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Fire Pit Inserts

Updated on June 8, 2016


As a novice, I didn't know about fire pit inserts. First I wondered. Was this added feature necessary? Then, the questions came flooding in. Were inserts available in different materials? What did they look like? Where could I purchase one? Could my dad and I install it ourselves (since we tackle lots of projects together) or would hiring a contractor be more prudent?

I do like a methodical step-building approach.. Working on any project requires developing a consistent thought process beforehand. I needed to begin with a plan to learn more about purchasing, installing, evaluating, maintaining, and adding more features to fire pits.

I think planning soothes (sometimes prevents) buyer's remorse later on. It empowers us to open doors in our real worlds outside cyberspace. To that end, a first step is to define and describe what we're researching.

Fire Pit Insert

Side view of round bowl insert not in a fire pit.
Side view of round bowl insert not in a fire pit.

What is a fire pit insert?

Fire pit inserts protect fire pit material (blocks and such) from destruction caused by flames and soot that blacken and burn surface materials. They often come in kits. Not to sound stupid, but an insert is only needed if you already have or intend to add a fire pit to your hardscape scene.

Fire Pit Insert in Masonry Fire Pit

Round bowl insert with grill.
Round bowl insert with grill.

Browsing and shopping

There's a fine line between shopping and purchasing. You do get into buy mode virtually when you hit shopping cart, although physically, shopping isn't quite the same as purchasing. My grandmother used to skip this step altogether declaring, "I don't shop. I buy!".

Nevertheless, I'd categorize any form of shopping as perusing or looking for something. You're browsing for answers to your questions.

I like to start by searching online.

Descriptive searching

I relied on my dad's knowledge and mine to write this article and verified to reconfirm our viewpoints by conducting online research. I explored in different search engines and databases. My brain became an idea book with varied information about inserts and fire pits. I amassed a robust set of tags and terms from articles, images, podcasts, and more.

Some of these words and phrases were: backyard design, backyard fire pits, backyard ideas, deck ideas, fire pit accessories, fire pit designs, fire pit insert kits, fire pit inserts, fire pit inserts gas, fire pit inserts square, fire pit inserts ring, fire pit inserts wood burning, fire pit inserts for stone, home improvement, insert, inserts, metal fire pit rings, outdoor heating, outdoor remodeling, patio design, patio ideas, and ring inserts.

I took notes in text edit and put them in a folder. How will you save your note taking? On index cards stored in a box or notebook, or digitally in the cloud? Keep your findings some place where you can find and add to them, and perhaps later share with others.

Decide what works for you.

Another Fire Pit Insert in Masonry Fire Pit

Good view of insert with safety screen.
Good view of insert with safety screen.

House daydreaming

Now that you've seen lots of images and read many blurbs, contemplate your exterior space in its entirety. Some folks prefer dashing into this meditative step before searching; I however get my imaginative juices percolating after looking around.

Close your eyes and simply visualize how you will accessorize. This exercise might turn into a journaling opportunity or sticky-note spree. Draw pictures on your pad or tablet. Not an artist? Stick figures are fine. Create!

Because...ugh...reality will soon set in.

Before you purchase, you must face limitations that narrow by what type of pit you already have (or is available) and/or reduce by what kind of budget you are actually working within.

Without a Fire Pit Insert

Does this look safe to you?
Does this look safe to you?

Factoring in the details

It's important to establish a list of details about the various fire pit inserts. If you jotted down notes while you searched, you'll have a solid foundation of facts. Factors such as:

  • Safety (first) - Addressing safety is the most important issue. Make sure inserts have been pretested to handle high heat. Look for a symbol of approval that ensures safety and inspection certification in your country. Sometimes it's helpful to hire a professional to help with assembly, such as connecting a gas line.
  • Size - Deciding on size is your next priority. After safety, the most important factor is proper fit. But how do you gauge? Many fire pits are housed in exterior structures called enclosures. Get out a tape measure and note these dimensions of your fire pit:
    • Inside diameter
    • Outside diameter
    • Height
    Make sure to jot down these calculations on a pad with rings or on your mobile device. I can't tell you how many times I've assumed I'll remember two minutes later (and don't) or that I'll easily find that piece of paper I slipped in my jeans pocket (and it disintegrates in the wash). Now might be a time to add to your notebook (wherever it is).
  • Shape & Depth - Fire pit inserts can be rectangular, square, and round. Some even have motifs, such as stars, for a campfire effect. Others are linear. These trough models have the depth of a long shallow container. [Incidentally, I stumbled over the word trough. It's pronounced with a short "o" sound as in "trof" where horses drink.] Bowls and flat pans exist, too.
  • Design - What appeals to you? Which surfaces harmonize with your outdoor setting? Where is (or will) your fire pit (be) located? Consider your patio furniture and the facade of your house. You wouldn't want to clash. Remember that color is also a primary element of design layout. Texture, too. Fire pit materials consist of copper, cast iron and steel, brick and concrete, concrete block, and stainless steel. Some DIYers make ring inserts themselves from scrap steel that they find mulling about in junkyards.
  • Ignition - How will you fuel your fire pit? Will you power it with electricity? With NG (natural gas) or LP (liquid propane)? Gas fire pits are popular. Note that LP settles down so proper air mixing is necessary. Some mechanisms start with push buttons placed nearby, while others are remote controlled from afar. Rough and tumble folks prefer manually lighting with matches.
  • Value - Improving property worth with a minuscule accessory is indeed a long-shot variable. However, good taste often shows up in the details.
  • Price (ultimately) - Calculating your bottom line. What price range realistically conforms to your budget?

