There’s nothing like gathering around a warm fire pit to spend valuable time with your loved ones.
It not only serves practical purposes such as providing heat or even a place for outdoor cooking, but it can even give some much-needed flair to your home’s aesthetics.
But how do you know which fire pit best suits you?
We’ll give you some things to consider, such as shape, style, and the kind of materials it can be made of to help you make an informed decision.
What Is A Fire Pit?
Fire pits are designed to contain and maintain the fire in a secure and safe environment.
They can take on many forms, ranging from the bare essential hole in the ground to more complex figures like an indoor stone or outdoor piece.
Moreover, with fire pits, you can enjoy a 360-degree view of the flames, and you can designate a central area for you and your friends to gather around.
Deciding where to install your fire pit is a breeze because they’re versatile and can get placed in many different areas. Just see all these different fire pit ideas, for example.
We recently bought a new fire pit that you can see in our post on how to light a fire in a fire pit.
Parts Of A Fire Pit
Below are the essential materials that you will need to install your new fire pit.
Although burner pans come in many different shapes and sizes, they all fulfill the same purpose. Burner pans give your burner a place to rest in the fire.
Additionally, they facilitate proper drainage, which extends the life of your components. Using a burner pan with all fire pits is good practice; however, a burner pan is mandatory to use all propane fire pits.
When deciding on a burner, quality comes to mind; stainless steel or brass fire pit burners are the best options to choose from. These burners get molded to endure the rigors of frequent and regular use.
Having an unfinished enclosure will allow you to construct a customized fire pit seamlessly. Typically these enclosures feature aluminum or steel frames, and they allow you the latitude to create the look you desire in much less time.
There are many versions of fire burner pans that come with a lip. That allows the fire pit to be enclosed. However, by using installation collars, you can achieve the same effect.
These parts get anchored to the enclosure wall, which provides the surface for the fire pit burner pan to rest.
Valves and Keys
The valve and key combination is the equivalent of an “on/off” button.
Your setup will determine which options you’ll choose from, such as your stone width, gas line size, and so on. Automatic shut-off valves go in this category as well.
You will need to procure several small pieces of hardware such as couplers, nipples, and orifices to properly install your fire pit.
Furthermore, be sure to buy all of the correct fittings to connect the fire pit from your gas source to your burner.
Extensions and Flanges
The flanges work in tandem with the valve and key system; this ensures a visually pleasing look. In addition, extensions will allow for longer valve keys to run through a fire pit enclosure.
To convert your setup for proper use, you will need a conversion kit. For example, if you’re switching from propane to natural gas or vice versa, make sure you choose the correct fire pit kit.
Having correct and precise gas pressure is essential when working with natural or propane gas to optimize the performance of your fire pit. Some installations will require a pressure regulator to achieve optimal results
Fire features can get customized to the specific needs of your installation.
Moreover, the ignition system happens to be one of the most customizable components to a fire pit. Choose from a simple kit that gets the job done or a premium electronic ignition.
The purpose of a gas line is to transport flammable gases to appliances that use fire. The best choice is a whistle-free flexible lining.
Fire Pit Construction
Fire pits construction has its perks because there’s a lot of freedom with choosing materials. However, each material that you choose will come with a set of pros and cons.
Below, you’ll find many materials and the factors that help distinguish them from one another.
Copper is among the most costly metals, and it is highly resistant to corrosion.
It is very durable and also the most thermally conductive common metal. When freshly installed, the copper will possess a pinkish-orange color.
However, as it becomes exposed to oxygen over time, a greenish-brown color will begin to develop. Keep in mind that a copper fire pit needs to get cleaned frequently to maintain its original look.
- It is the most thermally conductive common metal
- It is resistant to corrosion
- It is durable
- It needs to get cleaned regularly
- It costs more than other metals
- It will rust over time
Check out our list of the 10 best copper fire pits if you want to learn more and get some recommendations.
A stainless steel fire pit is a heavy, strong, and relatively expensive metallic alloy.
Untreated steel is highly susceptible to rust, and therefore, it needs to be powder-coated to protect it against rust.
