit will be both functional and safe. Consider exploring DIY fire pit ideas to inspire different design options.

Gathering Materials and Tools for the Fire Pit Base

To build your backyard fire pit, you’ll need a few essential materials and tools. Here’s a list to get you started:

How to make a fire pit

Gathering Materials and Tools for the Fire Pit Base

To build your backyard fire pit, you’ll need a few essential materials and tools. Here’s a list to get you started:

Materials:

– Lava rocks, fire Bricks or stones (heat-resistant)
– Concrete landscaping stones or retaining wall blocks
– Clay fire bricks
– Gravel, paver base or sand for a level base
– Cement
– Soil and stone or rocks for backfilling
– Fire pit ring (optional, but recommended for durability)
– Concrete mix (for added stability, if needed)
– Fire ring ( if you are going this way )

Tools:

– Shovel
– Circular Saw
– Level
– Tape measure
– Trowel
– Rubber mallet (for adjusting bricks or stones)
– Spray Paint
Construction Adhesive
– Fire resistant gloves

Having all your materials and tools ready before you begin will make the process smoother and more efficient.

Marking the Area

marking out the area to install the fire pit

Start by marking the area where your fire pit add will be located. Use a stake and lay a string or a garden hose to outline the shape. A typical size is about 1.2 meters in diameter, but you can adjust based on your room available and needs.

Ensuring the shape is symmetrical and the size fits well in your chosen location is important for both aesthetics and functionality. If you are placing your fire pit on an old pathway, be sure to remove as much of the gravel or paver base from the ground to make levelling it out easier later. It will be a much more difficult task if you don’t.

Digging the Foundation

photo of man digging hole for diy fire pit

Dig out the marked area to a depth of about 15-20 centimetres. This will make a stable base for your fire pit and help contain the fire. Ensure the bottom is level by checking with a spirit level. This step is crucial as an uneven base can cause the structure to be unstable and pose safety risks.

Adding the Base Layer

shovel adding sand to fire pit base

Fill the dug-out area with a layer of gravel or sand, about 10 centimetres deep. This layer improves drainage and provides a solid foundation for the fire pit. Level it out evenly. Proper drainage is important to prevent water from accumulating at the bottom, which can affect the stability and longevity of your fire pit.

Laying the Bricks or Stones

choosing and laying bricks around you fire pit base

Start placing the bricks or stones around the edge of the dug-out area, forming a circle. Fill them up to the desired height, typically about 30-45 centimetres. Use a rubber mallet to adjust the alignment and ensure each layer is level. Take your time with this step to ensure each brick or stone is securely in place, as this will form the main structure of your diy fire pit.

Installing the Fire Pit Ring (if applicable)

If you’re using a fire pit ring, place it inside the circle of bricks or stones on the ground. This ring helps protect the structure from heat damage and extends the life of your fire pit. Make sure it fits snugly and is level. The ring also adds an extra layer of safety by containing the fire more effectively.

Finishing Touches

Add a layer of fireproof material, such as fire bricks or a fire ring insert, inside the pit for additional protection. Clean up the surrounding area, removing any debris or flammable materials. This step ensures the interior of your fire pit is well-protected against high temperatures, making it safer to use over the long term.

Building a diy fire pit involves some physical effort, but the result is a fantastic addition to your yard that you can enjoy for years. Once you’ve decided to start, you will find it’s a pretty easy project to complete within a single weekend, providing you allow enough time for your concrete and construction adhesive to dry properly.

DIY Fire Pit Ideas

Creating a DIY fire pit can be an exciting and rewarding project that adds both functionality and aesthetic appeal to your backyard.

One popular idea is to build a fire pit using repurposed materials. For instance, you can use old fire bricks or pavers left over from other projects. Arrange them in a circular or square pattern to make a rustic yet charming fire pit. This not only gives the materials a new life but also adds a unique character. Using repurposed materials is a cost-effective way to achieve a stylish and functional fire pit.

Metal drum fire pit

Another creative DIY fire pit idea is to build a metal drum fire pit. Old metal drums, such as those used for oil or industrial purposes, can be transformed into durable fire pits with minimal effort. Cut the drum to the desired height, smooth the edges to avoid injuries, and add ventilation holes for better airflow.

You can leave the metal finish as it is for a rugged, industrial look or paint it with high-heat resistant paint in a colour that complements your backyard décor.

