Installing a patio fire pit requires a little calculation and some thought before you are ready to make the investment. How large of an area do you have available for a patio fire pit? A simple installation involves purchasing a stand-alone metal fire pit, whereas a complex fire pit design involves digging out an actual pit, lining it, and then designing the surrounding area to create a particular atmosphere or theme.
Determine Available Space
Measure the area you would like to convert into a patio fire pit. In addition to the actual size of the fire pit you install, stand-alone models should have at least 5 feet of empty space surrounding them. In-ground and custom brick or stone varieties may require less safety clearance, but still must be away from plants, building materials, or other flammable objects.
A Basic Country Fire Pit
If you are installing an in-ground fire pit, a fast method is to cut a 35 or 55 gallon metal drum in half. A lengthwise cut makes a larger fire pit, and a horizontal cut requires a deeper hole. Dig an area that allows half of the barrel to fit flush or just below ground level. Place the barrel in the hole. Using crushed rock, fill the bottom of the barrel to create a smooth bottom. Install metal brackets at all four corners. Cut a heavy duty metal mesh to fit inside the pit and rest on the brackets. Punch holes in the bottom of the barrel for drainage.
Be sure to sand the cut edges carefully to reduce the danger of accidental cuts. Instead of brackets, solid metal stakes may be driven through the barrel into the sides of the fire pit, although this method makes the fire pit less stable over time. Short of digging a hole and building a fire in it, this is about the most basic type of fire pit you can make from scratch, but it also leaves a lot of room for personal embellishments and can even be easily converted to run on propane or natural gas.
Fire Pits with Class and Style
If you would rather have a more impressive patio fire pit, consider building a brick pedestal, topped with fireproof glass panels encasing the fire chamber. Instead of direct heat from the fire, convection fans will radiate the heat. The effect is an outdoor fireplace that can be complemented by an oak bar, and bench / table combinations adorned with removable cushions and sheltered with lawn umbrellas. More than a fire pit, this creates an outdoor lounge suitable for comfortable adult parties and comfortable afternoon BBQs for the whole family.
Stand Alone Fire Pits
If you are simply going to buy a fire pit, consider different options. Some stand-alone units are basic while others offer add-on or expansion capabilities that allow fire pit cooking. Top of the line commercial fire pits may even include glass fronts, and are probably available in both wood and gas powered versions. Assembly may not be required but some models require a working knowledge of electrical wiring or gas piping.