Get ready to warm up while you chill out. A fire pit is the ideal backyard accessory for creating a warm ambience, casting a magical glow, and beckoning friends and family to relax awhile. If you've never owned a fire pit before, you might have a few questions about how and where to use it. We're happy to give you a quick primer that'll help you get started on your journey to toasty nights on the patio.
What is a fire pit?
At its most basic, an outside fire pit is a freestanding metal or stone container in which you can build a fire with logs or enjoy a propane-powered flame. Fire pits are glamorous alternatives to those stones you surround a traditional campfire with — they keep the flames from spreading and define this cozy gathering place. Fire pits are available in a number of different styles, including fire tables,fire bowls,pagodas, and tabletop designs for your outdoor dining table.
Finding the right spot for your fire pit is important for your comfort and safety. The pit should sit on a level spot to limit any likelihood of it falling over. You can place it in a grassy area, but the pit itself shouldn't sit directly over the grass. Set it up over something that isn't combustible, like a stone slab or some carefully arranged bricks similar to a small patio. A concrete slab is an ideal area, too. If you don't have access to these items, you can also purchase a fire pit pad. These non-flammable, portable mats install just about anywhere. When you place your pit atop the pad, the pad shields the ground from radiating heat. Learn more fire pit safety tips with answers to your most commonly asked questions!
How far should my outdoor fire pit be from my house?
Your fire pit should sit at least 10 to 20 feet away from your house. Remember that you're dealing with an open flame, and safety is your number-one concern. These pits can emit a lot of heat. Even if you have a heat shield in place to keep things from getting too warm, the pits still heat up surrounding structures.
Your home isn't the only thing that can heat up; nearby trees and plants can also catch fire if they're closer than 10 feet to the pit. Never place your fire pit under overhanging tree branches, either. Floating embers can easily catch the limbs on fire. Keep a fire extinguisher, fire blanket, or fire pit screens, on hand near the pit when you're enjoying it.
Can I put a fire pit on my wood deck?
You likely can, but please take a few precautions first. Your local building codes may specify how close the pit can be to the decking, but you should always place the fire pit atop stones or a slab like you would on grass. The fire pit base should extend 18 inches beyond the edges of the fire pit in every direction. In addition, you'll want to keep the same 10-foot safety zone around all sides of your fire pit on your wood deck.
Can I have an outdoor fire pit under my covered patio?
It's not ideal to install a wood-burning fire pit under a covered patio. Embers may float up and damage the ceiling or catch it on fire. If you're still yearning for a covered patio fire pit, choose a propane- or gas-powered fire pit — the flames are easier to control. For best results, your covered patio should have open sides so excess heat can dissipate without causing damage.