The Ultimate Fire Pit Buying Guide
Fire has always been a big part of human history. Historically, we have always spent time gathering around a fire to tell stories and share experiences.
Now, thousands of years later, we still gather around a fire. Bonfires, fireplaces, stoves, and outdoor fire pits have become some of the most magical ways to spend time with friends and family.
Our fire pit buying guide will take an in-depth look at fire pits and everything you need to know about them. We’ll discuss everything from their purpose and history to the best way to maintain them.
What Is a Fire Pit?
The main purpose of a fire pit was to provide warmth and light during the nights to our ancestors. In fact, evidence of fire pits has been found in some of the oldest nomadic cultures in Israel and South Africa. Nowadays, however, we use fire pits for more than just light and warmth.
A fire pit is a gathering place where we can share time with friends and family at night. Although basic pits dug in the ground when they first were created, fire pits are now stylish structures that serve multiple purposes in outdoor areas.
The Benefits of Owning a Fire Pit
Now that you know what fire pits are, you should also be aware of the many benefits they can offer. They are, after all, very popular in cabins, 5-star hotels, large houses, and more.
These are some of the benefits of using fire pits for your outdoor gathering areas:
- They provide warmth and light during the night.
- They can complement your home’s exterior design.
- They can increase your home’s resale value.
- They create a welcoming atmosphere for gatherings.
These structures are typically not cheap, but the benefits they offer are definitely worth the investment.
Fire Pit Costs
There are different fire pit types and sizes you can choose from, but the best one for your needs will depend on your budget and personal preference. Remember that the size of a fire pit is one of the most significant indicators of how expensive it will be.This size can also increase the cost of installation and ongoing maintenance.
For an average size fire pit from a trusted and popular brand, you should be looking at spending around $2000 to $4000.
That figure does not consider installation, which will depend on where you live. For instance, the labor price in California is a lot higher than in North Carolina.
Another indicator that can increase the overall cost of buying a fire pit is its fuel type. Charcoal and firewood fire pits tend to be more affordable than propane or natural gas models. Firewood pits are also easier to install, meaning you’ll be saving some money on labor costs.
Fire Pit Fuel Types
As we mentioned before, there are different fire pit models designed for specific fuel types. The most popular ones are propane, natural gas, charcoal, and firewood. Here are the advantages and disadvantages of each fire pit fuel type:
Charcoal and Firewood
Charcoal and firewood might sound like two different fuel types, but they are more similar than you might think. Charcoal is just wood that has been heated, treated, and turned into pellets to help you start fires. That’s why charcoal and firewood are considered the same type of fuel and can be used in the same wood-burning fire pit.
Wood-burning fire pits are some of the most affordable options because they don’t require any fancy mechanisms. They are also common in rural areas because they provide warmth at almost no expense. Installing one of these pits can cost you around $300 or more, depending on the size of the structure.
In fact, if you have the right tools and prior experience, you could install one of these pits yourself. It might take some time, but it can be done within a day and without anyone’s help.
Propane gas fire pits are a bit more expensive than wood-burning models, and there’s a reason for that. Propane pits need a specific mechanism installed in them to allow the propane gas to burn safely. Because of these necessary safety mechanisms, buying and installing one of these pits can be expensive, especially if it’s a bigger-than-average model.
However, most propane fire pits are designed to be portable. So, you can save some labor costs by choosing a portable model.
Propane comes in tanks of different sizes, and one person can carry the smaller sizes with no problem. On the other hand, if you choose a model that needs installation, you might be looking at a labor cost of around $400.
If you are not a big fan of wood-burning fire pits, a propane model can provide you with more cost-effective heating. It is also easier to transport and move around.
Among fire pit fuel options, natural gas is by far the most expensive. The reason for this high price is that setting up and installing a natural gas fire pit is more complicated than a propane or firewood model. For this type of fuel, you will need a professional to install the fire pit safely into the natural gas line.
Because it can be dangerous to do it yourself, the labor cost of installing one of these fire pits is around $600 or more, depending on the overall size of the structure. Also, because the pit needs the gas line to work correctly, it will be almost impossible to move it to a new location once installed.
Natural gas might sound like an expensive and complex option, but it still provides some convincing benefits. These models contaminate less than propane or firewood pits, so they can be a good option if you are looking to reduce your home’s carbon footprint. They also have more stylish designs than traditional wood-burning models.
Fire Pit Basics: Materials
Now that you know about the different fire pit fuel types, it’s time to learn about the fire pit materials you can choose from. These materials are fire-resistant and durable to provide safety while offering a stylish look for your home.
