by Steve Laible on March 13, 2017
The Complete Checklist for Planning Your Outdoor Fire Pit
Fire pits have long been an alluring outdoor feature for homeowners. They make a great way to gather with friends and family, create a romantic ambiance, or simply to relax. There is something so appealing about the crackling sounds of the hot embers, the smoky smell of the burning logs, and the comforting radiant warmth of the fire.
Fire pits are a fun way to bring your indoor activities outside, get more use out of your backyard (especially during the cooler months), and to raise the value of your property.
Before you dive right in and install your own outdoor fire pit, there are a few considerations you need to be aware of. This checklist will help you plan the ultimate beautiful—and safe—fire pit for your yard.
Research Codes and Regulations
Local codes and regulations vary from community to community. Be sure to check your local regulations so that you can enjoy your fire pit in safety and peace of mind. Common regulations include:
- Requirements for specific permits
- Placing the fire pit a certain distance from your house
- Site inspections from a local fire official
Do your research—some communities may even ban fire pits altogether. Whatever the regulations for your area, be sure to follow them carefully so that you can enjoy your enhanced yard for years to come.
Understand the Cost
The cost of a fire pit can range from a few hundred dollars to several thousand depending on the size, type of materials, and custom features. If you’re planning to include any additional elements such as a patio or sitting wall, those will increase the final total as well.
It’s important when starting any project to understand the various price ranges for different products. Consider setting a budget before you begin so that you can manage your expectations as the project goes on.
Decide on Wood vs. Gas Fuel
The decision of a wood fire pit verses a gas fire pit involves thinking over a few pros and cons. You’ll need to determine which of the factors below are most important to you and your lifestyle.
Gas Fire Pits
- Easier to maintain
- Typically decorative rather than functional
- No need to clean out the ashes, add wood logs when the flames are low, or acquire and store wood logs
- Gas is cleaner-burning than wood
- Require running gas lines to your fire pit
- Requires paying for the gas to produce the flames in the fire pit
Wood Fire Pits
- Authentic campfire experience with crackling sounds and smoky scent
- Depending on where you live, firewood can either be easy or challenging to acquire
- Typically less expensive to install
- Tends to produce more heat
Choose Your Location
The location of your outdoor fire pit needs some consideration. Do you want the fire pit to be the focal point of your yard or do you want it to be in a more secluded area of your property? Remember, the codes and regulations we mentioned earlier may determine what your options are as far as placement.
If you choose a wood fire pit, be considerate of your neighbors when choosing a location. Wood fire pits produce smoke, which can travel through your neighbor’s open window and become disruptive. Keeping wood dry will help your fire produce less smoke. One way to keep your wood dry is to keep your wood off the ground and covered from the weather.
Select Style and Material
The style, type of materials, and the size of the fire pit are other decisions that need to be addressed. When it comes to fire pit design, the options are nearly limitless. You can choose a design that truly fits your own personal style and compliments your home and property. Some style choices to consider include:
- Round vs. square
- Permanent vs. portable
- Fire bowl fire pit
- Real stone vs. manufactured stone
TIP: Using materials similar to what you have inside your home will create an aesthetic flow that can really boost your property value.
Focus on Safety
Whenever designing and installing a fire pit, always make safety a top priority. Here are some of the primary safety considerations you need to make while you’re in the process of planning your fire pit:
- Ensure that your fire pit is not too close to fences, structures, trees, power lines, or any overhanging objects.
- Ten feet is a good distance to keep your fire pit away from any objects that could potentially burn.
- Before digging out an area to install a base for your fire pit, make absolutely sure you are aware of all gas lines, power lines, septic pipes and tanks that may be where you are digging.
When your fire pit has been installed and you’re ready to start enjoying it, remember these general tips for safe fire pit use:
- Never use gasoline or lighter fluid on your fire.
- Avoid soft woods like pine or cedar which have a tendency to “pop” and throw sparks.
- Safely dispose of ashes
- Be aware of the wind direction before lighting a fire
- Avoid wearing lose clothing near the fire
- Always keep a hose and/ or sand nearby in case of emergency
Additionally, disclosing your fire pit maybe a requirement of your homeowner’s insurance policy. At the very least you should understand how a fire pit may affect your coverage.
Plan the Final Touches
Lastly, the final touches on your outdoor fire pit should create the ambiance that you are trying to achieve. Seating such as chairs or sitting walls are a great way to make the fire pit more inviting. Additional landscape lighting is a unique way to create an appealing atmosphere. Low LED lighting, string lighting, or even torches add a very pleasant ambiance, and disperses the light so that you are not entirely reliant on the fire for lighting. If you install a wood fire pit, log tongs and a fire poker are convenient tools to have handy. And don’t forget to keep the makings for s’mores nearby!
Fire pits can create an enjoyable experience for you, your family, your friends, and guests and are a wonderful way to spend some more quality time outdoors. To start planning your fire pit today, contact Trowel Trades Supply and discuss your ideas with our experts.