What to Consider for Your Firepit
A firepit is a fun place to gather, enjoy the fall, keep warm on chilly nights and even cook a little, if you have the right gear. Fire calls to we humans in ways that few other elements do, so make sure that your firepit offers plenty of access.
Avoid putting a firepit too close to a fence, outbuilding or overhanging trees. While green trees probably won’t light, you can damage branches and burn leaves of lower branches, and you might end up disturbing nesting birds if you’re too close.
Will your firepit be permanent, and if so, will it be forever in that spot? Siting a firepit may take a few adjustments, so consider not getting out the bricks that first year to make sure you have the perfect spot for a fire. To start, consider using a chiminea in your planned fire spot until you’re sure.
Once you have the perfect spot, you’re ready to dig. Call the local utility markers to make sure you have a safe area to dig. You don’t want to dig up anything you need, such as a water line or a cable line. You also don’t want to place your fire pit over your phone line, as it can melt, or your gas line.
Use loose bricks to lay out the site and dig a marker line around the layout. You’ll make your life a lot easier if you arrange your firepit in such a way that you don’t have to split bricks. It’s possible, but a lot of work that can result in many busted bricks and easy to avoid in the design step.
You’ll want a trench around the outside of your fire ring that you can fill with gravel and tamp down. This tamping process fulfills multiple needs:
- Your fire pit won’t fill with water in a heavy rain
- Grass won’t grow into the firepit when it’s too hot for a fire
Do your best to make sure the trenched gravel is flat and level before setting your first course of bricks.
Lay the First Course
Getting the first course flat and even is critical. Use a 4 foot level to make sure the bricks are level around the diameter; a little change in grade as you work around the ring can lead to a big bump when the last brick goes in. Keep the bricks tightly together; even if it’s a dry fit, you want things to be snug, level and stable. You may need a mallet to do a little persuading. If using a rubber mallet or a plastic-headed dead blow hammer, start out tapping. Rubber mallets will bounce and you don’t need one coming back for your face because you got over-enthusiastic.
Fill and Set the Ring
Add gravel to the ring to stabilize the blocks, then add the steel fire ring inside the circle so it sits at the top of the firepit. Now you can add the rest of the gravel.
Finish The Ring
Once the first course is installed and flat, you can finish the ring by off-setting the second course from the first. Use a concrete adhesive to glue the second course to the first. Concrete or stone capping pieces will have the firepit looking more like a finished feature and less like a well, so invest in good stone and bond it in place with mortar; mortar will give you more volume and do a better job of filling the cracks between the manufactured concrete bricks and the rough surface of the stone.
Once the concrete cures and the adhesive is fully dry, you’re ready to enjoy a fire. Invest in some comfortable, solid surface chairs that are tall enough for guests of all ages. Avoid plastic or mesh that could burn. Consider adding a small, iron-base table with a stone top to match the capstone on your firepit.