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There are several ideas on how to build a fire pit, many of which amount to the same five steps below. Building a fire pit is an excellent addition to a backyard hangout. Many people put them next to their outdoor bar, create sunken fire pit areas, or even beneath an open structure like a pergola. Once you determine the location and the materials you want to use, it’s a project that’s easily completed within a weekend.    

Note: Remember to check all of your local building codes before building any construction in your backyard.  


How to Build a Fire Pit: The Basic Steps

  1. Determine location 

The first step in building a fire pit is determining the best spot to add it. Aside from where it might look best in your yard, it needs to be around 10-20 feet from any nearby objects, such as furniture, trees, etc. It also needs to be a level area or an area that can easily be leveled.       

  1. Build the Base 

Once you’ve determined the right place, the next step in how to build a fire pit is to build the base. You’ll want to consider the shape you want. Round or square are common designs for fire pits. If you’re using a fire pit ring insert or bowl, you’ll need to make sure that they’ll fit within whatever shape and size you’re looking to build. If you’re lining the inside of the fire pit with something like firebricks instead, you can get more creative with the shape. For example, you can make a hexagonal or rectangular firepit. 

Using marking spray paint, create an outline for the fire pit that is slightly larger than the intended size. Next, dig out the area within the outline to a depth of around 2-3 inches. If you have soil that doesn’t drain well, such as clay, then you’ll need to dig a hole in the center of your outline to prevent water from flooding your fire pit. This can be around 12 inches wide by 8-12 inches deep. Tamp down the soil, and check to make the area is level.

Now it’s time to pour the gravel paver base. If you dug a drainage hole, fill it first. Then, spread a layer into the base area. Wet the rock mixture with a water hose, then tamp it down. Continue to do this until the hole is filled and you have a stable base for your fire pit.  

  1. Lay the Exterior 

Using the material you chose for the outside, such as brick or pavers, create the first layer of the fire pit. Test that the sizing is right by placing the fire pit ring insert or bowl inside and test to make sure the layer is level. If both of those are good, add a second layer, applying concrete adhesive to the bottom of each stone. Rather than stacking each stone directly above the one in the layer below it, you want to stagger them. This means that the center of each block in the second layer lies above the separation of two stones in the first layer. 

Continue building layers until your fire pit is around 12 inches tall, or your preferred height. 

  1. Add the Fire Pit Ring Insert or Bowl

The fourth step in how to build a fire pit is inserting the fire pit ring or bowl. Using a barrier to contain the fire prevents damage to the exterior and helps keep the structure stable in the long term. Once the ring is in place, pour some lava rock into the bottom. 

  1. Finishing Touches (Optional)

After step 4, you’re fire pit is ready to use. Just remember to give the adhesive a day or at least a few hours to cure. If you want, however, you can also add some heat-resistant caps to the top, which create an overhang and a more polished look. You can also buy a fire pit lid to cover the opening.  


If you’re wondering how to build a fire pit, here are 5 easy steps that can be accomplished in less than a weekend. No matter what type of stone you use for the exterior, most above-ground fire pits follow these same steps.  

Want to buy a fire pit instead? Check out this list of the 10 best propane fire pits

Frequently Asked Questions

How to Build a Fire Pit with Brick or Pavers

Bricks or pavers are both common materials that can be used for building a fire pit following the steps above. Which type of stone to buy comes down to personal preference and the shape of the fire pit you want to build. If you plan on building a square fire pit, you’ll need to buy rectangular blocks. For round fire pits, trapezoidal blocks are your best choice. You’ll also want to stagger the layers for a stronger structure, as noted in step 3 above. 

How to Build a Fire Pit in the Ground 

In-ground fire pits follow a similar set of steps as above but with a few tweaks. As you can imagine, it requires more digging. Many people build a patio or small area of stone around them. So you’ll need to measure out how large of an area you want to create, dig down around 6 inches for the total area, then dig an additional 6-8 inches in the center for the fire pit. 

Just as you would for an above-ground pit, you need to build a good base, then line the fire pit hole with fire bricks. Or combine stones with some kind of insert. Once the fire pit is finished, you’d create the patio around it using the rest of the area. 


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