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Deck Fire Pit Ideas, Inspiration & Tips

When the weather gets colder, the addition of a deck fire pit can enhance and extend the amount of time you’re able to comfortably spend enjoying your deck. For building a cozy atmosphere, deck fire pits can also be one of the more cost effective and striking ways to add style to your patio.

However, safety is a key priority when it comes to putting a fire pit on a wood deck or composite decking. If you’re thinking of adding a fire pit to your deck, it’s important to reflect on costs and precautions, to explore the range of your options by exploring a few deck fire pit ideas, and to weigh the pros and cons before making a decision.

Can you safely put a fire pit on a wood or composite deck?

Can you put a fire pit on a wood deck? The answer is typically yes. But sometimes the more important question is about difficulty instead of possibility, because there are many variables.

For instance, you’ll need to determine if your deck has the strength to support the fire pit, which may require you to check with a contractor or structural engineer. You’ll need to look into local building codes; and if you live in a populated area, those codes may require that you use a gas fire pit for your deck rather than burning wood.

A wood-burning pit will create embers, sparks, and smoke, which can pose a safety hazard. Depending on the type of deck fire pit you choose, you may need to create a no-burn zone around the pit, as well as add a protective barrier between the fire pit and the decking. And if you’re thinking about creating a fire pit on a Trex deck or another composite material, you’ll need to follow those same precautions.

Types of Deck Fire Pits

The creative use of fire pits can be one of the best ways to keep using your deck in the winter, but there are more than a few types of fire pits to choose between. Whether you’re interested in having a fire pit that provides a more utilitarian function like providing heat, or you’re more excited by the flair and style this type of addition can lend to your deck, there are a variety of different types of fire pits that may meet your needs.

Fire Table

As the name suggests, a fire table is essentially a table that’s been given a fire element, typically placed towards the center of the table. Since it’s not merely a torch, the table aspect of this design offers at least several inches around the edge of the flame for drinks, dishes, or whatever else a person might be carrying. Stone tends to be a preferable material for built-in designs, but tends to be more expensive and less portable than their more common steel counterparts.

For instance, the Matteau 60” Rectangular Concrete Composite Natural Gas Fire Table is a great example of a sleek fire table for outdoor use.

Fire Pit Bowls

Fire pit bowls are essentially a bowl that’s raised several inches above the ground, typically on a tripod of three legs. Steel fire pit bowls are often considered among the best for portability. They also hold up well to both heat and environmental wear-and-tear. Look for rubberized feet or other anti-marring solutions on the feet of each bowl.

If you don’t plan on relocating your fire pit bowl between seasons, you might want to consider multipurpose designs like the Best Choice Fire Pit Bowl.

Tabletop Fire Pits & Fire Bowls

A tabletop fire bowl dispenses with the legs, leaving you with a bowl that is intended to be placed directly on another surface while alight. However, these kinds of designs can be weathered by rain, so this style might not be ideal for all environmental conditions.

They also tend to provide some of the most attractive and less utilitarian-looking tabletop options. For an elegant take, check out the Terra Flame Table Top Fire Bowl, which offers three color options: graphite, sand, pewter.

Chimineas

Used for centuries throughout Spain and Mexico, chimineas are a style of front-loaded oven/fireplace. You can find them with both contemporary and classic aesthetics; some resemble an old potbelly stove while others have a more updated look. You can still find a handful of chimineas that are appropriate for cooking, but these days, a majority of them aren’t intended for that purpose.

Most chiminea designs are focused on style, supplying a steady source of even heat, and safely containing fire. For using a chiminea on deck, you might prefer a fully portable design like the Better Homes and Gardens Antique Bronze cast Iron Chiminea.

Built-in Fire Pits

Many fire pits use a portable or semi-portable design. However, a fire pit that’s been built into a deck can provide a sense of cohesion that comes across as distinctly high-end. When properly placed, a built-in fire pit can become a defining component of the area it occupies.

If you’re looking to split the difference between having a built-in fire pit on deck and something more portable, you also have options like the Dakota 32” Propane Fire Pit that tread the line, depending on how you decide to install them.

Fire Pit Style & Shape Inspiration

In addition to considering the different types of fire pits, you also have numerous options for their presentation. This includes shape, size, and overall sense of style -- as well as some differences in their functionality. Below you can get a better sense of the range of options at your disposal.

Modern Fire Pits

While many fire pits like chimineas make use of traditional-looking designs and can offer old world charm, many modern fire pits aren’t afraid of looking new and sleek. While this can be a gorgeous style in the right setting, some modern fire pits may feel out-of-place in an environment where everything else looks weathered. However, they can also be a fantastic statement piece and work within more modern décor.

The Christopher Knight Home Hoonah Circular Fire Pit is a great example of modern design in action: it clearly balances form and function without sacrificing one for the other. Although more complex designs can incorporate wireless connectivity, those features can be more expensive, so pay attention to the location of manual controls.

Rustic Fire Pits

Many people prefer a rural country aesthetic for their deck. In that case, some of the best rustic fire pit ideas involve cast iron or another type of metal fire pit. Cast iron can withstand years of use while maintaining its appearance, but alloy steel is another good option.

For instance, the Sunnydaze Cast Iron Outdoor Fire Pit Bowl has a wide 34” diameter that manages to achieve an old-fashioned aesthetic with a few modern touches.

Circular Fire Pits

Similar to a round coffee table, circular fire pits can be a great way to maximize your use of space. The Aidan 39” Circular Outdoor Gas Fire Pit is sits low to the ground, making it not ideal for doubling as a table, but fantastic as a ground-level source of heat.

Rectangular Fire Pits

Opting for a more elongated rectangular design requires more thought and planning as to the placement and size of the table. They’re typically most appropriate for a narrower space to help create visual interest. Unlike round gas pits, you may have to think more about access to gas tanks, depending on the design.

For instance, the NICESOUL 43” Propane Fire Pit has easily accessible front-loaded tanks. It’s built with a power-coated aluminum frame that’s lighter in weight without sacrificing stability. This model also provides a variable flame height feature that aren’t always standard with many modern fire pits.

Square Fire Pits

Square fire pits offer a similar, sleek vibe as their rectangular counterparts. However, they’re not as elongated and better suited for smaller spaces and smaller gatherings.

The low-sitting Stoneham Square Steel Wood Fire Pit uses a mesh screen made from galvanized steel to keep hot embers where they belong. The pull-out design of the grate makes it easy to clean.

Fire Pit Tips & Best Practices

While a fire pit can facilitate a lot of fun and create a warm and inviting atmosphere outdoors, owning a fire pit comes with the responsibility to use it safely. Here are a few fire pit tips and best practices to keep in mind:

  • With a wood pit, make a habit of regularly cleaning ashes and covering the pit while it’s not being used. This can prevent the spread of ash.
  • Always use a secure, level surface for your fire pit, free from low-hanging trees.
  • Remember to refer to local building codes, as well as homeowner associations, that may have rules stipulating the use of flame in your area.
  • If you have homeowner’s insurance, you may also be required to disclose the flame, you can check with an agent to determine if your coverage will be affected.
  • Always keep your fire pits away from nearby flammable objects, even vegetation and bushes should be at least 15-feet away.
  • If you have a composite deck, refer to the decking manufacturer for best practices and recommendations for proper use of a fire pit.