How to Build an Outdoor Fire Pit

How to Build an Outdoor Fire Pit

An outdoor fire pit is the perfect DIY project to create an eye-catching centrepiece in your garden and, by doing it yourself, you can save yourself a great deal of money. Whether you’re going to create a traditional wood-burning fire or a modern outdoor fire pit alternative using a bioethanol fire, you can follow similar steps to ensure the safety and security of your garden while also keeping the cost low.

Wood-burning fireplaces are typically cheaper, as you don’t need the initial investment of the bioethanol fireplace, however, these fires take longer to get going, produce harmful chemicals and consume a lot of fuel. With a bioethanol burner, you can quite easily create the appearance of an outdoor fire pit without the smoke and without needing to consider how you’ll dispose of ashes or leftovers once the fire is out. 

For the perfect fire pit, you can choose a variety of styles and sizes to match your outdoor space and the vibe you want to capture when you have guests over or want to pass a warm summer evening in your garden.

If you’re looking for DIY outdoor fire pit ideas, the following step-by-step guide will help you build a small circular outdoor fire pit to burn wood or place your bioethanol burner into.

How to build an outdoor garden fire pit

1. Get your materials

For this design, you’ll need a fire pit ring, which you can find online and in hardware stores, and angle-cut blocks made from a fire-resistant brick, for example, kiln-fired brick. The angle-cut blocks will help you create a smoother circumference and avoid gaps in between the stones.

You’ll also need to fill the base of the fire pit whether you’re building on a patio or straight onto the ground. This is because the fire can discolour or crack patio paving and moisture in the ground can make starting a fire more difficult.

Choose sand or fire-resistant rocks like granite and lava stone to cover the base of your fire pit. Other stones retain moisture which, when heated, could explode.

2. Plan your position

In addition to making sure your fire pit won’t damage the ground beneath and that the fire won't spread, it’s recommended to build your fire pit roughly 10ft from any structures. 

Use your fire pit ring as a guide and place a ring of blocks around the ring to mark the position of your fit pit. 

3. Establish your foundation

If you’re not building the fire pit onto a level surface, you’ll need to try and get the ground as level as possible across the circumference to ensure the whole structure is even.

If you’re building on a patio that’s not fire-resistant, you’ll need to place a layer of fire-resistant bricks across the whole base of your fire pit to protect the stone beneath.

Start making your fire pit at home
EcoSmart bioethanol burner

4. Place your first layer of bricks

Once you know where each of the base bricks is going, you can use concrete adhesive to keep the bricks in place or simply push them tightly together as the other layers should hold the pit in place.

5. Secure the second layer

Use the concrete adhesive to secure the second layer of blocks or fit tightly like the first layer if you want the option of moving the fire pit in the future.

Make sure that with every additional layer, the gaps in the blocks aren’t lining up along the full circumference for a more secure and professional-looking fire pit.

6. Add your final layer and fire pit rim

This fire pit design only uses three layers, but if you want to build it slightly higher, add another layer after this one in the same way.

Most fire pit rims are only tall enough for two layers of blocks so you’ll need to pick up the rim and balance it on four blocks spaced evenly across the circumference while you fit the final layer. If the blocks are placed correctly, the rim should fit perfectly on the top without needing to be secured.

7. Fill the base and place fuel

Whether you’ve chosen granite, sand or lava rocks, you can now fill the base of the fire pit with materials and level them with your hands or a rake.

You’re now ready for the fire! Either add wood and get burning or place your bioethanol burner in the centre of your base and light it with the lighter provided.

Youtube guide

Note: this guide is for a wood-burning fire pit. However, this fire pit design will still work for a bioethanol burner.

Outdoor fire pit tips

Consider design

Whether you DIY it or not, an outdoor fire pit is a big investment of time and money so you want it to be perfect for your garden. Consider the materials used elsewhere and plan what will fit the best with your design before starting. 

Consider materials

Even small fires get very hot, so you’ll always need to consider the materials of your fire pit and the surrounding garden. The last thing you want is for your rocks to explode or your concrete to crack so do your research carefully before starting.

Consider positioning & safety

As mentioned, you should keep your fire pit at least 10ft from any structures. You’ll also need to consider the height if you have children or pets and plan around overhanging branches or other safety risks.


Common questions about outdoor fire pits

Do you need planning permission to build a fire pit?

In the UK, you don’t necessarily need to request planning permission for an outdoor fire pit. However, if the fire pit is part of a wider landscaping project, you should check if any of the work you’re planning needs to be approved by your local council.

Do you need ventilation for a fire pit?

Outdoor bioethanol fire pits produce no smoke or harmful chemicals are released so there’s no need for ventilation. If you’re burning wood, you may not need to set up ventilation while outdoors but you might want to consider how to reduce smoke irritation through positioning.

Can you use bricks to make a fire pit?

You can use bricks in your fire pit construction as long as they are fire-resistant or kiln-fired as these types of brick can withstand high heats, which will be ideal for fire pit construction.

How do I light my fire pit?

If you’re using one of our EcoSmart bioethanol fire burners, you’ll be able to light the fuel with the lighter provided. 

For wood fire pits, the easiest way to light the fire is to use firelighters with small kindling and build your way up to larger logs.

How do I clean my outdoor fire pit?

If you’re burning wood in your fire pit, use a dustpan or shovel to dispose of it only when it is completely cold and there are no hot embers.

Bioethanol fires are clean-burning and therefore don’t need cleaning other than a wipe with a cloth on the outside.

Can I use my outdoor fire pit after it rains?

If you’ve completely sealed all the gaps in between your fire pit blocks, you may risk trapping water in the structure, making it impossible to use after it rains. To avoid this, use a cover such as a lid or a tarp when not in use to keep water out and have it useable at all times.

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