Fire Pit Options for Patios

Give your patio a makeover by adding a cozy fire pit. Discover tips for choosing or creating a fire pit that enhances your patio.

Fire Pit and Seating Area on Patio

Fire Pit and Seating Area on Patio

A stone fire pit on the patio creates a cozy space for outdoor entertaining.

Extend your outdoor living season through chilly spring and fall nights by adding a patio fire pit. Dancing flames enhance any gathering and make lingering after dinner a special treat. Learn ideas for patio fire pits to create a welcoming setting that blends beautifully with your home.

Before choosing to add a fire pit to your patio, double-check local ordinances regarding open flames in a residential setting. County and/or city code may stipulate everything from fire pit size, to distance from nearby structures, to required on-site fire extinguishers. Learn what you have to do to be legal, or you could face stiff fines.

Homeowners insurance fees also may vary for a patio with fire pit versus without. Check with your agent to explore any potential impact and to learn if you should increase any coverage as preparation for a worst-case scenario. In areas prone to wildfires, many insurance companies require notification if you plan to add a fire pit.

The two most critical factors to consider when incorporating a fire pit into a patio are placement and seating options. If you tend to use your patio as a dining area, place your fire pit nearby, but not in the outdoor dining area. Family and friends typically gather around a fire after dinner, so make it a separate destination. You may have to expand your patio by several feet to do this.

If the fire pit is located even a short distance from the patio’s dining area, create a path leading to the pit and make sure it’s well-lit. Consider choosing a fire pit design that incorporates materials from the patio area to tie the spaces together architecturally. A patio fire pit can provide an eye-catching view from indoors, too. Take the inside view into account as you’re incorporating a fire pit into outdoor living spaces.

Before choosing the final site for your fire pit, check prevailing winds. If a wood fire is burning during dinner, you don’t want to douse guests with smoke. Even gas fire pits benefit from a wind check before positioning to avoid creating a hot pocket in one part of the patio. If your patio is in a crosswind, you might need to create a windbreak around the fire pit.

Plan for an additional six feet of space on each side of the patio fire pit for easy access. This is true whether you’re using a built-in fire pit or a free-standing portable model. Consider the chairs you’ll place around the fire pit. Leave ample room for shuffling chairs around, as well as for people to move freely behind them.

If you’re building a fire pit and plan to let guests sit on the coping, create a pit that’s at least 18 inches high. For a fire pit foot rest, aim for a 6- to 12-inch height. Give a wood-burning fire pit a wide coping—at least 15 inches—because you won’t want to sit too close to the hot flames.

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