As one of the top features of dream backyards and a functional way to boost your home value, backyard fire pits are an excellent addition to your outdoor living space. Consider these materials, fuel sources, and design ideas when creating the perfect fire pit to warm up your outdoor space!
Fire Pit Setup Ideas
When creating your fire pit in your backyard makeover, it’s essential to pick the type of fire pit that works best for your outdoor space—including fuel source and material. Learn about the different options for your fire pit setup below!
Go Old School with a Wood-Burning Fire Pit
For those who enjoy hearing the crackling sounds of firewood, consider adding a wood-burning fire pit to your patio. While burning wood is more affordable than using gas, you’ll need to regularly clean your fire pit and ensure the surrounding area is safe. It’s important to remember fire safety rules—like not burning lumber, checking wind conditions, and making sure kids and pets are a safe distance away—before lighting your fire pit.
Burn a Clean, Safe Fire Pit with Ethanol
What’s the difference between an ethanol fire pit and a gas-powered fire pit? With an ethanol fire pit, you can burn a long-lasting, vibrant orange, low-odor flame! A renewable fuel source made from corn and other plant materials, burning ethanol only releases water vapor and carbon dioxide—meaning there’s no smoke or ash, and is less harmful to the environment! This makes an ethanol fire pit fine to use indoors, as well. Plus, because it doesn’t get as hot as other sources like gas and wood, clean-burning ethanol is a pet and kid-safe option for your fire pit.
Save Time with a Gas Fire Pit
This fire pit setup idea requires you to run a natural gas line from your house or propane tank, making a gas fire pit an investment for your backyard. That said, gas fire pits are convenient and can save you time since you don’t have to clean up ash and soot after using your outdoor fire pit. Keep in mind a gas fire pit will not have the classic, crackling flames that wood-burning fire pits have!
Get Creative with Fire Pit Fillers
Of course, your outdoor ethanol or gas fire pit can have a different filler than a wood-burning fire pit. Carefully choose what material you want to line the bottom of your fit pit. Materials like treated wood, hard rock, sand, and gravel aren’t made for hot temperatures and, if used, could be dangerous or release chemicals into the air. Instead, choose fire pit fillers like lava rocks, fire beads, fire nuggets, or fire stones to the bottom of your outdoor fire pit.
Add a Metal Fire Pit
Those interested in an industrial look can find plenty of possibilities with a metal fire pit! Cast iron or steel fire pits are great options if you’re looking for a sturdy fire pit. Even though both metal options give off a great deal of heat, cast iron stays relatively hot well after the fire’s extinguished, while steel fire pits are weather-resistant and less heavy than cast iron.
Consider a Brick Fire Pit
With so many different fire pit materials to pick from, it’s easy to overlook brick fire pits. The biggest advantage of brick fire pits is their durability! This type of outdoor fire pit has a long lifespan requiring little maintenance, and easily contains stray embers from escaping. While laying brick can be tricky, you can still DIY a brick fire pit!
Build a Cinder Block Fire Pit
For those looking to build their own fire pit, cinder block designs are the perfect choice for a minimalist backyard oasis! Cinderblocks require little effort and can help you create the fire pit of your dreams because they’re inexpensive. When you use cinder blocks, it’s important to know that they are fire resistant but not fire rated, so prolonged and repeated exposure can make them crumble.
Use Natural Stone
If you decide to use stone for your fire pit design, make sure you choose the best natural stone for your backyard space. Opt for limestone to maintain moderate temperatures while keeping the fire pit surface from getting extremely hot. Or go with sandstone if you’d also like to decorate your fire pit with rich textures and unique patterns. Use flagstone for your fire pit cap—the flat surface around the opening of your fire pit—to help keep the surface cool!
Create a Modern Fire Pit with Concrete
Made from either poured concrete or concrete blocks, a concrete fire pit is a great addition to your patio space. This low-maintenance, cost-friendly fire pit material is easy to work with and keep clean, and is water resistant—so warping and cracking are less likely to occur. That said, because concrete fire pits are heavy and difficult to move, they can be a permanent structure in your outdoor space.
Fire Pit Design Ideas
Want a unique fire pit design for your backyard? Whether you’re looking for a fun shape or to save room with a mini fire pit, check out these 15 fun backyard fire pit ideas!
Build an In-Ground Fire Pit…
If you’re looking for a down-to-earth design, consider an in-ground fire pit for your backyard! Building an in-ground fire pit can be as easy as digging a hole in the earth or as intricate as using pavers and sand! These types of fire pits can also be permanent features to your backyard and may pose some safety risks for children and pets, so it’s best to have a portable cover for when your outdoor fire pit is not in use.
…Or Go with an Above-Ground Fire Pit
Not sure about an in-ground fire pit? Go with an above-ground fire pit for your outdoor living space! Also known as built-in fire pits, this backyard design idea creates a great ambiance that’s perfect for socializing with friends and family. This type of backyard fire pit includes wood-burning fire pits, ethanol fire pits, or gas-powered fire pits, and can be made from different materials including concrete, traditional brick, and more.
