Build a Firepit That Positively Glows

Adding a firepit to your backyard is a great way to enhance your landscaping, create a fun area for relaxation, and increase the value of your property.

By Jessica Wing

 

Spending time outside with friends and family is great. It’s even better when you can continue the fun into the night with a firepit where everyone can hang out and socialize in a warm glow when the weather turns brisk. Here are the basics of building your own custom firepit.

 

Planning Your Firepit

The first step in building a firepit is setting your budget. Your budget is the primary factor in determining what style of firepit you can build and what materials you can use.

 

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After deciding how much you want to spend, find the ideal location for your firepit. You should pick an area that’s clear of low-hanging branches and trees. If the site you’ve chosen doesn’t already have a cement slab and a flat area, it’s ideal to create them.

 

To start, dig out a small ditch. Try to make your pit anywhere from 6 inches to 1 foot deep, and clear out any roots. Be sure to level it. If your pit is lopsided, your stones won’t stack well and they’ll eventually topple over. After your pit is good and level, fill it with 5-6 inches of cement. A solid base will keep your firepit’s structure from shifting. A concrete base will also prevent the fire from spreading underground, and allow for easy cleanup in between uses.

 

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Along with a flat foundation for your firepit, you may want to add a cement slab or a wooden deck to the surrounding area as well to act as a clean platform for chairs and activities. After all, what good is a firepit if it’s not a comfortable place to hang out?

 

Depending on how complex your firepit’s design is, you should consider making a frame to guide your process. If you’re sticking to a simpler firepit aesthetic such as a circular design, measure the circumference before you start laying stones. Make sure the measurements are accurate so the pit will be able to support itself.

 

Don’t Create the Leaning Tower of Fire

As you pile your stones or bricks, add mortar to the gaps and joints. Read the instructions on the mortar packaging before you start to mix and apply it. Use a trowel to apply the mortar as you stack your bricks/stones. If you are uncomfortable completing this step on your own, you may need to hire a professional or find a friend who has experience. It’s important to do this step in portions, checking that the structure is staying level as you build it up. You don’t want a lopsided firepit! Also make sure to close any and all gaps between your firepit bricks and stones.

 

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Photo by bigstock

 

Turn Up the Heat for Your Backyard’s Design

If you’d like a contemporary-style firepit, you may need to add a chimney cap, which is usually seen on closed firepits, otherwise known as stone ovens. This will allow for venting and help prevent the pit from overheating. If you’re using an open firepit, there’s no need for a chimney cap.

 

Adding a firepit to your backyard is a great way to enhance your landscaping, create a fun area for relaxation, and increase the value of your property.

 

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Photo courtesy of Gary J. Wood via Flickr