how to build a firepit

How to Build a Fire Pit

Posted by L. Woodrow Ross on December 3, 2020

Fire pits are in high demand this year as families move winter gatherings and activities outdoors. Luckily, they’re fairly simple to construct yourself! Follow this tutorial to create an enjoyable space for outdoor fun around a natural source of warmth and cheer.

If you have researched the expense of manufactured fire pits, you know that they can cost from $100 to thousands of dollars. 

However, with a few hours of effort, you can create a fire pit and a patio area that will provide boundless hours of fun and enjoyment of the great outdoors.

The first you'll need, if you don't have one already in place, is a base or patio for your fire pit.

There are a number of options for a patio base.

Choices for Patio Base for Fire Pit

how to build a firepit

I was fortunate to salvage octagonal pavers when my son-in-law was moving and did not want to move some stored pavers.

My chosen fire pit area is located in the backyard, away from the house, to avoid smoke from being a distraction or nuisance. 

I used octagonal pavers for the base, but there are less expensive options. My patio and fire pit covers an 8x10 area. The cost below is based on that measurement.

Material                       Number Required     Cost/ea.     Total Cost

Octagonal Pavers         240 (approx. 9x5”)          $2.25         $540.00

Concrete Brick             48 (approx. 15.7x15.7”)   $4.18         $200.54

Gravel                           4 bags                                 $3.68         $14.72

As noted above, the choice of what base to use affects the final price by a considerable margin. If you already have a patio area suitable for a firepit, this cost would not be incurred.

Materials Required To Build your DIY Fire Pit

DIY firepit

Material                                                 Number Required     Cost/ea.     Total Cost

Retaining Wall Blocks or Pavers              15 (4x11.2”)                    $2.38           $35.70

Bag Sand                                                       1 bag                             $5.84            $5.84

You can deduce from the details above that if you have an existing area for a fire pit, the total cost could be as low as $41.54. 

Using gravel as a base would only increase the cost to a total of $56.26. The bag of sand is used inside the fire pit but would not be necessary on a gravel base. This would reduce the cost to $50.42. Sand merely insulates the base material from the excessive heat, thus it is recommended if your base is made up of pavers, for example.

Patio Building Instructions

DIY patio

If gravel is used for your patio, you may choose to add a retention edging around the perimeter to keep gravel in place.

If pavers are used, they may be interlocked if octagonal, such as those I used. 

Square or rectangular pavers should be fitted tightly together to retard weak or grass from growing in the cracks. If desired, spaces may be left between square or rectangular pavers and sand swept into the crevices. Be aware that this will allow grass or weeds to invade and require control efforts.

Another idea is to use concrete or concrete mix to fill the crevices. Sprinkle onto the pavers and sweep into the crevices. Spray with water and allow to set up. This will define the pavers (similar to grout used for tile).

If desired, a plastic film barrier or landscape fabric could be placed under your patio to assure control of weeds or grass.

Fire Pit Building Instructions

The costs of the fire pit listed above are based on my dimensions of two layers high of retaining wall blocks with the final outside diameter of 34” and an inside diameter of 18”. 

The bottom layer of blocks should be laid out in a circular pattern, with the edges touching in the desired diameter. 

The second layer should be offset with each paver resting with half on each of the two blocks in the bottom layer. 

Two layers constitute a good height, but if desired, a third layer may be added. 

Once the fire pit is in place, the sand may be added to the inside bottom for its insulation properties. That's it!

If the fire pit is in a separate area from the home, such as a backyard or garden area, a decorative concrete bench is available from Lowes for $59.98, or you can use patio chairs or even stumps for a rustic touch.

Most of the materials mentioned are available from you local hardware store as well as various other businesses that sell building materials.

Final Thoughts on How to Build a Fire Pit

Pavers and retaining wall blocks are available in natural concrete or in several colors. The choice is up to you based on your desired experience.

And as you can see from the materials list, this project can be tailored to control the cost to meet your requirements.

This is a simple project, well within the capabilities of almost any it's fun to build.

It will add to the beauty as well as the functionality of your property for years to come.

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L. Woodrow Ross

L. Woodrow Ross lives in upstate South Carolina with his lovely wife Margaret. He has written more than 500 newspaper articles, contributed to Rethink Rural, Carolina Sportsman, Primitive Archer, Palmetto Gills and Game, Rivers and Feathers and other online resources. In addition, he has 41 books on Amazon Kindle: "how-to" outdoor books, historical novels, suspense novels, a suspense novella, an Alaska travel guide, Greater Yellowstone destination guide and more. A 42nd book is in work and focuses on the “Dark Corner of South Carolina and the rampant, illegal “Moonshining” and “Bootlegging” activity of the nineteenth century. Ross is also a primitive/ survival skills instructor enjoying most things involving outdoor sports.

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