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3 Things You Need To Consider Before Getting A Fire Pit

Updated on September 18, 2015

Are You Thinking About Getting A Fire Pit?

In the past, I’ve mentioned that my mom and dad have recently moved, settling into an acre lot in San Diego. This past weekend I went to visit them in their new home, where my husband and I, along with various family members, spent the day in the pool in one of their four backyards. As we were in the pool, my aunt looked over to my mom and asked her what she was planning on doing with the extra space. My mom sighed, looked over at me, and said, “well we were thinking of putting in a fire pit.” This is news that I’m very excited about. With summer quickly on our heels, and the fourth of July only a handful of days away, a fire pit is just the thing to get our summer really going. However, because my mom is still on the fence, I thought I’d give her—and those of you considering getting your own fire pit—some things to think about along the way.

DIY or Store Bought?

Fire pits are a hot commodity right now. From home built to store bought, there’s a fire pit to suit you and your family’s needs. Here are some of the differences between creating your own fire pit and purchasing one from a store.

DIY

  • Cost Effective: Many bloggers, You Tube-rs, and Pintrest-Gurus have touted the $150 fire pit in some way or another. Making your own fire pit can save you tons of money (particularly if you’re considering hiring someone to take over the job for you). Save your hard earned money for a summer vacation or the makings for s’mores, by heading to your local Home Depot and picking up the supplies for cheap. With a little elbow grease, you can have your new fire pit in just a day.
  • Personalized: Most store bought fire pits are standard and run of the mill. If you’re looking to create a fire pit unlike your neighbor’s, then consider picking out your own stones and creating your own pattern around the flame. This will help your fire pit stand out from the crowd, while giving you a sense of pride at your accomplishment.
  • Get Others Involved: If you start now, you’ll like avoid the seriously hot months of summer, wherein you’re more likely to want to avoid manual labor. Starting early in the season, you’re able to have your kids, friends, and family help out in the creation of your fire pit. Getting your kids involved will get them more excited about your fire pit, and more likely to use it frequently.
  • Fire Safety: Because you're the one making your DIY fire pit (go figure), you’ll have to look up the proper fire safety instructions on your own. Luckily, fire standards and safety tips are available right at your fingertips on the web.


Would You Want To Make Your Own Fire Pit?

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Store Bought

  • Cost Effective: While many store bought fire pits cost a pretty penny, you’re able to search around and find some for less than the cost of creating your own fire pit. The difference, however, is that $100 on a store bought fire pit won’t buy you the seating area, or look of a built in fire pit. If you’re okay with this, and searching for something to sit on the back patio while surrounded by chairs on the front porch, than this is the way to go for you.
  • Personalized: As mentioned above, personalization comes with the DIY side of a fire pit. Do not be deterred, though, if a store bought fire pit is right for you, spruce up your surrounding patio and chairs to give yourself a unique and cozy backyard.
  • Get Others Involved: Unlike with DIY fire pits, your fire pit will be ready to go right out of the box. If you’re family is going the extra mile and having one professionally built, you’ll have to wait a little longer for it to be completed, but once it is, will be able to invite friends and family over to enjoy it immediately.
  • Fire Safety: Whether you’re hiring an outside crew to create your fire pit or purchasing one from the store, you’ll be safe knowing that fire safety has been made a priority. While you’ll still need to practice fire safety (i.e. proper dousing of flames, whether or not fire pits are allowed in your area), you’ll know that your store bought or professionally built fire pit is up to code.

Regulations

  • Prior to purchasing or building your fire pit, be mindful to look up the fire safety codes for your area. Living in southern California, we are especially mindful of the fire laws in our area, so as to avoid catastrophes from occurring in our drought damaged land, particularly during the fire season. No matter what your location you, too, should be aware of what the laws in your neighborhood are.
  • Fire pits should be at least ten feet from any standing structure and tree.
  • For added comfort and safety, keep a diameter of at least six-feet available around your fire pit to keep the flames from being too close to those sitting around it.
  • Always check the average wind in the location of your choosing, making sure that it does not attract strong gusts, which will blow embers and flames toward your unsuspecting guests.
  • Do not use flammable or combustible fluids to light wood burning fire pits.
  • Finally, keep your fire pit on a fire safe surface. No matter if you’re building your fire pit yourself, professionally, or buying one from the store, you should always surround it with drainage gravel, or place it on cement. This will keep your fire pit from scorching your lawn and patio, therefore decreasing the chances of a fire occurring.


Know Your Burning Options

Though there are other types of fire pits, wood and gas seem to be the most common.

Wood Burning

If you want the traditional smell of firewood, then a wood-burning fire pit is right for you. Wood burning fire pits allow you to enjoy the snap and crackle of a real fire, while also letting your family roast hot dogs, s’mores and more over the embers. These fire pits, however, do require more work on your end. Because the fire will rely on the wood to feed it, you’ll need to add or rotate your fire pit’s logs to keep the fire from dying out. Also, be aware that you should not use soft wood logs (such as cedar and pine) because they have a tendency to pop, throwing sparks around your fire pit. Instead, head to your local home store and see what hard fire they recommend for you.

Gas Burning

Gas burning is an excellent choice for those of you who want the look of a fire pit, do not plan to cook over the open flame, and who want a fire pit without the hassle of keeping it clean. With gas burning fire pits, you’ll need to invest in some kind of stone or rock to keep the fire satiated and bright. Choose fire rocks or fire glass that is specifically designed for fire pit use. Not only will fire rocks and fire glass give your fire pit an ethereal quality, it will be less expensive than having to constantly invest in new firewood. Do not, however, feed your fire with rocks that you’ve collected on your own, as fire rocks and fire glass are specially created to withstand the heat of a fire without popping or cracking under the pressure.

Fire pits are a great option for your entertainment needs. Whether you plan on having your family gathered around an open flame during the summer, or you’re planning on inviting friends over to hang under the stars, a fire pit is a great option for you.

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    • Kelsey Farrell profile image
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      Kelsey Elise Farrell 2 years ago from Orange County, CA

      Lorena, I'm glad this helped. Of course, it's important to realize that the regulations change from state to state and even city to city, so be careful to look up the codes specifically for your home's area. Happy fire-pitting!

    • profile image

      Lorena B. 2 years ago

      Very informative! I definitely didn't know about any of the regulations involved with having a fire pit. Looks like I will be doing some research before starting construction! :)

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