This type of fire pit is particularly portable and ideal for creating a striking focal point in your garden.

Natural Stones

For those who prefer a more natural aesthetic, consider constructing a fire pit using natural stones. Collect stones of varying sizes and shapes from your local area or purchase them from a landscaping supplier. Arrange the stones in a circular pattern, stacking them securely to form the walls of the fire pit.

This method creates a stable foundation fire pit that blends seamlessly with the natural surroundings of your garden, providing a serene and organic feel. You can even incorporate a soil, stone, gravel, lava rocks or sand base inside the stone circle for added stability and drainage.

This type of fire pit is perfect for those who enjoy a rustic, earthy atmosphere in their outdoor spaces.

Fire Pit Safe Tips

Safety should always be a priority when using your fire pit. Here are some essential tips to keep in mind:

  • Location: Always place your fire pit on a non-flammable surface and away from any structures, trees, or overhanging branches. If placing on a lawn, use some gravel or fire bricks to raise up your structure to prevent burning.
  • Supervision: Never leave the fire unattended. Always have someone responsible nearby to monitor it.
  • Extinguishing: Keep a bucket of water, sand, or a fire extinguisher close by in case you need to quickly put out the fire.
  • Fuel: Only burn dry, seasoned wood. Avoid using accelerants like petrol, as they can cause dangerous flare-ups.
  • Weather: Be mindful of windy conditions that can spread embers and potentially start unintended fires.
  • Children and Pets: Keep children and pets at a safe distance from the fire pit at all times.

To keep the fire pit safe, ensure the fire pit walls are free from cracks, rust, and potential hazards, and center it on a foundation of stone or brick.

Following these safety tips will help you enjoy your fire pit responsibly and prevent accidents.

Creative DIY Fire Pit Ideas and Enhancements

Once your fire pit is built, you can make it the centrepiece of your outdoor area with a few creative touches. Having your own fire pit brings joy and a sense of accomplishment. Here are some ideas to enhance your backyard area:

  • Seating: Arrange comfortable seating around the DIY fire pit. Consider adding outdoor cushions, benches, or Adirondack chairs to make a cosy spot for friends and family to sit. Choosing stylish and practical outdoor furniture can make your area super comfortable.
  • Lighting: Add some ambient lighting with string lights or solar-powered garden lights. This not only looks great but also makes the area safer after dark.
  • Decorations: Incorporate decorative elements like potted plants, outdoor rugs, or side tables to add a personal touch. A few stones in glass jars can add a bit of class to sections of the garden. Use steel and spray paint to design some unique metal sculptures for your garden beds.
  • Cooking: Consider adding a grill grate or a tripod with a cooking pot over the fire pit. This way, you can enjoy cooking meals outdoors, from marshmallows to full barbecues.
  • Pathways: Create a path leading to your fire pit using clay fire bricks, stones, gravel, or pavers. This helps define the area and makes it more accessible.
  • Shelter: If you live in a region with unpredictable weather, think about installing a pergola or canopy over the fire pit area to provide some protection from the elements.

These enhancements can transform your fire pit area into a functional and inviting outdoor living area perfect for entertaining or relaxing.

What materials are best for a fire pit?

Heat-resistant bricks or stones are ideal. You can also use a fire pit ring for added durability.

How deep should I dig for the fire pit foundation?

Dig about 15-20 centimetres deep to create a stable base for your fire pit.

Can I use any type of wood in my fire pit?

It’s best to use dry, seasoned wood to avoid excessive smoke and dangerous flare-ups.

What safety measures should I take when using a fire pit?

Keep a bucket of water or a fire extinguisher nearby, supervise the fire at all times, and ensure children and pets stay at a safe distance.

How can I personalise my fire pit area?

Add a bit of comfortable seating, ambient lighting, and decorative elements like potted plants or outdoor rugs to create a cosy and inviting space.

Is it necessary to use a fire pit ring?

While not essential, a fire pit ring helps protect the structure from heat damage and extends the life of your fire pit.

Can I use wall blocks for building a fire pit?

Yes, wall blocks are a great option for building a fire pit. They are durable and can be combined with fire pit kits for various styles.

How do I create an in ground fire pit?

To create an in ground fire pit, dig a hole to the desired size, use salvaged bricks or retaining wall blocks for the structure, and consider the layout and design options for a rustic or modern look. Line the hole with a retaining wall or cement in a circle shape.

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