As spring arrives, you may be thinking of installing a fire pit or other fire feature. The perfect complement to your outdoor entertaining space, a fire feature creates a cozy ambience and invites the gathering of family and friends.
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The ideal fire pit is between 3 and 4 feet wide and about 18 inches tall. If it's taller, you won't feel its warmth; if it's shorter, it will present a safety hazard.
Keep your local climate in mind. If the wind tends to blow in a particular direction, consider how you can position your fire feature to avoid sending smoke in the direction of your neighbors.
A pit should be lined with a noncombustible stone. Fire brick and fire clay mortar are designed to handle high temperatures. You don't want to build your fixture purely out of concrete, as direct exposure to fire can damage concrete over time.
You can purchase a DIY fire pit from a retail store for a few hundred dollars. A permanent professional installation starts at about $1,000 and can go up to $5,000, depending on features.
WHAT KIND OF FIRE FEATURE CAN I INSTALL?
When it comes to fire features, there's a style and material to fit every space and budget. You can purchase a ready-made, gas-powered fire pit; build a traditional stone circle; or install an outdoor fireplace complete with elaborate masonry. And a clever installer can build a fire pillar, a fire table or an installation fixed directly into your deck – even a fire pit surrounded by water features. Instead of relying on folding chairs, you can install a sitting wall around the pit for permanent seating.
Fire pits present a variety of design options. The base lining materials are more than a physical foundation; they establish the aesthetic. Noncombustible pebbles come in a wide array of colors. Glass crystals present a sophisticated look, and colored rocks offer an earthy feel.
SHOULD I INSTALL A WOOD OR GAS FIRE PIT?
Wood and gas have their own pros and cons. The smell and crackling of wood give it a traditional appeal, but wood fires needs to be watched restocked regularly. Gas fires require less labor, and you have the option to raise and lower the flame with the twist of a valve. Gas fire features also create fewer sparks and require less frequent cleaning than wood features. The downside to gas is a licensed professional needs to run and install a gas line to the feature, which adds to the cost of installation.
Fire pits can provide delightful entertainment for family and friends, but exercise caution to keep the flames where they belong.
– Trim nearby trees and bushes of limbs hanging near flames.
– Keep a minimum safe distance between your fire pit and any structures. You should put at least 10 feet between your pit and garage, house or shed. Local laws and homeowner association codes may dictate specific lengths.
– Prevent children from getting too close to the fire.
– A fire pit screen provides some protection from falling in, and it keeps sparks from flying out.
– Never leave your fire pit unattended.
– Be sure you have a fire extinguisher on hand and ready to use. The extinguisher should be rated for the type of fuel source – A-rated extinguishers work on trash, wood and paper; B-rated extinguishers fight liquid fires, including gas and kerosene; C-rated put out electrical fires.
Paul F. P. Pogue is a reporter for Angie's List, a trusted provider of local consumer reviews and an online marketplace of services from top-rated providers. Visit AngiesList.com.