21 DIY Fire Pits You Can Easily Build This Weekend
Life doesn’t get much better than when you’re sitting around a fire pit with friends, drinks in hand, good music in the background, great conversation interspersed with comfortable silences and — more frequently — uncontrolled bouts of laughter.
Of course, if the pit you’re sitting round is a DIY version that you’ve built by your lonesome, or with a little help from those very friends, you’re entitled to a nice sense of accomplishment and even a few bragging rights.
We’ve compiled a list of 21 do-it-yourself fire pits for you to consider for your next outdoor project. They range from super quick and easy to fairly labor intensive and time-consuming, but the end product in each case is a fire pit you’ll be proud to have in your backyard.
Thrifty Little Mom, Twitter: @thriftylilmom
After Kim Anderson’s husband “got way too fire happy” and cracked their chimenea, they decided to build a fire pit using concrete retaining wall blocks. It cost $50 for 40 blocks, and they stagger-stacked them, so no mortar was necessary. One unique feature of their fire pit is the air vents they included on the second tier, accomplished simply by breaking a block in half.
The Inspired Room, Twitter: @theinspiredroom
Melissa Michaels says it can take as little as 15 minutes to build a fire pit once you’ve got your surface ready. She chose to use her pea gravel patio, but as long as the surface is non-flammable and level, it’s fine.
If you’re using a metal fire pit bowl, then double-check your first row of stones to ensure a good fit, and use a level before starting on the next row, staggering each brick as you build up.
TractorByNet, Twitter: @TractorByNet
In the Projects forum at TBN, member jjmarotz describes how he used a 40-inch diameter tractor tire rim (which he got from a local farmer for free) to build his fire pit. Cutting out the center, he leveled the rim on a dirt base and built a block wall around it, filling the gap between the rim and wall with heat-absorbing sand and gravel.
The Art of Doing Stuff, Twitter: @artofdoingstuff
Karen Bertelsen has a tutorial on how to make a personal fire pit — for cheap! Using a metal or ceramic planter as a base, and a glass box you make yourself, the fire is fueled by an opened can of fireplace gel fuel hidden under a metal grate, which itself is covered loosely with heavy rocks.
Countryfarm Lifestyles, Twitter: @countryfarm
From her 15-acre organic farm in Italy, Kathryn Bax brings you step-by-step instructions on how to build a patio with fire pit. It’s quite a project because you’ll want an area large enough to fit your patio furniture in addition to a pit, itself measuring 36-44 inches in diameter. The tutorial is for a circular patio, with the fire pit at its center. The base is crushed stone plus a level of coarse sand with pavers laid at the top.
Instructables, Twitter: @instructables
If you’ve long dreamed of a portable fire pit with a built-in log storage rack, you’ll be delighted with this creative version built from a modified shopping cart, courtesy of Instructables user peinkc. The cart should be one with a chrome finish, and you’ll need some steel lath to line its sides and use as a cover. Cookie sheets make a great bottom, fitted between a frame made of galvanized steel drip edge flashing. Have fire pit, will roll!
Miss Effie’s Diary, Twitter: @MissEffies
This flower farmer didn’t use a shopping cart for her perfect fire pit — she instead came across a steel wheelbarrow (with a steel wheel) at a garage sale full of garden stuff, and got it for a steal at $5. It’s sitting on a square brick platform, and doesn’t look as though anything was added to it, except logs for burning.
ManMadeDIY, Twitter: @ManMadeDIY
Chris at MMD says you can build your own DIY fire pit bowl that’s got a sleek, modern look in weather-resistant concrete for less than $50 and in just a few hours. Besides the concrete mix, you’ll need to extra-large bowls to use as molds (he uses one with a 17-inch diameter and one 15-inch). The flames are created using gel fuel canisters under a grate, hidden by a layer of fireproof pebbles.
Evansville Living, Twitter: @Evansville
Here’s another DIY burning bowl project, similar to the one above, but the center opening is custom-fit for a gel fuel canister while the large rim is finished with river rocks.
Homeroad, Twitter: @HomeroadSusan
Jim and Susan turned a shady portion of the backyard where nothing would grow into a landscaped leisure spot with fire pit. They built the fire pit first, using four levels of 15 paver stones each, and putting construction adhesive between layers for added stability. Once finished with the fire pit, they covered the rest of the bordered area with a weed barrier and filled it with pea gravel.