Among all the materials you can choose from, concrete fire pits might be the most affordable. This sturdy material is inexpensive compared to other options on the market, with a price that ranges from $100 to $200. Additionally, it can withstand harsh weather conditions and the constant heat of burned wood and gas for years to come.
The main drawback of this fire pit is that it is a bit rustic. So, if you are looking for a fancier and more stylish material, you should consider another option.
Standard Brick Paver or Fire Brick
When it comes to building materials, brick might be one of the most popular options. However, brick is not known for its strong fire resistance surface, meaning you’ll need to use fire brick for the inside of your pit.
Fire bricks are slightly more expensive than traditional bricks, but they can withstand constant heat without cracking.
Fieldstones come in different shapes, sizes, and colors, making them ideal for creating a stylish and unique fire pit. Granite, obsidian, basalt, and marble are just some of the many options homeowners have when choosing a field stone fire pit. These stones are dense and can withstand heat for long periods without cracking.
Using field stones is not the most affordable option. Still, it provides a sense of elegance that other materials cannot match.
Unilock or Nicolock
Unilock and Nicolock are brand names for some of the most luxurious and resistant fire bricks. They are also expensive, but they will create an elegant aesthetic that you cannot obtain with traditional bricks or fire bricks.
However, building a fire pit with these brands can cost you up to $500, not considering installation or labor costs.
Techno Bloc Valencia
The Techno Bloc Valencia is a premium brick brand and arguably the most in-demand option for luxury fire pits. This brick can come in gray, beige, white, black, and brown colors, giving you a wide selection of options to play with. The bricks are also highly versatile and can withstand constant heat from any source.
If you are planning to create your own fire pit with Techno Bloc bricks, you’ll be looking at a minimum of $600 of investment. That price is also not considering installation or labor costs.
Important Considerations When Buying a Fire Pit
Buying a fire pit might be one of the best investments for your outdoor space, but there are some things you need to consider first. For instance, just like fireplaces and stoves, fire pits require permits and have strong regulations, especially in states that already heavily regulate wood-burning structures.
Permits and Local Restrictions
California is one of the most heavily regulated states in the country, and the same regulations apply to fire pits and other outdoor heating structures.
So, the first thing you need to do is check with your local government whether you can install a fire pit at home. These structures are very safe to use and tend to be legal all over the country, but it is best to check before installing one.
However, when it comes to natural gas fire pits, you will most likely need an installation permit. This is because you need to connect your fire pit to the natural gas line, which can be a dangerous job. Usually, the professional you hire for the job will have more information about it, but it is always better to double check.
Every state and community has a different type of restriction for heating structures like fireplaces, stoves, and fire pits.
For instance, in California, you cannot install wood-burning fire pits within 25 feet of combustible materials and structures. Additionally, vegetation that could catch fire should be removed before ignition to prevent fires and other accidents.
In Southern California, for instance, you can install any of the three types of fire pits in your back yard. However, some burn bans can make it hard to use your wood-burning pits. So, to prevent any problems, you should consider getting a propane or natural gas model.
For safety, always remove low-hanging branches and dry brush from the place you’ll be installing your fire pit. Also, keep outdoor furniture away from it, especially wooden items that could catch alight.
Popular Types of Fire Pits
You now know everything there is to know about fire pit fuel and materials, but there’s more to learn about these structures. They can come in different sizes and shapes that create a unique atmosphere and feeling.
These are the most popular fire features you can add to your outdoor spaces!
Traditional Backyard Fire Pits
The traditional fire pit is a structure made of fire-resistant materials. It also, as the name suggests, resembles a pit.
It can be created under or on top of the ground, depending on your budget and needs. However, traditional fire pits use firewood, pellets, or charcoal as fuel, making them unwise options if you care about being environmentally friendly.
These are the benefits of a traditional fire pit:
- They are cheap and can be built by yourself.
- They do not require a lengthy installation process.
- They can easily be removed when needed.
Fire Pit Inserts
The fire pit insert is one of the most popular fire pit models. It includes every part of a traditional fire pit, but it doesn’t have an enclosure. Instead, the insert is installed into an existing pit surround to replace a worn-out part or if you want to switch fuel systems.
Wood-burning fire pits require a fire ring insert that goes inside the existing structure. However, if you were to switch between fuel types, you would need a burner, burner pan, ignition system, and a gas line.
On the other hand, if you already have a natural gas model, there’s no way to turn it into a wood-burning pit unless you remove the fire pit from its place and close the natural gas line. In that scenario, you could still use the structure as a wood-burning fire pit.
