What to Know Before Buying a Fire Pit

If you’ve been researching what to know before buying a fire pit, you have discovered that buying a fire pit isn’t as easy as picking out a couch. Fire Pits may be a delightful addition to a backyard garden oasis, but they tend to be a bit complex in terms of features and safety concerns.


Providing a cozy place for you and your family to come together in your backyard, a fire pit can be a year-round entertaining focal point for your outdoor living area. Fire Pits, however, aren’t exactly cheap. Although you can get a small freestanding fire pit for about $200, larger, more stylish fire pits will cost significantly more, and custom-built fire pits can cost thousands of dollars.


When you spend that kind of money, you need to make an informed choice. To be sure you pick the best fire pit for your needs, you’re going to want to be able to answer all seven of these questions before you purchase a fire pit or have one built in your backyard.


Question 1: What Are Your Local Fire Pit Laws?

When you’re designing your backyard, you’re usually thinking about the creative elements of a beautiful yard, not the legalities. But just as you need the right permits before you build a structure on your property, you need to know the laws about fire pits before you get one.



To discover what you can and can’t do with a fire pit in your home, contact the city or county for any rules and regulations regarding fire pits or wood burning. Check in with your homeowner’s association as well. Many areas have age restrictions for who can tend a fire in a fire pit. Because of the health issues associated with inhaling smoke, being aware of how that smoke might affect your neighbors is a good idea as well.


Question 2: Do You Have a Suitable Location for a Fire Pit?

Fire Pits can’t be plunked down any old place. They can’t be installed on a covered porch, and they shouldn’t be positioned under trees with low hanging branches. They need to be in the open.



Even the open can be an issue, however. You don’t want a fire pit in a very windy area. If the wind is a concern, you need to find a place that’s sheltered from the wind but away from anything that could catch fire.


Question 3: Do You Want Your Fire Pit To Be Permanent or Portable?

Permanent fire pits can be beautiful backyard features. These fire pits are generally built into a stone or rock patio or dug into the ground. If you like an organic feel to your outdoor space, a permanent fire pit will suit you well.



Portable fire pits have advantages, however. Far less expensive, a portable fire pit can be moved to whatever location serves the number of people you have gathered around it. It can also be moved out of the wind if necessary. And you can take it with you if you move to another home.


Question 4: What’s the Primary Purpose of Your Fire Pit?

Fire Pits general serve one or all of three functions:


1. Grilling or Roasting

If you want to use your fire pit for cooking, be sure you get one with a cooking grate.



2. Decoration

In a modern garden, a fire pit can make a beautiful lawn decoration. Whether lit or unlit, a well-chosen fire pit will be a design feature in your yard. If this is your primary reason for getting a fire pit, be sure that you choose one that has the type of character that fits your design style.



3. Ambiance

If the atmosphere and warmth of a small fire are your primary reasons for wanting a fire pit, a fire pit table may be your best choice. Fire Pit tables are designed for adding ambiance to a meal. The main feature of these fire pits is the table (either dining table height or coffee table height). The fire pit’s the centerpiece of the table, providing a flickering glow to accompany drinks or a meal.



Question 5: What’s Your Style?

A well-designed home has a style that flows through the home and out into the yard. Keep this style in mind when you’re choosing your fire pit. Freestanding or table style fire pits come in a variety of materials and configurations so you will be able to choose something that fits your aesthetic, be it modern, traditional, or something in between. Custom, permanent fire pits can also be designed to fit a style. Modern fire pits of this type would feature smooth stone like travertine, granite, or marble. Country, traditional, or rustic fire pits will have a rougher look, set in brick, river rock, or other organic materials.



Question 6: What Fire Pit Material Would Best Fit Your Needs and Style?



A stone wood burning fire pit’s the type of fire pit that most often comes to mind when we think of fire pits. But fire pits can be made of many types of materials:


  • Aluminum


Aluminum is one of the most common fire pit materials because it’s affordable and lightweight. If you want a fire pit that’s easy to move and will last a long time, aluminum will work for you.


  • Steel


Steel is often used for fire pits because it’s an easily molded metal so it can be formed into many different shapes. Steel can also be stained to look like other metals, including copper and brass. Steel, however, easily rusts.


  • Stainless Steel


If you like the industrial look of stainless steel in your kitchen, you may want to choose it for your fire pit. Stainless steel fire pits aren’t the best choice if a natural, organic look is your preference. But if you want something lightweight and weather-resistant, this type of fire pit could be a good choice.


  • Copper


A copper fire pit has a more vintage, timeless look than steel or aluminum. Over time, copper develops a lovely patina giving it an aged appearance. If you prefer the bright copper color, you’ll have to use copper cleaners to keep its shine. Copper fire pits tend to be more expensive than other metal fire pits.


  • Cast Iron


Cast iron fire pits often come in two shapes: bucket and bowl. The bucket fire pits have a large fuel area. Bowl-shaped fire pits usually have a top metal screen or grill, which bucket fire pits don’t have. This type of fire pit’s ideal if using it for cooking is important to you. Cast iron fire pits are affordable and, though heavier than other metals, still light enough to be portable.


  • Glass


Glass fire pits are an excellent choice if your design style is modern. The glass used in these fire pits is tempered, melted to remove all bubbles, then cooled and put through a tumbling process to remove hard edges. This process creates clear glass pebbles that rest on the bottom of the fire pit. This creates an up-to-date and stunning fire pit.


  • Polyresin


If stone isn’t in your budget, polyresin may be your hero. Molded to look like as if they’re made from natural stone, polyresin fire pits are masters of illusion. Even though they’re not made of real stone, they’re still quite sturdy, and they’re low-maintenance.


Question 7: What Type of Fuel Should You Use?



Wood burning fire pits and propane fire pits are the most commonly known fire pits, but they aren’t the only fuel choices for your fire pits. Here are the types of fuel commonly used in fire pits.


  • Wood


Although wood is smoky, it makes a lovely crackling sound while burning. If you love campfires, wood is your best choice of fuel. You will, however, have to stock up on split wood and kindling.


  • Propane


Propane fire pits have small propane tanks attached to them. This makes them portable. The cost depends on the cost of propane in your local area.


  • Natural Gas


A natural gas fire pit’s a custom, built-in fire pit. The fire pit has to be connected to the natural gas line in your home. Because of this, the upfront cost of this fuel type is higher than all the others. Over time, however, natural gas can save you money.


  • Charcoal


Charcoal fires produce smaller flames (think of your old-fashioned barbecue), but the heat put off by charcoal is even and controlled. Charcoal is easy to get and portable.


  • Bio-ethanol


This fuel isn’t one of the cheapest, nor does it result in a big roaring fire. However, it’s one of the cleanest burning fuels. It doesn’t emit smoke or ash.


  • Gel


Another clean fuel option is fire pit gel. It doesn’t emit smoke or odor of any kind. The gel is sold in cans. It’s easy to find, easy to store, and relatively inexpensive to use. It, like bio-ethanol, though, doesn’t result in a big fire.


Now that you know what questions to ask and how to answer the questions to best suit what you want from a fire pit, you’ll be able to make a good, solid choice when you’re buying a fire pit for your backyard.


Images used with permission, courtesy of www.shutterstock.com

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