Want to make an easy fire pit? Follow this 7 steps on how to build a fire pit.
A fire pit is a popular centerpiece in anyone’s backyard. It is a nice gathering place especially if you have the space or area for it. Who would not want to have that organic, traditional source of warmth as you sit around a roaring fire, trading stories and enjoying food? The nostalgia and high functionality of a fire pit can trump any indoor fire place.
Nowadays there are different types of fire pits that you can readily use with gas as fuel. There are firepits that you can bring around with you or move around while there are those that you can even use indoors. However, most people still prefer that traditional setting of having a stone-walled pit set into the ground, emitting unending heat as they toast marshmallows all night long. This is why fire pits in the ground remains to be the ultimate backyard goal.
Creating or building your own fire pit in your backyard is not impossible as long as you are up to the task. It is also a great advantage if you build your own in ground fire pit since you will be able to keep it with the aesthetic or theme of your backyard. You can also easily fit your preference as you design it and as you build it along. Most of all, there is a certain sense of authority and pride when you are finally able to use your very own DIY fire pit.
However, before you jump the gun and start learning how to build a fire pit, you need to be aware of a couple of DOs and DON’Ts. It is imperative that you pay close attention to these details so that you will not encounter snags and hiccups along the way. You do not want to be halfway through completing your fire pit and then realize that it just will not work or worse, it has turned into a fire hazard.
Quick Guide for Things to Consider Before Building your Fire Pit
- Check with Your Local Authorities – There are rules and regulations when it comes to building structures, especially fire pits, in residential areas. It is important that you check with your local government, home owner’s association or municipality’s planning office whether fire pits are actually allowed. Comply with rules and restrictions or else you will end up getting fined.
- Check all Your BUILD Options – Building a fire pit entails thoughtful planning in terms of design, space, functionality and size. Think of how you will use the fire pit. Will you be using it more as a gathering for warmth and star gazing or will you be cooking in it as well? Double or triple check if you have enough space for the size of your in-ground fire pit. Knowing these things will clearly elaborate the scope of the work that you will need.
- Check Your Materials – There are plenty of options when it comes to materials to build your fire pit with. There’s concrete, pavers, bricks and stones etc… You can also choose recycled materials if you are in a budget or if you want to go extra environmentally friendly. Just be sure that you use the correct type of materials when building your walls.
What Type of Building Materials are Best?
A fire pit consists of an inner wall, a cap and an outer wall with decorative stones. The materials that you need to use for the inner wall has to be from fire proof building materials like a fire brick. The outer walls also have to have heat-resistant materials which can be made from brick, stone, blocks consisting of concrete, granite etc… which is also considered as masonry block. Concrete pavers and heat-resistant tiles work as well.
Keep in mind that your fire pit should in no way, whatsoever, contain materials that are flammable like plywood or non-porous materials that hold water. Examples of these are pea gravel, river rocks and compressed concrete blocks. These types of materials can contain water and trap steam when heated which will eventually end up exploding.
Finally, before building your fire pit in the ground, remember to keep it at least 15 feet away from your house or any outdoor structure. Make sure that you are also building in an area where there are no flammable or easily combustible things around. Do not build under a tree with low hanging branches. Stay away from plants and long grasses and consider your garden placements because you do not want to be having live fire near potential fire hazards.
Materials for Building Fire Pit in the Ground
- Your choice of brick, stone, pavers, etc… to build your firepit structure with.
- Construction Adhesive
- Flathead shovel
- Rubber mallet
- Caulking gun
- Small brush
- Small garden shovel
- Fire Pit Ring
How Many Bricks for Fire Pit?
For a 3-ft.-diameter pit, you will need 80 face bricks. Face brick with holes (“cored”) is easier to split with a brick hammer. It is easier to form the fire pit walls with half bricks. A single brick costs between $0.50 and $0.60 on average, excluding delivery.
How to Build a Fire Pit (7 Easy Steps)
After you have gathered all your materials, it is time to start building!
