When your area starts getting more cold nights than usual, setting up a fire pit would be the best idea that comes to mind. However, if a front lawn or a backyard is out of the question, you should think twice about having an open flame near your house.
Can you put a fire pit on a deck, terrace, or patio? It depends on several important factors and safety measures that you need to go over carefully if you are planning to set up a fire pit on a deck.
- What Are the Factors Affecting Fire Pit Placement?
- Can You Put a Fire Pit on a Deck?
- Important Safety Tips for Using a Fire Pit on a Deck
- Safety Is Your Responsibility
What Are the Factors Affecting Fire Pit Placement?
The fire pit placement factors include:
- The space you have.
- The materials used to build your deck.
- The different fire pit types.
Let’s discuss these things one by one.
You’re probably here because you don’t have a lawn or a backyard. You have a deck, and you’re wondering whether it has the provisions allowing a social gathering around an open flame.
As a general rule, a regular-sized fire pit should have at least five feet of free space around it.
With this approximation, you should have a deck space of at least 100 square feet. However, bigger fire pits call for a wider space, so be careful about choosing the right size fire pit.
Nevertheless, some small fire pits do well in spaces having smaller floor areas, so consider the type of fire pit applicable to your exterior space.
Different Types of Decks
Aside from the space limitations, you should also consider the materials that make up your deck. Some materials are easily flammable, and others will have fire ratings that can last hours before taking any damage.
When speaking of decks, you will normally think of wood or wood-like materials such as cellular PVC vinyl and composites. These materials are highly combustible, and it would take extra effort to keep these materials from catching fire.
Some decks are more fire-resistant than others, and they use materials such as concrete, bricks, or metals.
While masonry materials tend to hold up to heat and exposure to flames, they can still get some stains. Metals can hold up to heat, but they can become more malleable and begin to melt when exposed to very high temperatures.
Different Types of Fire Pits
Your space allowances and existing decking materials will help you determine the type of fire pit to get for your deck. Fire pits come in varying forms, sizes, and fuel types, and you shall be responsible for whatever variation you choose.
Wood-Burning Fire Pits
As its name suggests, a wood-burning fire pit is a device that uses firewood as a fuel source to produce an open flame. It is usually much larger than other types, and it is the go-to fire pit for families with large open spaces in their homes.
Nevertheless, some wood-burning fire pits now come in the form of braziers, which are containers for burning charcoal or other solid fuel. When choosing a wood-burning fire pit for your deck, getting one with a burning media vessel raised from the floor is important.
Gas-Powered Fire Pits
In most cases, gas-powered fire pits are safer for decks than wood-burning fire pits. Since they don’t use solid fuel, they are less likely to produce popping embers that can burn through decking material.
A disadvantage of gas-powered fire pits is that not all variations have the necessary mechanisms for cooking all types of food. If you want the occasional barbecue with friends, this might not be the correct feature for your deck.
Nevertheless, this would be the perfect option if you only want to spend some time with your family and friends making conversation around a flame.
Tabletop Fire Pits
Those with critical space limitations will enjoy the small flame produced by a tabletop fire pit. Some will use gas or small firewood, but many are easier to use with just ethanol or isopropyl alcohol as the fuel source.
Tabletop fire pits allow people with small deck spaces to enjoy an open flame. They may not be as enjoyable as any other big fire, but they do well to improve the ambiance of a space.
The problem with tabletop fire pits is that their flames easily get put out by strong wind gusts, especially if they don’t have windbreakers.
On the contrary, you don’t have to use these small fire bowls outdoors. You can set them up indoors for a more private, personal, and romantic touch.
Can You Put a Fire Pit on a Deck?
Definitely, yes! If you have the space and choose the right type of fire pit for your deck, nothing should stop you.
Still, since we’re talking about lighting a fire, safety should already be your number one priority. As the owner of a fire pit, you are responsible for the lives and health of people partaking and using the device.
As someone who partakes in the use of a fire pit, you also become responsible for the safety of people and property around you. Before you purchase your first fire pit, it would be best to go over some important safety reminders.
Important Safety Tips for Using a Fire Pit on a Deck
Fire hazards are any materials, equipment, actions, or conditions that might cause a fire to start or increase in size and severity.
It can be fuel, an appliance, or a device that can be the source of any ignition. Additionally, it can be someone controlling that source, which means it can be you who operates a fire pit.
Consider the following safety measures to avoid fire hazard accidents when setting up and using a fire pit on your deck:
1. Study Local Fire Codes and Regulations
Fire codes and regulations vary depending on where you live. These codes prevent the start or spread of fire accidents by specifying which types of equipment to use on wooden or combustible decks.
If you do not make yourself aware of these codes, you can be subject to fines from your local government unit. With the rules in mind, it would be easier to pick the right type of equipment to use in your jurisdiction.
2. Use Protective Gear
Always have your protective gear ready when operating around fire pits, gas grills, and other high-heat implements. The most basic equipment you should have are a pair of heat-resistant gloves.
3. Pick a Good Location
Earlier, we spoke about space limitations. In line with your consideration of space allowances, it is also important to pick a location at least three feet away from all combustible materials.
Also, the selected area should be at least five feet away from any wall surface, structure, or fencing material. Clear your deck before setting up the fire pit, and remove any items that can easily catch fire.
One important note is to avoid setting up fire pits directly under overhanging tree branches or near poles, power lines, and wiring.
4. Add Protective Layers
Once you have chosen an appropriate location, consider adding more protective layers to your deck.
While brazier-like fire pits have stands that provide air space between the deck and the vessel, others will have containers sticking directly to the floor. It would be best to add non-conductive layers between the flames and the floor to prevent heat transmission to the deck surface.
Add a couple of inches of sand to the bottom of your fire pit’s vessel before laying down the firewood. The sand can protect the bottom of your fire pit, and it works as a heat break between the floor and the embers.
Concrete or Stone Pavers
Arrange a few concrete or stone pavers over your deck and position your fire pit on top of this arrangement. These masonry materials can deflect the heat emanating from the bottom of your fire pit.
Fire Pit Pads and Mats
Heat-resistant pads and mats work the same way as masonry pavers do. Lay them over the deck before using a fire pit so that popping embers and hot surfaces do not burn, scorch, or singe the decking material.
Spark screens are also a protective feature of fire pits. Their main purpose is to protect everyone gathered around the flame from popping embers. In doing so, they also protect your deck indirectly.
5. Keep an Extinguisher on Standby
Having something to put out the fire is critical when operating a fire pit. Have a fire extinguisher ready, and be sure to know how to use it whenever the need arises.
6. Clean Up After Every Use
One of the most important practices when operating a fire pit is cleaning up and putting out all fire hazards after ever use. Switch off all fuel supply or put out all embers before leaving the fire pit unattended.
If your device is still too hot to clean, wait for everything to cool down. For wood-burning fire pits, covering all embers with sand should be enough to put out all fire hazards.
Having a fire pit cover can also help extinguish all fire hazards. Since flames require oxygen to continue burning, cutting off the oxygen supply with a fire pit cover adds another layer of safety.
Safety Is Your Responsibility
Can you put a fire pit on a deck? Yes, but not without researching your area’s fire codes and regulations and not before knowing whether your space allows it. Always put safety as your utmost responsibility when purchasing a fire pit.