How to Build A Fire Pit in 5 Easy Steps

It has been a long, hard winter for many parts of the country, and even warmer areas have seen temperatures dip below their accustomed levels. If you have been spending those cold winter nights dreaming of warmer weather, it is finally time for cookouts, al fresco dining, and laid-back entertaining. And what better place to end the evening than with a nightcap next to a crackling fire? If you are ready for a project you will love coming home to, it is time to build a backyard fire pit and seriously upgrade your summer gatherings.


How to Build a Fire Pit in 5 Easy Steps

Whether you are a weekend warrior or a novice when it comes to building, you will find that building a backyard fire pit is as doable as it is rewarding. And if you follow these step-by-step instructions, you’ll be kicking back with friends and family in that gorgeous outdoor oasis before you know it.


Fire Pit Building Supplies

Don’t worry about big bills or heavy equipment; this project can be done with just a few items. You’ll need:

  • Brick or paving stones: You want to choose fairly solid materials here, like slate or granite (if you like a natural stone) or refractory brick (also called fire brick). This will prevent the stone from cracking in the heat from the fire. And while you may envision beautiful, smooth river stones, they can actually explode in a fire, so avoid them at all costs.

  • Shovel (preferably pointed rather than flat)

  • Sand and Gravel

  • Rake

  • Rubber mallet

  • Measuring tape

  • Wooden stake and string

  • Spray marking paint

  • Canvas or plastic tarp for moving dirt (optional)

  • Wheelbarrow (optional)


Step 1: Pick the Perfect Spot

When deciding where to put your fire pit, there are many considerations. Of course, you will want good drainage and a perfect view, but for safety and enjoyment, consider the following:

  • Personal preferences: Some people will want to sit right next to the fire, while others will just want to look at it, not get near it. You will want to leave enough room for people to move closer or further away, depending on their preference.

  • Furniture size: Adirondack chairs are a popular style for fire pits, but take up a great deal of room. Benches are more compact, but not as comfortable for lounging. Make sure you have plenty of room for the style of seating you would like.

  • Flying sparks: You’ll want at least a 7 foot clearance from the house, playground equipment, shrubbery, and other outdoor elements. In addition, be careful of putting your fire pit close to high traffic areas like walkways or cut-throughs.


Step 2: Mark Your Spot

Drive the stake in at the center point of your soon-to-be fire pit. The usual recommended size is 36-44 inches, so tie a piece of string to the stake that is half that long. Walk around the stake in a circle, defining your outline with marking paint.


Step 3: Start Digging

Follow the shape you’ve marked and begin digging inward from the perimeter of the circle. You are going to want to dig down 4-8 inches, depending on soil quality and drainage. If you have laid out your circle on a slope, remember to compensate by digging a deeper hole on the high end so that the bottom remains level.


If you are not used to shoveling, it is good to keep in mind the following:

  • Wear gloves to avoid pinches and blisters on your hands

  • If you have difficulty with back pain, be careful when taking on a big dig. Wear a back brace for support if necessary, change positions frequently, and take breaks when needed.

  • Make sure to stop for water breaks, especially if it is a warm day.

  • To avoid ruining the grass around the fire pit, it is a good idea to stack the dirt you remove on a tarp or into a wheelbarrow for haul-away.


Step 4: Stack the Stones

Lay a two-inch layer of sand in the bottom of the fire pit, using the back of the rake to ensure that it is level. Tamp down the sand to compact it and create a firm surface. Lay one circle of bricks or blocks around the perimeter of your fire pit. You want these to be level, so tap them with a rubber mallet if necessary to get them even.


Lay your second layer of stones on top of the first, staggering them so that they overlap the seams on the first ring. While you will want the blocks to lay neatly together, do not worry about tight seals – you will want the air to circulate around the fire. Continue to alternate layers until your fire wall reaches your preferred height.


Step 5: Fill with Gravel

Lay about four inches of crushed stone or gravel for the bottom of your fire pit. If you’re looking for a more contemporary, designer look, there are beautiful glass and colored gravel products specifically designed to add that extra touch of elegance to your backyard fire pit.


Whether it is a family cookout or a gathering of old friends, there is nothing like a the look, sound, and smell of a crackling fire to create comfort and make memories. This summer get up, get out, and enjoy your outdoor spaces more than ever before. Looking for more outdoor living ideas? Check out our tips on Outdoor Entertaining to make your next gathering a great one.



Contributed to Your Home blog by Christy Murdock Edgar

Looking for more tips, ideas or inspiration? Return Home here.

Published 6.7.18

Related Posts

3 Tips for a Welcoming Entrance

Your entryway is usually the first thing guests see when they enter your home, so make sure you create a great first impression. Here are some easy ways that you can add some pizazz to the space, while keeping it useful.

5 Easy Ways to Pack for Moving

Moving is a hassle, but did you know your local grocery store will give you boxes for free? That's one less thing to worry about. Read to discover more tips to make your next move easier for everyone.