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What to Know When Buying or Building a Fire Pit
September 2018
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What to Know When Buying or Building a Fire Pit
Tips to help you buy or build the best and safest fire pit possible

You don’t have to limit evenings spent around a roaring fire with loved ones to camping trips and special occasions. By incorporating a fire pit into your outdoor decor, you can spend more evenings roasting marshmallows, telling stories and enjoying time together with friends and family all from the comfort of your own home. Because this involves having open flames close to your home, you’ll want to be certain that you follow certain necessary precautions before buying or building your own fire pit.

Buying

If your goal is to welcome people around your fire pit, you will want to pick one that has style. According to The Spruce’s Lisa Hallett Taylor, the popularity of fire pits as backyard accessories means that there is a wide variety of shapes, sizes, patterns and approaches to choose from.

Store-bought fire pits are available in a variety of materials beyond traditional stone, including steel, aluminum, copper, stainless steel, glass, cast iron and polyresin. Each material has pros and cons to consider, which might affect your choice depending on your design aesthetic, budget and maintenance commitment.

“Opt for something that will wear well and extend the life of your fire pit. Cast aluminum is less likely to rust, while copper can stain. Cast iron is a solid but heavy choice,” writes Taylor.

Part of the consideration process will involve fuel options. House Tipster’s Ande Waggener notes that you’ll need to decide whether to use wood, natural gas, charcoal, propane or more eco-friendly options like fire pit gel or bio-ethanol.

Since fire pits vary in price, ranging anywhere from $200 to thousands of dollars, Waggener stresses the importance of doing your research before you buy to ensure that you are able to use a fire pit within regulations. Don’t spend a dollar before you first check with your county or city government, homeowner’s association or even neighbors in the know.

Getting the lowdown on fire pit laws will also help you determine where your fire pit can go, Taylor adds. You will want to make sure that your fire pit is not placed too near to your home, directly on the grass, a wood deck or beneath any sort of combustible overhang. Be mindful of trees, vegetation and plants and powerlines.

Building

A fire pit you have built yourself is likely not going to be portable, so going this route is preferable if you have a spot that you are willing to permanently dedicate to the purposes of a pit. Once you have your designated spot picked out, you’ll want to begin researching materials. Manasa Reddigan, writing for Bob Vila, notes that this should mean excluding any potentially flammable materials or non-porous materials in the construction of your pit.

“The inner wall must be made of fireproof building materials, optimally fire brick; the outer walls should still be heat-resistant but can be made of traditional brick, stone, masonry blocks (consisting of brick, concrete, granite, etc.), concrete pavers or even heat-resistant outdoor stucco or tile,” writes Reddigan. “Flagstone and crushed stone are ideal materials for the fire pit cap, and the stones in the center of the pit, respectively.”

You’ll also want to incorporate a steel ring on the innermost wall of the fire pit to prolong its structural integrity. When building and operating your fire pit, Reddigan advises having fire safety gear on hand, such as a fire blanket and a multipurpose dry chemical fire extinguisher. If you decide to DIY your fire pit, you’ll still have to consider rules, location, construction materials and fuel sources just as if you were purchasing one ready-made.

If you are willing to put in the time, money and research to ensure you are making the right choice, the payoff of having a safe fire pit is well worth the effort. Don’t cut any corners, do your diligence and you’ll be able to have a campout at home any time you wish.



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