Julie Loves Home, Twitter: @JulieLovesHome
This Montrealer advises that you first build your DIY fire pit, then take it apart to glue it. Julie Cadieux says the whole project took her and her husband about two hours and just more than $200 to complete — a far cry from the top quote of $2,000 for a professional to put in a stone fire pit.
They got a great price on 68 small angled-curved retained wall stones, and coughed up an extra $35 for delivery. The next step was the one everyone complains about: Digging the hole and trench for the fire pit. Once you’ve built it, Julie says to “remove all but the bottom first layer and (gulp) put a dab or two of … construction adhesive under each stone as you re-build it.”
Although this blog is no longer updated, Sarah’s post on how she and her husband made a fire pit from a washing machine drum is too good to pass up. Not only do the holes in the drum allow good oxygen flow, but they also make for a “pretty light show,” she wrote.
You’ll need some tools to cut off the metal lip at top and smooth any jagged metal edges; and if you’d like to paint the drum, make sure you choose high heat paint.
The Crafty Ninja, Twitter: @originalninja
With this DIY stone fire pit, the Crafty Ninja says refractory cement, which retains its strength at high temperatures, is better than concrete. In fact, the concrete she used cracked once a fire was started.
Bower Power, Facebook: Bower Power Personal Blog
When they started digging to build their DIY fire pit, Jeremy and Katie Bower broke their pick axe. It seems they came across a granite pocket, which had to be taken care of with a few slings of the sledgehammer. Once the earth was packed and a ring of drainage rocks added, the metal ring was placed and a stone wall built, using construction adhesive between each layer of blocks. They finished the fire pit with a final row of cap pieces, and figure the total cost of materials came to about $260.
Tools2Tiaras, Twitter: @RachelFerrucci
Justin Beam, the IT guy at T2T, built his large fire pit from repurposed cinder blocks and old stamped bricks, with landscape blocks for the corners. He says he spent about $20 on landscape adhesive and a bag of cement, and that the entire project (including cleaning some old moss-covered bricks) took him about 4 hours.
Miranda Lee, Twitter: @MirPandaLee
This young lady from Alaska built a large fire pit with a wall and seating area. She saved a ton of money because in Fairbanks it seems you can go to a rock quarry and get 6 truckloads of rocks for free.
She selected different types of rocks for the bench seating and wall, including interesting ones for the top of the wall, and finished it all off with a path leading to the area. Miranda said the only things she paid for were the sand and the metal fire pit bowl with cover, and as you can see from her video, the project was a great success:
Fabulous By Design, Facebook: Finding Fabulous By Design
Jane Bernard and her husband bought a fire pit kit that turns into a DIY project. Although it might seem pricey at $500, it’s a bargain when compared to the thousands of dollars custom stone fire pit areas can cost. The three days it took to complete was more work than Jane expected, but she says the high end look of the fire pit was well worth the effort.
Designed for Outdoors, Twitter: @DFOHome
If you want a three-foot, concrete and brick fire pit, you can build it in a weekend for under $200, according to the team at DFO. They remind you to “check your local city ordinances for spacing rules.” Even though these guys are pros and started the job with 125 bricks, they ran out and were only able to do three rows of bricks in total instead of four.
Sunset Magazine, Twitter: @SunsetMag
If you’ve run out of time to put a fire pit together, why not try something a little faux? If you’ve got a birdbath handy, you can float tea candles in its water-filled basin. You’ll enjoy the flicker of flames with this mini fire pit, and it’s a unique decorative touch for your backyard.
Sew Woodsy, Twitter: @SewWoodsy
This husband and wife DIY team used crushed concrete rock (not river rock, which can explode when it heats up) and concrete flagstones. While Katie says Jon is such a meticulous DIYer that a project can take forever, the fire pit took just a half day to complete. The biggest issue was a sloping yard, which meant the hole was actually three inches deeper on one side.
Barb and Len Rosen needed some help from a local landscaping business with their DIY stacked stone fire pit project, mainly in terms of muscle to lug the stones as well as the tree stumps they wanted to use as benches. With everyone working together, they built a fire pit with four levels of stones, and they had enough left over to enclose the area with a small stacked wall.
The Lily Pad Cottage, Twitter: @Thelilycottage
Kelly already had a fire pit but wanted a DIY table top for it; that way, her kids wouldn’t try to use the cold fire pit as a sandbox, plus the family would have another handy table in the yard. This tutorial is for a removable top for a circular fire pit. You’ll need a jigsaw and sander, stain and polyurethane, and Kelly suggests that you get pressure-treated lumber to avoid warping.