Permanent vs. Portable Fire Pit: What's Best for My Home in Alexandria, Arlington, or Springfield, VA (2024)

Fire features can be such an enjoyable addition to a design/build project. There is certainly something mesmerizing about sitting in front of a flame. It tends to draw people in. If you decide to add a fire feature, it’s likely to become a gathering spot for this very reason.

While you might be feeling confident that you want to add fire in some sort of capacity, you might be wondering what the different types of fire pits are. More specifically, you might be wondering whether a permanent vs. portable fire pit makes the most sense for your Alexandria, Arlington, or Springfield, VA home.

We get questions along these lines all of the time and have some advice that can help guide you toward the best choice. Ultimately, it will be a personal preference, but at least taking these considerations into account will help you decide.Permanent vs. Portable Fire Pit: What's Best for My Home in Alexandria, Arlington, or Springfield, VA (1)

Types of Fire Pits

First, before we get into some considerations to weigh, let’s talk about the types of fire pits you could choose.

Fire pits can definitely be broken down into two main categories: permanent (built-in) or portable.

When it comes to a permanent fire pit, you can create a customized design to suit your style and property. It’s either going to be round or square and will require some room for seating around it.
As far as portable fire pits go, you have some options.

You’ve likely seen a whole range of these in the store or online. You could choose a bowl fire pit, a square metal fire pit, a fire pit table, or other options. These are not permanent structures and can be moved around—though ideally, you might want to let your landscape designer know where you plan to use a portable fire pit so that they can design the space appropriately with room for seats.

How to Decide Between a Permanent vs Portable Fire Pit

As you spend time thinking about whether you want something permanent or something portable, you might be asking is a fire pit worth it?

If you’re thinking about investing in a permanent fire pit, you want to feel confident that it’s something you’re going to use a lot and get your money’s worth. For a lot of people, a permanent fire pit is absolutely worth it as they spend many nights sitting in front of it.Permanent vs. Portable Fire Pit: What's Best for My Home in Alexandria, Arlington, or Springfield, VA (2)

But if you’re really on the fence about whether you’ll use it enough, then a portable option might be best for you.

Here are a couple more important factors to consider.Permanent vs. Portable Fire Pit: What's Best for My Home in Alexandria, Arlington, or Springfield, VA (3)

The Size of Your Patio

A major consideration in deciding between a permanent vs. portable fire pit is how much space you have. A built-in fire pit is going to take up quite a bit of room as you have to consider not just the fire pit structure but built-in seating you might be adding around it.

Once you add a permanent fire pit, that space can only be used for sitting around a fire.

If you have very limited space, that might not be ideal for you. Being able to move a portable fire pit when you want to use the space for something else might be a major benefit of choosing this option.Permanent vs. Portable Fire Pit: What's Best for My Home in Alexandria, Arlington, or Springfield, VA (4)

How You Plan to Use the Fire Pit

You should also consider your plans for using the fire pit. Are you someone who occasionally pictures roasting some s’mores, or do you plan to sit in front of the fire many nights, just to relax or to socialize with guests.

If you only envision yourself using it for some “once-in-a-while” s’more roasting, a portable option is probably going to make more sense for you. A permanent fire pit is a significant investment of money and space for occasional use.

Of course, one way that we do find homeowners get more use out of a permanent fire pit is when it can serve double duty. For instance, turning a permanent structure into a fire pit table with a cover where you can use it to set down drinks or a plate can allow you to get a lot more use out of it, even if you don’t have a fire going. In this sense, it does double duty as an outdoor coffee table.Permanent vs. Portable Fire Pit: What's Best for My Home in Alexandria, Arlington, or Springfield, VA (5)

Making a Wise Fire Pit Choice for your Alexandria, Arlington, or Springfield, VA Outdoor Living Area

At the end of the day, we just want to help you feel confident that you’re making the right choice. A lot of it starts with taking a realistic assessment of what you hope to get out of a fire pit addition. We know that it can be difficult to “predict the future” in terms of how much you’ll use a fire pit, but we find that a lot of people do have a gut feeling on it.

When they weigh the considerations of the size of their patio and the ways in which they plan to use the fire pit, it helps guide them to one choice over another.

At Kingstowne Lawn & Landscape, we can help you in thinking through all of the fire pit considerations you need to take into account before making the leap. These include not only choosing between a permanent vs. portable fire pit but also wood-burning vs. gas and other important factors.

While there’s a lot to think about, we don’t want to see you stress over these decisions. It should be fun and exciting to go through the process—and we’re here to help make it that way! With guidance toward the best choices for you and your property, you can be on your way to an outdoor living area that you’ll enjoy to the fullest.

If you’re looking for a landscape designer to help with your fire pit decisions at your Alexandria, Arlington, or Springfield, VA home, request a landscape consultation, get your customized plan, and relax as you get the royal treatment.

