Have you ever experienced seating around a campfire under the starry sky? Maybe you have, and you want to do it again? If you don’t have time to go camping, you can achieve a similar experience by installing a fire pit in your backyard.
Getting a fire pit will not only make cool nights warmer, but you and your guests will also have an easier time cooking over one as well as melting marshmallows and creating S’mores. It’s also a safer alternative since it would be enclosed in some type of walling, compared to campfires or bonfires.
There are also some fire pits that come with a table where you can place dishes, snack bowls, bottles of drinks, wine glasses, or cooking utensils. You can even use it to play board or card games. So even if you don’t want to cook outdoors and prefer a simple wine night, the crackling fire will help brighten up the outdoors and enhance the ambiance of the evening.
If you’re worried about having a small yard, don’t worry! Whether you have limited space or want a bigger fire pit, there are many varieties of fire pits, and these are customizable, especially if you DIY. You can choose the size, material, power source, design, budget needed, and more!
Check out these video tutorials on how to build a fire pit in your home.
1. Block Fire Pit
Locating an Area
Choose the farthest spot from your home in your backyard. This fire pit can be built on the lawn or a patio, so just try to find an area that has an open space with no low-hanging limbs.
Decide on the Shape of the Fire Pit
Since we will be using rectangular blocks, the layout can be adjusted into different sizes and styles such as square or rectangle fire pits.
Marking and Digging the Area
Lay the blocks on the lawn to the desired shape of your fire pit. Once you are satisfied with the shape, mark the outline with a shovel. After marking, set aside the blocks and then remove two inches of the dirt and sod.
Tamping and Leveling the Soil
You should now have a square- or rectangle-shaped hole in your lawn. Level this space by tamping down the soil.
Adding Gravel Paver Base
After leveling, add 2 inches of gravel paver base. Wet it with a garden hose then tamp down again. Add another half-inch of gravel paver base and tamp, making the base level.
Laying the Blocks
Lay the first row of blocks, ensuring that they touch each other. For the second row, it should be staggering the joints of the first row. As per cutting a block, you might need to cut a block if the second row does not fit perfectly. Mark how small you need the block to be and then cut it with a circular saw with a concrete blade. To separate the block, use a chisel.
Attaching the Rows
After creating and fitting the second row, remove the blocks of the second row and apply concrete adhesive on top of the first row. Lay the second row of blocks again; do the same for the third row (or more, if you prefer a higher fire pit).
Fixing the Base and Lining the Interior Wall
When you’re done building the blocks, add more paver base at the bottom. Next, line the inside of the fire pit with clay fire bricks. To hold these in place, place a few inches of lava rocks at the bottom. When building in a patio, you also need to line the bottom with fire brick if you’ll install the fire pit on the patio with polymeric sand.
You’re all set! To start a fire, add logs and kindling. Time to get the marshmallows and enjoy the warm fire.
2. Modern Concrete Fire Bowl
Preparing the Concrete for Bowl Base
The amount of concrete to create the bowl base will vary, so start with a small amount. After adding concrete to the larger bowl, put some water and properly mix it. Add some more concrete and water until you get a mixture that is not too dry nor wet. Take the smaller bowl and place it in the middle of the mixture inside the larger bowl. Check if you have enough concrete mixture and adjust accordingly.
Creating the Bowl Base
Once you have enough mixture, take the small bowl and cover the outside with motor oil. This will make it easier to remove the bowl after the concrete had dried. Insert the bowl and then place a weight or rocks so that the smaller bowl will stay in place.
After, get the palm sander and use it on the outside of the larger bowl to vibrate the form. There is no minimum or maximum time to do it, but you should try to do it as long as possible and wait for air bubbles to rise. This will ensure that the form will be smooth, and the result would be better if you use the rubber mallet to hit it a few times just in case if not all the bubbles have risen.
Extracting the Bowls
Wait for two days and then the form should have cured. You can simply remove the inner bowl by lifting it. For the outer bowl, pull the outer edge, flip it upside down, and pat until it releases the concrete bowl.
Making the Bowl Smooth
If the exterior wall is rough, sand it until you get it to your preferred smoothness. Otherwise, it should be smooth after you used the palm sander and rubber mallet. Next, sand the lid since it would probably be rough with all the air bubbles.