1. Select Your Location and Lay Out Your Stones
Once you have selected the appropriate and safest location for your in-ground fire pit, lay out the stones on the ground in the shape that you have planned. It can be round or rectangular or square, whatever shape fits your aesthetic. Make sure that you place your materials as close and as tight together as possible.
2. Mark Out Your Pit Location and Start Digging the Hole
Now that you have arranged your stones or blocks in a tight shape that you want, use the pointed end of your pickaxe and draw out a line around the outside of the structure, making the outside edge of your hole.
After marking the outside edge, remove the laid-out structure and start digging the hole for your fire pit. You can dig a straight-sided trench around 12 inches deep and as wide as one block as long as it is within the circle you had carved on the ground. In the area encircled by the trench, dig at least 6 inches down.
Lay the stones or blocks in the trench to see if each piece fits into the shape that you have created. In case you need to widen the trench some more, remove the blocks and dig some more.
3. Place the Stones and Level Out the Bottom Layer of Stones
Once you have adjusted the size of your hole and trench, start placing the stones or blocks in it. The bottom layer of your materials is the most important part of the structure so it should be flat and level. Check one stone using your level. Then with a rubber mallet, hit the stone to compact the dirt underneath it so it settles equally on the surface. Check it with the level once again making sure that it is not leaning forward, backward or to the sides.
4. Start Gluing and Stacking
Now that your first layer is all laid out and perfectly leveled, brush off any excess dirt on it as you prepare to adhere the next layer of your fire pit. Get your constructions adhesive and apply a liberal amount to the bottom of another block, turn it and stack on top of the first layer. Continue doing this for the second and third levels until you reach the height that you want for your fire pit.
Make sure that the top layer of your wall or structure is firm without any wiggling or loose blocks. Be sure to replace that block and add more adhesive and let it settle down. Let the adhesive dry so that your blocks are firmly and securely connected to each layer below them.
5. Fill Back the Edges and Compact the Dirt Surrounding Your Fire Pit
By this time, you have already glued and stacked your blocks completely, creating a complete inner and outer wall of your fire pit. With your shovel, use the excess dirt that you have dug out from the ground and start filling the edges of your structure. Make sure to compact the dirt around the pit.
Give your adhesive at least 24 hours to cure.
6. Don’t Forget the Fire Pit Ring!
Line the innermost wall of your structure with a steel fire pit ring. This will prevent the materials of your wall from drying out when you use your fire pit. The non-combustible material will defer heat and protect the wall from prematurely dehydrating and crumbling, preserving the look and integrity of your fire pit.
Insert the iron fire pit ring into the circle and adjust it so that it is even with top of the block wall. If there is any space between the ring and wall, fill it to the top with gravel. Finally, lay the capstones on top of your wall with more adhesive or bonding agent.
7. Start Enjoying Your DIY Fire Pit
After 24 hours, you can start decorating around your fire pit with the necessary furniture that you want. Just keep in mind safety protocols. Next, light a fire inside your fire pit and start enjoying the fruits of your labor!
Why you should want to build a fire pit for your home?
- First, a fire pit creates a year-round place for you and your friends to gather! Don’t think that this fixture in your backyard can only be used during summer or springtime. Remember, the main point of having a bonfire is to keep people warm and that includes every season imaginable. Imagine how refreshing it is to not crowd inside your home if you decide to throw a party during the colder season! Everyone can enjoy warming and cozying up outside by the fire!
- Secondly, firepits are actually versatile. You don’t have to stick to the simple structure that you might have in mind as you envision a campfire setting. Today’s different designs can fit and look good in any backyard regardless of its size and space. You can go on a traditional route where you can burn wood or go modern with portable profane firepits that you can hook to gas tanks. If you want to go chic and extravagant, there are new generation pits that are called “smokeless” where in you are able to burn wood without creating too much smoke.