You can have both propane fire pit inserts and gas firepit inserts.Therefore, they allow for better flexibility. You can place them inside water features or decorative elements to create a unique and magical environment. Because the inserts only require a surrounding made of fire-resistant material, they can be placed almost anywhere.
These are the benefits of a fire pit insert compared to other fire pit models:
- Fire pit inserts provide versatility and flexibility.
- They are more affordable than other premium fire pit models.
- The labor cost for this fire pit installation is a lot cheaper.
- They can come in different shapes and sizes.
- You only require a safe space to install them.
- They can be fueled by firewood, propane, or natural gas.
A fire pit insert can be an excellent DIY project if you have the right tools and prior experience. However, it is always better to hire a professional if you don’t, even if the pit insert you want is a simple wood-burning model.
Fire Pit Tables
A fire table might be the most elegant way to enhance your backyard’s design. If you don’t have much free area to work with, a fire pit table can help you economize space.
It combines a table and a fire pit. Add a couple of outdoor chairs, seats, or couches, and you’ll be ready for a nighttime gathering.
These tables can come in various sizes and shapes, from square and round to rectangular. Also, a table fire pit can be from 16 inches to 90 inches wide, giving you plenty of options to choose from. Thanks to this versatility, fire pit tables tend to be the most popular options among homeowners.
These are the some of the benefits of choosing an elegant fire pit table for your backyard or outdoor space:
- Fire pit tables have a wide range of customization options, from shape and size to color palettes.
- Fire pit tables are highly functional, allowing you to choose between a table and pit or a regular table.
- You can install these tables on a deck or patio without fire risks.
- Fire pit tables can have metal finishings to create a more luxurious and elegant look, which traditional fire pits and inserts cannot have.
- Fire pit tables also come in various heights so that you can have a full dinner table or a bar-style model, depending on your needs and preferences.
- The surface of a fire pit table can be designed to mimic natural stone or reclaimed wood.
- Fire pit tables are heavy-duty and fire-resistant, and they can withstand harsh weather conditions.
The main drawback of a fire pit table is that it can only burn natural gas or propane. It is designed with an enclosure that can store a 20-pound propane fuel tank.
A fire ring is another fire pit option, perfect for homeowners looking for a more unique and adventurous look. This type of fire pit is very similar to a traditional fire pit.
Still, instead of using different materials like stones or brick, it only uses metal rings. Plus, just like conventional pits, it only burns firewood.
Fire rings are some of the easiest DIY projects because they do not require much knowledge or prior experience. However, it would be best to know how to use a welder before starting this project. You need to create a safe and steady structure for the firewood to burn.
Although many people opt to build one themselves, you can still buy high-quality fire rings from reliable brands. They are not expensive and have excellent portability compared to other options.
The main drawback of this fire pit type is that it requires more maintenance than other models. The fire you make will also only burn as long as you tend to it, just like a wood-burning fireplace.
Now we can talk about one of the most versatile and diverse fire pit options. The fire bowl is an excellent accessory for pools and outdoor social areas in your backyard. It can enhance and improve the overall style of your outdoor spaces while adding a sense of elegance to patios and decks.
Fire bowls can burn natural gas or firewood. However, we recommend choosing a natural gas model if you live in a heavily regulated area like California. Wood-burning fire bowls can get a lot hotter than gas models or even traditional wood-burning fire pits, making them more dangerous if not installed correctly.
These are the benefits of choosing a fire bowl:
- You can choose between an electronic ignition system or a traditional model. Traditional models use matches and other ignition sources to start the fire.
- They are some of the most elegant options and can be placed almost anywhere in your backyard.
- Fire bowls have excellent customization options and are very popular as decorative elements near water fountains, pools, and other water features.
- Fire bowls have excellent heat efficiency. Some models can heat up to 300k BTUs. In contrast, gas fireplaces cannot even reach 100k BTUs.
- They can be made of a wide range of materials. So, you can choose the one that fits your backyard’s design.
However, fire bowls can become so hot that you might need a protective mat if you plan to use one on decks or on wood surfaces. Without one, the wood will get damaged or ignite in some cases.
Most Popular American Fyre Fire Pits
There might be many types of fire pits on the market, but not all of them provide the same quality and style. American Fyre should be your go-to option if you are looking for the best.
Here are American Fyre's most popular fire pit designs!
El Dorado Fire Pit
The El Dorado fire pit is one of the most elegant options for your backyard. Its round design, size, and materials will help you enhance your outdoor space’s aesthetic. You can also choose between four different colors: Cafe Blanco, Sedona, Black Lava, and Smoke.
