How To DIY A Firepit In 6 Steps

firepit outdoor living

Imagine spending an evening around a beautiful fire, talking with friends, sipping cocktails, or toasting marshmallows with the kids. A fire pit is a fun addition to any backyard oasis, making it possible to experience a plethora of enjoyable evenings. Plenty of different styles and sizes are available for purchase, but many people opt to DIY a fire pit.

DIY firepit outdoor living
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Important Considerations When Making A DIY Fire Pit

If you scroll through Pinterest, you’ll see tons of pictures of do-it-yourself fire pits. Most DIY fire pits feature bricks or retaining wall blocks stacked above ground. However, before you start stacking a bunch of stones on each other and calling it a day, pay attention to a few vital points.

If your goal is to build a fire pit, eventually, you plan to create fire in it, which means safety considerations are paramount. As you gather your supplies and materials and begin your fire pit project, keep these things in mind:

  • Before beginning your fire pit project, review local building codes or any applicable homeowner’s association rules. Your homeowner’s insurance may also require you to disclose the presence of a fire pit on your property.
  • Choose a place at least 10 feet away (20 feet if you have the space) from nearby structures and overhead trees.
  • Once you finish your DIY fire pit, you won’t be able to move it without tearing it down, so be sure of the location. Think about any future plans for your yard. Choose another spot if you plan to build or plant anything near the fire pit site.
  • Proper ground preparation includes creating a level, inflammable layer as the foundation for your fire pit. Take your time on this step; otherwise, you jeopardize the integrity of the overall project.
  • Make sure to use a fire pit insert or bowl. Don’t simply fill your pit with gravel or rocks and lay logs across.
  • Secure the stone or blocks you use to build your fire pit to avoid shifting.

What Do You Need To Make A DIY Fire Pit?

You have a couple of options when you’re ready to build a fire pit in your backyard. You can take the simple route with a DIY fire pit kit. These kits include everything you need to build your fire pit, including helpful DIY videos and tips. There are several colors, styles, and sizes to choose from, and various accessories and add-ons are also available.

Building your fire pit using a kit should take about 30 minutes to an hour, making it a fun weekend project. Fire pit kits could be a more cost-effective solution if you choose a modest style, but some can get pretty pricey. Another potential drawback is that you’re limited to whatever designs and colors are available.

Going full DIY might be the better option if you already have pavers, stones, or other materials on hand. If this is your plan, you’ll need:

  • Shovel
  • Tamper or soil compactor (you can rent one from The Home Depot or similar home improvement stores)
  • Level
  • Retaining wall stones or blocks — use trapezoidal shaped blocks for a round pit and rectangular ones for a square or rectangular pit. How many stones you need depends on the size and style of your fire pit and the size of your stones.
  • Flat pavers or stones to cap your fire pit wall (optional)
  • Construction adhesive
  • Fire pit insert
  • Pea gravel
  • Leveling sand
  • Rubber mallet

How Much Does A DIY Fire Pit Cost?

The cost to build a DIY fire pit varies depending on the materials you use and how big you make the pit. The average fire pit size is between 36 to 44 inches, but since you’re building your own, you can make it smaller or larger (unless you’re using a kit).

On average, you could spend roughly $450 to over $1,000 for a fire pit kit. If you’re purchasing materials separately for a DIY fire pit, you’ll spend between $300 and $700 (on average).

The fire pit insert costs roughly $100 to $200, the stones cost about $75 to $200, and the other materials cost approximately $50 to $100. Additionally, you may need to purchase tools or pay to rent equipment. Of course, you could spend way more or even a bit less depending on your choices for style, size, and materials.

If you already have the tools or can borrow some from a neighbor or a friend, this can help reduce costs. See if anyone is getting rid of blocks or pavers on sites like Facebook Marketplace. Sellers are often willing to give these types of materials away for free in exchange for you hauling them away.

Steps For Making A DIY Fire Pit

Ready to build a DIY fire pit and make your backyard the ultimate hang-out spot? Use these steps to see your project through and achieve successful results.

1. Measure And Mark The Fire Pit Location

measure space for DIY firepit
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Decide where you want to put your fire pit. Ensure it’s at least ten feet away from structures and overhead trees. If you have the space, 20 feet is better, or split the difference and go with 15 feet.

Think ahead when choosing your location so you don’t regret it later. For example, if you’re planning to get a backyard shed in a few months, note where you plan to put it so your fire pit isn’t too close.

Once you select the site for your fire pit, decide how big of a pit you want. Measure out the size of the pit and mark the area using spray paint or stakes and string. Take your time with this step to ensure you get accurate measurements and verify that your fire pit will fit nicely where you want it to go.

If you’re building a round fire pit, mark where the center will go using a large nail or garden stake. Tie a string measuring slightly larger than half the length of your intended fire pit’s diameter to the stake. Attach a piece of chalk or similar marking material to the end. Pull the string taut and draw a circle. It’s important to mark an area that is slightly larger than your desired fire pit size so you can prep the ground properly.

