Brick Fire Pit Design Ideas
Grab your DIY tools—it’s time to learn how to build a brick fire pit.
Improve your yard’s outdoor living appeal by adding a brick fire pit. You can quickly craft a temporary pit, or invest some time to build a permanent structure. You might even start with a simple temporary brick fire pit that you later convert to a permanent one. Learn how to build a brick fire pit.
Before building a brick fire pit, explore local community ordinances regarding fire pits. Don’t forget to alert your insurance agent, too. In drier regions of the country, fire pits can impact insurance premiums. Choose your site carefully—keep flames at least 20 feet from surrounding structures or plants, including overhead trees.
Brick fire pits can be above- or underground. In an aboveground brick fire pit, the bricks function more as a fire ring, containing burning logs. Kiln-fired brick is safe to use in an aboveground fire pit. These bricks are typically fired to 1800ºF and easily withstand the heat of flames. Landscaping brick that’s been kiln-fired is safe to use. Brick paver stones should also be safe to use. Check on a manufacturer’s website to be sure if the paver material you want to use is fire-rated.
A temporary brick fire pit is a snap to set up. If you already have bricks on hand, you can complete this fire pit in a few hours. Choose a surface that’s level, solid, and has a non-combustible base. If you’re working on a lawn, excavate four to six inches of turf and soil for the area inside the fire ring—where the fire will actually be built. Cover this exposed dirt with gravel to provide drainage.
Don’t create a circle that’s too large, or the bricks tend to topple. A three-foot-wide diameter works well for a temporary brick fire pit. If you plan to cook over the fire, find a grill that fits your fire pit size before building. Lay a row of bricks along the fire circle’s edge, end to end, so the corners are touching. If bricks have holes in them, place bricks so holes face the sky to avoid having holes in the sides of your circle.
Position the second row of bricks to cover joints of the bricks beneath it. The taller your ring is, the more unstable it will become. If you have wider bricks, using these for the first course creates stability. Adding a second row of bricks outside the base row also can help stabilize the ring.
To build a permanent brick fire pit, start by deciding the size you’ll need. Pour a concrete footer to provide a stable base for the pit walls. A footer helps prevent the walls from cracking as the ground shifts over time. Use a regular concrete mix for the footer. After the footer sets up, attach refractory or fire brick to it using refractory cement. This peanut butter-like cement is fire-rated and usually comes in a bucket. Position the fire bricks in a soldier course to avoid having to cut this dense brick.
Only use fire-rated materials inside the fire pit, where flames will create high heat. As you set fire brick in place, create spaces for air flow into the fire pit. You’ll need these draw holes every 24 to 36 inches around the pit. Line the outside of the fire brick with traditional bricks, staggering joints between brick courses to create a strong structure. Allow a quarter-inch gap between face bricks and fire bricks.
For the cap of the fire pit, set regular face brick on edge. Align the interior edge flush with the fire brick; let the outer edge extend over the fire pit wall to allow rain to drip. Pour a few inches of gravel into the center of your fire pit for drainage. Let the brick fire pit cure for a week before building your first fire.