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Fire Pit Kits

Updated on May 3, 2013

Introduction

Perusing through hardscaping catalogs and glancing at patio designs conjures up a hankering to construct a fire pit kit. This season, that’s what you really want to enjoy. But how do you make your dream a reality? This author describes the mood and practicality of forging ahead by suggesting models and summarizing points.

Setting the Scene

Last night you experienced the warmth of a fire pit. Its natural essence returned you to a quieter, simpler time….

Fire Pit Kits

Primitive Yearnings

Sitting by a flame is a profoundly primal experience. After all, humankind grew and prospered by fortifying body and soul with flame-roasted nourishment. At some deep level, you continue to relate to and yearn for your inherent gathering place. Even though today’s fire pit encounters are more civilized, the desire to create a focal point for family and friends remains deep-rooted.

circle paver fire pit
circle paver fire pit

Consumer Angst

How do you feel after witnessing your friend’s new fire pit kit in action? Is your imagination captivated by a motive to also install? If so, how do you proceed?

Choices abound, and unlike your prehistoric ancestors’ plights, contemporary purposes diffuse mere safety and sustenance necessities. Where do you begin? While cavemen may have uttered Google, Yahoo, and Bing grunts, these search mechanisms are your first line of discovery tools. Typing “fire pit kit” into the basic search box generates a plethora of hits. You, the active researcher-consumer, are in a tailspin of information overload. What do you need to filter results and better manage your time? To your rescue are handy tips to find the pit that fits.

Three Models

Consider limiting your fire pit options to these three categories:

  • Stand-alone bowl
  • Manufactured stone
  • Custom DIY

The stand-alone is a portable version, typically with ornate legs. If you’re transient, say living from apartment to apartment, and frequently move the pit, consider this lower-priced selection. But beware that these units are rather flimsy and prone to falling over.

The manufactured stone fire pit is available in different colors and shapes. These kits come with approximately 55 stacking stones that stagger four rows high in a circle. Masonry caulk blocks are first secured together. A steel or copper grate then goes on top to protect the blocks from the flames. Grate and poker accessories are kept in the bowl. Comprehensive units include a hood for added protection. However, the weight of any aforementioned components is supported by an initially installed base.

The custom pit for patio or yard is a perfect choice for DIY consumers (also known as prosumers). Various building materials are used, such as steel bowls (to protect stones) or fire bricks. Skill level determines pit protection options.

A novel combination of two styles is inserting a stand-alone bowl into a custom stone fire pit.

Foundation Bonus

Regardless of which fire pit kit you choose to build, its base must be laying on sound ground. A trench needs to be dug out below the frost line. In it you will tamp down 2A stone and sand. And since a foundation is already being planned, think about also adding a paver circle kit. Both kits naturally complement one another in appearance and purpose to further enhance your surroundings.

Accessory Advice

Accessories distinguish between a fire pit and a fire pit kit. Most folks purchase the complete set, which includes poker, bowl, and hood elements. A cover for your pit is another accessory that makes life easier during spring (and fall) cleaning.

EP Henry Fire Pit Kit

Fuel Options

Will you fuel your fire pit with flames ignited from logs or gas? An Old World purist might prefer burning wood with its rich aroma, harkening back to 19th Century lifestyles. Yet, gas is a clean alternative to wood, particularly if you reside close to your neighbors. A Natural or LP gas insert kit for your fire pit is available. The unit taps into the outside fuel line coming into your house. A switch is installed inside so that with one flip your pit is on and ready. Although this method may be pricier, its easy set-it and forget-it feature is too convenient to disregard.

Gas Fire Pits

Gas fire pits offer a great advantage over messy wood logs. As previously stated, flip the switch. Your fire pit is up and ready. In the center of a gas fire pit kit is its fire ring. This steel component constricts the flame to safely emit in a steady flow and also protects the paver blocks from exposure to extreme heat. A more intricate version--a round fire pit insert ring--electronically ignites to start the fire with a flip of a switch.

Even though gas options are convenient solutions, many folks feel that these installations are not DIY-friendly and better left to the professionals.

Fire Bricks

fire bricks
fire bricks

Fire Bricks

Fire bricks can substitute for a steel bowl. They are durable and heat resistant (up to 2700 degrees Fahrenheit). When properly lined with heat stop mortar, the inside ring will be fireproof. Note that building this style of fire pit kit will however require a bit more time and skill.

Zoning Caveat

Some townships have implemented codes against fire pit use. Restrictions in California are more stringent due to the risk of forest fires. Educate yourself and ask authorities about local regulations before installing.

2A Stone

rectangular paver fire pit kit with top caps
rectangular paver fire pit kit with top caps

Instructions

  1. Step one. Determine the fire pit location. Really, all this step entails is planning ahead. Once the fire pit has been installed, that's where it will likely stay. Plot out your yard on graph paper first. It's easy to move your fire pit around on a template. Any carpenter will tell you to measure twice cut once. Take the time to prepare. In addition, make certain that your unit will be well away from building structures and overhead trees. Use common sense. Your goal is to enjoy an open flame burning in a fire pit. To repeat, do not put the pit near any wood.
  2. Step two. Build the foundation pad. Erect a firm even base. There are two material options to use: pavers or stone. Augment with a paver circle kit to complement spherical-shaped fire pit kits. Dig out the dirt and pour a base of 2A stone. Tamp this stone down and add a six-inch (6") cover of yellow C-144 sand.
  3. Step three. Check the fire pit level. Use a 2 x 4 level to make sure that everything is level. Test various places of the tamped base. Make sure the bubble in your level is even throughout the install area. If it is not level, add some rocks to lower areas.
  4. Step four. Construct the first course of blocks. Carefully lay this course ensuring that each block is level. Put only the required amount of blocks in the first circle. Be exact. For example, do not round to 10 blocks when the instructions call for 11. Otherwise, the diameter might be too small and the ring will not fit inside.
  5. Step five. Build the second course. After that, build three (3) more courses. Remember to stagger each block for strength. For added support and permanency, use masonry adhesive. Glue the inside cracks of the blocks to hold them together. Eliminate this latter step however if the pit will be moved in the near future.
  6. Step six. Install the bowl, gas insert, and/or decorative rock. Place the steel bowl in the center of the pit. If you use a steel ring, the sides will be filled with 2A stone and topped off with river rock or white pebbles.
  7. Step seven. Finish with caps. Complete the final top cover by adding (paver) wall caps. This finish will beautify hardscape design and enhance the overall effect.

Materials Needed

  • 55 Wall Blocks
  • 10 Caps
  • 5 Tubes Masonry Adhesive
  • Half-scoop C-144 Sand
  • 1 Metal Ring or Steel Bowl
  • 1 Shovel
  • 1 Level (2 x 4)
  • 1 Pair Masonry Work Gloves
  • 1 Dead Blow Hammer
  • Half-scoop 2A Stone

Conclusion

You’re closer than you’ve ever been to actually enjoying the benefits of installing an outdoor fire pit kit. So actualize your intentions now that you know what to do. Good luck. After all, luck favors the prepared (and you are!). Go have fun roasting those marshmallows.

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