It has an overall diameter of 39 inches and a total height of 14 ½ inches. Additionally, this fire pit is made to withstand the elements and, with the proper care, it will last for years to come. It might not be the most affordable option, but it is worth the investment.
The Contractor’s Model Fire Pit
The Contractor’s Model is a more affordable option. This artistically designed fire pit can enhance a rustic outdoor space while keeping it elegant. One of its best features is that you can customize it to your liking, depending on what type of material you’d like for the surface.
Another benefit of this fire pit is that it is glass-fiber-reinforced concrete, which will provide excellent protection against heat. It also has the same diameter and height as the El Dorado model.
Chiseled Fire Pit
The Chiseled fire pit is a rough-hewn brick model with a classic look. Depending on your budget and preference, it can be used as a wood-burning, natural gas, and propane model.
Its burner is made of star-shaped stainless steel and can heat up to 65000 BTUs. This model is also made with reinforced glass fiber concrete to create a highly durable structure.
Louvre Rectangle Fire Pit
The Louvre Rectangle has a unique design in two sizes: regular and long. The Louvre Rectangle has a total length of 56 inches and a width of 30 inches.
Meanwhile, the Louvre Long Rectangle has an overall length of 72 inches and 30 inches in width. These two options are ideal for big spaces in need of elegant decorative elements.
The Louvre Long Rectangle has a contemporary style designed for enhancing outdoor spaces. It creates a welcoming and magical environment while providing up to 65000 BTUs. Additionally, you can use it with propane or natural gas.
On the other hand, the Louvre Rectangle has a more luxurious look that resembles a classic fire pit. Its exterior is made of smooth concrete, and the interior has a smooth rim around the top. It also uses reinforced concrete fiberglass to provide better heat protection.
Louvre Round Fire Pit
This round and contemporary fire pit with a smooth surface has the perfect style for outdoor living spaces. The Louvre Round fire pit has a diameter of 48 inches and a total height of 15 and one quarter inches. It also has superior heat protection and can withstand up to 65000 BTUs. Additionally, this fire pit can use natural gas and propane as fuel.
4 Steps for Installing a Fire Pit Insert in Your Backyard
Installing a fire ring insert is an excellent DIY project you can complete within a weekend. It only requires some prior knowledge, the right tools, and someone to help you carry the heavier items.
If this DIY project sounds like fun, here’s what you have to do!
1. Choose the Right Location
Choosing the right location to install your fire pit is just the first step, but it is important. Fire pit DIY installations are suited to wood-burning models because they don’t require any ignition systems or access to natural gas lines. However, they do have some restrictions regarding where they can be placed.
As a rule, keep the pit as far away from any structures as possible. These include your house, garage, pool house, and neighbors’ properties. The middle of your backyard is usually a good spot to start the preparation process.
2. Prepare the Area
If you are building your fire pit on a wooden deck, you only need to create a stone or brick surface to place the pit on.
However, if you are installing your pit on grass, you’ll need to do the following:
- Remove grass and dirt to two inches deep.
- Use a hand tamper to compact the soil.
- Ensure your surface is flat. Use a level for this process. Add or remove soil as necessary to achieve a flat surface.
- Now, add a layer of gravel and spread it evenly on the prepared location.
- Finally, compact the gravel layer using water and the hand tamper.
- Let the gravel dry for an hour or two before proceeding to the next step.
3. Set Up the Stone Ring
It is time to create the ring where you will be installing the insert. You can use stone, brick, or any other fire-resistant material. However, we’ll be using a stone ring for this specific guide.
Here’s what you need to do:
- Place the first row of stones in place. You need to ensure the stones are touching each other.
- Now, use the insert to ensure you have the right space for the installation. Make any necessary adjustments as you proceed with the next step and remove the insert.
- Put the second row in place. Ensure you are staggering the stones with the first layer.
- When you are sure the second layer fits perfectly, you can remove it to apply the landscape adhesive. We recommend removing two stones at a time. That way, you won’t lose the original shape.
- Now, you can place and secure the final stone row. You only need to follow the same technique as with the second row.
4. Install the Ring Insert
The final part of this process is straightforward. Just place the fire pit insert in the pit. If you did the first steps properly, you only need to place the insert inside. Additionally, you can add some lava rocks and sand at the bottom to provide better heat protection.
Now that you have your brand-new fire pit, you might want to celebrate with a fire. However, we recommend waiting a couple of days until you can be 100 percent sure that the adhesive has dried. If you don’t, you might be damaging the structure’s integrity.
