Introduction: Backyard Fire Pit

About: Hi! My name is Wolfgang Haney. I have a Bachelor's of Science in Systems Engineering with a Mechanical Option and I am a Technical Specialist in the AEC Industry. I like to consider myself a maker. I have a lo…

Fire pits are a great addition to any yard and are awesome for gathering around with the family and friends to just hang out. (As you can see, Belle agrees.) But they can be expensive to have installed, or if you buy an affordable stand alone one, they may be of poor quality and start falling apart after a couple years.

But you can easily build one yourself out of bricks or pavers.

Step 1: Plan

It is best to always plan ahead , especially for big projects. (Although, it is okay not to in certain situations.) Don't drive yourself crazy trying to plan every little detail, but plan as much as you can in order to keep from really messing anything up and avoid any other similar headaches.

Decide where you want your fire pit to be. You want to make sure it isn't a fire hazard when it is lit. My wife and I decided that we wanted ours in the very center of our backyard so that people can sit all the way around it. Decide what shape you want your fire pit to be and what you want the walls to be made of. We went with a round fire pit and used trapezoid shaped pavers because they fit together nicely to form a circle.

Step 2: Gather Materials and Tools

Once you have a general plan for your fire pit, you need to get everything ready to start building it.

For this project, you will need the following:

  • Shovel
  • Level (A medium length one works best)
  • Pea Gravel
  • Lava Rocks
  • Bricks or Pavers
  • Construction Adhesive

Step 3: Dig a Hole

In order to make your fire pit level and give it a nice flat surface to sit on, you need to dig a shallow hole (about 2" deep) in your yard where it will go.

I first laid out one layer of pavers where the finished fire pit would go and went around the outside edge with the shovel, marking where to dig. Then I moved the pavers out of the way and started digging out the area that I had previously marked until it was roughly 2" deep. The dirt under the sod in my yard was very rough and full of rocks so I dug up some of the dirt, removed any large rocks, and stomped on the loose dirt to help flatten it out. I did this until I was happy with the surface. Next, I placed the level in the hole and dug it out some more on the higher edge until the hole was level.

Step 4: Add Gravel

Once the hole was deep enough and fairly level, I filled it with pea gravel. Because pea gravel is non pourous, air bubbles cannot get trapped in them and later explode due to the heat and pressure.

Step 5: Build Walls

Next, I built the actual fire pit. I arranged the first layer of pavers on the pea gravel and then I stacked the second layer on top of the first, making sure to offset each paver from the ones below. Before I placed each paver for the second layer, I put some construction adhesive on the top of the pavers making up the first layer to hold them together.

After finishing the second layer, I followed the same procedure to build the third layer.

Step 6: Add Lava Rocks

To build up the inside of the fire pit and to make it look a little nicer, I added some red lava rocks. The lava rocks can handle the heat from the fire, but because they are porous, you need to be careful when using it if any moisture, from rain for example, gets into the fire pit.

Step 7: Clean Up, Add Firewood, and Enjoy!

All that I had left to do at that point was to clean up the dirt, rocks, trash, and etc., put away the tools, add some firewood, and light it up!

This fire pit was actually very simple to make, and looks very nice in my yard. My wife, our friends and family, our dogs, and I have enjoyed it very much so far, and it has held up very well. After a while, the ash did build up and the color of the lava rocks faded, but to fix that all I had to do was scoop out the old rocks and ash, and add some new lava rocks. This project was only a little more expensive then buying a stand alone fire pit, but it was definitely cheaper than having a similar one professionally built and installed. And I personally think it looks much better than the stand alone ones. Plus, I made it, which makes me proud when friends and family compliment it.

Home Improvement Contest 2017

Participated in the
Home Improvement Contest 2017