The Complete Fire Pit Buying Guide (2024)

Originally Published on April 11, 2020. Last Updated on September 27, 2023.

Sitting around a toasty campfire with friends and family is one of life’s greatest pleasures. And now, you can bring that sense of cozy togetherness to your backyard with a well-designed fire pit. They serve as a statement-making focal point that looks good and keeps guests comfortable so the party can continue well into the night.

For most, the decision to add a fire pit to their outdoor spaces is the easy part. Narrowing the options down to find the right type, size, style, and safety features may prove to be trickier. The intent of this fire pit buying guide is to make that part a cinch too.

Table of Contents

  1. Is a Fire Pit Table Right for You?
  2. Choose The Right Materials for Your Fire Pit
  3. Choose the Right Size for Your Fire Pit
  4. Choose the Right Style Fire Pit
  5. Choose the Right Fuel For Your Fire Pit Table
  6. Find The Right Location For Your Fire Pit

Step 1 – Is a Fire Pit Table Right for You?

First things first—are you opting for a ready-to-buy fire pit, or do you plan to try your hand at a DIY fire pit project? If you’re in the market for a stylish fire pit you can easily order online, read on. This eight-step guide is for you. To answer all of your burning questions about fire pits, we’re covering budget considerations, types of fire pits, sizes and shapes, safety features, materials, and fuel/installation options.

What’s your budget?

The fire pit you choose should strike a balance between quality and cost. Better quality will cost more, so size, style, fuel, and materials will influence the price tag. However, if you plan to use your fire pit often and for years to come, a solid design with durable materials will eventually pay for itself. Fire pits start as low as $40 for tabletop designs but can cost tens of thousands of dollars for custom-built features.

Step 2 – Choose The Right Materials for Your Fire Pit

Before you start comparison shopping for the best deal, you should have a clear idea of the type of fire pit you want. Here’s a breakdown of the most common types: standard backyard fire pits, fire pit tables, fire pit bowls, and tabletop fire pits.

Steel

Steel is an easy-to-mold metal that can be painted or stained for a wide range of looks. Steel fire pits are relatively lightweight, which translates to a more portable setup. However, steel is susceptible to rust. Seek out powder-coated and stainless steel options, as these alternatives aren’t prone to rust.

The Complete Fire Pit Buying Guide (1)
The Complete Fire Pit Buying Guide (2)

Stone

Stone is a popular fire pit material option, especially to match existing outdoor features like walkways and retaining walls. Stone fire pit bowls and tables are on the heavier side, so it’s best for fire pits you won’t need to move. It also won’t rust like some metals do. If you live in a region with extreme winters, note that stone can crack after cycles of freezing and thawing.

HDPE Lumber

Fire pit designs built with weatherproof HDPE plastic are ideal for long-term investments. They endure salty air, humidity, cold temperatures, and hot sun without losing quality. Look for styles with marine-grade quality hardware to avoid rust. Generally speaking, this material is also heavy enough to keep your fire pit in place during heavy storms and winds.

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Step 3 – Choose the Right Size for Your Fire Pit

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HEIGHT

Outdoor fire pits come in many heights, from in-ground designs to “chat heights” that allow for seamless socializing. Tabletop designs can be quite short, anywhere from 4–6 inches high.

The standard height of a fire pit table is between 22–24 inches.

The right fire table width (or diameter for round shapes) will largely depend on your usable square footage.

Large backyards may allow for a 5-feet-wide design; cozy patios call for something smaller. When measuring, remember to account for seating and accent tables too.

WIDTH/
DIAMETER

SHAPE

Fire pits typically come in round, square, and rectangular shapes.

Offering that classic campfire feel, round is best for larger gatherings where guests tend to be spaced out. Angular designs offer a more structured look and appeal to those who host intimate get-togethers.

Step 4 – Choose the Right Style Fire Pit

Before you start comparison shopping for the best deal, you should have a clear idea of the type of fire pit you want. Here’s a breakdown of the most common types: standard backyard fire pits, fire pit tables, fire pit bowls, and tabletop fire pits.

Fire Pit

An all-encompassing term, a fire pit is essentially anywhere you can safely start a blazing fire. There are several prefab fire pits that come ready to use.

Bespoke designs and those that require a natural-gas hookup may involve hiring a contractor. Remodeling your patio with a built-in fire pit may not be possible if you rent or live somewhere with limited square footage. That’s where the other fire pit styles come in.

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Fire Pit Table

A fire pit table is where the coziness of a hearth meets the convenience of a coffee table. These multiuse designs often include enough surface space to keep drinks and snacks on hand—but securely away the flames. Fire pit tables are almost always fueled by propane or natural gas, as a wood-burning system would be a safety hazard. The central fire feature is often filled with heatproof glass beads or lava rock to aerate the flames and create a uniform look.

