Updated April 2, 2022
The short answer is yes. It might take some time, but a wood burning fire pit may damage your concrete surface over time. The intense heat from a fire pit can cause the surface of the concrete in your concrete patio or outdoor area to crack and flake. Not good.
The heat sensitive surface underneath your pit can also absorb the oils and chemicals from the fire pit, which can also discolour it over time. Building the fire pit on a heat-resistant pad ( or by using a fire pit mat ) is the best way to protect the surface below.
If you are going to put your custom fire pit in a fixed location in your backyard, we always recommend to build yourself a raised platform from concrete pavers or fire bricks to give that extra level of protection from extreme heat.
If you are going to put it on a nice section of lawn, the last thing you want is scorching and marking the area, so you can follow this guide on how to prevent this.
Will a Fire Pit Damage Concrete?
Without proper preparation, using a fire pit can certainly damage a concrete patio over time. It may not happen overnight, but both the direct and ambient heat from a wood burning fire pit can eventually cause the concrete to crack and flake. In fact, any surface that can conduct heat can be damaged by your fire pit, so it’s best to plan ahead to avoid this happening.
What are the main causes of damage to concrete from a fire pit?
The high temperatures of a roaring fire can dehydrate the concrete. Regardless of how old concrete is, it will always contain some amount of water. When the heat from the is applied, the water vaporises into mist, and can cause cracks in the concrete.
Secondly, the chemicals in the smoke from a fire can also affect concrete, as the tannins in wood smoke might permanently discolour the concrete, causing an unsightly stain.
Third, the sparks from a fire can cause concrete to spall. Spalling is when the surface of the concrete breaks away into small pieces which can damage your concrete patio and causing cracking down the track.
Will fire pit damage my pavers?
There is a chance that wood burning fire pits might damage your pavers, but it depends on the type of paver and the material that they are made of. If they are made of a softer material, like brick or stone, then they are more likely to be damaged by the fire pit than a harder concrete paver.
We recommend the use of a heat retardant mat or other protective barrier to help prevent the heat transfer. Heat proof mats are available from lots of outdoor and home-improvement stores.
Ultimately, it is up to the owner of the outdoor area to decide whether or not they want to risk damaging the pavers by putting their wood burning fire pits on them.
5 tips to prevent fire pits from damaging concrete.
1. Use a heat-resistant pad to build your fire pit on.
One way to protect your concrete patio from damage is to use a heat-resistant pad to build your fire pit on. This will help distribute the heat evenly, which will help prevent the concrete from cracking or flaking. There are some excellent products available at Bunnings like this one.
2. Choose a fire pit with a protective shield.
Another way to protect your concrete patio from damage is to choose a fire pit with a protective shield. This will help keep the sparks and embers from the fire contained, which will help prevent them from damaging the concrete.
3. Keep your fire pit raised from the surface.
An above-ground fire pit is a great way to prevent your concrete patio from being damaged by a fire pit. It is important to make sure that the flames are not too close to the edge of the concrete, as this can still cause damage. It is also important to ensure that the fire pit is not too big for the space, as this can also cause damage. By using an above-ground fire pit, you can enjoy the beauty of a fire pit without having to worry about damaging your concrete patio.
4. Regularly sweep up any ashes or embers that may fall on the concrete surface.
One way to help prevent any damage from a fire pit is to regularly sweep up any hot ash or embers that may fall on the concrete surface. This will help keep the concrete clean and free from any harmful chemicals that can come from a fire pit. Needless to say, hot ashes falling onto exposed wooden decks can cause it to catch fire and can be a dangerous thing. Nope.
5. Using a permanent fire pit
If you want to have a fire pit on concrete but are worried about damaging it, then you can use a permanent fire pit. These are made of materials that are designed to withstand the heat and flames of a fire pit, so you don’t have to worry about damaging your concrete patio.
Safety tips before or after using fire pits.
- Place your fire pits on a level surface.
- Use a fire pit mat to protect your lawn grass or wooden deck from the high temperatures.
- Make sure that the area around your fire pit is clear of any flammable materials.
- Keep a bucket of water or a fire extinguisher nearby in case of an emergency.
- Do not leave your wood burning fire pits unattended.
- Store your fire pit in a safe place when it’s not in use.
- Choose a naturally non-combustible material to sit your fire pits on.
- Let your fire pits cool down completely before moving it or touching it.
- Keep the fire pit clean.
- Place thermal barriers or fire pit screens to prevent accidental touching.
- Avoid using chemicals or oils in your fire pit, as they can drip out and discolour the concrete over time.
- When you are finished using your fire pits, make sure to extinguish the flames and wait for the coals to die down so it is completely safe to touch.
Fire pits can be a great addition to any backyard, but it’s important to keep in mind that they can also cause issues if not used properly. By following these tips, you can help to prevent any damage from happening and enjoy the beauty of your fire pit without having to worry.