There are numerous ways to build a firepit. The most common is to dig a hole in the ground and surround the hole with rocks, and Voila, you have an outdoor firepit! But if you want something built-in to your landscape, a focal point for your outdoor “room,” something to surround with patio furniture or adirondack chairs – then you need to do a little more planning.
1. Location. Location. Location.
It’s vital that you select the proper location. A great firepit too far away you’re your home, patio, or lake and you’ll have a pretty rock pile instead of a useful firepit! Easy access is crucial. Once you have the ideal location in mind, stop and check with the local zoning regulators to ensure there are no codes that would prevent you from moving forward in that location. They may hit you up for a fee of some sort, so be prepared. But its good to check, as there may be a restriction on how close you can place a firepit to your home or out-building, so better to check in with them than to have them tell you to remove it once it’s installed.
Most firepits are round, however, that doesn’t mean you need to stick to the norm. Think outside of the box a little, what works best for your patio, what can you set that beautiful new teak patio furniture around? Think about width across and height. Will you be in low chairs such as adirondack chairs or deep seating patio furniture chairs? Height could be a factor.
Width across the firepit is important as well. When calculating, consider the materials you are going to use to encase your outdoor firepit and the dimensions of those materials, as that will be a factor for your overall siteplan dimensions.
Clay bricks, concrete pavers, and rocks all make great choices for the wall of the firepit. Once you decide on the material, you will need to dig out the appropriate area, including the footprint needed for the material. Go an extra 6-8 inches to allow for room to add an aggregate to be used as a foundation. Best aggregates to use are those that can be compacted to create a firm and stable base to set the firepit walls on.
Building the firepit walls is the easy part. Concrete pavers are generally pretty uniform in shape and will stack on top of each other pretty well. Some manufacturers even make curved pavers that will make creating a round firepit a breeze. Clay bricks will stack pretty well also and the look will have a little more character. Stacking stones takes more patience, as you will need to be careful to keep the layers level as you move upward.
General height guidelines are roughly 12-16- inches high, but that will vary depending of the overall design you’ve come up with in your planning stage.
One way to create the inside of the firepit is to purchase a hand-hammered copper firepit bowl and set it into the pit. There are a lot of great resources online to find firepits and most of those sites will be able to sell you a drop in bowl for your homemade firepit.
If you do decide to have a drop in bowl, make sure you get the dimensions of the unit you will drop in prior to building your walls, so that the outer ring or lip of the drop in bowl can sit on the ledge of the wall. Best case is also to have the bottom of the bowl rest on the ground, but it is not always necessary. Check with the manufacturer just to be sure.
Other ideas for the bottom of the pit are sand, gravel, pavers, bricks or just the dirt itself. Whatever you choose, make sure you figure the depth of the product into the overall design.