At any rate, stainless steel fire pits get made with additional chromium making them resistant to corrosion. So if you live in a harsh climate, then stainless steel is the best option.
Powder-coated steel has a more contemporary vibe, while unfinished steel gives off a more industrial feel. For that matter, oxidized iron finishes get used to achieve a worn and rustic look.
- It can stand up to harsh climates
- It is easy to maintain and clean
- It is resistant to corrosion
- Not treating the metal will make it susceptible to rust
- It is relatively expensive
A cast iron fire pit is a very heavy, robust, and relatively inexpensive metal that retains heat very well.
As a result, cast iron fire pits are very effective in cold temperatures and useful if you are looking to cook.
Cast iron is corrosion-resistant, but this metal is susceptible to becoming discolored if exposed to moisture, except if it gets treated regularly. Check out our Sunnydaze cast iron fire pit review here – we bought it and have been testing it out.
- Cast iron is excellent for cooking because it retains heat well
- It is solid metal
- It is relatively inexpensive when compared to other metals
- You have to be careful not to touch it before it cools because of the heat retention
- If exposed moisture, it may become discolored
- It has to get treated regularly
Concrete is a natural insulator that can get casted into multiple shapes.
Because it is a natural insulator, it allows cinder block fire pits and concrete fireplaces to remain cool when lit.
If decor isn’t your strong suit, concrete pits will compliment just about any style. This material is very durable, but the soot will stain the concrete over time. Thus, it must be sealed and cleaned periodically.
- It is extremely durable
- It complements any decor
- It remains cool after being lit
- It has to be sealed and cleaned regularly
- Over time soot stains can develop
Fire Pit Design
Just as you have the freedom to choose what kind of materials to use with your fire pit, the same is accurate with the shape and style.
The strong right angles and straight lines intrinsic to square fire pits help create a modern, structured, or formal look.
With a square fire pit, you can fit it neatly into a cozy square enclosure.
Having a square fire pit complements a long seating wall or even a retaining wall. That makes for a seamless arrangement for outdoor fire pit chairs and sofas.
Square fire pits also pair well with a rectangle swimming pool.
- It has a modern look
- It accommodates patio furniture easily
- It is very efficient with space. Good for small yards
- Struggles to distribute heat well
- It doesn’t have a welcoming vibe
Round fire pits will encourage guests to engage one another due to their open structure.
It mimics the feel of a traditional campfire, and a round fire pit can comfortably accommodate many guests. What’s more, the round structure of the fire pit will benefit the guests by evenly distributing the heat.
If you have built-in circular seating directly across from the fire pit, you can place the fire pit in a nook created by the flowing edge of a patio or a retaining wall.
However, if you enjoy the more rustic feel, then a round fire pit is the choice for you.
- It has an open feel
- It distributes heat evenly
- It facilitates curved seating
- It is hard to blend with formal gardens
- Larger furniture is challenging to situate
While there are many similarities to a fire pit, the fire bowl is more portable and less expensive.
This option is beneficial if you have a landlord that doesn’t want you rearranging things too much.
Furthermore, since it is portable, you can pack it up and store it away when the weather gets bad. Doing so will ensure that it lasts a lot longer. Finally, keep in mind that fire bowls generally use propane or natural gas as a fuel source.
- It is a portable option
- You can use it for cooking
- It has a warm and open feel
- It can be expensive
- It requires regular maintenance
- It creates smoke
With this setup, the fire pit sits directly in the middle, surrounded by a table on the periphery of the fire pit.
The table is ideally situated to accommodate food and drinks. That is an excellent setup for people who like to socialize while keeping warm.
Fire pit tables come in many designs, including dining tables, coffee tables, and high-top tables. These usually get powered by gas or electricity, but it’s possible to grab hold of wood-burning ones as well.
- This style is great if you have limited space
- There are lots of designs to choose from
- It is both decorative and functional
- It is more expensive
- You probably can’t cook on it
- When emitting smoke, you may not want to sit close to the center
Chiminea Fire Pit
Chiminea fire pits are freestanding and front-loading, with a vertical chimney and a round bottom.
