An easy DIY guide to making a simple fire pit for your backyard!
This guide will help you to make a propane fire pit. If this looks like a bit more work than you want to take on, you could ask a garden landscaper or builder to do the work for you.
Or, there are many different shapes and sizes of ready-made propane fire pits available to buy. These will instantly transform your backyard with a bit less effort.
Where should you make a propane fire pit?
There are a few things to think about before you make your own fire pit. First, where will you put it?
Think about the best spot on an existing patio or concreted area, or perhaps somewhere where you plan to build new seating. For safety, your fire pit should not be sited on a wooden deck.
Do you plan to make a fire pit that’s easy to get to from the house? What sort of view do you want when you are sitting near the fire? Are there any places that must be ruled out because of overhead cables or trees?
Once you’ve got an idea of location, do a quick sketch with a few measurements to see how everything will sit together in the landscape.
What shape and size of fire pit is best?
A ring of stones or paving blocks makes a classic fire bowl shape which will compliment any backyard. Or, you might want to go for something rectangular or square for a more modern look.
Think about what height you want the fire to be at, as this will influence shape and size. At ground level, or more of a table-top effect? Some fire pits can be built to look and act like tables. If you are tiling an outdoor dining area, a table-top propane fire pit could be a great addition to the space.
A height of five courses of masonry is probably the maximum to aim for, but it all depends on what design you want. You will also need space for the propane tank.
What materials do you need to make a propane fire pit?
A propane fire pit consists of an insert and a surround. The insert has the gas burner and fittings, usually fixed into a pan or bowl. There are lots of variations. This will influence the shape of the surround, which is usually built of masonry of some sort.
Once you’ve chosen the insert, think about the materials you want to build the surround with. It has to be made of fireproof materials – in other words, things like bricks. Using locally available stones is a cost-effective option. Lava rocks suit fire pits very well. You could also look at tiles and other paving blocks.
In some places, the local building codes state that you need to encircle a fire pit with a gravel or sand border. Check before you decide on your final design.
A Simple Propane Fire Pit Design
The straightforward design below could be adapted for use with your choice of masonry, or to fit many different shapes of fire pit insert. Concrete is not advised for the parts closest to the fire, but hardscaping blocks can be used in the surround for your propane fire pit.
How to make a propane fire pit
- Paving blocks – 4 inches deep, tapered for a circular design
- Crushed concrete/brick for a base layer (if building on bare ground)
- Vapour barrier (if you are building on grass or patio)
- DIY fire pit /gas burner insert + propane gas
- 20lb of gas fire pit filler, such as lava rock or fire pit glass
- Concrete adhesive for exterior use
- Vent block for gas burner ventilation
Tools for landscaping work:
- Spirit level
- Caulk gun
- Shovel (if building on grass)
Tools for burner construction:
- Adjustable wrenches
- Power drill
Make a Propane Fire Pit in 10 Steps
- Mark out a 40-inch circle with a stake and some string, or a thin pouring of sand.
- If you are building on grass, clear the vegetation, dig down about 2 inches and level the ground. Check with a spirit level. Add a base layer about 2 inches thick, pack down well and make sure everything is level.
- If you are building on grass or patio, install a vapour barrier at this stage to stop moisture getting through to the gas burner. You won’t need this if you are building on a concrete slab.
- Add your first ring of blocks in a circle. Aim for an interior diameter for your fire pit of about 3 feet.
- Level the first ring of blocks with a rubber mallet. Add your next level of blocks, leaving space for your burner control panel and a vent block. The vent block will make sure you have enough airflow for the gas burner.
- Once you’re happy with the spacing, remove one block at a time, apply concrete adhesive and stick the block back into position. Do this with all the blocks.
- Put your fire pit gas burner together and place it on top of the ring of blocks. It should overlap the blocks by at least 1 inch. Follow the instructions in your gas burner kit for setting up and connecting the propane tank.
- Add your third layer of blocks, sticking them down with concrete adhesive as above. Leave the concrete adhesive to cure. Check manufacturer instructions for how long this will take.
- Add lava rocks or fire pit glass to the burner area. Aim to have a 2-inch layer covering the whole area.
More inspiration for your backyard: