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Choosing the Best Fire Pit or Fire Table for your Deck or Patio

Social Networking - The Best Fire Pit for you
Social Networking - The Best Fire Pit for you

Posted on Sunday, April 15, 2018
By: Sequoia Supply
Categories: Fire Pits & Fire Tables

Unless you are only digging a hole in the dirt to roast a pig, a fire pit should be a stylish and functional focal point of your outdoor oasis. Many sizes and styles of fire pits are available from metal and ceramic fire bowls to elaborate, multi-level and multi-functional fire tables that include water features and, yes, beverage coolers!

Fire pits and outdoor fireplaces are the number-one most requested outdoor-living design feature today according to the American Society of Landscape Architects. And we would argue, the best method of social networking! They add ambiance and warmth to a cool evening, heat for cooking a snack, and a place to gather with family and friends to catch up on the weekly whatnots… or to say nothing at all. For many, there is nothing quite as soothing to the soul as watching the dancing flames of a crackling fire while enjoying their favorite beverage.

In order to ensure that you get the maximum possible enjoyment and desired functionality from your fire feature, it pays to do a little research first. No, not on what your favorite beverage is. You should have that figured out by now. You need to ask yourself some important questions to narrow down the vast array of options currently available with fire features as to the one(s) that will best fit your space and style, while providing the safety and functionality that your family and friends will enjoy for years to come.

Location, Location, Location

“Location, location, location.” That is a popular and practical phrase when purchasing real estate and also when deciding on the best place to position or install your new fire feature. Another popular and practical phrase that most certainly applies – but which people often overlook – is “safety first”! Suppress your exuberance to get your new pit fired up and your s’mores s’melting until you know that it is safe and that the fire will be safely contained to the pit.

Choose a location that is of sufficient distance from your home and any other surrounding structures such as sheds, wooden play sets, or the garage. Most experts agree that a minimum of twenty feet away from flammable structures is recommended. Always make sure that there is a water hose or fire extinguisher available near the fire pit, as well as a bucket of sand to help douse flames if required.

Permanent or Portable?

masonry fire pits

PERMANENT MASONRY PIT:

Before deciding to build your own permanent pit from masonry, save yourself aggravation and possible fines by placing a call to or dropping by your local municipal office. Depending on the community in which you live, building a masonry fire pit may require a building permit. If you are visiting the municipal offices to inquire about the ability to build a new fire pit on your property, be prepared to answer questions about the project size, materials and other planning. Bring drawings showing the property lines and proximity of the proposed pit to all structures on your property. If a permit is required, your backyard build may be subject to inspection during construction and / or following completion.

PORTABLE PITS:

While you can build your own or install something more permanent, a portable fire pit may be a better choice for most. Not only can you move it to where the party is (provided that’s a safe location), you can bring it inside during inclement weather to prolong its life, and even take it camping with you if that’s your vibe. When choosing a fire bowl, look for something that will wear well and extend the life of your fire pit. Cast aluminum is less likely to rust, while copper can stain. Cast iron is solid and retains and radiates heat well, but is also a heavy choice, thus reducing convenient portability where desired.

Ceramic fire pits, ceramic fire bowls and chimineas are also common. Ceramic is heat resistant and relatively easy to maintain, but requires proper seasoning and can shatter upon impact with other hard objects. Care must be taken when choosing this product. 

SAFE FOR DECK SURFACE:

If your ideal location for your fire feature is on top of your deck, it is imperative to ensure that the feature is clearly marked as being safe for the deck. Don’t go by sight alone. Some pit designs may look like they would be safe, but can permanently damage your deck surface or even cause your deck to catch on fire or melt in the case of new composite decking materials. If not elevated enough to provide sufficient circulation beneath the heated fire bowl, some portable pits have a reflector pan suspended beneath the fire bowl which you keep filled with sand to absorb and safely dispense the heat of the fire to protect your deck's surface.

Fuel Source

Many would argue that there simply is no better ambiance from a fire than one created by the sound, sight and aroma of well-seasoned crackling wood and embers. Open-wood fires should not be located beneath roofs or overhangs for safety, and require safe storage of wood away from the fire, as well as routine clean up from ash and debris. Some fire-pit models come with a spark-arrestor screen dome that rests over the fire to minimize flying debris including hot sparks that can cause damage to the deck surface, outdoor furniture and clothing.

Other people are just not into the arguably-appealing aroma of a wood fire lingering on their clothes and in their hair, or in the added mess that it produces. In that case, a clean-burning gas fire feature would be a better choice. Propane or natural gas pits are also generally safe to be used beneath open porches with overhead roofs, don’t require storage of a wood pile, and don’t create ashes, smoke or debris with which to contend.

Height & Style

portable fire pits and fire tables

Fire bowls are normally low-to-the-ground and may not be the best choice when pets or children are around. However, all open fires and hot surfaces - including your grill - require your constant attention when children and pets are present.

When choosing a portable fire pit or fire table feature, consider the outdoor furniture that you will be placing around the feature. Both should work together at a convenient height for relaxing while not being so high as to block the view of those across the other side of the fire feature. Additionally, if you will be cooking over the fire, be sure that it is at a convenient and safe height compared to the furniture on which you may be resting.

Tagged:Fire Pits, Hardscaping, Fire Tables

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