A wood-burning fire pit makes a great outdoor gathering place for friends and family. Installing a fire pit is a DIY project that can be configured for your yard’s measurements. This guide teaches you how to build a fire pit using concrete pavers or concrete blocks for a quick, easy backyard upgrade that can be enjoyed in any season.
Select Location and Fire Pit Shape
Whether you are building a fire pit out of stone or concrete pavers or using a fire pit kit, you must select a location that is a safe distance from any structures and low hanging trees.
- Consult local building code and homeowner association for any restrictions.
- Disclosing your backyard fire pit could be a requirement of your homeowner's insurance policy. Check with your agent to learn if having a fire pit may affect your coverage.
The style and shape of your fire pit will determine the type of blocks you’ll need to purchase. Fire pits typically measure 3 to 4 feet across.
- For a fire pit ring, you need trapezoidal blocks, which are narrower on one side. This allows the edges to fit snugly together for a circle without creating any gaps.
- A square fire pit uses rectangular blocks and can be constructed in a variety of patterns with blocks of different shapes and sizes.
Mark and Prepare the Fire Pit Site
Outline what will be the footprint of the fire pit to mark your work area.
- If you are building a circular fire pit in your yard, drive a stake at the center of what will be the fire pit location.
- Use marking paint tied to a string to draw a circle around the stake.
- The diameter of the circle should be slightly larger than the outside dimensions of the fire pit ring you’re preparing to build.
- For a square or rectangle fire pit, temporarily lay out the first layer of concrete blocks for your design on the ground and check the layout for the square. Use a shovel to outline the perimeter and then remove the blocks.
- Remove the sod and dirt to a depth of about 7 inches from inside the perimeter that you marked. Keep the excavated area level as you work.
- Pack the dirt solidly all the way around with a hand tamper.
If you are building your stone fire pit on top of an existing backyard patio, cement the first layer of blocks onto the patio to prevent shifting.
Build the Fire Pit Gravel Base
Adding gravel on top of the compacted dirt will create a base for your fire pit.
- Pour a generous amount of crushed gravel paver base into the hole so your finished base will be approximately 5 inches thick.
- Wet the gravel thoroughly with a garden hose, and then use the hand tamper to compact it into a hard layer a couple of inches below the surface.
- Check the base at several points to be sure it is level and make adjustments where necessary.
Lay Out the Fire Pit
Lay out your first layer of blocks on top of the level gravel base. Be sure the sides of the blocks are touching.
- Place the blocks one-by-one around the perimeter of the hole, pushing them together and using a level to make sure the height stays consistent.
- If necessary, add leveling sand beneath low blocks or tap high blocks down with a rubber mallet to keep everything even.
- After finishing the first row, check the layer in several places with a long level to be sure the structure is even.
- Then, temporarily assemble the second level of blocks, making sure to stagger the joints between rows.
Test-Fit the Fire Pit Bowl
Bowls and insert rings come in several standard sizes, so make sure to choose the right one for the fire pit you’re planning to build.
- After you’ve temporarily laid out the second row, test-fit the fire pit bowl to make sure the lip rests fully on the edge.
- Remove the bowl.
- Adjust the positioning of the blocks if needed.
Add Construction Adhesive to the Blocks
Use construction adhesive between the layers of blocks to secure the concrete block pavers as you build the fire pit walls.
- Remove the second row of blocks that were temporarily placed.
- Add beads of construction adhesive to the bottom layer to bond everything in place.
- Refit the second layer of blocks and continue the process for the third row of blocks.
A fire pit typically has three or four rows of blocks. Repeat the test-fitting for each layer before securing with adhesive. The bowl sits on top and can be removed for easy cleaning.
Tip: Refer to the label on your construction adhesive for the proper curing time. It can take between two and seven days for the material to dry, fully cure and be ready handle the heat from your DIY firepit.