Fire pits are the perfect outdoor feature. Not only do they elevate a space with their dynamic appearance, but they’re also fun hangouts for friends and family. Thankfully, building a fire pit is just a matter of time and effort. While building a fire pit is definitely hard work, it’s worth it for those cozy nights under the stars.

Safety first

Safety is the biggest issue when it comes to building a fire pit. After all, they are literal pits of fire. Once you decide where you need to place your fire pit, you should clear away all flammable materials within five feet of the area. This includes any low hanging tree branches. Remember that building a fire pit involves a lot of heavy lifting and digging, which can be dangerous for some people.

Two lawn chairs with fire pit at the backyard


Research relevant laws and regulations

Almost every city has a set of regulations dictating what kind of fire pit you can have and where you can place it. The responsibility falls on you to do the research and find out what rules you’ll be following. Local building codes often require you to create a border of sand or gravel around the pit. Rules dictating how large the pit can be are also common. Once you know the regulations, you can create a shopping list of what materials you’ll need.


Wall pavers and materials

One of the most important choices you’ll have when building a fire pit is what pavers to use. Pavers are structural and aesthetic components that come in a variety of styles, materials, and sizes. You’re free to choose whatever will fit your interests and budget. If you’re planning on building a round fire pit, choose wall pavers with angled sides. You’ll also need paver base or paver sand to act a base for your pavers while also filling in crevices of the stones.


Measure, plan, measure again

Before you even think about starting construction for your fire pit, you need to plan it out. Pound a sturdy wooden or rebar stake into the ground where you’d like your fire pit to be. Attach a string to the stake and measure out the diameter. Tie the string to a can of spray paint or any other tool that can mark the ground. Pull the string taut and walk around the stake, laying out your circumference.

Dig out your circle to a depth of between six and 12 inches. Create a second, smaller circle in the hole using the same method as before. The space between the outer wall and this new circle should be slightly larger than the width of your wall pavers. Now dig another six-inch-deep trench between the outer wall and the new circle.

yard digging hole Eerik / Getty Images


Begin with the base and layer up

Construction begins by filling the trench with drainage gravel so that it is equal to the inner section. Place your first block on the gravel ring, using a level so that it sits flat. If a block is too high, tap it down gently with a rubber mallet. You can use paver base to lift blocks. Continue laying pavers, making sure the sides sit tightly and line up well. Check every block with a level before moving on. Repeat this for the next layer, using masonry adhesive between the blocks. When you finish the walls of your fire pit, fill it with gravel and insert the iron campfire ring or bowl.

level pavers fire pit wall ozgurcoskun / Getty Images


More than a pit

A fire pit without flooring can look like it’s missing something. Creating a floor around your fire pit is simple, but it’s also a time-consuming process. Dig out the area around your fire pit to a depth of two to four inches, removing all the grass and plants as you go. Generally, an area of at least seven feet on all sides of your fire pit is ideal. Line the area you dug out with landscape fabric or plastic, then cover that with paver base or sand. After that, you can begin laying your floor pavers, making sure they stay level along the way.

laying paver flooring brick jimfeng / Getty Images


Sand to fill in the cracks

When building your fire pit or laying your floor pavers, you may see that there are crevices or cracks between each stone. Fixing this is easy and simple. Simply spread paver sand over the area and use a broom to push it into the cracks. Paver sand and paver base grains have unique geometry that allows them to hold each stone together.

paver sand tiles cracks Lex20 / Getty Images


Start with a small fire

After a job well done, you probably can’t wait to toss some wood in the pit and get a roaring fire going. However, you should always start with a small, manageable fire first. Make sure to keep a bucket of water or a water hose ready nearby for emergencies. Remember, never use lighter fluid or other flammable fluids to start a fire. A commercial fire starter stick with some kindling is the safest way to get a fire going.

small fire pit flames oneillbro / Getty Images


Get creative with your structure and design

When selecting pavers, you may not find any that match the aesthetic or visual style that you’d like from a fire pit. You can always use other materials, like stonework or brick instead. Keep in mind that more unique sizes and shapes are more difficult to use. You can even swap out your floor pavers for other materials. Try crushed stone or gravel instead of traditional flooring for a more rugged look.


Build a unique space

Your fire pit is ready for the next camp out, but is the space complete? You can always continue to elevate your fire pit area and transform it into a fun, outdoor hangout. Comfortable chairs are a must-have. Try and choose ones that are lightweight so that a person can move if they get too warm. You may also want some outdoor lighting, but too much light will ruin the mood of a roaring fire. Consider light posts or some dim string lights. Just don’t hang any too close to the fire pit!


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