How to Build a DIY Fire Pit for Only $60 • Keeping it Simple

Other considerations and costs

  • Though the most popular dimensions for a firepit are the 36 to 44-inch sizes, they range in much wider dimensions from 20 and up to 48 inches, and their heights will vary from 12 to 20 inches. Depending on the size and stone used, the average prices might go up or down.
  • Fire pits use a variety of “fuels” that can include wood, coal, and gas (which means a tank array must be connected to the fire pit).
  • Another of the issues associated with the costs of a fire pit is its location. This can create an entirely different set of fees and expenses. For one thing, it is a common trend for fire pits to be built into a patio. This is usually a space constructed of heat resistant materials and can be quite costly to install in and of itself, averaging around $4,000 or more.
  • Landscaping may need to be removed to prevent the risk of fire, including clearing low hanging branches, dry brush, and other issues.
  • Leveling the yard or re-sloping is also a common expense and averages around $1,900.
  • The costs of permits and other associated fees are not included in any of the pricing listed.

Check out our guide if you need a loan for your home improvement project.

DIY Koi Pond Fire Pit

Lucy's Lampshade

As long as the size is correct, old garden ponds work perfectly as fire pits since they are usually lined with non-combustible rocks. Ensure that the pond has stone or concrete lining, not PVC, EPDM (a synthetic rubber), or other flammable pond liners.

Lucy, who blogs at Lucy's Lampshades, turned her old koi pond into a DIY fire pit for outdoor gatherings. She was ready for the change since raccoons and owls tended to gobble up the fish. The transformation was simple, and it took a layer of sand, a covering of rocks, plus firewood in the middle to start the party.

Video

#3 Skip the Built-In Seating

Image: Monika Davis

Image: Monika Davis

Those stone benches in a semicircle around a flaming fire pit look like money. That’s because they’re made of it.

Built-in benches that will seat six people with a comfortable amount of personal space can cost as much — or more — as the fire pit itself.

A resin Adirondack chair can cost $150 or less. Plus, chairs are easier on your butt as well as your wallet.

“Built-in benches look cool, but no one wants to sit on them,” says Aaron Rogers of Southern Poolscapes. “They’re really uncomfortable.”

How Long Does It Take To Install A Fire Pit?

Timing depends of the style and size of your fire pit.

A simple wood-burning pit created of brick or stone can take just three days to install. Plan on a week or two for a more elaborate fireplace or gas-powered fire pit.

Check Your Local Laws

Before you start planning your fire pit, check your local ordinances regarding open flames in a residential setting.

There may be rules about fire pit size, distance your fire needs to be from structures or requirements regarding on-site fire extinguishers.

Eco-Friendly Fire Pit

What makes a fire pit eco-friendly? The fuel that goes inside it. Eco-friendly, gas-powered fire pits cost between $900 and $3,800, whereas wood-burning ones cost between $500 and $1,300. If you’re looking for an easy way to reduce your carbon footprint while enjoying a fire in your backyard, there are a handful of different fuel types from which you can choose. Two that stand out include recycled wood and eco-kindling.

While recycled wood still produces CO2 from the smoke, it ends up being carbon neutral since the materials would have ended up in a landfill rather than being turned into wood. Plus, recycled wood holds less moisture, which means less smoke in general.

Eco-kindling is another great option for your fire pit. It is made out of wood pellets dipped in wax made from renewable food waste. This type of kindling lights very quickly, provides low moisture content, and produces little smoke.

Generally speaking, natural gas fire pits are better for the environment than their wood-burning counterparts. This is because gas produces fewer emissions than wood.

Fire Pit vs Outdoor Fireplace

When deciding what type of heating feature to add to your yard, you may find yourself choosing between a fireplace or a fire pit. The two are similar in many ways but also hold distinct differences in terms of aesthetics, functionality, and price.

Fire pits are versatile and offer more space for family and friends because there is seating on all sides. They can be placed in nearly any space in your yard, though you should avoid getting them close to any structures. They cost between $300 and $1,400.

Outdoor fireplaces are better for smaller gatherings of friends because you generally sit in front of rather than around them. For this reason, they take up less space and can be installed on the edge of a wall. They are generally more expensive than a fire pit, though the cost range is rather large as it depends heavily on the materials and fuel used, the size, and whether it is store-bought or a custom build. On average, the cost to install an outdoor fireplace ranges from $3,000 to $10,000.

If you’re not sure which one you would rather have in your space, think about it this way: In general, fire pits are more interactive, whereas fireplaces are made strictly for ambiance.

