How to Build a Fire Pit: A Professional Guide to Outdoor Entertaining

Anthony Redd

white wooden chairs on green grass field during daytime

Building a fire pit can transform any backyard. It offers a great place to gather with family and friends. To start your project, choose a suitable location away from any structures or overhanging trees.

Next, decide on the materials you want to use. Options like stone, bricks, pavers, and concrete are popular for their durability. Make sure to use fire-resistant materials to keep it safe.

Follow basic steps to construct your fire pit. Dig a hole, lay a foundation, and build up the walls. Guides can help you understand each step clearly. Following these easy instructions will help you create a sturdy fire pit that everyone will enjoy.

Planning Your Fire Pit

Before building a fire pit, it’s important to choose the right location, select the size and shape, and understand local ordinances. These steps ensure your fire pit is safe, practical, and compliant with regulations.

Choosing the Right Location

Choosing the right spot is key for safety and ambiance. Ensure the fire pit is away from any structures, trees, and plants. A good rule is to have it at least 10 feet away from your house and other structures. This reduces the risk of fire spreading.

Safety tips:

  • Keep clear of low-hanging branches.
  • Avoid windy areas.
  • Make sure there is a water source nearby.

Consider the view from your seating area. A fire pit should be a focal point, so position it where it can be seen and enjoyed by everyone. Think about how smoke will travel. Placing the pit where smoke won’t blow into sitting areas helps keep guests comfortable.

Selecting the Size and Shape

The size and shape of your fire pit depend on how many people you plan to accommodate. A small, round fire pit is great for cozy gatherings. Larger, rectangular ones are better for big groups.

Popular materials and shapes:


A standard size for a fire pit is about 36-44 inches in diameter. This allows enough space for a healthy fire while keeping everyone close together. Make sure the height is comfortable for sitting and that it’s not too deep. A shallow pit makes it easier to manage the fire.

Understanding Local Ordinances

Before building your fire pit, it’s crucial to check local laws. Some areas have strict regulations on fire pits. This can include size limits, material restrictions, and where you can place them in your yard.

Common restrictions:

  • Minimum distance from structures
  • Permits required
  • Allowed burning materials

Contact your local fire department or municipal office for specific rules. Some places need a permit, while others might have bans during dry seasons. Knowing these rules helps you avoid fines and ensures your fire pit is legal and safe. For more guidance, refer to Bob Vila.

Following these tips will help you design a fire pit that is safe, functional, and enjoyable for everyone.

Designing Your Fire Pit

Creating a fire pit involves careful planning. It’s important to choose the right materials and ensure a stable foundation. Safety features are also crucial to keep everyone safe while enjoying the fire.

Selecting Materials

Choosing the right materials is essential. You can use natural stone, bricks, concrete pavers, or cinder blocks. These materials are durable and can withstand high temperatures. Stone and bricks are common choices for their appearance and heat resistance.

Concrete pavers and retaining wall blocks are also good options. They are easy to work with and provide a sturdy structure. Masonry adhesive or mortar can be used to secure the materials. If you want a metal element, consider a steel fire ring. It adds durability and helps contain the fire.

Determining the Foundation

A solid foundation is crucial for your fire pit. Start by digging a trench about six inches deep in the desired area. Fill it with a few inches of gravel to help with drainage. You can then add a layer of sand for additional stability. Tamp both layers down firmly.

For a more permanent foundation, consider using concrete blocks. They provide a strong base and can be secured with construction adhesive. Concrete pavers can also be used to create a flat, stable surface. Make sure the foundation is level before building the walls of the fire pit.

Incorporating Safety Features

Safety is a top priority when building a fire pit. A steel ring can help prevent the fire from spreading. Choose firebrick to line the inside of the pit, as it can withstand high temperatures. Gravel or lava rocks can be added to the bottom to improve drainage and reduce the risk of fire spreading.

Ensure there is a clear area around the fire pit free of grass, leaves, and other flammable materials. If using propane or natural gas, professional installation is recommended to ensure safety. Following these steps can help you create a safe and enjoyable fire pit for gatherings.

Constructing Your Fire Pit

Building a fire pit involves choosing the right spot, laying the foundation, and assembling materials like stones or bricks. It’s a fun DIY project for your backyard.

Preparing the Site

Choose a spot that is at least 15-20 feet away from anything flammable. Clear the area of grass, branches, and other debris. Dig out a hole about 7 inches deep. This will help hold your fire pit steady.

Level the dirt at the bottom of the hole. Use a hand tamper to pack the dirt down solidly. If drainage is a problem, add a layer of drainage gravel at the bottom of the hole. This prevents water from pooling.

Mark the edges of the pit using spray paint. Use the paint to make a clear outline where the stones or blocks will go. Check that the area is flat and won’t shift under the weight of the fire pit.

Assembling the Structure

Place the first row of stones or blocks along the painted outline. Make sure each piece fits tightly against the next one. Use a level to ensure that this row is even all around.

For a round fire pit, continue stacking the stones in a circle. For a square or rectangular pit, follow the shape consistently. Stagger the joints between the stones to make the structure strong.

If using bricks or pavers, split any oversized pieces with a chisel and hammer. Clean any jagged edges before placing them in the structure. Move around the pit, adding layers until it reaches the desired height.

Applying Finishing Touches

After stacking the last row, check the stability of the fire pit. Make adjustments if any stones or bricks are loose. Fill in gaps with smaller stones or masonry adhesive.

Add a layer of gravel or sand inside the fire pit. This base will help with drainage and protect the bottom layers of stones. Spread the gravel evenly and pack it down with a tamper.

Place a grill grate on top if you plan to cook food. Arrange chairs and other outdoor furniture around the fire pit. This creates a cozy setting for gatherings. Enjoy the creative touch you added to your backyard space.

Frequently Asked Questions

Building a fire pit can be a rewarding project. The sections below address common questions about materials, construction, safety, and specific types of fire pits.

What materials are needed to build a fire pit on a budget?

To build a fire pit without spending much, use basic materials like cinder blocks, gravel, and sand. These items are cost-effective and can help create a sturdy fire pit. Additionally, look for reclaimed bricks or stones as they can be inexpensive and add a rustic look.

What are the steps to construct an in-ground fire pit?

Start by choosing a location free from overhanging branches and structures. Dig a hole around 36 inches in diameter and about 12 inches deep. Add a layer of gravel at the bottom for drainage. Then, line the hole with fire-rated bricks or stones and fill the gaps with sand.

How can I safely build a fire pit on grass?

Clear the area of any grass or roots to create a bare circle where the fire pit will go. Place a layer of sand or gravel at the bottom to make it fireproof. Use fire-rated bricks or stones to build the walls. Surround the pit with a non-flammable barrier, like pavers or stones, to protect the grass.

Which type of bricks are suitable for constructing a fire pit?

Fire-rated bricks, like firebricks, are best for building a fire pit. These bricks can withstand high temperatures without cracking. Regular bricks can also be used but may not last as long. Always ensure the bricks used are designed to handle heat.

What considerations should be taken into account when creating a fire pit with pavers?

When using pavers, ensure the base is level and stable. Use pavers that are specifically designed to withstand heat. Avoid using pavers with decorative coatings, as they may not handle high temperatures well. Place a layer of sand or gravel beneath the pavers to improve stability and drainage.

What is the process for building a metal fire pit for backyard use?

Find a metal fire pit bowl or use an old metal container. Clear the ground and create a stable base with sand or gravel. Place the metal bowl on top of this base. Ensure the metal pit has ventilation holes to prevent overheating. For safety, surround the pit with stones or bricks.