- Thirdly, as landscaping is an integral part of a home’s design, you can make your very own firepit the focal point of your backyard or patio! You can choose different structural designs that go well with your aesthetics. If you are leaning towards a modern look, you can opt to have a patio fire pit which is built from straight-edged, cleanly cut stones with different textures that will exude artistic and creative atmosphere. Or, you can be more bold and straightforward by using a simple cast iron or steel basin as your fire pit design. It can be rugged looking to depict a more outdoor feel.
There are some who opt for the simple build like using old brick and stone or even something as easy as a sandpit. So, whether you want to go rustic, classic, traditional or modern Zen, there is always a fire pit build that will suit your taste and practicality.
- Finally, it is pretty obvious that you can have so much fun cooking and dining outside using your very own firepit! The whole set up could be fitted to accommodate enough tools, utensils and space to have your very own outdoor kitchen. Once you have your grill grates, stainless steel pots and pans, foils and thongs, you are practically geared up to create a feast!
Keeping all of these points in mind will help you clearly decide on having a fire pit constructed in your property and it could be either a temporary or permanent one. After all, fire pit construction is not that complicated and difficult. Again, you have to consider the space where you want this place of gathering to be erected. It can be a small space that is featured in your patio setting or a huge, round gathering area smack in the middle of your huge lawn outback. Once you identify the exact location you want your fire pit to be placed and its size, you can now continue to begin researching the materials that you want to use and employ.
If you aren’t so much of a “do-it-yourselfer”, don’t worry! Some of these are pretty easy to make. But if you don’t want to get your hands dirty, you can find pre-made and portable fire pits as well which are easy, work well, and are the perfect solution for many homes.
Other Cheap Homemade DIY Fire Pit Ideas
Campfire or simple stone fire pits
If you have an open space and a non-flammable surface, it is easy and quick to build a nice site for a simple bonfire-type fire pit. If you get creative, you can even rig up a grill over it or a tripod for Dutch oven cooking!
Want to learn how to build a fire pit or campfire next time you go camping? It’s not that hard and you don’t need any fancy tools, supplies, or techniques! You can even cook on your campfire if you get creative! If you have a big enough backyard, you can build a stone fire pit there too.
The hardest part about making a campfire or stone fire pit is finding (or buying) the wood!
Here’s what you do:
If you have an open space with no flammable materials around and a surface you can light a fire on, you can simply build a stone fire pit on the ground. Appropriate surfaces would be dry dirt, gravel, or sand. It helps first to use your trusty shovel to make a small depression in the ground. This helps to hold your firewood and prevent the fire from spreading or falling to the sides.
Alternatively, if you want to get fancy, or if you don’t want to dig, you can find a bunch of large rocks to form a campfire ring to contain the wood and limit it from spreading. Simply arrange the rocks in a circle to build a stone fire pit.
Now your simple campfire or stone fire pit is ready to fill with wood and to ignite!
Campfires are fun simply for their spectacle, their warmth, their ambiance, and their aroma. But you can even cook on your campfire! There are several ways to cook when you build a fire pit or campfire but here are a few quick ideas. First of all, the simplest fire pit cooking is with long metal skewers. Load them up with whatever food you want to eat, game birds, hot dogs, sausages, etc…then just slowly turn them near the fire (not IN the fire or they will burn) until they are done! It’s that easy, but your arms may get tired. Roasted marshmallows can be made this way as well.
A slightly more elaborate way to cook on your campfire is when you build a stone fire pit. Bring along a grill grate (you can just pull the one-off your trusty old grill at home) and arrange the stone fire pit so that the stones are arranged just a bit closer than the grill grate. Once you have a nice fire going (or ideally when you have a good core of wood embers) you can throw the grill on top and cook your food! Even more elaborate is to rig up a metal tripod to hang pots or roasts above your campfire for some serious campfire cooking!
Safety Note: Never build a fire pit on or near flammable materials and if you aren't going to use a mesh lid or cover, keep your fire clear of flammable materials or structures so that burning embers don't hit them!