Installing the Wire Mesh for the Marbles
You will need to install a construction wire mesh to hold the black marbles. Place the wire mesh on top and trace the outline of the bowl. Use the tin snips to cut the mesh and place the gel fuel canister in the middle. Next, shape the wire mesh and then use a hammer to bend the sharp edges so it wouldn’t prick anyone. Lastly, place the black marbles on top of the wire mesh. (Note: For a bigger fire, you can use multiple cans.)
3. In-Ground Fire Pit
Finding a Spot for your Fire Pit
Look for a spot in your lawn that is far from your house and doesn’t have low-hanging limbs. Since this will be an in-ground fire pit, the area shouldn’t have drainage problems or collect water.
Marking and Digging the Area
This in-ground fire pit will have a round shape, so to create the layout, attach a marking paint to a string and stake. This will create a compass to mark a circle on the ground. After, determine how deep you need to dig.
The depth will depend on the thickness of your patio stones and concrete block lining, so measure them. For the rest of the measurements, the fire pit in the middle will be around two inches, then you need to add 4 to 6 inches for the paver base, an inch of sand, and finally, the patio stones. That’s around 7 to 9 inches excluding the height of your patio stones.
If your patio stones are around an inch high, dig around 8 to 10 inches and then a smaller hole in the middle with a height of two inches. Tamp the ground once you’re done.
Adding the Drain and Filling the Hole
You’ll need to dig more in the 2-inch hole to place a drain and then cover it again with soil. This way, the pit won’t be filled with rainwater. Next, add the paver base before placing the concrete blocks. Tamp the paver base before setting the concrete block and leveling them to form a ring.
After, pour the gravel paver base around the concrete block up to two to three inches. Then, wet it and tamp to level the area. Add more paver based until it reaches an inch below the top of the concrete block. Make sure to pour some gravel base inside the concrete block as well. Add some lava rocks inside the pit or the concrete blocks to hold them in place.
For the next layer, lay PVC pipes on top of the gravel base to get a level sand base. Pour the paver sand and use a straight 2x4 to flatten the sand.
Placing the Patio Stones
Remove the pipes and then lay the patio stones around the fire pit ring. If the pieces don’t fit, you will need to cut the stones. Mark the excess and cut it with a circular saw with a concrete blade. Make sure to leave a gap of one-inch between the stones and level it.
Next, add mortar on the interior of the patio stones, above the concrete block. This will hold the stones and sand in place. You will also need to add landscape spikes for edging to hold the patio stones in place.
Once everything is steady, fill the one-inch gap or joins with polymeric jointing sand. This has additives that will provide a stronger bond. Sweep the excess in the joints and use a hand tamper to settle the sand. To get rid of the excess sand, use a leaf blower, which will also help prevent hazing. Lightly spray the top with a hose and finish it off by placing soil or gravel along the edge.
4. Concrete Fire Pit
Preparing the Formwork
To create the framework, you will need 4 panels with a length of 43.5 inches. Each panel is made out of 2 pieces of 2x4s and 2 pieces of 2x6. Connect the panel using screws and adjoin the four panels with a 6-inch L-brackets at the corners. You will then have a big square frame.
Marking the Perimeter and Digging the Area
Determine the location and then place the frame. Trace the outline by digging at the soil to mark the perimeter. Next, dig the inside of the outline to a depth of 8 inches. Hose and compact the soil to make it as level as possible. Next, fill the area with 3.5 inches of gravel and try to level it by tamping it as well.
Setting the Frame
Set the frame or mold back again on the spot. Create a smaller inner square and place it inside the larger frame. Make sure that the smaller square is placed at the center to make it symmetrical. Keep it in place by screwing it with 2x3s and then check if it is level. Drive stakes into the ground and then wire the horizontal piece to hold the rebar in place.
Building the Fire Pit
Next, create the concrete mixture and pour a foundation for about 3.5 inches. Push it down to all the corners and let it cure for at least 20 hours. Once it is cured, apply a layer of mortar in the inside of the formwork. The mortar will be a mixture of mortar clay, sand, and portland cement. Then place each brick vertically inside the framework.
After placing the bricks, pour another layer of concrete, about five inches. If the rebar isn’t long enough, add some more stakes. Let the concrete cured again for another 20 hours. This will lock it in place, so you can now remove the 2x3-bracing.
Now, repeat the process until you fill the concrete up to the brink of the formwork. Use a straight piece of wood to screed the surface. Let the concrete sit for an hour and then use a float to level the top. Wait for another hour and then use a steel trowel to finish it off. Cover the concrete and let it cure for 48 hours before removing the mold. Lastly, add two buckets of lava rock at the bottom of the fire pit.