How to build a fire pit – the best DIY to stay cozy outside all year round

Discover how to build a fire pit whether you want to use bricks or pavers for this easy DIY job.

How to build a fire pit
(Image credit: Getty)

Get the lowdown on how to build a fire pit and you can make more of your garden. A fire pit will keep you and your guests warm when temperatures start to fall in the evening, and mean spending time in your outdoor living space even on chillier days is possible, plus you can use it for grilling, too.

Now, we’d be the first to admit that there are some seriously stylish fire pits out there and, if you want one of these, you just need to scroll down to find the best on offer. But a DIY fire pit is a project you can easily take on if you’re handy, so we’ve put together the instructions you need to build one. 

Find out how to build a fire pit from bricks below along with other alternatives you might prefer.

How do you make a homemade fire pit?

You can build a fire pit using bricks or pavers, and you can also get yourself a kit. A kit can offer all you need to build a fire pit, or it might consist of elements such as the liner and grill rack, leaving you to source the stone or brick you prefer. 

Wondering how to build a fire pit cheaply? We’ve also seen fire pits made from retaining wall blocks, concrete tree rings, an unused garden pond, and even an old washing machine drum by creative and thrifty DIYers.

If you’re going to be digging to build you fire pit, first make sure you know if there are any buried cables. In the USA, you should also check the fire pit code for your area so you can follow the rules.

How to build a fire pit from bricks

(Image credit: Getty)

You will need:

Method:

1. If you want to build a fire pit from bricks, first decide on the size of your fire pit. Anything between 20 x 20 inches (50 x 50cm) and 40 x 40 inches (1 x 1m) is fine; anything under will be difficult to fire up, and larger will look too big in most gardens.

2. Begin by laying out the perimeter of your fire pit on an area of level ground in your garden. Use a spirit level to determine where is best, but also make sure you're not building your fire pit next to trees or bushes – or, of course, artificial grass, fences or the house or shed. 

3. Lay the bricks next to each other, allowing for 0.2 inches (5mm) gaps. Then, lay a second, outer perimeter just outside the inner one, making sure you lay the bricks in such a way that the gaps between the bricks in the inner outline and those in the outer don’t overlap. 

4. Now mark the turf around this layer of your fire pit. Remove the ricks and dig up the turf. Level out the soil by walking over it or with a trowel; check that it's level with a spirit level.

5. Make a small well of around 12 inches (30cm) in diameter in the centre of your fire pit and fill with gravel.

6. Reconstruct the first layer of your fire pit around the perimeter. Now lay the second layer, perpendicular to the first, not parallel. Then lay the third layer in the same direction as the first, and the fourth level in the same direction as the second. 

7. Cover the bottom of your fire pit with gravel, about 2 inches (5cm) deep, including the hole in the centre. Your fire pit is ready to be lit up. 

8. Position kindling in the centre, forming a teepee. Once it's burning well, add larger logs. Don't pile them too high – the fire should be level with the top layer of your fire pit and not much higher.

How to build a fire pit with pavers or stone

Prefer to use another material aside from brick for your design and want to know how to build a fire pit with pavers or stone?

The best option is to use fire bricks for the inside of the design then finish the outside with the pavers, stone or a suitable tile to get the look you want. Always make sure you pick a heat-resistant material for the outer walls.

What do you put in the bottom of a fire pit?

What goes in the bottom of a fire pit? We used gravel for a fire pit made from bricks, above, and you could do the same for a fire pit made from stone or concrete pavers.

Other options for the bottom of a fire pit include lava rocks, which are perfect for the job and will withstand the high temperatures; fire pit glass beads are an alternative.  Avoid other rocks, however, as the heat could cause them to explode.  

Sand is a possibility – especially if you want to build a fire pit cheaply, but it can get messy when ash mixes with it, which isn’t ideal. 

  • Want something a bit more advanced? Browse our guide to the best chimeneas.

Can you build a fire pit on dirt?

Yes, we know what you’re asking: can you build a fire pit on dirt? The answer is that you could build a fire pit on dirt. However, as with sand, when ash is mixed in it’s going to make a mess, so we’d suggest avoiding this.

Does a fire pit need a liner?

A fire pit doesn’t have to have a liner, but opting for one of these can be a great idea. The liner will stop the material from which the fire pit is made getting too hot, and help your design last longer.

Fire pit tips: how to get a fire going

If you've never lit a fire before, you may wonder how to do it successfully, but it's actually pretty easy. Bear the following in mind when building the fire inside your fire pit:

  • Find out about bonfires – so you know what to burn and how not to annoy next door
  • Use only completely dry wood: it's best to buy logs rather than using random wood for this reason; wet wood won't burn well and will produce too much smoke.
  • Keep adding kindling: if your fire keeps going out, keep adding kindling until it really takes. This may take a good while depending on what type of wood you're using.
  • Add more oxygen by poking your fire with a metal fire poker. 

Rustic and lovely looking.