Chimineas get constructed with steel, cast iron, or clay. These are available in many sizes, and you can even purchase a model that you can cook on too.
When compared to fire pits, they are narrower and taller. As a result, the walls offer more safety from the fire while simultaneously funneling the smoke upwards and not outward like traditional fire pits.
Chimineas are multi-purpose – they are great for warmth and for creating an atmosphere, and they can be used for cooking.
You can cook a wide variety of meals and snacks, including steak, sausages, chicken, vegetables, bread, and pizza.
Though if you were really wanting to make great pizza in an outdoor oven, we’d recommend Ooni Pizza Ovens over a chiminea any day!
- You can use it for cooking
- Zero smoke emissions
- It has a modern look
- It isn’t portable
- It is very heavy
Fire Pit Sizes
You can choose different sizes from when you elect to install a fire pit in or near your home.
The size of the pit will largely depend on the space that you have at your disposal.
Here are the most common sizes that people choose, along with the pros and cons for each.
Large fire pits are usually around 6 ft wide, and they can accommodate groups of people.
Be sure that you have the proper spacing not to cause any fire hazards.
Large fire pits are great for big backyards where there is a lot of space, and you can make it a focal point. Firepit tables and gas fire pits are usually on the bigger side, and they give off more heat than smaller fire pits.
The Titan Outdoors Fire Pit range has a lot of very large wood-burning fire pits on offer.
- It is the best option for entertaining large groups
- It gives off more heat than smaller fire pits
- Excellent addition to your backyard to make it stand out
- Only suited for big backyards
- They are not portable
If you’re looking for an intimate fire pit that serves more of a decorative function than for entertainment, small fire pits are the way to go.
Small fire pits are usually around 3 ft wide, and they fit perfectly in small backyards where there’s not a ton of space to use.
Portable and tabletop fire pit options are typically smaller, and they give a more concentrated distribution of heat that does radiate very far.
- Smaller fire pits come in portable options
- They add a nice touch to a small backyard
- You can have intimate gatherings with a few people
- It doesn’t give off as much heat as a large spot
- They won’t stand out as much if you have a bigger backyard
The easiest fire pits to install and use are the portable pits that can serve you while traveling or that you can move from room to room.
You can build your own or purchase one that’s ready to go straight out of the box.
Since they’re typically enclosed, you have more smoke and flame control. A portable propane fire pit, for example, requires minimum labor.
You can use portable fire pits with almost any type of fuel such as wood, electric, propane, and so on.
That makes them highly versatile and convenient. You can also use them indoors for a cozy fire or outdoors for a camping or hiking trip.
- They are more versatile than other options
- They are easy to move and store
- They don’t require much space
- They are a good option for camping trips
- They are more affordable than some other options
- They don’t have the same traditional feel
- They don’t generate as much heat as some of the other options
Fire Pit Fuels
Fire pits can utilize different types of fuel, some of which are more efficient than others.
The fuel that you choose will be depending on the kind of fire pit that you have and the purpose that it serves.
This is by far the cheapest option for a fire pit, though there are a few other costs to be mindful of. You can use a wood burning fire pit for cooking, warming up, and hosting gatherings as well.
A wood-burning fire pit is more of a challenge when starting a fire and maintaining it along the way. You also don’t have any control over the heat level once the fire gets started.
This fuel source is more dangerous and a little messier than the others. Nonetheless, it’s undoubtedly the best source for really intense heat on cold winter days and nights.
If necessary, you can convert your wood fire pit into a gas one by using a fire pit kit and installing gas lines.
You can generate 60,000-100,000 BTUs with a wood fire pit; that’s seriously hot!
If you are going to be using a wood-burning fire pit regularly then you’ll obviously need wood. Consider getting yourself a good chainsaw to do it yourself. We recommend Husqvarna chainsaws – it’s what we use and love!
Often, all you need to get started with a wood burning option is a good fire pit ring – they’re cheap and you don’t really have to do anything to set it up!
