A fire pit is a fantastic enhancement for your outdoor space.
A fire pit gives warmth on chilly evenings, is the focal point of a cozy gathering spot, encourages roasting marshmallows, and creates a natural, calming atmosphere on your patio or lawn.
There are dozens of ways to create a DIY fire pit, and these are great projects for beginners or those on a budget.
Let’s look at some of the different DIY outdoor fire pit ideas.
DIY Fire Pit: Planning
It may seem obvious, but a fire pit can be a safety hazard, so you should carefully consider where you will place it.
A fire pit should be placed at least 10 feet away from your home and your neighbor’s home, paying attention to overhanging eaves.
Trim any overhanging tree branches, and keep a fire pit well away from wooden fences and other outdoor structures.
Fire pits should also be placed on fire-resistant surfaces and not directly on a wooden deck or patio. Place a fire pit on brick, stone, or gravel to reduce the risk of fire.
Finally, check your local regulations regarding fire pit rules. Some cities do not allow open fires or have other restrictions on size, placement, and fire pit use.
It is also a good idea to check your homeowner’s insurance policy for disclaimers and disclosure related to fire pits.
DIY Fire Pit: Different Fire Pit Types
Once you know that you can safely build a fire pit, there are different types to consider.
Wood-Burning Fire Pits
A wood-burning fire pit has the wonderful sound and smell of a campfire and the convenience of burning wood – affordable and readily available. Wood burning fire pits are typically brick or stone.
Propane Fire Pits
Propane fire pits are a great option when you don’t have easy access to firewood. They are portable, convenient, and burn without the smell and smoke of wood.
Because they don’t produce airborne sparks or embers, propane fire pits are safer than wood and better for smaller spaces. Propane fire pits are typically metal.
Gel-Fueled Fire Pits
Gel fueled fire pits are compact and a great way to enjoy a smaller, more portable fire pit when you don’t have space for a big, permanent one.
Gel-fueled fire pits are compact and low-temperature, so they are an excellent choice for deck surface and even tabletop fire pits.
Natural Gas Fire Pit
If you have a natural gas line, you may want to use a natural gas fire pit. These are permanent and nonportable, burning cleanly without smoke or smell.
Natural gas is an excellent option for an outdoor fireplace if you have an available gas line.
If you are using a smaller, portable fire pit or chimney. In that case, you can place it on a wooden deck, provided it is far enough from the house and any overhanging material, and you add a brick or stone surface or deck protector between the fire and the deck surface.
DIY Fire Pit Ideas
1. DIY Natural Stone or Block Fire Pit
This wood-burning fire pit is the easiest and most affordable way to add a fire pit to your yard or garden. It’s also a great way to use excess brick, pavers, cinderblocks, or gravel left over from other home improvement projects. To make a stone or brick fire pit:
- Make sure that you have the space to locate the pit safely.
- Once you have found the right spot for your fire pit, clear a large circle in your lawn, exposing the bare soil.
- Use bricks, cinderblocks, or pavers to build a circular fire pit in the center of your cleared area, and then lay a bed of gravel or pavers around the outside of the fire pit.
- A good rule of thumb is to create 7 feet of clearance around the outside of the fire.
2. DIY Bowl-Style Fire Pit
Bowl-style fire pits are beautiful and have a clean, modern look. They can use various fuels, depending on your needs, and have less contact with the ground, so they transfer less heat to a deck or patio surface.
They require a sizeable fireproof bowl, so it’s a great project if you are comfortable working with cement. To make your custom-sized fire bowl:
- Mix a fireproof concrete recipe until the cement is wet.
- Create a mound of sand or soil that is your desired size, and pour concrete over it.
- Use dowels to create a few drainage holes in the cement so that rainwater can drain out of the finished bowl.
- Use plastic sheeting to allow the concrete to dry slowly between layers, and add layers of concrete with drainage holes until your bowl is at least three inches thick for strength.
- For the final layer, use a sheet of plywood and a leveler to press down on the top of your mound, creating a flat, level base for your concrete bowl.
- Allow it to cure for several days before inverting it and using it as a fire bowl.
- Or you can skip all that and buy a ready-made fire bowl.
- Remember that you still need to allow plenty of clearance around a fire bowl, especially when burning wood.
3. DIY Outdoor Fireplace
The most significant difference between a fire “place” and a fire “pit” is that a fireplace partially encloses the fire, directing heat and light in a specific direction.
An outdoor fireplace can be a fantastic option if you want to protect trees, fences, and other parts of your landscape and offer more ways to cook with your outdoor fire.
Outdoor fireplaces can be simple or elaborate. If you want an outdoor fireplace with a chimney, it’s best to look up some professional designs because it’s easy to accidentally misdirect the airflow and keep your fire from burning as it should.
However, you can also simply use brick, stone, or cinderblocks with some mortar to create a three-sided outdoor fireplace without a chimney that directs light and heat where you want it.
4. DIY Tabletop Fire Pit
A tabletop fire pit is a safe and beautiful way to enjoy a fire pit in even the smallest of spaces. You and your friends can make toasty s’mores right on a small balcony or terrace.
It’s also a great way to upcycle old ceramic or terracotta plant pots so that you can show your creative side. For this project, you will need:
- A fireproof bowl or container. A ceramic or terracotta planter is a good choice, or you can make or buy a cement bowl like this one
- Cans of fire gel. Chafing dish warmers like these are safe, easy, and affordable, and you can choose cans that burn for 2.5 hours, 6 hours, or more
- Fireproof vase fillers. Glass pebbles or polished stones are a great choice.
- A mesh screen. Any metal mesh like this one that you can easily fold or cut will do.
To make a tabletop fire pit:
- Place the can of gas fuel gel in the bowl.
- Cut the mesh screen to place over the top of the can to keep any of your decorative stones from falling into the gel.
- Place the decorative stones over the mesh, leaving a small space for the fire.
- Then light the fuel and enjoy it!
Remember that, even if they don’t look it, your pebbles or stones will remain very hot for some time after the fire goes out, so handle them with caution even after the fuel isn’t burning anymore.
A fire pit is a natural focal point for any outdoor space, and it creates light, warmth, and comfort in nearly any environment. There are DIY fire pit options and designs for any skill level and any landscape.
These are fantastic projects, even for beginners. They are a great way to use extra bricks, pavers, cinderblocks, stone tiles, or other construction materials left over from home improvement projects.
A well-made fire pit can also add resale value to your home since they are so appealing to buyers and can be used for cooking and backyard campouts.
Pay attention to fire safety, never leave a fire unattended, and always be cautious with children and pets. You can easily build a fire pit and enjoy the warmth and light for years to come.