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How to Install: Your Own Fire Pit Using Pavers

How to Install: Your Own Fire Pit Using Pavers

Fire pits are a great addition to your outdoor space! You can have relaxing times all year long around the fire with your family, friends and neighbours.

Making a fire pit with pavers is a fun and easy DIY weekend project.

First step – check your local fire regulations!
Check your local fire regulations and bylaws on fire pits. Some cities and towns ban open-air fires in any form including chimineas, bonfires, fire pits, sky lanterns and outdoor fireplaces. Fire pits fuelled by natural gas or propane are often allowed in larger municipalities.

If you are permitted to build a fire pit on your property, make sure you follow the local fire regulations that require a certain distance, usually 15 feet, from the fire pit to the nearest structure, house, fence or trees.

It’s also a good idea to check your insurance policy to ensure that you will be covered in the event of a fire. And don’t forget your neighbours, who may get your fire’s smoke directly into their house during open-window weather.

Location location location
Choose a safe, level location on your property and decide what shape and size you want for your fire pit.

Get your fire pit site ready

If your fire pit will be built on the ground, you will need to make an accurate outline before you start digging.

Prepping for a circular fire pit – Make sure the circle you dig will be slightly bigger than the fire pit ring. To draw the outline, place a stake in the middle of your chosen location. Attach a thick marker with a string cut to the length of the desired diameter, then draw the circle on the ground with the marker.

Prepping for a square or rectangular fire pit – Create the outline you need by placing the pavers on the ground in the pattern you are planning. Once you are satisfied with the shape and size of the square or rectangle, you can make an outline with a shovel. Remove the pavers.

Remove the soil

Dig down six or seven inches in the centre of the outline, taking care to keep the ground level. Use a spirit level to make sure it is level all around. After you have removed the dirt, tamp the soil down to make a firm base. If you don’t have a tamper, you can rent one, or use another heavy object you have on hand. If you are building your fire pit on top of your patio stones, you’ll need to cement the bottom pavers to your patio to keep it from moving, after marking the outline.

Add the gravel base

Now that you have a solid base, you are ready to add crushed gravel to create a strong five-inch deep base. Soak the gravel completely with water, then compact it into a firm layer with a tamper until it is two inches below the surface. Use your spirit level to ensure it is level.

Now the fun part! Place your pavers.

Start placing your pavers one at a time, side by side on the gravel base, making sure the sides of the pavers are touching. Use your spirit level to keep checking that they are level. If some pavers are uneven, you can either add sand underneath to raise them or tap gently with a mallet to make them move down.

The next step is to place the pavers as the second layer, making sure you stagger the connecting points. This staggered pattern makes a stronger wall and also adds interest to the design. Check that your fire pit bowl lip fits securely into the wall. Set the fire pit bowl lip into your paver ring to make sure it fits. The lip must rest fully on the edge of the pavers to make sure it is secure. If you need to make adjustments to the pavers, now is the time to do it. Remove the bowl and make the changes to your pavers.

Secure the pavers

After removing the second trial layer of pavers, apply construction glue to the first layer to secure the pavers. Then place the second layer pavers back into place, one at a time, again staggering the joints and ensuring they fit snugly together. Repeat with the third and fourth layers of pavers, staggering as before and pushing the pavers close together. Before gluing each level of pavers, remember to test that your fire pit bowl lip still fits securely on the top edge.

Curing

Allow a week or so for the adhesive to cure before lighting a fire in your fire pit

For added safety and durability, buy a steel insert to help keep the pavers from drying out.

Hints for using gas (propane, natural gas and ethanol):

  • Emits no smoke, embers or sparks
  • Ethanol is cleaner and odourless when burning
  • No ashes to clean up
  • Ethanol must be supplied by a tank or tray
  • Propane requires a connection to a liquid propane tank
  • Natural gas requires a line to be set up by the gas company

Hints for using wood:

  • More chance of larger flames
  • Creates smoke, sparks and embers
  • Ashes need to be removed
  • Many cities do not allow wood-burning fire pits

Have fun building your fire pit! Think safety and always extinguish your fire before leaving it.


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