- It’s the most affordable option
- The installation is much faster
- It looks and feels like a traditional campfire
- It makes your home look better and increases its value
- It can get messy
- You would need a place to store the wood
- It requires more effort to keep the fire going
- It’s harder to start a fire
Fire pits that use natural gas are among the most popular choices because they are the most similar to a traditional gas stove.
However, the biggest advantage to using natural gas is that you won’t run out of fuel because the gas travels through the lines directly to the fire pit.
Additionally, natural gas fire pits are safer than others, such as a wood pit, because the flames won’t be as big or uncontrollable. You also won’t have that burnt wood smell to contend with.
A natural gas fire pit is best suited for small spaces indoors and as a garden fixture.
However, you will have more expenses regarding installation and maintenance, as this type of fire pit requires hoses, piping, valves, ignition, and a few other accessories.
- It will ignite faster than some other fuel options
- It is a safer fuel option
- Fuel is continually supplied to the fire pit
- It’s an environmentally friendly option
- It is more expensive than other choices such as wood
- The gas lines may be dangerous
- It requires a large fuel tank
Propane fire pits are a suitable option for those who want more control over how much fuel your fire pit receives.
Also, there’s not much to do regarding cleaning up after you’ve used it. It’s a safe fuel choice because the fire is contained instead of being out in the open. Fire pits that use propane are frequently portable.
You have a variety of options available when you select an outdoor propane fire pit.
The heating starts at about 10,000 BTUs up until 30,000-50,000. This level of heating doesn’t produce the hottest flames that you can get, but it’ll be enough to at least keep you warm on a cool summer night.
- It burns more efficiently
- It may be portable
- It is a clean-burning fuel source (no ash/smoke)
- It is safe for indoor use
- You will have to refill the tanks
- It is more costly than natural gas and wood
- You can’t use propane fire pits to cook
Electric fire pits are possibly the most versatile option on the list.
You can use an electric fire pit through infrared flames or a fan heater.
A fan heater functions by using an electric current through a metal coil. The coil heats up, and then the heat radiates from the fire pit.
The infrared fire functions via invisible light rays that travel directly to the objects that are near.
The shortcoming with this fuel choice is that it is a synthetic form of heating. It looks nice, but it’s not as authentic as a traditional fire pit.
Despite this, electric fire pits are great for small spaces, you can use them indoors, and it’s safer than an open fire pit.
Consider a good electric corner fireplace if you’re looking for a more permanent indoor solution.
- It is easier to use than some other fuel sources
- There’s no need to continue to refill any fuel because the electricity comes from your home
- There will not be any flying sparks from an open flame
- There’s no cleanup afterward
- It is not as authentic as other fuel sources
- It can cause your electricity bills to be more expensive
Wood Vs Gas Vs Propane
Let’s take a look at the three together, and see what the key differences are.
Wood Burning Fire Pit
You’ll get much more heat, be able to cook, and it’s the least expensive of the three. However, it’s more of a safety hazard, and it gets messy quicker than the other two.
The fire is also harder to control. Use a good fire pit pad underneath to prevent scorching your grass or wood deck.
Natural Gas Fire Pit
A gas fire pit lights quickly with little effort, but it’s not ideal for cooking, and it won’t warm you up as well as a wood fire bowl will.
Propane Fire Pit
Propane fire pits get started quickly, and there’s not much to clean up, but you’ll have to keep refilling the tanks, and the lines may get clogged periodically.
You can sometimes use decorative elements such as fire glass with propane (depends on your model).
My personal favorite of the three is the wood fire pit because that’s just what comes to mind when I think of sitting around open flames.
It doesn’t cost much, and if you have space and don’t mind cleaning it, it’s the most authentic and versatile option that suits various areas and situations.
What Are Smokeless Fire Pits?
A smokeless fire pit has an efficient and unique design that allows for a clean burn with little to no smoke.
If you purchase a smokeless fire pit, it will likely have a double-walled design, and the smoke will rise through walls that have a gap between them.