How to Maintain a Fire Pit
It is common for homeowners to overlook fire pit maintenance and care. However, proper maintenance for your fire pit can keep it at its peak performance while almost doubling its lifespan.
If you want your fire pit to last for many years, then you need to do the following:
Get a Fire Pit Cover
Fire pits, by nature, will constantly be exposed to the elements. If you live in an area with constant rain, snow, or other harsh weather conditions, you should consider covering your fire pit when you are not using it. A cover will protect your pit from rusting and reduce the need for cleaning.
Fire pit covers come in different sizes and shapes, so it won’t be too difficult to find the right one for your pit. However, when buying one of these covers, ensure it has a tying mechanism to avoid being blown away.
If finding a fire pit cover is difficult, you can always get a vinyl tarp and place some weights on top to secure it.
Clean Your Fire Pit
One of the best ways to keep your fire pit at its peak performance is to clean it after every use. The cleaning will help the surface stay in perfect condition, improving your pit’s lifespan. Depending on the fire pit type you have, you will need to perform a different cleaning process.
Wood-burning metal fire pits, for instance, require a more extensive cleaning process. Here’s what you have to do:
- Wait until the fire is extinguished and the surface is cold to the touch.
- Remove the ashes carefully to prevent them from falling on the deck or ground.
- Use liquid soap, washing soda, and hot water to clean the surface.
- Remove debris and remaining ashes inside the fire pit with a dry scrub. It is important to thoroughly do this to prevent the ashes and debris from decreasing your fire pit’s performance.
- Remove twigs and leaves from around the fire pit if necessary.
- Rinse the fire pit with fresh water and dry it as best as you can before covering it. If you don’t cover your fire pit, mound and mildew can accumulate.
Natural gas and propane fire pits made of masonry require a less thorough cleaning process. Here’s what you can do to clean this type of fire pit:
- Get a paver cleaner, a bristled brush, and a mixture of dishwashing liquid and hot water.
- Start by scrubbing inside the pit. Try to remove any type of debris and mildew from the surface.
- Use the hot water mix to help you get rid of any residue.
- Use fresh water to rinse the pit and dry it with a rag.
- To prevent staining, you can also use a masonry sealer over the fire pit’s coat.
You can clean gas fire pit burners the same way you would clean your outdoor grill. You just need to keep the burner as clean as possible, ensuring that the vents are clear while checking the pressure and gas.
If you are planning to grill some food in your fire pit, you should always remove any remaining grease afterward. Use a wire brush and soapy water to clean the grates, ensuring you dry them properly once you finish.
Use Some Sand
Using sand in your fire pit is an old trick that many manufacturers recommend. This method allows you to protect your fire pit from the constant heat of the burned fuel.
For instance, only two inches of sand at the bottom of your pit can help you double its lifespan.
The sand itself is not difficult to come by, and you can get it in most landscaping stores. Additionally, it can help you distribute the heat evenly throughout your pit, protecting the metal bowl and other pit parts. What’s more, sand doesn’t really have any side effects that could affect your pit’s integrity.
However, using sand can make the cleaning process more difficult, as it can mix with the ashes.
Be Careful When Burning Fuel
Some people like to use paper, plastic, and other materials to accelerate the fire-starting process. This method is hazardous not only for the environment and your health but also for your fire pit. The accelerant can cause the fire to burn hotter for a short period, damaging the structure.
Also, burning plastic can create some problems of its own. When the plastic melts, it produces toxic fumes and chemicals that can negatively affect anyone nearby.
Plastic also turns into a kind of goo when melted, and that goo can adhere to your fire pit. Melted plastic is almost impossible to remove from any surface, no matter how much you scrub and clean.
Think About Heat Protection
Most wood-burning fire pits are made of black-painted metal to prevent discoloration. However, rust and discoloration will eventually happen because the pit is exposed to the elements. When that happens, it is always better to repaint your fire pit to make it look as good as new.
But you cannot just use any type of paint for this process. The paint you choose for your fire pit needs to be fire-graded and able to withstand constant contact with extreme temperatures.
Remember that maintaining your fire pit might sound like a challenging job, but it is necessary. Try to clean it at least once a week, or use a cover whenever it’s not being used.
Find the Best Fire Pits with CAPO Building Specialties
Are you looking for the best fire pit for your needs? Look no further than CAPO Building Specialties. We distribute the most reliable and stylish fire pit brand, from affordable fire pit inserts to the most elegant fire pits.
Additionally, all our products have excellent warranties and superior durability. We can even help you choose the best product for your needs if you give us a call!
Check out our full product catalog to learn more about our wide selection of fire pits, accessories, and other outdoor heating solutions!