These family-friendly styles offer the safety features and versatility needed for any occasion. Fire pit tables are offered in an abundance of aesthetics, shapes, sizes, and materials. Some are even outfitted with detachable cooking surfaces. For a party-ready arrangement, look no further than a fire pit table set.

Fire Pit Bowl

From rugged metal structures to stunning sculptural vessels, fire pit bowls come in a variety of styles, materials, fuel types, and price points. Aptly named, these bowl-shaped fire features offer the rustic vibes of a campfire with their hollowed centers and simple, no-frills designs. They typically sit directly on the ground, but some options are elevated by legs.

Great for chilly nights and marshmallow-roasting, most will produce a substantial flame. Some bowls are intended for wood-burning fires, others are filled with lava rocks or fire glass and are fueled by gas.

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The Complete Fire Pit Buying Guide (8)

Tabletop Fire Pits

Don’t have room for a full-fledged fire pit? Tabletop fire pits are safe, attractive compromises that sit right on your outdoor table. The portable design and smaller footprint translate to lower costs while still delivering the enchantment of dancing flames.

It’s important to note that ambiance is the primary goal of tabletop fire pits. These fun-sized styles typically won’t generate enough heat to keep guests warm on colder nights or grill up tonight’s grub. Bonus points: these lightweight models are generally very easy to move around.

Understand the Safety Features

A backyard fire pit presents endless possibilities for fun, relaxation, and memories. That said, fire is a natural element that can pose safety and environmental risks. Most fire pit styles are designed with some degree of safety in mind, but always take the proper precautions to make sure every fire is securely contained.

Look for safety features like wind guards and flame-control valves to ensure worry-free ambiance. Have pets or small toddlers? You may want to avoid in-ground fire pits and opt for elevated fire pit bowls or fire pit tables instead.

General Fire Safety Rules:

  • Remove all grass and debris within a 10-foot diameter of your fire pit.
  • Always supervise children and pets around fire pits, even if there are safety guards in place.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher within 15 feet of your fire pit.
  • Have water nearby before starting a wood-fueled fire.
  • Make sure all guests and family members know the proper stop, drop, and roll procedures.

Step 5 – Choose the Right Fuel For Your Fire Pit Table

Most fire pits on the market today are fueled by wood, propane, or natural gas. There are some distinct pros and cons to all three: price, accessibility, and ease of installation.

Wood

Campfire traditionalists will agree that nothing beats the rustic feel, earthy scent, and gentle crackle of burned wood. A low-cost, bountiful fuel source, this simple setup requires no professional installation and brings the nostalgia of a campsite right to your backyard.

However, there are a few downsides to wood-burning fire pits. You’ll need to tend to the fire to maintain the right temperature and size (and ensure rogue sparks don’t lead to disaster). Always check the laws in your area—burning wood is not allowed on covered patios or porches in most states.

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Propane

If you have little ones running around or don’t enjoy the soot, smoke, and scent of wood-burning fires, propane fire pits are fantastic alternatives. Safe, easy to use, and relatively cost-effective, propane-fueled fire pits can be activated and controlled with a switch.

Ideal for roasting marshmallows and keeping guests toasty, propane fire pit tables come in a range of heating options, which are measured in British thermal units (BTU). They typically top out around 60,000 BTUs, while lower-end models generate around 30,000 BTUs.Propane tanks are easy to set up, and some models have a nifty built-in compartment to keep the tank out of sight.

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Natural Gas

Typically designed with the same simple ignition systems and control valves as their propane counterparts, natural gas fire pits hook up to gas lines managed by utility companies. Installation may have to be outsourced and results in a semi-permanent fixture that isn’t nearly as portable as other models.

Step 6 – Find The Right Location For Your Fire Pit

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Inherently inviting and oh-so cozy, fire pits have an undeniable way of bringing people together. With that said, you’ll want to position yours somewhere that’s spacious but encourages socializing. While every outdoor space will have its own layout possibilities and restrictions, you can follow these general guidelines when deciding where to put yours.

  • Keep the edge of your fire pit at least 10 feet away from structures of any kind.
  • Choose an area away from trees, bushes, and low-hanging branches. Embers can travel surprisingly far on windy evenings.
  • Check with your county or city officials to inquire about laws or regulations before making the final decision.

Spark Creativity

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Now it’s time to put your fire pit to good use. You can do several activities around a fire any time of year.

  • During the summer, sing camp songs, play word games with the kids, enjoy a pitcher of lemonade, or serve up ice cream cones.
  • Come autumn, roast hot dogs and marshmallows by the fire while swapping spooky stories and admiring the fall foliage.
  • In the chilly months, just wrap a blanket around your shoulders—and perhaps pour a glass of red wine—and watch the mesmerizing flicker of the flames.