The smoke exits through existing sir holes located at the top of your fire pit.
This combustion process has two parts that allow the smoke to burn the fuel to burn again before reaching the open air.
Though you may still encounter some smoke, it’s not nearly as much as you would deal with if it were an open flame.
Another benefit of smokeless pits is that you don’t have to use as much fuel, but you can still experience more heat.
This is what we would call a complete burning process. There’s also less soot and ash to clean once the fire dies down – however, there are many good uses for fire ash.
How To Determine What Type Of Firepit Is Best For You?
So, how do you know which fire bowl is the best option for your situation?
Well, there are several factors that you must consider that will help you make an informed decision.
One of the most significant factors to determine the correct size and style of fire pit is the space that you have available.
- What purpose are you using it for?
- Do you want to entertain a large group?
- Is your yard small and cozy or big with a lot of open space?
Make sure that the space you choose is level and able to support the pit.
Also, consider seating and leave enough room so that guests can sit comfortably and scoot back if they get too hot.
Lastly, ensure that the place you select doesn’t have pools of water nearby because excessive water and moisture can cause damage to your fire pit.
You might like to consider these patio fire pit conversation sets if you haven’t already decided on a burner. These sets include seating and fire pit.
Next on the list is location; pick a space where there’s plenty of room to move around.
Where in your yard do you want to place your fire pit?
Ensure that you don’t put your fire pit near any shrubs, low branches, or bushes, as they are easily flammable and pose a safety risk.
Also, don’t choose a location in your yard that has frequent breezes, as this can also cause embers and sparks to get blown onto trees and other plants.
Here are a few suggestions.
Near/attached to your home
If you want a patio or deck fire pit, it creates a more central space for socializing.
Larger fire pits work better when they’re near your home because they won’t dominate or overshadow the backyard like it could if it were in open space further away.
Ensure that the ventilation requirements and curling clearance meet the guidelines enforced by the manufacturer.
Away from your home
If you put your fire pit further from your home, it will draw people away from your home and closer to the pit across the yard.
This may be more advantageous if you don’t like people standing or lounging around your doors.
Along walls and walkways
If you have a lot of space to work with, it could be a nice touch to add a fire pit along the path from your door to a pool or garden area.
If you have low or partial walls, it makes for an excellent opportunity to install a small fire pit.
This factor is self-explanatory, but how much you’re able to spend will dictate the type of fire pit you get, the size, and the fuel source.
You can easily purchase a small fire pit for under a hundred dollars. The reason you’re installing a fire pit also matters.
Are you looking to socialize, cook, and have large parties?
If so, you have to be ready to spend a few thousand dollars and possibly even get it professionally installed.
If you intend to use it a lot, you should make sure that it’s a quality fire pit and placed correctly.
Does It Require Professional Installation?
If you’re not into DIY projects, no problem!
You can have a professional come out and assess the space concerning the purpose of the pit, and they can bring your vision to life. On the other hand, if you want a fire pit that’s durable and unique, consider hiring a professional contractor.
They will build a lot that’s pre-designed, or they can construct it from scratch.
If you hire a professional, you can rest assured that the work will be done correctly.
That prevents issues like water damage, bricks that are cracking, and ground settling.
These are some of the problems that home and business owners run into when they do it alone.
List Of Common Fire Pit Accessories
There are a few tools and accessories that you’ll need for your firepit.
You want to get cooking grates, poker, tongs, and wood handlers to use with your pet, for starters.
You should also get a fire pit screen such as a metal mesh cover to keep embers and sparks at bay when you’re near the fire or if you step away for a moment.
No one wants to come back to their backyard in ashes!
Many fire pits will come with a screen when you purchase them, but not all.
A wood carrier is a nice addition because it makes things go smoothly when you don’t have to keep going back and forth to get more wood for your fire (if you have a wood fire pit).
Lastly, a fire pit cover will protect your investment from harsh elements like rainstorms, snow flurries, high winds, and hail.
Indoor Fire Pits Vs Outdoor Fire Pits
Here are the differences between installing an indoor and an outdoor firepit.
