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Build a Fire Pit

A great way to enjoy an evening is to relax by an open fire — and a firepit can make it even nicer. They are great for outdoor entertaining, and when the weather starts to cool off, you can still enjoy the outdoors.

Preparing for a Firepit

Patio firepits are available in kits or as separate components. Some are steel bowls or frames that you can move around the yard. Others are built in place with concrete blocks or similar noncombustible materials. This project consists of a steel fire bowl surrounded by concrete blocks.

Before you begin construction:

Step 1

Check with any local ordinances or homeowners' association guidelines to see if firepits are permitted. Some regulations don't allow them, while others require that they be located at least a specific distance away from structures or property lines (typically 20 feet). It's for your safety and that of your neighbors that these regulations are enforced.

Step 2

Select a convenient and safe location for the firepit. Make sure that it's in an open area away from the house, low tree limbs or anything else that could catch fire. If possible, position it near your woodpile for convenience.

Step 3

Place a small flag at the selected location, and check it periodically over a few days to determine the prevailing wind direction. You don’t want smoke blowing in your windows or those of your neighbors.

Building the Firepit

Building the Firepit

The following procedures are for installing a basic firepit ring of concrete blocks surrounding a steel firepit bowl with a cover. The same process can be used to install other firepits with bricks or other materials, with or without a firepit bowl. Removable firepit bowls make cleaning easier. The optional firepit cover makes them safer by retaining hot coals in the pit. You should also have a metal poker to move and adjust wood in the pit for an optimum fire.

Firepits should be installed on concrete patios, pavers or bare dirt. Firepits shouldn't be installed directly on wood decks or other combustible materials. If using a firepit bowl on a wood deck, make sure a fireproof barrier is installed below and around the bowl.

Step 1

Gather the materials and tools you'll need for this job. Once gathered, construction of the firepit should only take an hour or two at the most.

These instructions are for a dry-fit masonry ring, meaning that no mortar is required between the blocks. If preferred, you may build the firepit ring using mortar.

Step 2

Assemble the firepit screen cover, and place it on the patio to mark the center of the firepit. This step will help you determine the size of the firepit ring.

Step 3

Place the first layer of blocks around the cover, making sure all the joints between blocks are tight. The example project has 16 blocks in each layer. Mortar isn't used.

Step 4

Remove the cover and set it aside for now.

Step 5

Install the second layer of blocks on top of the completed first layer, staggering the joints between the blocks to strengthen the wall.

Step 6

Install the third, then the fourth layer of blocks, staggering the joints.

Step 7

Install the firepit tray — without the legs — in the ring.

Step 8

Install the firepit grate.

If you choose not to install a steel firepit bowl, use fireproof blocks to line the inside of the ring or construct the ring with fireproof blocks.

Building a Fire

Step 1

Place a starter log on the firepit grate.

Step 2

Stack a few logs over the starter log.

Step 3

Light the starter log.

Step 4

Once the fire is steadily burning, cover the firepit with the screen lid.

Keep a bucket of water or fire extinguisher nearby.
Make sure you clean out firepit ashes regularly. You can mix the cool, extinguished ashes with compost for your garden beds.