It’s one of those things that adds an extra layer of style to any garden. If you are looking to create that feeling of cosiness or a rustic sensation reminiscent of a campfire into your backyard, patio, or deck, a fire pit is one of those things that easily creates intimacy. A fire pit provides a warm and homely focal point in a back garden where family and friends can relax. While many public spaces use an outdoor heater, fire pits bring open flames to your outdoor area. But what is it, and what do you need to know when it comes to having a safe fire pit in your garden?
What Is A Fire Pit?
A fire pit (also known as a fire hole) can take different forms. It can be a pit dug in the ground or it could be a structure made of stone, brick, or metal. Used as a design feature in gardens, they contain the fire and prevent it from spreading, adding an important bit of style to a garden. Fire pits come in a wide range of shapes, sizes and materials.
Iron fire pits
These are usually at the lower range of the market. Although they are cheaper to manufacture, they are found in a wide range of different styles and sizes. While they are classed as cheap, they will last for many years as long as they are looked after. But the main problem with any garden furniture made of iron is they can rust and become discoloured if not cleaned and shielded from the weather on a regular basis.
Steel fire pits
Steel fire pits are similar to iron but lighter in weight and fare much better in adverse weather conditions and are therefore less likely to rust. In terms of price, steel is usually at the mid-range point.
Copper fire pits
Copper fire pits are at the top price range, and for very good reason! They are very durable, making them useful in all situations, especially extreme weather and prolonged heat. They tend to feature a bowl-style design. While copper can discolour, it adds a greenish tint over time. While this looks great if this is something you’re not keen on, cleaning it will stop this.
Cooking fire pits
A very popular choice, and have many advantages over chiminea and gas patio heaters, for one notable reason that they double up as a useful barbecue too. From a design perspective, they are great focal points for the centre of a patio and look so much more stylish than an ugly barbecue.
What Is The Difference Between A Chiminea And A Fire Pit?
While most would consider them to be one and the same, the main difference between the two is the size and shape. A chiminea tends to be smaller in diameter, but with the notable difference that they are taller and have sides that go all the way up to the chimney, that helps to contain the fire.
A fire pit is more open in design. As a result, it allows you to burn larger fires. A fire pit has no chimney. But from an aesthetic point of view, fire pits give you a 360-degree view of the flames where a chiminea only has a small window for you to view the fire. However, it should be noted that chimeneas create less smoke and retain more heat, due to the tunnelled chimney effect and from a safety perspective, a chiminea is a better choice than a fire pit. As the flames are directed up and out of the stack of the chiminea, this gives a more controlled burn than a fire pit.
What Is The Best Type Of Fire Pit For A Deck?
One of the main concerns of fire pit owners is if you can use a fire pit on decking. Some of the worries for owners of wood and composite decks consist of warping, cosmetic damage, as well as the obvious fire risk. Therefore, having a good understanding of the risks will help you protect your valuable deck from damage while still enjoying what a fire pit has to offer.
Wood-burning and gas fire pits can both be safely used on wood or composite decks, just as long as they are placed a sufficient distance from any fire risks, and are far away from the main home area. Some specialist fire pits use a heat-resistant barrier to prevent potential structural and cosmetic damage due to the high-heat environment.
Using fire pits on wood decking
There are various challenges in using a fire pit on a wood deck. From full-on fire damage and weakening of the decking, as well as cosmetic damage from scorching due to the metal making contact with the wood, or the hot fire pit contents spilling onto the deck. The most important thing to consider is if you are using a fire pit on a regular basis, and are building a new deck or plan to replace the deck boards, is that you should exterior-use fire-retardant pressure-treated wood. You can choose fire pits that have bonfire stands (which are usually sold separately) or come built with a heat shield, but there is also additional equipment like mesh spark guards and heat-resistant base pads you can purchase to protect the decking from heat.
Using fire pits on composite decking
While the concerns with composite decks are very similar to those that have wood decking, composite decking already has some fire-retardant properties but will burn because of the plastics commonly used in composite decking, so there is a risk of warping and melting under high-heat conditions. Polypropylene can start melting at 160° C and PVC at 100° C, so it’s worth keeping this in mind if you don’t have protection for your decking in place.
If you are one of those outdoorsy types and want to use the garden during the cold winter months or breezy summer nights, a fire pit provides heat, comfort and looks fantastic. It adds an extra layer of warmth and rustic feeling to any back garden.