Play with Shapes
When designing your fire pit, don’t be afraid to choose a unique shape. Fire pits can be a variety of shapes—from square and rectangular to oblong bowls. Harmonize your outdoor architecture by adding structure to your design with a square or rectangle fire pit. Or create a focal point in your backyard with a circular fire pit.
Make Your Fire Pit a Focal Point
If you want somewhere to gather with friends and family outdoors, fire pits can be a great addition. Amp up your outdoor seating area by making a fire pit the focal point of your backyard, not just an additional element. Surround your fire pit area with sofas, chairs, or built-in benches to create plenty of room for seating. You can also pave a wood or stone path leading to your fire pit area to help it stand out as an anchor point.
Make a Statement with a Fire Table
Don’t want the same traditional fire pit as everyone else? Add a sense of luxury to your space with a fire table! Fire tables have three components: a base, tabletop, and a slit in the middle of the table that holds the fire. While fire tables offer a great spot to converse over roasting marshmallows, this fire pit design will need to be maintained on a regular basis and have paper items kept away from the flame.
Roast Marshmallows with a Chiminea
If you’re looking for a safe fire pit option, consider a chiminea! Made out of clay or terracotta, a chiminea is a portable, wood-burning fire stove. This potbelly-shaped chimney is better able to contain stray sparks, and still gets hot enough to roast marshmallows while keeping everyone warm! Plus, many chimneys have decorative designs that can be incorporated into your patio design.
Upcycle Household Items
Think green and upcycle household items into a fire pit! A super easy DIY fire pit idea is to use an old washing machine drum, heat-friendly spray paint, and material for the legs. For a more quaint fire pit, you can use an old wheelbarrow! Before reusing anything for a fire pit, double-check for any cracks or rust, and remove any plastic or wood to ensure it’s safe and stylish.
Get Creative with a Sculpture Fire Pit
For those looking for creative outdoor fire pit solutions, go with fire pit art! Create unique sculpture designs and customize your fire pit with your family name, quotes, or fun shapes to produce something specific to you for your patio space. Fire pit art can range from cut steel depicting your favorite outdoor imagery to large sculptures made to look like a globe or a pirate ship. Keep in mind that fire pits are always exposed to the elements, so you’ll need to treat your fire pit art for rust regularly.
DIY a Rustic Fire Pit
Looking for a rustic fire pit idea? Build a fire table out of some spare wood, or build a pallet fire pit table with a steel pot and concrete tiles. The tiles and steel pot will create a barrier between the flames and the wood, so you can rest assured knowing it won’t catch fire. You can even add storage between the pallet layers for a convenient place to keep firewood!
Add a Stacked Stone Fire Pit
Looking to create a fire pit with a classic look? Consider a stacked stone fire pit! Using stones of varying colors and shapes can make your fire pit an interesting focal point. Or create a cohesive look with stones of the same size and color. Take your style into your own hands and DIY a stacked stone fire pit with concrete, natural stone, and safety glasses.
Get Cookin’ with a BBQ Fire Pit
If you love hosting backyard BBQs, be sure to get yourself a BBQ fire pit! Your fire pit can double as a grilling surface and a source of heat when the sun goes down. Add grill grates so you can easily cook your steaks to perfection or add a smoky hint to your pizza. For an ultimate grill master move, install multiple grill levels so you can cook more food at different temperatures!
Design a Modern Fire Pit
Create a conversational fire pit by embracing a Modern home design, which focuses on clean lines and natural materials like marble, concrete, or stone. Check out what other materials are used in your patio design for a way to tie everything together. Looking for a unique design? Go with a fire pit bowl! Their sleek shape creates a striking accent piece perfect for a Modern patio. Add a glass covering around the edge of the fire pit to complete your Modern look!
Save Room with a Mini Fire Pit
Have a small backyard? Save much-needed space with a mini fire pit! Repurpose old flower pots you don’t need anymore into a DIY burning bowl. Most mini fire pits are light and portable, making them easy to move from the ground to the table!
Invest in an Outdoor Fireplace
For those looking for the ultimate fire pit for their outdoor living room, a wood-burning, gas-powered, or electric fireplace is a great option for staying warm during cool nights. Just like fire pits, you can design a backyard fireplace from a variety of materials, but be sure to pick a fireplace material that is long-lasting and weather-resistant, like brick or concrete.
Get a Cauldron-Style Fire Pit
Have a cast iron cooking pot or cauldron left over from Halloween decor? Use these items for a cauldron fire pit! A great addition to your backyard areas, cauldron fire pits can withstand high heat, making this a great fire pit for telling ghost stories around! Don’t forget to add some comfy chairs and grab a blanket to help you stay warm during those chilly summer nights.
Finish Your Fire Pit with Tiles
Whether you’re adding a fire table or a square fire pit to your backyard design, finish your fire pit with a fun tile design! Make your fire pit the focal point of your outdoor space with colorful mosaic tiles. Or if you have a stone fire pit, finish off the top with a simple ceramic tile design.
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Tahira Nagori is a designer, DIYer, entrepreneur, and mom. She has worked in the fields of architecture and urban planning for about ten years, which sparked her interest in home design and organization. As part of her “The Aesthetic Side of Homes” brand and House of Sosa product line, Tahira shares tips and tricks for home decor ideas and DIY projects.
View Design ideas by Tahira here.