Bring out the Marshmallows! How to Build a DIY Fire Pit in Your Backyard

Bring out the Marshmallows! How to Build a DIY Fire Pit in Your Backyard

There’s nothing like cracking open a cold one and roasting hotdogs over an open flame. With your own fire pit, you can enjoy this right from the comfort of your own backyard.

75% of landscape architects value the fire pit as the most important exterior design element that you can add to your home.

It’s a simple and affordable way to enhance your outdoor living space. One that you can design and build all by yourself. But before you invite all your neighbors over to gather round, you’ll need to put your handyman skills to the test.

Follow this guide for building a DIY fire pit, like a pro.

Your Next Weekend Project: A DIY Fire Pit

Having a professional design and install a firepit for you can cost as much as $5,000. So, this is a case where it pays to DIY.

We’re about to take you on the journey of how to build a fire pit. It’s an easy hands-on project that can get completed on a lazy Sunday afternoon. But first, there are a few design features you need to consider.

Step 1: Determine Your Design

The beauty of a homemade fire pit is that you’re in control of all the design characteristics. Choose your own shape, size, layout, and aesthetic elements.

The fire pit should be an extension of your existing outdoor living design. Yet, it can still stand alone by itself as long as it blends in with the natural landscaping. You can go rustic or modern, with a variety of materials and stone patterns to choose from.

The most popular choice is an above-ground circular pit made from natural field stone. Anywhere from 40 to 60 inches in diameter is a good rule of thumb for size.

It’s always smart to check local building codes beforehand. As you may need special requirements for your fire pit. Also, take note of utility lines and neighbor’s property lines.

Step 2: Select the Location

Any boy scout will tell you to consider fire safety 101 when selecting the location of your fire pit. Choose an area that is far enough away from trees, branches, and bushes. As well as outdoor fixtures like sheds.

Planning for fire safety is especially important when you have children at home. Hospitals see an average of 5,300 injuries a year due to outdoor fire pit hazards. So keep it contained and keep on eye on the kids.

The fire pit should be a decent distance from your back door. You can build a walkway using pavers, stepping stones, or decorative gravel.

Be sure to also plan for enough space for a comfortable seating area. This can be as simple as a wide circle around the pit.

Step 3: Shop for Materials

Like you need an excuse to head to your local hardware store…but here are a few things you’ll need to build a fire pit.

  • Shovel
  • A piece of rebar
  • String
  • Stone material of your choice
  • Capstones
  • Fire brick
  • Fast set concrete
  • Trowel
  • Mortar mix
  • Mason’s level

You may also want to grab your wheelbarrow. This comes in handy for moving the heavy stones and mixing your mortar and concrete.

While you’re at the hardware store, you may want to grab these must-have tools for campfire cooking. But more on that below.

Step 4: Get Diggin’

Now it’s time to get hands-on and set up the foundation for your stone fire pit.

Measuring

Start by measuring the 3 different areas needed for your layout. You’ll want to measure a circle for the actual pit, the surround, and the seating area. Begin in the center of the pit then work your way outwards.

Use a rebar rod for marking the center of your pit. You can attach a string to help measure the diameter for each circle. If working in the grass, you can also spray paint the circle layouts for an easier reference.

Footer and Surround

Then dig the footer to include both interior and exterior walls for your fire pit surround. This should be about half a foot deep.

This circle then gets filled with your concrete mix. Be sure to level the top layer with your trowel for a smooth surface then let it set.

Take this time to separate out your stones. Set aside the capstones to get used for the top layer of the pit. Now it’s time to add a layer of mortar to the dried concrete ring.

Laying the Stones

Then lay down the stones, working in a circular pattern, one level at a time. Start on the exterior edge of the outer wall. Be sure to use fire brick for the interior side of the pit.

As you go, fill the gaps in your structure with mortar. Remove any excess mortar for a smoother finish. You can also use your mason’s level to check your work as you go.

Continue until you reach the desired height of your fire pit. This can be about a foot or two high for reference. Be sure to not go too high as this can limit the amount of heat you get.

Finishing Touches

The final part is to lay down your flat capstones. Then mortar them to set everything in place.

You can also line your firepit with a layer of thin steel. Or a high-heat paint for a different interior look.

If you’re working on pavers, instead of dirt, lay the stones in a circle pattern. Then dig a foot deep hole for your pit and fill it with sand or river rocks.

Taking Your Fire Pit to the Next Level

Don’t forget to include your seating area. You can set an area using landscape cloth and decorative gravel. Or go more rugged with Adirondack style chairs or log benches.

More cool fire pit ideas include in-ground seating. This can provide a creative aesthetic. Do this by building a sunken seating wall in wood or stone.

Other enhancements can protect you from the elements. A simple wooden pergola can create a dramatic design statement.

Midnight snacks around the bonfire are always a great idea. Check out these campfire cooking tips for the right techniques to use.

Or you can also turn up the heat with a nearby built-in pizza oven. Complete your outdoor kitchen with a built-in beer cooler or kegerator.

Time to Get Lit

A DIY fire pit is a great way to enhance your outdoor living space for all-season entertainment. Follow these tips for an easy and frustration-free installation.

Then you’re all ready to host a backyard soiree to break in your brand new fire pit. Be sure to check out more tips on campfire cooking to feed your impressed guests.