If you’re looking to have the addition of a cozy fire in your backyard? If you do, you might have considered buying a fire pit. Unfortunately, they can become expensive, so many choose the do-it-yourself (DIY) route.
If you want to save money and have time and energy, you should consider making your fire pit yourself. That way, you can get the cozy campfire feeling without breaking the bank, all while having the satisfaction of creating it yourself.
Materials, Tools, and Equipment to Build an Outdoor Fire Pit
Before building your outdoor fire pit, you must have the right equipment, tools, and materials. You will need:
- Spray paint can
- Tape measure
- Building blocks, concrete pavers, or bricks
- Pea gravel
- One bag of all-purpose sand
- Fire pit ring (optional)
- Mortar (choose between a ready mix or mix it yourself at home)
Once you have all these and a design idea, you can start building your fire pit.
Step-by-Step: How to Build an Outdoor Fire Pit
At this point, you’re probably considering building your outdoor fire pit yourself, but you might not know where to start. Well, in a few simple steps, a day or two’s work, and some heavy lifting, you can get a fire pit of your own.
The steps to build an outdoor fire pit are:
- Plan the Location and Size of Your Fire Pit
- Map the Fire Pit Based on Its Size
- Dig A Hole the Size of Your Fire Pit
- Create a Sand Lining
- Level the Sand
- Create a Base With Stone and Gravel
- Insert a Fire Pit Ring (Optional)
- Build the Stone Wall
If this looks like a job you can do, continue reading to understand each step before getting started.
Step 1: Plan the Location of Your Fire Pit
Where you place your fire pit is a matter of safety, aesthetics, and sociability. Because you’re building a custom fire pit, it will be a permanent structure, so consider where you’ll put it carefully.
The location of a fire pit should be:
- Far enough from homes or flammable vegetation,
- On a level ground for more comfortable sociability,
- Close to a water source for safety, and
- In an area where it is aesthetically appealing.
Once you’ve found the perfect spot, you can move on to step two.
Step 2: Map the Fire Pit Based on Its Size
Think about the size you want your fire pit to be. That would depend on the size of your yard and whether you’ll want a fire pit ring.
For example, if you want to buy a fire pit ring, think about what size you want: 30’’, 32’’, 34’’, etc. That should be the diameter of your fire pit.
Map where you must dig with a spray can or by laying down dry bricks or building blocks. That way, you clearly know where to dig the hole and don’t have to do it blindly.
Step 3: Dig a Hole the Size of Your Fire Pit
Once you know how big you want your fire pit to be, it’s time to dig a hole. This way, you ensure that the heat of the fire doesn’t penetrate the grass and ground by creating a safe heat barrier.
Dig a hole approximately 7-12 inches deep, ensuring the sides go straight down and aren’t sloped. Don’t worry if it’s not too straight, as long as the hole is equally deep on all sides. You can use a tape measure to ensure it’s evenly deep.
Step 4: Create a Sand Lining
Once you’re done digging the hole, open the bag of sand and create a sand lining on the bottom and sides of the hole.
Creating a sand lining in your firepit will help absorb excess heat from the fire and help distribute it evenly throughout the pit.
Step 5: Level the Sand
Because you will create a stone and gravel bottom and stone walls, your sand must be level. If it isn’t, your fire pit walls might be crooked.
Pat the sand down to compact it and use a level to ensure the stone will be on a flat, smooth surface.
Step 6: Create a Base With Stone and Gravel
Every fire pit needs a base to keep the ground safe, so your fire shouldn’t make direct contact with the earth.
Create a base by laying stones flat on the sand level and filling the gaps with pea gravel to ensure its level. The whole bottom of the pit should be covered in either of these materials to protect the earth underneath.
Step 7: Insert a Fire Pit Ring (Optional)
You might consider getting a fire pit ring. A fire pit ring is a circular metal or stone structure placed on the ground, surrounding a fire to contain it.
The fire pit ring will be on the inside of the fire pit, pressed firmly into the sand. It adds an extra safety layer to protect the earth.
Step 8: Build the Stone Wall
Stack the building blocks, bricks, or stones you want to use for your fire pit. As long as it’s a non-combustible stone, your fire pit should last for years.
Stack your building stones flush against the level sand wall and add layers of mortar between the bricks for them to stick together. That way, the stones won’t fall over when the fire pit is in use.
Of course, you can make the fire pit as high as you want, but it’s advised that you go at least one foot above ground level. Usually, people opt for 12-14 inches above ground level to enjoy the fire comfortably when lounging around it.
The Bottom Line
When you want a fire pit, you can buy one and let installers put it in place, or you can do it yourself. But, you’ll have to put in a day or two’s work and be prepared to do some heavly lifting (lifting the stones and putting them in place). Of course, it might be a cheaper option to do it yourself compared to buying one.
However, it can be an easy and satisfying task when you go the DIY route, creating a cozy backyard accessory with your own two hands.