Designers and engineers have worked diligently to create a desirable product at an affordable price. Yet, you be the judge. Which fire pit insert will improve the look and performance of your fire pit?

Fire Pit Kits

Hitting the brick and mortar stores

I haven't compiled data via my mobile just yet, although most of my friends do. They say capturing the information from QR codes is quite telling. Some collect facts by strolling around the large box facilities; whereas others develop Q & A relationships with experts in their local building supply stores. Either way keep a list (start a spreadsheet) of products that appeal to you and your purpose. For ease of confusion, keep narrowing to focus on your top three choices.

When able, touch! There's nothing like the tactile experience. You might also be able to borrow samples overnight to try. If you already have a fire pit, snap a photo to match its hue. Then decide on your final selection. You're a walking encyclopedia on the topic by now.

In Store Gas Fire Pit Promotion

Round bowl insert with logs.
Round bowl insert with logs.


How will your insert be delivered? Fire pit insert components and kits are not that heavy. Gas fire pit inserts weigh more. Your item(s) will likely arrive in a cardboard box. Accurately provide your delivery details upfront when you order. Try to get a contact name and number, too.


Ask your supplier about DIY installs. Hiring a contractor for safety reasons might be advisable for more complex installs. Product instruction warnings often recommend professional assistance, particularly for gas units.

Maintaining what you have

Periodically clean off your insert with a damp towel. Particularly if it gets encrusted with food. Is anything worn? Does it need to be replaced? Rest assured that down the road replacement parts are available. Check your warranties.

How you maintain your fire pit reveals how you'll maintain the insert. To stay safe, routinely check it. This upkeep is particularly important in regions with seasonal weather variations so that you're ready to relax when outside is in full bloom.

Time to Try it Out

Roasting marshmallows.
Roasting marshmallows.

Adding other features

Other accessories include grills and cooking grates, fire pokers and bowls, roasting sticks, log grabbers, spark screens, lava rock kits, decorative fire pit glass, and so forth. Covers protect your fire pit insert when it's not in use. Vinyl, stainless steel, and coated-aluminum dome-like-lid covers can be selected.

Some experts advise against cooking on fire pits, e.g., the burners might rust. Nevertheless, how you use your fire pit is up to you. I simply request that you take every precaution to stay safe and enjoy your outdoor experiences and entertaining for years to come.

Keep abreast of new items and updates by periodically calling or texting your building supply dealer to inquire about "What's New." Also, drag and drop your vendor's favicon (website icon) onto your desktop or download their app to routinely check and read recent and inspiring blog posts.

Evaluating your project

So how was it? Did you enjoy the experience of being outdoors around your fire pit (and also its insert) surrounded by family and friends? What would you do differently next time you accessorize?

Jot down any notes and continue to keep an ongoing house notebook or calendar. It might be fun to record what you do around the fire pit and who's dropped by. Take pictures. Shoot videos. Schedule your holiday card sitting. How interesting to recount these times during dreary wintry days.

You're writing your outside living narrative. And stories don't begin with endings. They encompass entire experiences. Relish what you reap. The story of your outdoor fire pit (and insert). Finding it. Buying it. Enjoying it. Sharing it.

Pat yourself on the back to ready up for your next backyard adventure. The cycle continues because that's what assessment is all about. Building upon former knowledge. Learning the ins and outs about products and places. Working smarter, staying safer, and crafting and re-crafting your world into your mind's eye.


As you know by now, this commentary has concerned more than fire pit inserts, but rather the robust world of the quest.

I've taken you through these steps to encourage you to devise and activate your method for home improvement. You'll have your records, you'll improve your efficiencies, you'll (please) have fun. This template has worked for me. Getting your act together will save you time and effort, allowing for more freedom and room to revel.

So there you go. Your fire pit insert is set in stone (quite literally in most cases). Now go out and enjoy the view, the company, and yourself.

Job Well Done

Life is good.
Life is good.


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