Fire pits are hot. They’ve blazed onto the backyard entertaining scene in a big way, bringing warmth, fun and lots of gooey, irresistible s’mores.
But fire pits have come a long way since your dad dug a hole in the backyard and tossed in some firewood.
Choose a wood-burning unit for fires the old-fashioned way, or opt for a gas-powered design made of upscale materials that turn on with a simple click on your smartphone.
Either way, there are decisions to make: what size fire pit do I need? How close should it be to the house? And who builds fire pits in New York?
Let’s take a look.
What Size Fire Pit Do I Need?
Deciding on the size of your fire pit is a bit of a Goldilocks situation.
If your fire pit is too small, it won’t generate enough heat and will be too cramped for more than a few people to gather around.
If your fire pit is too big, the fire department could show up. Less dramatic, but annoying: your guests will have trouble talking to each other across your cavernous pit.
If your fire pit is too tall, you won’t be able to prop your feet comfortably on the edge. If it’s too short, people will have to lean over to enjoy the flames.
What Width, Height, Depth?
Smaller, more intimate fire pits are about three feet wide, while larger fire pits suited for entertaining groups can be up to six feet wide. These measurements include the thickness of the walls, so realize the total width of the fire pit is not the same as the width of the burning area.
A fire pit with an outside diameter of about four feet allows five or six people to gather near enough to the fire to keep warm on a chilly night.
How tall? A good rule of thumb is to make an above-ground fire pit 12 to 14 inches tall. This is a few inches shorter than standard patio furniture seat height.
If you want to sit on the edge of the pit itself, 18 to 20 inches is a good height. A fire pit any taller will hold heat in and you won’t enjoy the toasty warmth.
How Close Should A Fire Pit Be To The House?
Many communities require fire pits be at least 10 feet from your house and your neighbors’ yards. That’s a good rule.
Other than that, placement depends on your lifestyle.
You might position your wood-fueled fire pit away from the house for a more rustic feel, where taking a stroll out to roast marshmallows is a bit of an adventure.
Or choose a fire pit style that becomes a focal point of your covered porch or pergola.
Add a gas-powered fire pit right on your patio, just steps from your outdoor kitchen. Then there’s no excuse not to sit for a bit and enjoy that magical flicker.
Fire pits are great additions to your pool area, offering warmth and drama for your evening swim and backyard entertaining.
Are Fire Pits Safe?
If you didn’t already check your local laws about fire pits, now is the time to do it — before you invest in building one.
Are fire pits legal in your municipality? There may be rules about fire pit size, the distance your fire needs to be from structures or requirements regarding on-site fire extinguishers.
Once you know fire pits are allowed, you control the safety of your fire pit by your own behavior and habits.
- Keep your fire small. The bigger the fire, the greater the potential for disaster.
- Avoid having a fire in windy conditions. The wind can blow embers.
- Pay attention to any burn bans or burn ordinances that might be in effect at different times during the year.
- Pick up leaves and other flammable materials from around the pit so the fire doesn’t accidentally spread.
- Always have a container of water nearby and a garden hose on standby before starting the fire.
Should I Build A Fire Pit Myself? Some Common Mistakes
Homeowners often decide to build their own fire pits. By the time they realize they’ve made one or more common DIY mistakes, it’s too late.
Avoid some common mistakes by keeping these things in mind:
- Consider the prevailing wind direction and orient your fire pit accordingly. You don’t want to be immersed in smoke on your patio.
- Include a gravel-lined drainage ditch that slopes away from the bottom of your fire pit toward a low spot on your property. This will prevent standing water from pooling in your fire pit.
- A fire pit needs air flow, so the design should include several small holes two or three inches in diameter around the base of the pit.
- Use fire-rated materials for the lining of your fire pit. If you use regular concrete or cinder blocks they’ll often crack and can even explode if water gets trapped inside and heats too rapidly. Choose fire brick designed for high temperatures and fire-rated mortar.
Who Builds Fire Pits In New York?
Enlist a professional to build your fire pit for peace of mind. Your best bet: an experienced mason or landscape contractor.
Professionals have access to high-quality materials that will stand the test of time, use and weather. They know about the importance of proper air flow and drainage and how to work with the natural grade of your property.
They know the proper size considerations to suit the type of use you plan for your fire pit.
And you’ll be roasting those marshmallows sooner — chances are the pros will have your fire pit finished within a few days. You might toil every weekend for weeks.
Neave Knows Fire Pits
Neave Masonry can help you design the perfect custom fire pit to match your lifestyle and your home, then professionally install it so it becomes a seamless part of your outdoor living space. Need landscaping or carpentry to further enhance your outdoor area? Neave’s comprehensive array of divisions can work together to handle your complete project.
A fire pit will add warmth, a beautiful glow and an elegant sense of style to your backyard living area year round, whether you’re using the space to chat with friends long into the night or to make s’mores with the kids.
Sound good? We’d love to get started.
If you’re in the Hudson Valley, call us at (845) 463-0592. If you’re in Westchester County, call (914) 271-7996; from Connecticut, dial (203) 212-4800. Or, fill out our simple web form, and we’ll contact you about setting up your free consultation.