Fire pits are an excellent way to keep the fun going in your backyard long after dark.
Instead of an unsightly dirt fire pit, make this new social hub an asset to your yard by building a handsome fire pit. It’s easy to do — we’ll show you how!
When selecting and building your fire pit, make sure you avoid using wet stones. If you are using river rocks, be sure to give them several days of direct sunlight to properly dry.
1. Submerged Fire Pit
This look is becoming increasingly popular among DIY fire pit builders. Before digging into the ground, make sure you call 811, the federally mandated “Call Before You Dig Number.” Someone will come mark the approximate location of any underground lines, pipes and cables so you can dig safely. Once you dig your fire pit to the desired size, line the dirt walls with stones or brick. Trust us, you will first want to create a bottom layer of gravel, then cover it with the “bottom” of your fire pit — larger stones or bricks or an even covering such as quick drying cement. Be sure to have drainage or it will turn into a mosquito pond. Create your top rim by making small cutouts in the dirt for your bricks or stones. Finally, dry stack your desired additional layers, or create a small wall using fire resistant adhesives or quick drying cement.
2. Overlaid Stone Fire Pit
For an artistic-looking fire pit, instead of evenly shaped bricks, grab several unique rough rocks, and construct an overlaid stone fire pit. If your pieces are hearty enough (pictured is Pennsylvania Blue Stone) you won’t need any cement for this pit either — but use common sense when building up your walls. If the stones do not feel secure, add in some non-flammable masonry adhesive, landscape adhesive or Liquid Nails. For the center, line the bottom of your fire pit with one or two inches of sand. The outside of your fire pit should be lined as well, and no grass or other yard matter should be within two feet of your pit.
3. Tin Fire Pit
Using whatever barrel-shaped scraps you can find, you can create this all-in-one tin fire pit. Tin fire pits are extra safe as they ensure your fire is adequately contained, and are much preferred in areas with wide open plains and active winds.
You can spruce up your repurposed tin barrel nicely with some high-heat paint (like Rust-Oleum) and stencils.
4. Gravel Fire Pit
There is no digging required for this fire pit design! Select some handsome gravel for your foundation, spread it out to create your overall fire pit space, then stack your fire pit stones. The fire pit pictured was built with crushed concrete rock with some nice details built in. The pit’s stones ought to be more than heavy enough to be dry stacked — no need for adhesive or cement.
5. Raised Fire Pit with Fire Bowl
If you want an elevated fire, this is an ideal design for you. You can build up your fire pit walls to the desired height (only use even bricks for this design, not the rough stones mentioned above) and then top off with a fire bowl. Ensure that your fire pit is the proper size for the bowl by building the first layer of the wall around the screen top of your fire bowl. When purchasing a fire bowl, make sure it has holes for drainage in the center (dumping out fire bowls filled with water is a hassle).
6. Grate Drum Fire Pit
For a less formal, down-home fire pit look, simply add a smoker fire basket (sometimes also called a vertical drum) to the mix. You can either buy one pre-made, or you can craft one yourself using flexible metal grating from the hardware store and a few bolts to fasten it into a circle. Quite a few Hometalk DIYers like to use old washing machine drums, which cost about $10 from used appliance stores. Then insert your drum into the center of your fire pit. If you choose to build a solid wall design like the fire pit pictures, make sure you leave a drainage route for rainwater.
Whichever style you choose, just make sure you enjoy responsibly. Hometalk breaks down all the necessary safety precautions before, during, and after building your fire pit in “Stop! Your Must Have Handbook for Building DIY Fire Pits.”