March 21

Building a Circle Firepit for Your Backyard

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Circle firepits are a comfort to gather around but not all of them are simply for comfort and warmth. They can be part of a greater scheme that’s connected to a cooking area or fireplace section in your backyard. If you’re looking for further ideas on how to make a comfortable gathering place, this guide will give you the best direction on how to start. See our backyard upgrades article for more ideas.

How to design a circle firepit?

Man Building Circle Firepit

Circle fire pits can appear in all forms but for the most part, are very low to the ground just like a campfire. It can appear with or without a border or raised edge but is defined by the decorative enclosure chosen to surround the pit itself. The big question is how the fire within the pit is sustained. Is the fire being fueled by burning wood or if there is a gas line supplying natural gas to burn?

Since a fire pit is simplified within a circle, the whole point is to create an area where chairs and seating are built into the design plans. Aside from the total diameter of the fire pit, there is an outer perimeter that will serve as a buffer zone so you aren’t sitting too close to the fire source itself. Here are some helpful rules that allow you to build a safe fire pit for anyone sitting next to this heat source.

Safety first

Any small fire within a fire pit -no matter how low the flames might be will radiate heat further than you might expect. The golden rule is to design a border diameter that is no more than 7 to 10 feet away from the center of the pit. This will allow enough room for the appropriate seating to be placed around the fire with at least 3 feet of space between seats that are placed within this circle.

Wood or gas

There is a certain attraction if you have a real wood-burning fire pit with the crackling and genuine warmth that you get with wood. There is also a special scent that goes with specific types of wood which heightens the experience. Because there can be wind involved, you do need to design the pit so the retaining wall will hold the ashes that might blow around if there isn’t a border around the fire.

Gas fire pits don’t need a tall retaining wall unless it’s for show or to give the illusion that wood can be burned in these fire pits. Concrete logs can also be placed over a gas source so the flames appear underneath the logs. Even when gas is considered safer for a fire pit, a fire extinguisher needs to be kept close to the pit as a safety precaution.

Best materials to use

The materials that you find at any typical home improvement center range from a variety of brick, concrete, and stone. The most common building blocks start with cement bricks that are built into a circle. If you’re building a permanent firepit, these bricks need to be cemented together using mortar. This specially mixed material will also cement stones together if you’re using odd-shaped stones or slabs of rock.

The most important rule is using a material called Fire Brick which is especially helpful for resisting the heat that comes from the flames. Fire brick needs to line the inside edge of any fire circle to prevent possible cracking of your mortar likewise.

Get permission to build a firepit circle

It’s a terrible thought that your outdoor fire pit could be blamed for catching your house on fire or even a neighbor’s house if it spreads is a huge concern. This is why you will need to get permission to build a fire pit so that all of your design rules are added to ensure the most safety. To get permission only requires three specific regulations that are recommended by local fire officials.

You may need to disclose this information for your homeowner’s insurance for a couple of reasons. The first is related more to what is being burned within the pit and whether it could produce smoke or if this is being burned in a place where there is forestry is close by. The second reason concerns the added value of your home and how this fire pit can further increase the resale value in return.


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