Tips on building an outdoor fireplace or fire pit, including the benefits and cooking capabilities, and advice on where to locate them.

Few features—indoor or outdoor—are as inviting as an open fire. Both traditional fireplaces and fire pits create an intimate gathering area for after-dinner conversation or simply gazing at the stars. They can also have a practical side when they are outfitted with spits, grates, rotisseries, and other equipment for the serious cook. And while cooking may not be as easy as using a grill, the campfire-like experience is enjoyable to many.

fire pit safety

Outdoor fireplaces and hearths are constructed just like indoor ones, with the exception that the chimney need not be as prominent. Still, it must be tall enough to have a strong draw. Achieving this can be tricky and is often better left to a professional. Alternatively, kits are available that can be assembled by any competent DIYer.

Fire pits are essentially large holes in the ground that are then surrounded by stone or brick. Constructing one is a simple weekend project (see How to Build an Outdoor Fire Pit & Bench). For ease of use, you can run a gas line to the pit, though—obviously—this is more involved.

Also available are portable fire pits made out of metal. The only major consideration with these is that they must be placed on a surface that is non-flammable, away from any overhangs, trees, or other combustibles.

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About Don Vandervort
Don Vandervort has developed his expertise for more than 30 years as a remodeler and builder, Building Editor for Sunset Books, Senior Editor at Home Magazine, author of more than 30 home improvement books, and writer of countless magazine articles. He appeared for 3 seasons on HGTV’s “The Fix,” and served as MSN’s home expert for several years. Don founded HomeTips in 1996. Read more about Don Vandervort