Fire pits have become a popular backyard trend recently. They’re beautiful, functional, fit just about any space and people love gathering around captivating dancing flames.
Before committing to your own fire pit, though, there are some important considerations to think about. Taking your time and making the right decision will help you pick not just any fire pit, but the perfect fire pit for your home.
Know the laws
Fire pits produce open flames, which make them a natural fire hazard under the wrong conditions. Before making the investment, look into local laws and building regulations.
Some cities and counties have restrictions on fire pits, either not allowing them at all or requiring that they be a certain distance from structures (like your house or a fence). If you live in a condo or apartment, check your lease or homeowner association rules. A small tabletop fire pit might fit on your patio, but it might be against regulations. Even if your lease doesn’t prohibit deck fire pits, city regulations might — especially if you’re in an area that favors wooden decks.
It’s also important to keep an eye on weather conditions and fire warnings. If you live in an area prone to draughts, a wayward spark floating away on the wind could mean big trouble with the dry grass.
Gas or Wood?
Some fire pits are powered by burning wood, while others run on gas.
Wood burning fire pits give off a natural crackle and the nostalgic smell of wood smoke, but require more work to start the fire. Using one of these fire pits is similar to building a campfire or a fire in a wood burning fireplace.
Gas fire pits run using either a natural gas hookup or a propane tank, similar to the one used for a gas grill. Because these versions don’t rely on wood for fuel, they have more aesthetic options. Some have faux wood in the pit to retain the look of a natural fire while others have the flame jumping out of dazzling crystals, smooth river rock or even sand.
Understanding the difference between these types of fire pits and the work required to use and maintain them is an important part of your decision.
Understand Your Space
Fire pits are a hot trend, meaning there are a lot of styles and sizes to choose from now. Before you run out and buy the first fire pit you see, spend some time in your outdoor space. Visualize what you want the space to look like and how the fire pit (and any surrounding seating) will fit in. Is it going on your deck? Next to the deck? In an entirely different part of the yard? What kind of seating will be around the fire pit and how much space will that require?
Having an idea of how you want to use your fire pit will give you a better idea of what style pit you need. After you’ve dreamed up your ideal back yard, measure the space you’re planning. Box off the area you’ll use for the fire pit and chairs then start playing with spatial planning. Use boxes, lawn chairs and anything else you have easily on hand as stand-ins for the fire pit and surrounding seating. This will let you see if everything will fit and how big the fire pit can be.
If you don’t have a lot of space, but still want the flash and crackle of a flame, consider a smaller tabletop fire pit. These units fit nicely on a patio table and typically have glass walls around the flame, making them safe next to your dinner and drinks.
Pick Your Design
Fire pit designs range from rustic to modern to ornate. Some fire pits have built-in tabletops and ledges, some are smaller and basket-like and some are shaped like pots and pillars, designed more for looks and decoration than as a gathering place. Choose a style that fits the aesthetic of your home and yard so it blends in as a beautiful complementary feature.