Permanent vs. Portable Fire Pit: What's Best for My Home in Alexandria, Arlington, or Springfield, VA (6)

Permanent vs. Portable Fire Pit: What's Best for My Home in Alexandria, Arlington, or Springfield, VA (2024)


Permanent vs. Portable Fire Pit: What's Best for My Home in Alexandria, Arlington, or Springfield, VA? ›

The Size of Your Patio

How far does a fire pit need to be from a house in Virginia? ›

Permits are also required for fire pits in Virginia beach, so before you gather your friends and family around the fire, be sure to get that in order! A safe distance from any structure or combustible material is considered to be a minimum of 15 feet.

What style of fire pit is best? ›

Shape and Style

A round fire pit is the most common shape, especially for wood-burning models. Like a campfire, this shape emits heat evenly around the perimeter to help ensure a warm seat for every guest.

How far should a portable fire pit be from the house? ›

Recreational fires must be at least 25 feet from all buildings or combustible materials. Combustible materials are things such as wood, paper, and plastics [MSFC Section 307.4. 2]. prior to ignition [MSFC Section 307.4.

How much value does a fire pit add to a home? ›

It can return between 80-100% of your investment, depending on whether you use brick, stone, or concrete. We recommend placing a fire pit in a hazard-free location, away from any buildings and especially windy spots. Also, connecting your fire pit to natural gas is a way to add some extra value.

What is the fire pit law in Virginia? ›

The 4 PM Burning Law bans open-air burning prior to 4:00 p.m. if the fire is within 300 feet of the woods or dry grass which could carry fire to the woods.

Where should a fire pit be placed in the backyard? ›

Ideally, a fire pit should be at least 10 feet away from any structures — 20 feet is even better. This includes your house, shed, fence and neighboring yards. Check the area around and above your fire pit. You don't want any plants within 10 feet of the fire pit area.

What is the safest type of fire pit? ›

Propane fire pits are generally considered one of the safest options. Let's take a look at some of the features that make them a good choice.

Are backyard fire pits worth it? ›

Are fire pits worth the money? In short - yes, absolutely. The main reason they're worth the investment is that they've got multiple uses and they make your patio a multi-season space.

Which firepit gives off the most heat? ›

A wood-burning fire pit gives off the most heat. Adequately seasoned wood is easy to burn and produces a large, bright fire that gives off a lot of heat, even in a small fire pit designed to save precious outdoor space.

What size should a fire pit be in the backyard? ›

Small fire pit dimensions should measure 3 feet wide, while a large pit can go up to 6 feet wide. Ideally a fire pit should be between 36 and 44 inches wide (including the width of the walls) in order to comfortably seat multiple people around it whilst still maintaining an intimate setting.

How big around should a fire pit be? ›

The diameter should be decided based on your needs. For smaller gatherings, a fire pit with a diameter of around 36 inches works well, but for larger parties, you might want to go up to 48 inches or more. Remember, the larger the fire pit, the more heat it can provide, but it will also require more fuel.

Does a fire pit increase homeowners insurance? ›

How home insurance coverage is affected depends on the type of fire pit you have. Those detached from the house may need higher other structures coverage limits. A fire pit that's moveable may be considered a personal belonging. In that case you may want to increase your personal property limits.

What are the disadvantages of a fire pit? ›

Disadvantages of an Outdoor Fire Pit

If the fire pit is wood burning, the smoke could potentially bother you and clothes may smell like a campfire. Fire pits do not provide the height to a landscape as a fireplace would.

What to look for when buying a fire pit? ›

top tips
  1. Size The scale of your alfresco area should inform the fire pit's size.
  2. Design A bowl is more portable and won't get too hot.
  3. Fuel choice Make sure your timber is dry and untreated.
  4. Safety Set your fire pit on a non-combustible surface.
  5. Ambience Burn herbs or dried fruit to enhance the experience.
Aug 24, 2020

How close to your house can you have a fire? ›

In fact, many areas have laws requiring 25 feet between the fire pit and your house, shed, vehicle, deck, or other combustible materials. Your town or homeowner's association may also require a site inspection if you plan to build a permanent fire pit.

How much space do you need around a fire pit? ›

When you are planning your outdoor living space, you will want to carefully plan your fire pit to make sure there is enough room around it for everyone to be comfortable. A good guideline is to have about 7 feet of space around the fire pit.

Can I put a fire pit on grass? ›

If you're using a fire pit on grass, it's important to use a fire pit mat. This will help to protect your grass from the heat damage of the fire pit. Using a fire-resistant mat will help to create a barrier between the fire pit and your grass. It will also help to prevent the heat from damaging the roots of your grass.

Can you have a bonfire in Virginia? ›


The burn ban in Virginia applies during certain times of the year (Feb 15 – Apr 30). The ban states that you cannot start open air fires between 12 midnight and 4 pm. This rule only applies if you are within 300 feet of woods or dry grass which can carry fire to the woods.


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