The Job

Find a suitable spot to place the fire pit in the yard, taking great care to ensure that you measure for the actual size. After this quick check, it’s only a matter of placing the pavers in the design that you desire the most. A square and circle are the most common examples, but you aren’t forced to choose between the two. Options are endless for DIY fire pits. You can even have a fire pit that acts as a walkway into the backyard. Pavers are also used for the floor, so there will be imperfections here and there. Pour the paver sand on the floor of your finished project and sweep it with a broom. This will cover up the gaps in the floor and on the lower side. In a worst-case scenario, you can use a hammer to chip off unwanted parts of the pavers. Doing this correctly will make sure that every piece fits regardless of shape. If you build the pit high enough, then natural gas can be used in place of wood. But remember, natural gas is valuable only when it’s not used on small fire pits.

Concrete Tree Rings

Instructables

For less than $50, you can stack concrete tree rings into a circle shape, going as high as you like for a unique-looking fire pit. Concrete rings come in different shades of white, beige, orange, and pink hues, giving you many options, and some have scallops to them. Not all concrete is fire-safe, so line the inside of any concrete fire pits with fire brick and fire clay mortar to keep your fire pit intact or use a protective fire ring as an inner liner.

#8 DIY a Fire-Pit Kit

If you’re handy, DIY it. You can get a kit for a wood-burning fire pit for $130 and up. (You can buy kits for gas fire pits, too, but they cost a lot more and you’re still going to need to run a gas line.)

The easiest fire-pit kits are made of modular stone that you can stack, no mortar necessary. They’re like Legos for grown-ups. Each brick has a raised edge that makes it sit securely on the one below it. The only tool you’ll need is a wrench.

But be prepared: These kits can weigh as much as half a ton. Buy one you can have delivered.

Overview of Permanent Gas Fire Pits

Installing a gas fire pit can be done relatively quickly and will boost your enjoyment of your outdoor living space such as patio or composite deck. While a crackling wood fire is preferred by some, you can’t beat the convenience of pushing a button and having an instant and realistic flame dancing in front of you.

Attractive and functional, a natural gas or propane fire pit extends your outdoor season by providing warmth during chilly spring and fall evenings – and gives off a beautiful flame on any night.

Many gas fire pits are constructed with pavers, and you have the choice to buy a kit that includes pavers or you can design your own with the pavers you choose. Fire rings aren’t generally needed for gas fire pits.

This page of Costimates, or cost estimates, includes cost factors, retail costs for supplies including all-in-one gas fire pit kits, labor costs and a discussion of doing it yourself vs hiring a pro. The steps in the project are outlined, so you’ll understand all that is involved.

What factors influence fire pit costs?

Materials

The materials your fire pit is built with influence its costs significantly. Concrete is the least expensive at $180 while Techo-Bloc Valencia, a type of stone slab, being the most expensive at $610.

Materials Per project costs
Source: HomeAdvisor
Concrete block $110
Fire brick/brick paver $280
Field stone $300
Nicolock/Unilock stones $500
Techo-Bloc Valencia $610

Size

Your fire pit’s size also impacts costs. The smallest fire pits are from 36 inches in diameter and cost between $200 to $900. The largest models have a diameter of 48 inches, and run from $250 to $2,000.

Size (in diameters) Cost range
Source: HomeAdvisor
36 inches $200-$900
40 inches $165-$1,300
44 inches $200-$1,600
48 inches $250-$2,000

Fuel

You’ll also want to account for fuel costs. Firewood, propane, and charcoal are the cheapest sources, averaging $300. Natural gas is more expensive at $600, and electric represents the biggest expense at $1,800.

Accessories

Don’t forget the extras! There are accessories you can add to your fire pit — some for safety, others for aesthetics.

Accessory Cost
Source: Fixr.com
Safety screens $40-$300
Fire grates $50-$280
Lava rock $20-$50
Fire pit ring $50-$250
Built-in seating $1,500-$3,000

FAQ About Building a Fire Pit

What do you put in the bottom of a fire pit?

You’ll want to start with a layer of sand at the bottom of the pit, and then top the sand with gravel, lava rocks, fire pit glass, paving stones or even bricks for your fire pit. Alternatively, you can simply use dirt.

How do you prepare the ground for a fire pit?

Clear away all grass and plant material. Excavate about 8 inches of soil, ensuring that the bottom of the pit is level and the soil is compact.

Can you build a fire pit on dirt?

Yes, you can build a fire pit on dirt. Make sure the dirt is compact and level.

What is the best base for a fire pit?

You have several options. Plain dirt is fine, but sand topped with gravel makes a more attractive base.

Best Fire Pit Placement

Position your wood-fueled fire pit away from the house for a more rustic feel, where taking a stroll out to roast marshmallows is a bit of an adventure.

