As the summer winds down and the evenings become cooler you might notice that the end of summer and beginning of fall are the perfect time to gather around a crackling fire with your friends and family. You may not have realized how easy it is to actually build your own fire pit, and you don't have to break the bank to do so.
Check out our guide to building your own fire pit and you'll be one step closer to roasting marshmallows on those cool, summer nights.
1) Start By Choosing A Fire Pit Design
You'll want to start by choosing from a vast selection of fire-proof material. These materials could include firebrick and mortar or cast concrete blocks and masonry adhesive. Each stone will give a different look, so it is important to visualize how your fire pit will look in your backyard. For example, if you already have a stone patio, you may wish to choose a similarly colored stone to build your fire pit. Your local hardware store can help you pick out the ideal stone.
Besides the building materials, you'll also want to decide what shape your fire pit should take. Circular fire pits are most popular, but square fire pits are also quite easy to make.
2) Assemble Your Fire Pit Foundation
In order to ensure that your pit in is the safest area possible, ensure you choose a spot at least 25 feet from your house or surrounding trees. An open space is important, and you may want room to add stone or gravel around the fire pit to catch those pesky embers that want to escape.
Avoid putting it near a septic tank or utility lines, and check the neighborhood building codes to ensure that you're allowed to build your own fire pit.
Choose a flat area of your property to build your fire pit. If the perfect home for a fire pit happens to be on a slope, don't despair - when you dig the hole you can dig further down on one side to level it out. You'll want to dig your pit about a foot deep - but be very careful about hitting any buried utility lines.
Pour sand into your newly dug hole and pack the sand to ensure a level base.
3) Stack Your Stone For The Fire Pit Wall
You will be building the walls of stone to contain the flames and heat. We prefer to use cast concrete blocks and masonry glue because it is easier to apply than mortar, but if you want the classic brick look, you can opt for a brick and mortar build as well.
The base of the wall will start below ground level in the hole you created. This ensures that the pit is steady. As you stack each block continue to check the level of every stone you lay so that you don't get stuck with awkward gaps in your fire pit. If you are finding a block is not sitting as level as it should be, you can gently hit it with a mallet to lower it, or pour a little more sand underneath to raise it.
As you are laying the stones you may want to stagger the joints. This usually looks much better than having the joints lined up, and it is easier to complete.
4) Finish The Inside Of The Fire Pit
Once you have built the fire pit walls, you will want to finish the inside of your pit. Pour gravel (we like the look at river stones) into the base of the fire pit which allows for drainage and controls weed growth within your bit. The gravel will also provide support to the layers of your fire pit.
If you want, you can purchase an iron or steel campfire ring at your local hardware store and place it within your fire pit. This will just add an extra layer of protection to your stone from the heat and the flame.
5) Cap The Top With Decorative Stone
Finally, on the top of the fire pit wall you can add decorative stone that is flat and refinished. This will make your fire pit look professionally built for very little added cost.
6) Add A Stone Border Around The Base Of Your Fire Pit
You may wish to add a gravel or stone border around the base of your fire pit for some added safety. This also allows the pit to seamlessly blend into the yard instead of just sitting on grass.
Clear the grass in a 4-6 inch border around your newly built fire pit. You can spray this area with weed killer to control the growth in the future. Cover this area with small stones (again, we love the look of river stones!) to add a functional and safe border around your fire pit.
Enjoy those cooler summer and fall nights sitting around your brand new fire pit!