Don’t Forget the Finishing Touches

Round out your outdoor living area with our selection of beautiful, built-to-last benches, Adirondack chairs, and deep seating furniture. We also offer several fire pit table sets that have been curated for your family’s ultimate comfort. By pairing your new fire pit with cozy seating that’s fit for the whole family, we can promise nothing but a roaring good time.

Related

The Complete Fire Pit Buying Guide (2024)

FAQs

What to look for when buying a fire pit? ›

The fire pit you choose should strike a balance between quality and cost. Better quality will cost more, so size, style, fuel, and materials will influence the price tag. However, if you plan to use your fire pit often and for years to come, a solid design with durable materials will eventually pay for itself.

Is it cheaper to build or buy a fire pit? ›

The fire pit's size, fuel source and materials used all affect its cost, as does whether it's built in-ground or above-ground. DIY-ing a fire pit installation can save half the cost, though pros may be needed to connect gas- or electric-powered pits.

What time of year is best to buy fire pit? ›

Key Takeaways. The 4 best times of year for fire pit sales are January/February (winter clearances), March/April (spring sales), August/September (end of summer sales), and November (Black Friday/Cyber Monday).

How to select a firepit? ›

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 far away should a fire pit be from a house? ›

Place your fire pit at a safe distance (10-25 feet) from any flammable structures or surfaces. This includes your house, trees, shed, vehicle, neighbors' property, and wood deck, among other things. Keep your fire pit away from overhanging branches. A 21-foot clearance is standard for most municipalities.

Should I put anything in the bottom of my fire pit? ›

Placing a layer of sand or gravel at the bottom of a fire pit can help with heat distribution and protect the base from extreme temperatures. It also makes cleaning up ash easier.

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.

Does a firepit increase property value? ›

It can also better the chances of making a quick sale. It may seem too simple, but research has shown that having a firepit as the centerpiece of a backyard can absolutely be a big selling point. It has been said that adding a firepit can increase your home's selling price by 15% to 40%.

What size fire pit should I buy? ›

You need enough room for your guests to sit comfortably. Fire pits generally run 4 to 5 feet across at their widest point. Smaller options mean snugger seating, while a larger fire pit can accommodate a crowd. Keep at least 2 feet between a gas fire and your seating area for safety.

Is it OK to leave fire pit burning overnight? ›

Don't dispose of ashes immediately after extinguishing the fire. Let them cool completely before properly discarding them in a metal container or putting them to use in your garden or yard. Don't leave the fire pit burning overnight or when you're leaving the area.

Why are fire pits so expensive? ›

The biggest reason for the cost of custom made fire pits is the industrial groundwork and landscaping that goes into making them. Between pavers, manual labor and all of the fire pit material that goes into making a custom fire pit installation, it can cost similarly to putting in a pool, but with more safety concerns.

What is the best bottom for a fire pit? ›

Best materials to put in the bottom of a fire pit
  • Here's what to use in your fire pit. Both permanent and portable fire pits can burn brighter with the right lining materials. ...
  • Sand. A thin layer of sand can help to contain any fire. ...
  • Gravel. ...
  • Crushed rock. ...
  • Glass. ...
  • Bricks. ...
  • Concrete. ...
  • Rocks.
Feb 22, 2021

How big should a fire pit be for 10 people? ›

Consider the Size of the Firepit

“We then think about how many people you want to sit around it; if you want eight or 10 people sitting around your fire feature, you can't buy a 24-inch ring; you want a 48-inch firepit.”

What is the perfect firepit? ›

Overall, the Solo Stove Bonfire 2.0 is hard to beat regarding function and value, making it a fantastic pick for those who want an all-around, well-designed fire pit. The dual burn of the Solo Stove (down and right) not only reduces smoke, it creates a lot more flame than the other two traditional fire pits.

What is the best material for a fire pit? ›

Stainless Steel: This material boasts a modern, industrial look, stainless-steel fire pits are durable, lightweight, and one of the best fire pits for handling the outdoor elements. Copper: Copper offers a warm, shiny look to a fire pit, creating a touch of warmth to your backyard or patio.

Which is better in a fire pit, steel or iron? ›

Steel fire pits are just as good as cast iron fire pits and have the advantage of heating up quicker and emitting the same level of warmth. However, due to steel being thinner than iron, steel fire pits can lose heat quicker after the fire dies down.

How many BTUs should a fire pit have? ›

To sum it all up, for most gas fire pits 90k BTUs is sufficient. You may want to opt for 125k BTUs to 200k BTUs if you have a larger outdoor gathering space. If you have a small space that will typically be enjoyed by two people, then 45k BTUs may be a good choice.

What is the best material for a fire pit base? ›

What Do You Put in the Bottom of a Fire Pit? To create a safe, sturdy foundation for a fire pit, we use a gravel paver base. Other common materials used for the bottom of a fire pit are sand, lava stones, dirt, fire glass and concrete slabs.

References

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