Stone Fire Pit Design Ideas

Make your own backyard getaway learning how to build a stone fire pit, and get set to enjoy a lifetime of great fires.

Stone Fire Pit with Adirondack Chairs

Stone Fire Pit with Adirondack Chairs

Build a fire pit using materials you may have on hand: stones. Adding a stone fire pit isn’t difficult. In a few hours you can assemble a temporary pit, or you can invest more time to build a permanent, mortared stone fire pit. Learn some tips for how to build a stone fire pit.

Anytime you’re adding a fire pit, check community ordinances regarding fire pits. If you’re building a permanent structure, you’ll probably need a permit. Also call your insurance agent to let them know you’re building a stone fire pit.

Select the place you’ll build a stone fire pit. Keep fire pit safety in mind by choosing a spot that keeps flames at least 20 feet from your home, nearby structures, or plants, including overhead trees. Ensure you have enough room to accommodate seating options, so you can relax around the fire.

A stone fire pit can be temporary or permanent. Use stones you gather on site, if possible, or visit a local landscape company or stone yard to select stones. For a permanent structure, you’ll need stones for both the face and the cap of the fire pit. Select flatter stones for the cap.

A temporary stone fire pit uses rocks to serve as a fire ring to contain burning materials. Build this fire pit on a level, non-flammable surface. On lawns, remove grass and soil to a depth of four to six inches to form the area where you’ll build a fire. To provide drainage, pour a gravel layer onto soil. Add enough gravel so the fire area is a few inches below grade, which helps improve fire pit safety.

As a fire burns, stones heat up. If you plan to use them for seating, create some space between flames and stones. Cook over your stone fire pit using skewers to roast meat, veggies, or marshmallows. Or look for freestanding metal grills to add more cooking options to your stone fire pit.

For a permanent stone fire pit, aim for height of 12 to 18 inches with a 12-inch-thick wall. A permanent stone fire pit needs a concrete footer to provide a stable base for the pit walls. The footer gives your stone fire pit stability and helps keep walls from cracking as the ground shifts. After the footer sets up, attach refractory or fire brick along the inner edge, which will face the fire, using refractory cement.

If your stone fire pit is round, position fire bricks in a soldier course to avoid having to cut bricks. For stone fire pits with angular shapes, lay fire bricks in a running bond pattern. Incorporate draw holes into the design to permit air flow into the fire pit. At ground level, add a piece of 2-inch-diameter steel pipe every two to three feet.

Build the fire pit one layer at a time, placing fire bricks on the interior edge of the footer and stones on the outer edge. Fill any gaps between bricks and stones with junk stones and mortar—pieces of rocks you won’t use along the outer edge of the fire pit. As you add subsequent stone courses, remember to keep mortar away from the outermost edge of stones. You want that side to be eye-catching. 

Always place stones so a larger stone spans a joint between two stones beneath it. As you build up, double-check that spaces between fire bricks and outer stones are full. This makes your stone fire pit more stable.

Plan two layers of stones for the cap of the fire pit: one flush with the inner edge, the other with the outer. Cantilever stones on the outer layer if you like. Never cantilever stones on the inner edge. A protruding stone that heats repeatedly could eventually crack. It’s a good idea to dry set cap stones before mortaring, just to make sure you have the right size stones on hand. Use a level to make sure your cap layer is level.

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