How to Choose A Right Fire Pit for Your Yard
With the right fire pit, you can stay comfortable in the fresh outdoor air well into the night. Before you start gathering with loved ones and laughing into the wee hours, you’ll want to choose the right design for your space. We’re excited to help you boost your backyard ambience with a perfectly pleasant pit.
Types of Fire Pits You Need to Know
1. Fire Pit Table
A fire pit table is similar to an outdoor coffee table, but it has a campfire in the middle. The tables are elevated on legs, and, like regular tables, these come in a vast array of styles. You can place drinks and snacks down on the flat surface surrounding the pit — just remember not to put them too close. Tables are often larger than other fire pit styles and not as easy to move, but they’re perfect for kicking up your feet.
2. Fire Bowls/Fire Pit
Fire bowls or pit, like tables, can come in a huge range of sizes and shapes. Instead of having a table surface surrounding the pit, this style has a large container that holds the logs (for wood-burning fire pits) or glass beads (for gas-powered fire pits). It can be elevated on legs to help heat dissipate, or it can sit directly on the ground. Bowls can be highly portable and easy to clean, depending on the size you choose.
3. Fire Rings
If you love the look of a fire pit but want something that feels more like a traditional campfire, consider a fire ring. Lightweight and easy to move, these round pits are typically made of metal and are shorter in height than tables, resting directly on the ground. They’re available with and without bottom bowls. Without the bowl, fire rings are meant to contain a campfire that you build directly on the ground. They keep the wood fire from spreading while also protecting you from embers and limiting accidental access by kids and pets. Use designs with bowls on their own or as inserts for larger fire tables and structures.
4. Pagoda and Fireplace Designs
Less pit and more mini metal gazebo, fire pagodas blend the warmth of a campfire and the charm of a large lantern on feet. Pagodas typically have raised platforms where you build the fire, protective roofs, and screened walls to keep sneaky embers from hitting your patio. These designs are highly portable and often feature eye-catching embellishments.
5. Fire Columns
Create a dramatic, elegant look with a fire column. These designs are taller and generally thinner than tables, and they often run on gas. They may have fire bowls sitting atop them, but some styles have recessed compartments that make the fire look as though it’s coming directly from the top of the column — almost like a grand torch. Thanks to their smaller footprint, these can be great space-savers on smaller patios. Fire columns often have side stone or masonry detailing.
6. Tabletop Pits
Perhaps the most petite and portable of all the pit styles, tabletop pits are more diminutive in size to fit atop your patio table. They don’t cast out as much heat as bowls and tables, but they provide all the same enchantment of dancing flames. If you have a smaller apartment patio or don’t want as much maintenance, a tabletop pit works well.
Fire Pit Fuel Types
Wood Burning
The traditional fuel source in a backyard fire pit is wood. It's cheap, natural, and brings the nostalgic warmth and glow of a classic campfire. Wood fires do have a few downsides however - they're more difficult to start and maintain and the smoke can bother some people's eyes. It is not environmentally friendly.
Want your fire pit to ignite at the flip of a switch? Gas-powered fire pits may use propane tanks or your home's natural gas source, and provide a level of control over fire that you won't get with wood. They do cost much more to run and produce less heat than wood-burning fires.
Gas fire pits often have bowl fillers made of smooth stones, lava rocks, or glass beads. These conceal the bottom burner element and add an extra-decorative touch to your fire pit. You can change out your fire pit bowl fillers any time to switch up the look of the pit.
Fire Pit Materials
Copper is a rust-hued metal that adds warmth even when you don’t have a fire burning. Copper can take on a rich green patina quickly when it sits outdoors. If you want your copper fire pit to keep its warm, shiny look, remember that this material requires frequent cleaning. If you’re looking for a low-maintenance material, copper may not be the right choice — unless you love the patina.
Steel fire pits often use this dark, corrosion-resistant metal as an accent on fire table legs as well as for the construction of the pit itself. This metal comes in painted and powder-coated varieties for extra durability. It’s also relatively lightweight, so it’s easy to move around your yard if you’re looking for a portable pit.
Cast Iron
Cast iron is a heavy, solid metal that’s highly efficient at spreading heat. Cast iron fire pits are quite heavy, making them difficult to knock over, which is great for safety. That also means they can be difficult to move. If you plan to leave your fire pit set up in one place, cast iron can be an ideal choice. It also offers more of a classically rustic look.
Many fire pits often have stone or masonry detailing, which are especially common on fire table tops. Stone fire pits are relatively heavy, so it’s a better choice if you don’t plan on moving the table around the yard. Stone can also be easier to keep clean — it doesn’t rust like some metals do — but you don’t want to leave it out in areas where it’s exposed to temperature extremes. The stone can crack after a few cycles of freezing and thawing. If you have brick or stone detailing on your home, choosing a fire pit made of these materials can be a fun way to tie in your outdoor décor with your house’s architectural details.