Or choose a fireplace style that becomes a focal point of your covered porch or pergola.

Add a gas-powered fire pit right on your patio, just steps from your (outdoor) kitchen. Then there’s no excuse not to sit for a bit and enjoy that magical flicker.

Fire pits are great additions to your pool area, offering warmth and drama for your evening swim and backyard entertaining.

Tips

Tips are worthwhile for all projects, even the simplistic ones like a fire pit. Safety isn’t a big concern if everything is done correctly. When in doubt, check out videos that outline the process of placing pavers and covering the gaps with paver sand.

Keep fire pits at least 10 feet away from flammable substances. This is for the safety of yourself and anyone near the flames. It is also recommended to keep the fire pit away from any low hanging materials that could get caught in the flames. Flames rise and lower on their own, so the position is important when making your own pit. Since this isn’t a portable project, building it in the wrong spot will just make it a big annoyance later on.

Don’t forget to put paver on the inside of your fire pit. Without a non-flammable surface, you risk spreading the controlled fire. Placing the pit directly on the grass or leaving big gaps that expose the grass endangers you and everyone around the pit. That is why getting the sizes linked and covering them with paver sand is such a vital step. As a side note, always choose a steady surface to place your fire pit so that it can withstand wind, human error, and even curious animals.

If your fire pit isn’t properly containing the flames, then there is an error somewhere in the build. You don’t need to tear down the entire build to correct this problem. Spotting the location of the structural issue will let you fix the problem area. Successfully reinforcing the bad area with dirt and rocks should get the job done, and it only takes a few minutes.

Adding a wraparound bench near the fire pit is a fun way to get everyone together. You can also build this yourself, or even construct a fire pit that is placed in the middle of a table. Whenever setting up comfort features like this, do a test run to make sure the flames won’t get too close to the people around it. Designs like this also benefit from having a removable grill top on top of the fire pit so that it can double as a cookout area.

Water getting into the fire pit when it is not used will make it harder to start a fire, even hours after the rain has stopped. Consider making or purchasing a cheap fire pit cover to keep water out when it is not being used. You don’t need anything fancy, just something sturdy enough to stay put when there are strong winds. Even if the cover is light, putting a brick on each side of it will keep the fire pit secure from water and other dangers.

Natural gas users should never go cheap or do a rush job with gas lines. Never leave the line exposed, and always follow directions when handling these complex setups. The rule with natural gas fire pits is low upkeep but high planning to get the project started.

Consider placing a drain inside of the fire pit so that rain doesn’t collect. A drain is useful for when you forget to place the cover on the pit. This isn’t foolproof, but it will save you hours of time when prepping the area for a new fire.

Try not to use soft woods in your fire pit. Cedar and pine fit this category, but there are a few more to avoid. Soft wood is known for sparking, throwing sparks and being otherwise unpredictable while lit. Even when you have the correct wood, disposing of the ashes when the fire is done is a necessary maintenance technique.

DIY or Hire a Pro?

A prominent landscaping industry journal says outdoor fire pits are among the most popular outdoor projects year after year. Home Advisor puts the labor cost to hire a pro at $200 to $480, which is pretty accurate – most costing about $350 to $600 in labor according to our research. So that’s what you can save by constructing your own gas fire pit. Fixr suggests potential savings of $500 to $800, a range which would apply to large and complexly designed pits or one that also included the cost of running the gas line.

Building a permanent gas fire pit isn’t rocket science; it’s an easy to moderate job depending on the intricacy of the design.

In bare ground, the work starts with digging up the grass and removing the top soil down 5 to 8 inches. To make sure the foundation is firm, add gravel and soak the gravel with water so it bonds together. Use a hand tamp to pack the gravel down, and use your level for its purpose. After the foundation is laid, set the first layer of pavers in place one at a time. The first layer of pavers will take the most time to lay. You should take extra time to align each paver individually, then use a long level tool to make sure the pavers across from each other are leveled as well.

Once the foundation and first layer of pavers are set in place the next few steps are simple. Stagger joints when laying the second set of pavers. Make sure the wall of the  fire pit isn’t too tall; some landscapers say the wall shouldn’t exceed 18 inches high. This will help to make sure you’re able to feel the heat of the fire. By the way, it never hurts to look at a few tutorials like this one from Lowes that includes step by step videos.

Hiring a professional to hook up the gas line is recommended. The fire pit can be a bit tedious to build because you need to be thorough when leveling the first layer. It would be a good project to consult a professional for an estimate then decide accordingly.

Pro Tip: If the fire pit will be place on an existing patio, considering hiring the same landscaper or contactor that completed the patio to ensure that the quality of work is the same and the materials used match or complement the patio materials.

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