Whether you DIY or hire a contractor, know these things before you get started building a fire pit on your deck.
Decks with fire pits have become a backyard goal for most homeowners, and for many good reasons. But there are things to know for the safety, and longevity of your deck and family. These cautions and tips are nothing to delay you though. If anything, they’ll make your dream deck seem even more achievable.
Why homeowners build decks with fire pits?
The fire pit goes back to our primitive times, and when we consider it, maybe we like standing around a fire roasting hot dogs and marshmallows or telling stories over the glow of the flames, because it is in our nature. It’s something that speaks to us.
So we find twigs and snapped branches, arrange them so strategically just to sit around it and watch it burn. Because we like it. Because it is a mesmerizing social tool we’ve been using for thousands of years.
That is why so many homeowners have built decks with fire pits. A place to gather, enjoy the outdoors, talk. Combining the entertainment space of a deck, with story telling circle created by the fire pit- results in the ultimate outdoor enjoyment for you and your family.
Tips for building & maintaining a deck with a fire pit
Because decks with fire pits are susceptible to fire, there should be certain precautions taken to prevent the fire from becoming uncontrolled.
Surrounding the fire pit
Whether you live in a windy place or not, you are certain to face wind at one point of another. As you know, wind can put out a fire, or blow ashes into places you don’t want them, such as on your deck or against your home, where they can cause damage or even a house fire. This can happen with any backyard fire pit, not just one surrounded by a deck. In fact, your deck may offer even more protection if you take the right precautions. (Be advised: in general, it isn’t a good idea to burn on a windy day, this tip is for typical daily breezes.)
A spark screen is a great addition to a fire pit. It is removable so you can still cook and add wood, but it will keep embers and ashes from flying out of the pit.
This means keeping your fire low to the ground. Or, sunken into the ground a bit, surrounded on all sides. Not only is this the safest way to keep a fire burning, but it also creates a cozy sitting nook for your family and guests.
Of course you want to build your fire pit out of materials such as stone or brick, as they won’t be destroyed by the fire. But you may want to also consider putting a bit of stone on the ground, surrounding the fire, even if only by a foot. This could offer your deck an extra layer of protection from ashes, or even just fallen food that may be more difficult to get out of the wood.
There are also such things as fire pit pads that you could use to surround the fire pit, and protect your deck.
Location of the fire pit on the deck
Naturally, where you put the fire pit matters just as much as everything else, maybe even more. Make sure the pit is not in the middle of the deck, where accidents could occur. Nor do you want it to interrupt the flow of traffic. It should also be far enough away from the house, such as the corner of the deck.
It should also be several feet from trees, or any other overhang that could catch fire.
Have safety equipment
You should have things such as:
- Fire extinguisher
- Thick fire proof gloves
- A source of water (either a bucket, or a hose nearby)
If a fire does occur, it is important to make sure it is completely out. This goes for every night you have a fire, even one that remains controlled.
It’s important to follow these safety tips. Not just when building a deck with a fire pit, but also for every day safety. Each time you light that fire is a chance. A chance to rekindle love, friendship, and a sense of our connection to nature. We owe it to ourselves to make moments like those happen frequently. We owe it to nature to respect the power of a fire. Enjoy the fire pit, but be safe doing it.