Fire pits can be great additions to outdoor living spaces. Though you can certainly buy a prefabricated unit, there’s something to be said for learning how to make one of these pits yourself. The great news is that the building process is surprisingly easy and that virtually anyone who’s willing to put in the time can learn how to build a simple fire pit.
It should be noted that this is a very simple pit, generally designed with a beginning builder in mind. There are certainly dozens of alterations that a more skilled builder could make, to see nothing of small flourishes that even a novice could add with a little time. Consider this to be a proof of concept, one that can teach you how to put together a fire pit that you can use in your own yard.
Learning How to Build A Fire Pit
Gathering Your Materials
As you might expect, you’ll want to start by getting together all of your tools and materials. Given that this is a relatively simple fire pit, we’ve chosen materials that are relatively easy to source and that won’t cost you much. In fact, you should be able to get everything that you need for this fire pit for around one hundred dollars – or even less if you already have the relevant tools.
You’ll definitely want to start by looking at the required tools for this build. You’ll absolutely need a shovel and a level for this job, but it’s not a bad idea to consider having a wheelbarrow on hand to move some of the heavier bits of material. You don’t need anything particularly special to get the job done here, though – the same level that you use to make sure that your pictures are straight in your home will do just fine here.
The materials list is likewise fairly straightforward. You’ll need about thirty-six retaining wall blocks if you’re looking to precisely emulate this build, as well as about fifteen seven-inch square concrete pavers. If you’re willing to spend a little bit more, you can substitute fire brick for the pavers in order to get a smoother surface at the bottom of your fire pit. The most specialized bit of material you’ll need to get is a metal fire pit ring, which you should be able to find with relative ease.
In addition to the major materials, you’ll need a few extras. It’s definitely worthwhile to get some pea gravel to fill in any open spaces, though you’re only going to need about half a cubic foot for this job. Likewise, you should grab a bag of sand.
Plan Out Your Fire Pit
Now that you have your fire pit materials, you can start thinking about where to build the pit. Staying within best practices usually means that you’re going to want to keep the pit at least fifteen feet away from any structure that’s able to burn while still keeping it as close to any water source as you can. Once you’ve got the distance staked out, you’ll want to look for a spot that’s as flat as possible. This will not only make the pit’s construction much easier on you, but it will also make it easier to enjoy once it is finished.
Figure Out The Size
The next thing to look at is the size of the pit. The actual size is largely determined by the size of your fire ring, so set out your fire ring and your retaining wall blocks to figure out exactly how much space the build is going to take up. Once you’ve done that, you’ll want to mark the outside of the circle with your shovel so you know where to dig.
Now you know where to dig, so it’s time to get started. You’re going to want to move all of your materials out of the way so that you can dig in the spot that you’ve just marked. While this can be a fairly wide hole depending on the size of the fire ring that you’ve purchased, it doesn’t have to be too deep. Seven inches is the usual minimum for one of these pits, but digging a little bit farther definitely won’t hurt anything.
Adding the Sand Layer
Once your hole is dug and your dirt is moved out of the way, you can add a layer of sand. This layer needs to be about one inch thick once it is completely flattened. This is where your level will come in, as you’ll be able to use it to make sure that you haven’t accidentally piled up too much sand in any one area.
Create a Base
The next step in the process is building your fire pit’s base. You’ll want to take your bricks and place them in the hole, lining them up on the edge of the sand. This will allow you to create a general base on which you can place your fire pit ring.
Create the Floor
Now it’s time for you to grab your fire bricks or your pavers. The empty space at the bottom of the pit needs to be filled as fully as possible, so it’s usually better to buy more of this material than you think that you’ll need. If there is any space left between the floor and the bricks that you used to create your base, you’ll want to fill it in with the pea gravel.
Creating the Exterior
Now you’ll be able to create the exterior of your fire pit with relative ease. Simply take the remaining blocks and create staggered rows to the height that you desire. It’s not necessary to build up to a certain height, though, so you can definitely stop once you’ve run out of bricks.
If you’ve followed these steps, you should have a serviceable fire pit that’s not only safe but that’s easy to use. Add a few chairs around the pit or just leave the space bare – you’ll be able to use it as often as the weather permits.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How do you make a homemade fire pit?
Building a homemade fire pit isn’t as difficult as you might think. The only tools you’ll need are a shovel and a level, while the only materials you need will be some retaining bricks, some fire bricks, sand, gravel, and a fire pit ring. Stake out your space for building the pit, digging a hole that’s at least seven inches deep. Once that’s done, you’ll add a layer of sand and then build a base. Inside the base, you’ll lay your fire pit ring and line up your fire bricks. Fill in any empty spaces with your gravel and then build up an exterior barrier with any remaining bricks – with any luck, you’ll have a fire pit that you can use for years to come.
2. What do you put in the bottom of a fire pit?
You’ll actually have a couple of layers at the bottom of a fire pit. Not only will you definitely want to make sure that you have a good layer of sand that’s about an inch deep, but on top of that you’ll also want to have a layer of fire bricks. If you can’t get fire bricks or you prefer to use an alternative, you can also get concrete pavers that can do essentially the same job. The bottom layer of a fire pit will also have pea gravel, which is used to fill in all of the space between the pavers and the base of the pit.
3. Can you build a fire pit on dirt?
Yes, you can build a fire pit on dirt. You will, of course, want to make sure that you dig down and that you put down about an inch of sand in the hole that you build. The important thing here is that you build a good base; building on dirt isn’t going to help you to create a fire pit that safe or that’s going to last very long. While a fire pit might seem like a very simple addition to your yard, the truth is that you still want to make sure that you create something that’s not going to easily get rained out or that’s going to fall apart after a little bit of heat.
4. What kind of concrete do you use for a fire pit?
You’ll definitely want to consider the type of concrete that you use for a fire pit. Most people are going to point you towards fire bricks, which are not only made to stand up to heat but are really great for fire pit bases. Additionally, you can paint fire bricks too. With that said, you can definitely use the kind of concrete that’s present in simple pavers. This is not only thick enough to provide a good bit of insulation, but it’s not going to weaken simply because it’s exposed to heat. Likewise, you’ll want to use the kind of concrete that’s used in retaining wall bricks in order to create the exterior and base of your fire pit, as this concrete is also relatively heat resistant.