2. Prepare The Fire Pit Foundation

prepare ground for DIY firepit
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Excavate approximately 7 inches deep within your marked perimeter. Then, use the tamper or soil compactor to pack the soil and dirt as much as possible. Use the level to check for evenness in several places throughout the process.

Once the soil is compacted and level, spread a layer of pea gravel on top to add an inflammable surface to your fire pit base. This gravel layer should be roughly two inches from the surface, making it approximately 5 inches deep. Wet the gravel and compact it, making sure it is level. Check several areas to ensure the entire layer is even and make any necessary adjustments.

If you’re building your fire pit on a patio, you’ll cement your first layer of stones directly to the patio to keep it in place. The concrete patio works as an inflammable base, so you don’t need to dig out a hole or add gravel.

3. Lay Out The Stones

lay the stones
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Before cementing or securing stones in place, lay them out to test the placement and ensure a proper fit. Make sure the sides of the blocks touch, placing them one by one around your desired perimeter.

As you place a few stones, use the level to make sure everything is even. If a block is slightly higher or lower, use the leveling sand and rubber mallet to adjust the placement and keep things level.

After completing a row, double-check that it’s level before proceeding to the next row. Stagger the blocks in each subsequent row so the stone on top rests above the joint of the stones below. Finish with your capstones (if you desire a more finished look).

4. Fit The Fire Pit Bowl Or Liner

insert fire pit
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After completing your first couple of rows, make sure your fire pit insert, bowl, or liner fits well. The entire rim or lip of the insert should fit entirely on the edge of the fire pit wall.

Tweak the blocks as necessary to ensure a proper fit, then continue laying out your stones. Once the entire layout is complete, test the fit of the insert once more.

5. Secure The Stones In Place

secure stones
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Secure the stones using a general construction adhesive to protect against shifting. Make sure the adhesive you choose is usable with high heat settings, and follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for adequate curing time. Depending on what adhesive you choose, it could take anywhere from two days to over a week before you can use your fire pit.

Remove all but the bottom row of your wall, apply the adhesive, and fit the second row. Continue this process for the next few rows, always retesting each layer before using the adhesive.

6. Add The Fire Pit Bowl

add bowl
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After securing all of the rows of your fire pit, place the bowl or insert in the pit, stand back, and admire your work. When you’re waiting for the adhesive to cure, it’s the perfect time to pick up some marshmallows and firewood. Once your fire pit is ready, invite some friends to make s’mores and enjoy your DIY masterpiece.

DIY Firepit Styles

firepit in a landscaped backyard
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A well-designed fire pit can increase the appeal and value of your property. It’s an attractive feature for potential buyers should you decide to sell your home. Choose a style that blends with your home’s outdoor landscape and surroundings. Here are some ideas on the materials you can choose for your fire pit.

Classic Stone Fire Pit

Stack natural stones or landscaping blocks in a circular shape to create a rustic-looking fire pit.

Concrete Tree Ring Pit

Use large concrete tree rings to build a simple, circular fire pit. Stack two or three rings on top of each other for the desired height.

Steel Drum Pit

Repurpose an old steel drum or washing machine drum as a fire pit. Make sure to clean it thoroughly and remove any chemicals or residues.

Paver Fire Pit

Lay a circular foundation of paver sand and arrange paving stones on top to create a sleek, modern fire pit.

In-Ground Fire Pit

Dig a hole in your yard and line it with firebricks or natural stones for an in-ground fire pit that blends seamlessly with the landscape.

Retaining Wall Block Pit

Build a square or circular fire pit using retaining wall blocks, which are easy to stack and provide a flat, stable surface.

Gravel Fire Pit

Create a fireproof base using gravel, and surround it with larger stones or metal edging for a minimalist fire pit.

Brick Fire Pit

Use fire-rated bricks to build a traditional brick fire pit. You can create various shapes, from circular to square or rectangular.

Flagstone Fire Pit

Assemble a unique fire pit using irregularly shaped flagstones for a natural, organic look.

Metal Fire Pit

Weld together a custom metal fire pit or use large metal rings. Paint with high-temperature paint to prevent rust and add durability.

Glass and Stone Fire Pit

Combine heat-resistant glass panels with stones for a chic, contemporary fire pit that stands out.

Boulder Fire Pit

Arrange large boulders in a circle to form a rugged, natural fire pit that requires minimal construction.

Gabion Fire Pit

Create a gabion basket with wire and fill it with rocks or recycled materials for an industrial-style fire pit.

Cinder Block Fire Pit

Stack cinder blocks in a square or circular shape. They’re inexpensive and easy to work with, making them great for a simple DIY project.

Repurposed Wheel Rim Pit

Use old car or truck wheel rims to create a portable and durable fire