One of the best parts of summer is being able to go outside and enjoy the beauty of the backyard. Nothing is better than having a beautiful and functional outside space where one can entertain and cook. This is a guide with helpful tips to successfully build an outdoor fire pit.
Preparing the Footing
After selecting the exact location of your fire pit pinpoint the center of the pit and use a hammer to drive a pole in the center. Next begin to mark off the area by measuring half of the diameter of the total fire pit with string or thin rope which will be used to determine the radius, secure the string or rope to the pole and use marking paint (bright colors work best) to create the diameter circle using the string as a radius. When calculating the inside line of the circle decrease your measurement by 2.8 inches for every foot in your diameter and use the marking paint to draw an interior line. Now dig eight inches between the inner and outer lines. Remember if you want to have a sturdy fire pit and avoid sinkage you must dig before you try to build up the walls.
Pouring the Footing
When mixing your concrete with water make sure that you have the proper thickness which should be like peanut butter so that when it dries everything will set properly. Remember always wear a safety mask to protect yourself from the damaging effects of the dust. After mixing the concrete pour the mixture into the hole you created and use a trowel to smooth the concrete. Use a grinder (diamond blade works the best) to cut pieces of rebar into lengths of about three each. Next bend the rebar and place it in your concrete use a hammer to get it a few inches below the surface to strengthen the footing.
Setting the Stone
Begin mixing your mortar with one shovel-full dry lime. After the lime is mixed fully add water until you reach a smooth consistency. Using the string or rope tied to the pole, measure out 6.5 inches per foot of your diameter when you are laying the perimeter stones. Next use the mortar to set the stones in place making sure the perimeter stones are placed at equal distance from the center of the fire pit. Remember before you setting your stone to create a separate pile for your capstones which will form the top of your exterior wall, these stones should have the flattest surface.
Setting the Interior Firebricks & Stones
Measure 2.8 inches for every foot in your diameter from the outer circle to the inner circle. Locate the highest point of the inner circle and place begin laying your bricks. Make sure the first brick is level then use that height as the point you lay around all bricks in the interior circle Throughout this process always keep measuring to make sure the inner circle is always the correct distance from the outer circle. Since a fire pit is a circular structure use a chipping hammer to angle the corners of your stone. Remember when setting mortar stone use different lengths and widths of stones to help avoid straight horizontal or vertical lines. For the inside of the fire pit use firebricks which are denser and heat resistant. Place firebricks standing vertically the entire way around the fire pit. Always remember to place mortar on the bottom and the sides of the bricks and always fill the joints.
Creating the Grill Base
The best and most efficient way to build a support system for a grill is to use firebrick. Simply pull two firebricks forward from the rest of the firebrick. Place the bricks forward like a clock at three, six, nine, and twelve then place the grill on supports to cook or remove to sit around the fire.
Setting the Capstones
Before using mortar try dry-setting four or five larger capstones on opposite sides of the fire pit. Use a long level to make sure the capstones are about level. When starting to mortar make sure to mortar the guiding capstones first, try to keep them as level as possible especially in relation to the other capstones. Remember if you are planning on a grill cut the interior capstones in a way that it can be placed and removed easily. When capping use a short level so you can check the height and levelness across and from front to back.
The Finishing Touches
Now that you are done with the technical aspects of building a fire pit it’s time to give it a substantial presence in the yard. Try adding flagstone, steppingstones, or other decorations around the exterior fire pit to add extra dimension and personality to your outdoor space.