Fire Pits, Pros & Cons

Nov 30, 2012 | Home and Garden

Fire Pits Pros & Cons

fire pits
There are few things more inviting on a cold evening than a warm fire and friends to share it with.  Fire pits are becoming more popular all the time.  In fact, I just read one statistic indicating fire pits are now the #1 requested design feature for outdoor patios and living spaces.  Built in fire pits or fireplaces create a real focal point to your space and are a great place for families to gather, roast some marshmallows and drink a cup of hot chocolate.  
Built in fire pits are designed with safety in mind; away from the main house structure, placed on level and well prepared surface and integrated into the overall look of the patio space.  For those who may have built a patio before the fire pit craze began, there are also a lot of free standing models that you can purchase from local home & garden centers or online.  When installed properly, a free standing pit can provide all the same great things as a built in but they do present fire safety issues that must be considered.
fire pits
Circular pit on curved patio
Before building or purchasing a fire pit I recommend checking your local city ordinances or home owners associations to ensure there are no restrictions on their use.  For those of you with only wood or composite decks and no patio area, I DO NOT suggest ever using a free standing fire pit.  I’ve seen ads for new products like fire resistant mats or tiles that say they are safe to use on a deck but the heat generated from a fire pit is intense, especially at the bottom, closest to your deck surface.  Wood will combust and composite materials will discolor or even melt.  It’s just not worth ruining your deck or siding.  
For existing patios make sure you place the fire pit on a stable and level surface at least 15-20’ from the house.  Ensure proper clearance around and under the pit.  A good rule of thumb is at least 3’ around the pit and 4-6” beneath it.  Once lit, use the screen, flying embers can land anywhere and you don’t want your wood pile to go up in flames.  Always have a bucket of water or hose within arm’s reach and never leave a fire pit unattended.  Before calling it a night, ensure the fire is completely out – douse it with the bucket of water.  It may make a little more mess but not extinguishing embers is one of the primary causes of a fire reigniting and spreading without the homeowner’s knowledge.
fire pits
Integrated rectangle pit with seating area
With proper precautions you can enjoy a fire pit year round.  Next time roast a marshmallow for me and enjoy the glow on a winter’s night!
      – Mike

Talk to the Pro Deck Builders

Cedarbrook did an excellent job of revitalizing and aging porch and patio. The craftsmanship and attention to detail were excellent. The work was done on schedule. They started when they said they would and finished when they said they would even with replacing some wood that they noticed had warped. Mike came by to look at the completed job and review everything with me to make sure I was satisfied. There was actually something he wanted done that I had not noticed or requested. I would highly recommend this company to anyone getting new or replacing/repairing an aging porch or patio.

Daniel C, Monrovia, MD