How to buy a fire pit
A fire pit buying guide
Bring the campfire experience to your backyard with an attractive fire pit design that suits your tastes and space. Knowing how to buy a fire pit that's perfect for you is a matter of knowing what type of fuel you would like to use, and then choosing between the different styles and fire pit materials available.
>> Do you prefer a gas or wood-burning fire pit?
One of the first decisions to make as you determine how to buy a fire pit is what type of fuel is best for your situation. The majority of fire pits you can choose from will use either gas or wood.
Gas fire pits typically use propane, but some fire pit designs can connect to your home's natural gas line. No matter what type of gas you use, gas-burning fire pits have many advantages. Outdoor propane fire pits are easy to start, create no smoke or ash, allow full control over the size and intensity of the fire, and they create no embers or pops. People who live in areas with a lot of dry, combustible vegetation nearby might find that gas fire pits are the safest option.
Wood fire pits create a genuine campfire experience in your backyard. The main advantage of wood is that you get to enjoy the sounds and sights of a crackling fire, and you can use either firewood or fire logs.
>> Consider fire pit styles
As you learn how to buy a fire pit, keep in mind that style is one of the most important considerations. Because all fire pits essentially have the same function, make sure you choose a fire pit that has a look that fits with your outdoor decor and that appeals to you.
Mantel, or table-style, fire-pit designs sit above the ground and often look a bit like a low platform with a fire pit in the center. Height can vary significantly, anywhere from table height to less than a foot tall. One of the advantages of a mantel fire pit is the comfortable, versatile design. For example, you can put your feet up on the edge to warm your toes or use it as a table. Usually, mantel-style units use gas fuel.
Gas fire pit tables are outdoor tables with built-in fire pits. These types of fire pits often serve as the table in a patio furniture arrangement. Their height can range from coffee table height to standard table height. Their fuel can be either wood or gas. If you're not sure, find out if the fire pit comes with a fire screen. If so, it's most likely wood-burning.
As the name implies, tabletop fire pit designs sit on top of tables. These are the smallest of all fire pit sizes, primarily designed to create ambiance, not heat. These compact fire pits come in a variety of shapes and materials. Due to the small size, nearly all tabletop styles use propane.
Propane fire heaters are usually tall and slender variations on fire pits. Some styles produce an open flame, while others warm an element. Designs vary, but they all provide heat and ambiance to your outdoor living area.
Fire pit bowls are also called urns or spheres. Most of these types of fire pits use wood fuel, and some offer vents that allow them to double as a barbecue. These rounded fire pits are made of metal, stand on narrow legs and are usually 6-24 inches off the ground. This style usually includes a screen cover to help keep sparks and pops under control.
Clay-look fire pits evoke a bygone time when kiln-fired clay was the only available material for fire pits at home. Today, these fire pits are made of durable rolled steel and feature cutouts in the pit walls to radiate warmth.
Chimineas are decorative fire pits shaped like a giant vase. A large, rounded base leads up to a narrower chimney. The front has an opening so that you can build a fire in the bottom. Many chimineas feature two-piece construction so that you can remove the chimney for cleaning, transportation or easier access to the fire. The most common chiminea fire pit materials are usually cast aluminum or cast iron. They sit anywhere from 6 to 18 inches off the ground, atop a set of broad legs.
>> Consider fire pit materials
As you explore how to buy a fire pit, one of the decisions to make is what types of materials are best suited to your tastes. As you shop fire pits, you'll notice there are many types of attractive fire pit designs featuring appealing materials like polished metals, cut stone, tile and more.
Cast iron, copper and stainless steel are popular materials for metal fire pits. Stone fire pits are typically made of slate, granite or tile. The fire pit comparison table below summarizes the advantages of each material.
|Aluminum ||Lightweight, suitable for tabletop fire pits, because the metal doesn't store heat; resists rusting |
|Cast iron ||Excellent conductor of heat, holds heat even after the fire is out |
|Copper ||Striking color, high heat tolerance, doesn't rust, oxidation can be polished away |
|Stainless steel ||Doesn't oxidize, long life, lighter-weight metal, less prone to rust |
|Slate ||Attractive earthy look, durable, stores heat, comes in many tones, stands up to the elements |
|Granite ||Luxurious look, reflects and stores heat, comes in many colors, stands at the elements |
|Tile ||Often used as a complement to stone or metal fire pit materials, durable, can introduce unique color and designs |
>> Consider fire pit accessories
Once you've determined how to buy a fire pit that's best for you, consider purchasing some accessories to get the most out of your investment.
For wood-burning fire pits, it's helpful to have fire tools so you can safely tend to the fire. Also, you might want to buy additional screens designed for your unit, if available, so you can have a replacement when the original gets worn out from cleaning.
For gas burning fire pits, you might want to hide the propane tank. Mantel types of fire pits often include hidden tank storage, but others might not. Consider picking up a suitable storage container that permits ample circulation or an extra-long hose, so you can keep the tank out of sight.
Covers help to preserve a fire pit's beauty by protecting it from the elements. Covers come in all kinds of shapes and sizes, so there is one to fit almost every design.
Fire rings are accessories that you can use on fire pits as well as on the ground. Some people like to use them with a shallow rounded fire pit or as a decorative accessory around fire pit tables. Fire rings often have cutouts and other design features that enhance the beauty of any fire.
Finally, think about what goes underneath the fire pit. Even a small fire produces intense heat, and it can damage anything underneath the fire pit. As a safety precaution, it's a good idea to put a fire mat underneath your unit or set it on fireproof materials, such as cement or bricks.