Cinderblock Fire Pit
A cheap fire pit barbecue is easy to build! You can build a fire pit based on this fire pit design. It’s temporary yet sturdy and you can use it as a barbecue as well to cook up some delicious grilled foods.
The general principle of the cinderblock fire pit is essentially the same as making a temporary brick fire pit. However, the added size and stability of cinderblocks over most bricks make this a great solution for a cheap fire pit barbecue.
Safety Note: Never build a fire pit or start a fire near flammable materials or on a flammable surface (like wood). Use protective equipment when starting fires and use a screen mesh lid to prevent flying embers from getting to flammable materials. I recommend building your fire pit at least 20 feet from other structures and avoiding overhanging tree branches.
What you will need:
- A pile of cinderblocks – The exact amount you need will depend on the size of your fire pit. With most cinderblocks, you will need about 2 to 3 levels of cinderblocks to make your fire pit the correct height. You can get these at most home supply hardware stores.
- A round piece of flame-retardant metal the size of your fire pit – If you are building your fire pit barbecue on a non-flammable and non-damageable surface (such as gravel or dirt) you do not need this. However, if you build a fire pit on your concrete or cement and don’t want to leave a big black char mark, then I recommend using one!
- Firepit and barbecue supplies – A mesh screen cover is optional but helps to prevent flying burning embers from hitting you or other flammable items. I also recommend finding a dome solid lid, like you’d see on a Weber kettle grill so that you can cook better by retaining heat. Finally, you’ll need a large grill grate big enough to cover the top of your fire pit barbecue and sit securely on the cinderblocks. Plan ahead so that your fire pit design is a size which you can find a grill grate and lid for!
How to build your cinderblock fire pit:
- Plan the size and position of your fire pit – Keeping the safety tips above in mind, plan the position and size of your fire pit. The size will largely be determined by the size of available grill grates and lids you can find, as well as your backyard. Estimate the number of cinderblocks you’ll need for your fire pit design given its size. I recommend a smaller fire pit (about 2-3 feet in diameter) because as a temporary structure without mortar, a shorter, smaller fire pit design will be more stable and less likely to topple. You can use your grill grate to mark out on the ground with chalk or pencil the size of your circular fire pit design.
- Build the walls of your fire pit design – If you are using a metal flame-retardant base, place that on the ground in the position of your fire pit. Now start laying cinderblocks in a circular shape around the base. If a layer does not fit perfectly, you can gently adjust the diameter so that your cinderblocks fit around the circle evenly. Don’t worry if there are small openings in the wall of the fire pit.
Once your first layer is complete, start the second, laying the next brick on top of the joint between two lower cinderblocks. After the first two layers, assess the height of your fire pit design. You do not want your fire pit too tall or you won’t be able to see your fire! Also, the grill will be so far from the hot embers that you won’t be able to cook well. With cinderblocks, they should be big enough and stable enough with one ring as the wall. For added stability you can always build a second larger circle around the first to thicken the wall and bolster it.
Your fire pit is done! Fill with firewood and light it up. When you have good embers glowing in your fire, you are ready to start cooking. Simply lay your grill grate across the top of the fire pit and start cooking! For some barbecue cooking ideas, go to our grill recipes page.
Fire Pit Grill
A firepit grill is a open fire pit which you can also cook on, over a real hardwood fire. If you’ve read any of my site then you probably know that I’m a big fan of this style of cooking. It is the most primal, basic and natural way to cook food and the real hardwood gives off such a great aroma and flavor.
The problem of open fire pit cooking
Despite the ideal advantages of cooking over a real fire, for ease of cooking and to save time, charcoal and gas grills are usually preferred because they are quicker to get going and less messy. The problem is that a fire pit grill takes some prep time. You can’t really cook over the open flames directly above the fire because the active flames will quickly burn your food before it is done on the inside. Ideally, you want to burn a lot of wood a long time to create a nice bed of hot embers to cook over. This takes some time to develop. Many fire pits won’t even have room for a grill to be laid on top with a big pile of wood anyway, you’ll have to wait until the firewood has burned down to fit it on.
