How to Build an Outdoor Stone Fire Pit
This is Part 1 of a series on building an outdoor stone fire pit.
If you have already seen it, move ahead to Part 2 or to Part 3.
If you want to learn about making a simple temporary campfire or stone fire pit ring, click here.
Do you have a spacious back yard and want to learn how to build a stone fire pit which looks good and you can relax around or even grill on? One option is to hire a contractor or mason, spend a whole bunch of money, and have a stone fire pit build for you. Another option is to build a temporary brick fire pit. However, if you want to learn yourself how to build a stone fire pit then this is the place for you!
Depending on how "fancy" you want your outdoor stone fire pit to look, you can build a stone fire pit in several ways. Honestly, to really do it right, it takes a quite a bit of planning, hard work and supplies. But if you are dedicated to it, your stone fire pit will turn out beautifully.
Safety Note: Check with your local safety codes before building a fire pit. Some zoning areas will require safety and building inspection for any new structures, particularly a fire pit! Be sure to build your fire pit away from low hanging branches and at least 20 feet away from any flammable materials or structures. Using a mesh screen lid when you build a fire is the safest means of preventing burning embers from causing a problem.
Here are step by step directions to help make building an outdoor fire pit easier:
Move ahead to Part 2 or to Part 3
- Things you will need - Its impossible to give exact amounts for the stone, gravel, rebar, mortar mix and fire bricks because this depends entirely on the size and configuration of your fire pit. Plan a bit and try to figure out rough estimates. Also, bring your measurements to the supply store where you buy the concrete and stones and have them help you with amounts:
-Can of spray paint
-Shovels (both spade shovel and flat shovel ideally)
-Trowel (optional but helpful)
-Mixing tool (such as a mixing hoe)
-Iron rake or other flat concrete tool
-1/2 inch jointer (optional)
-Chipping hammer (optional)
-Safety glasses (for using with chipping hammer)
-Level (it helps to have a small one and large one too)
-Something to mix concrete and mortar in (a wheelbarrow works best for this)
-Wall stone - you can use anything available but New England fieldstone and/or Connecticut green stone are great choices for an outdoor stone fire pit. You could alternatively use brick throughout. You need both stones for the sides of the outdoor stone fire pit as well as "capstones" which are flat (at least on one side) to make up the top of the fire pit.
-Gravel mix concrete
-1/4 inch rebar (reinforcement bar) cut into ~2 foot pieces
-Pre-mixed mortar mix
-Black stove paint (optional)
-Landscaping mesh and crushed stone or gravel or bricks and additional mortar (optional if you wish to build a seating area around your outdoor stone fire pit).
- Planning and Measurement:
1. First find a suitable location for your fire pit. You want it to be away from trees and overhanging branches or powerlines. Also plan to place your outdoor stone fire pit at least 20 feet from the nearest structure. You also want the fire pit to be on a relatively flat surface. Ideally, grass, dirt or gravel is a suitable base for your fire pit. These will allow drainage in rainy weather. If you build it on a solid surface like concrete your fire pit will be a bird bath during the rainy season! It will also be more prone to wear and tear with exposure to the elements and may not last as long.
2. Plan the size of your fire pit carefully. Remember to leave enough room around it for people to sit on chairs or reclining lawn chairs. Also, keep in mind that the wall of your outdoor stone fire pit will be close to 12 inches thick, so measure out both the interior diameter of the pit, as well as the outer diameter of the fire pit wall. Finally, if you plan to use your fire pit as a barbecue pit for fire pit cooking, make sure you can find a circular grill grate that is large enough to span the inner diameter of your fire pit and will sit securely on the top.
3. The design of your fire pit will be such that there is an inner layer of fire bricks which provides a flame retardant inner wall, surrounded by the face stones which will be the decorative stones facing the outside of the stone fire pit. The top will be covered by flat stones, the capstones, to make your outdoor stone fire pit look clean and even.
4. I recommend making your outdoor stone fire pit about 12 to 18 inches high with the wall 12 inches thick. If you make the fire pit too much taller you won't be able to see your fire! Also, you won't be able to feel it because the wall of the fire pit will insulate the heat from you.
- Buying your Supplies:
1. Most of your supplies can be found at a standard home supply and hardware store. However, you'll find the best selection of stones and brick at a dedicated masonry quarry or stone yard. If you don't know where one is, look in your local yellow pages or on the internet to find one nearby. If you bring your measurements, they can often help you figure out how much stone you'll need to build a stone fire pit. Also, most quarry will deliver for a small fee if you don't have a large pickup truck or van to carry your stones yourself.
2. In picking out your stones, you will need both stones for the sides of the outdoor stone fire pit (face stones) and separate stones for the top (capstones). Choose stones that have a smoothly curing flat side to face out on the sides for the face stones. Choose wide stones with a smooth flat surface for the top capstones.
3. Most stone yards have either a bulk pile of stones to sort through yourself or pre-sorted pallets of somewhat uniform shapes and sizes. You'll pay a bit more for the pallets but it saves time and effort.
Are you done learning how to build an outdoor stone fire pit
and want ideas for other fire pit plans?
Return to the Build a Fire Pit page.