How To: Installing a Fire Pit

A backyard gets more warm and hospitable with a stone firepit.

hdswt310_1cb_Fire-Pit_AFTER

After: A firepit makes the perfect gathering place for cool nights.

Materials:

high heat paint (5 cans)
New England fieldstone (1 pallet)
bag fast-set concrete 6)
1/2" rebar, 24" long (10)
mortar mix (12 bags)
fire brick (60)
landscape mesh( 3 rolls)
decorative gravel

hdswt310_1ca_Fire-Pit_BEFORE

Before: The backyard offered little in the way of hospitality.

Materials and Tools:

1/2" masonry jointer
hoe
level
measuring tape
rakes
safety glasses
shovels
stone hammer
string line
upside-down spray paint
utility knife
wheelbarrow

hdswt310_1fa_Firepit_Circle

Steps:

Choose a location. Select a location that's away from any combustibles such as bushes, sheds, low-hanging branches, etc.

Lay out the fire pit. Starting at the center, paint a five-foot diameter circle using a string as a compass. Tie one end of the string around the can of spray paint, then the other around a stake at the center of the pit. You'll also need to paint a three-foot diameter circle for the actual pit, and a 12-foot diameter circle for the seating area.

hdswt310_1fb_Firepit_concrete-ring

Dig the footer and pour concrete. With the location laid out, dig out the footer for the inner and outer walls of the fire pit, digging between the three-foot and five-foot circles, about five to six inches deep. Following the manufacturer's instructions, mix the fast-set concrete in a wheelbarrow and fill the ring with concrete. Make sure the top is level and smooth. Wait for the concrete to set up.

hdswt310_1fc_Fire-Pit_mortar

Separate your stones while you wait. While the concrete is setting, you can use that time to separate your stones into face stones, and a few for cap stones. The cap stones will be used to make the top of the fire pit wall, so keep the flat, smooth stones for the caps. The rest of the stones will make the wall.

Start laying stone. Start laying the stone in a ring, following the outer edge of the footing. Once the first complete ring is done, lay a ring of fire brick (on their edge, so they stand three-inches high) around the inner ring of the pit.

Continue the stone. Continue laying rings of stone on top of others. Continue laying courses of fire brick, as well. Keep everything level by choosing stones that fit. If they don't fit, cut them. Try to avoid laying diagonal and vertical stones, they look bad and cause instability in the wall.

Fill the wall. Once the stone and fire brick are at the height you need, fill the void between the fire brick and stone walls using scrap stone and mortar. You'll want the wall to be totally solid before you cap it.

hdswt310_1fd_Fire-Pit_Capstones

Place the cap stones. Lay the cap stones on the top of the wall, laying them out in dry-stack to make certain that everything fits. Cut individual stones to fit, if necessary. Once you've got a good fit, mortar the stones into place.

Seating Area. For the seating area, dig out the grass in the area inside the 12-foot circle you painted, and lay down landscape cloth. Fill the area with gravel. Enjoy.

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