An outdoor fire pit is safer to a certain extent.
You don’t have to worry about smoke or harmful gases in your home if you place the fire pit outside. It’s also much simpler to extinguish raging flames before it causes significant damage.
You can get adequate heat from both indoor and outdoor fire pits.
Indoor fire pits are good from cold winter evenings, while outdoor fireplaces are nice to have during summer and autumn. The smoke will also deter the insects from hanging around.
You can use both types of fireplaces year-round, though you likely won’t want to use an indoor fire pit when the weather is humid and intensely hot.
On the other hand, they’re more convenient when it rains and shows than an outdoor fire pit would be.
You need free and open space for both fire pits, but this isn’t an issue as they come in various sizes.
Ensure that the seating space is adequate for guests and that there’s enough clearance space around the fire.
Outdoor fire pits are much more enticing than an indoor pit when you want to host get-togethers with friends and family.
This is, of course, unless you’re hosting a party during the winter months when it’s chilly outside.
Indoor fire pits must have an outlet for the gases and smoke to exit from, such as an exhaust vent or a chimney.
This will require cleaning and the cost of installation. An outdoor fire pit doesn’t require any ventilation if it’s in an open space.
DIY Fire Bowls
If you’re ready to get started building a fire pit, then here are a few suggestions based on various purposes such as cooking, aesthetic appeal, increasing your home value, and so on. Your yard will surely thank you!
Stone Fire Pit
A stone fire pit looks great and matches well with nearly all types of home decor.
You can put them together with ease, and they complement both small and large backyards. You’ll only need heavy-duty cement, stone bricks, a pair of gloves, and a bucket.
Concrete Tree Ring Fire Pit ($50!)
By simply stacking two to three (or more) tree rings atop one another, you can create a unique and comfortable fire pit.
You can use pebbles and stones between the rings if you want to make it look even better.
A tree ring version is also a good option if you want to grill food when you’re using the fire (or just get a fire pit with grill)!
Tabletop Fire Pit
Do you have a few pebbles, a base, and a glass cover available?
If so, a mini tabletop fire pit is the perfect addition to your home.
It won’t take up much space, it looks elegant and luxurious, and it’s affordable!
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best fire bowl?
This depends on your preferences – if you fancy a traditional fire, then a brick or stone pit would be the choice to make.
However, if your safety and modernity are more of a priority, get an electric or propane model.
Where can I buy a fire pit?
You can shop for one at an outdoor or furniture store or order one online in the convenience of the home.
What does a fire pit do?
A fire pit can provide essential heat in the colder seasons, and it can provide a place for you to cook outdoors. What’s more, it can even be decorative.
Can you have a fire pit in your backyard?
More specifically, your backyard is the best and safest place for your fire pit.
There’s less risk of items catching on fire or people inhaling smoke. Always check your local regulations to see if an open fire is ok to have on your property.
What’s the best way to keep your beers cool around a portable fire pit?
If you’re not near a fridge while sitting around the fire, we recommend the Arctic range of coolers.
These are not your average drink coolers – the Arctic Zone Titan Guide Series Cooler (pictured) can hold 36 cans, has a tabletop lid that can hold four cans, and has a high-performance insulation layer that will keep your drinks cooler than anything else.
It’s leakproof, easy to carry, and will last a long time of hard use. It’s the perfect cooler for bringing camping and sitting around the fire pit.
Lastly, if you’re just looking for something to cook on, consider a rocket stove or a portable charcoal grill or a mini wood stove for campers.
If you have any more questions about anything raised in this guide, let us know down below and we’ll get back to you asap. Thanks!
2 thoughts on “Fire Pit Buyer’s Guide: Types, Sizes, & Materials Of Outdoor Fire Bowls, Tables, & Pits”
I’ve never thought about getting a firepit but clicked on this article that was recommended. Now I feel like I have to have one. Think I will make my own one from cinder blocks!
Yes I know what you mean. Each time I research and write about a new firepit I feel like now I need to get one! Firepit addiction is a real thing.