Another problem is that once your wood has burned down to nice, hot, glowing embers, the heat starts to fade. So you can quickly cook a handful of items, but for longer cooking times the heat will fade (although stirring the embers a bit occasionally to get more oxygen to them can help prolong the heat).
Finally, most outdoor fire pits are quite large and will not fit a standard sized grill over it. Some people resort to having a metal worker weld a custom one, fitted to the size of their firepit, but this can be difficult or expensive.
So if you want to cook regularly on an open firepit grill but want to avoid many of the problems discussed above, you can design and build a firepit which solves some of the common difficulties of cooking over an open fire. You will be designing and building a brick or stone firepit much in the same way as is discussed in detail on Outdoor Stone Fire Pit. But instead of planning and marking a circular footprint for your pit like this:
You will instead plan two intersecting circles that overlap a bit like this:
They should only overlap slightly and one should be smaller than the other. The smaller one should be measured out to be just smaller in its inner diameter than a standard round grill grate. For example, the most widely available round grill grate is the Weber grill grate made for the Weber kettle grills. These grills are made in 18-1/2″ and 22-1/2″ diameters. So plan the inner diameter of the smaller circle to be just smaller than one of these sizes. Just the inner diameter should be this size, the inner most edge of your finished bricks or stones that will cap your fire pit grill. The fire pit can then be built to have these two connected circles with the smaller one accommodating the grill grate which can rest right on top of the fire pit rim, like this:
The advantage of this type of firepit grill is that you can have your regular fire going in the larger pit at all times. As you develop hot embers in the bottom of the pit, you can push them over with a long implement into the smaller circle (or use a tongs or shovel to transfer them). You then simply cover the smaller section with the grill and you can grill over the hot hardwood embers! As the heat fades, you can periodically transfer more embers from the fire to your cooking area. This way you can keep your big fire going continuously, out of the way of your cooking area, and you can have a continuous source of new hot embers to cook with. You can theoretically keep cooking indefinitely! Assuming you have enough firewood.
Good luck building your own firepit grill!
Tractor Tire Rim Fire Pit
Yup! Its as simple as that! Find yourself a big rim from a tractor tire and lay it down on its side. Finding one might be a bit easier for you country folks. But if you live in the city, you can often find junk dealers or junk heaps where you can find an old rusty tire rim or buy one for dirt cheap. Just lay that rim down on its side on a non-flammable surface (concrete, gravel or dirt works fine). Surround it with large stones or bricks, what ever you have available, to keep it from moving around. If you are on a surface that you don’t want to “blacken” then just lay down a piece of fire-resistant metal underneath first to protect your floor.
That’s it! Throw in your wood and kindling and you’ll have yourself a nice bon fire in no time! If you can find a grill grate that is slightly larger than the top of the tire rim, you can lay it on top and grill a delicious meal right on your cheap fire pit.
Important note: if you are going to build a fire without a mesh lid to protect from flying embers which could ignite flammable materials nearby, make sure to place your fire pit far away from structures or trees which could catch fire!
Washing Machine Drum Fire Pit
One Flame Gorilla© visitor told me that he made a fire pit out of the inside drum of a discarded washing machine. He simply buried it about 12 inches and placed stones around it and voila! a free, easy fire pit to enjoy! Getting creative like that is a perfect way to save money and still have a functional and fun outdoor fire pit.
Firepits are great focal points and can add extra value to your home and property. It can provide ambient lighting for events as well as be a focal point in your house which will definitely spark interest amongst your guests. Most of all, it is a wonderful place wherein you can continue making memories with family as well as create traditions with stories being told over marshmallow’s on sticks, melting over some good milk chocolate sandwiched between crispy graham crackers!
Hi, I’m Adam and I’m a HUGE fan of Food and Cooking.
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