Best Decks For Your Brand New Fire Pit
As the leaves finish turning colors, the air continues to grow chillier, and the smell of snowflakes fills the air, you might wonder how you can keep enjoying your outdoor space. Maybe you love the idea of a wood-burning fire pit but don’t have enough room in your yard for it! Or perhaps your deck sits like many do, sorely underused, housing a measly handful of patio chairs and bug-repelling candles.
Have you thought about adding a cozy fire pit to your spacious deck? Putting a fire pit on your deck may not be a good idea! Yes, plopping a fire pit onto your wood deck can be very dangerous if you don’t know what you are doing. While fire pits are the perfect way to decompress and take a load off after a long day, lighting your deck or worse, your house on fire doesn’t sound like the peaceful end you had in mind. Concerns for anything from basic fire risk to cosmetic damage to warping raise red flags! Whether your deck is wood or composite, chances are it is costly, and you don’t want to risk damaging your investment. This is why it is vital to have a strong understanding of the potential risks involved with placing a fire pit on your deck.
At Fire Pit Art, we always recommend not placing your fire pit on your deck due to safety reasons. Please take a look below at the practical reasons why our fire experts team advises never putting a fire pit on a deck.
Types Of Decks
First, let’s take a little detour to talk about different types of decks and how a fire pit impacts the materials.
A wood deck is (obviously) highly combustible. Certain manufacturers approve some gas fire pits for installation on a wood deck, but generally, most people recommend avoiding placing a wood-burning fire pit on your wood deck. Even when following the necessary safety precautions, a fire pit on a wood deck is risky!
Vinyl decks are a combination of chlorine and plastic (AKA PVC). PVC is very combustible. In addition, vinyl will expand and contract easily. So if exposed to excessive heat (like heat from a fire pit), your vinyl deck is likely to crack over time.
Composite decks combine wood, wood particles, plastic, and recycled materials. While composite decks are not as combustible as wood or vinyl decks, placing your fire pit on a composite deck is still not the best idea.
A poured concrete slab or stone paver deck makes a wonderful durable deck and an excellent non-combustible surface to place your fire pit on! These decks are the easiest and safest option for your fire pit.
Placing A Fire Pit On Your Deck
Now that you understand your deck and the material that makes it, let’s talk about the important reasons why you should place a fire pit on a deck very strategically.
1. Not Too Close To Your Home
You should place your fire pit a minimum of 20 feet away from your home. Most decks only allow for a little distance, resulting in the fire pit being too close to your home. Also, it is essential to keep your fire pit away from other flammable items, such as potted plants or any linens, patio umbrellas, or patio cushions. In addition, if you have an awning over your backyard space, you’ll need to consider flame height. Never place a fire pit under a low-hanging awning.
Even though it might seem like the fire pit is far enough away from your home, always measure to make sure it is sitting at a minimum of 20 feet away. Visually, it might appear that no flame could travel that far, but it is surprising how fast and how far a windy day can carry a wayward spark toward your home! So skip the guesswork and measure out the 20 feet!
Not only can a fire escape the pit and catch your home on fire, but the heat it produces can also damage your siding. You don’t want ugly black smoke streaks going up the side of your home or an expensive repair bill!
2. It Is Very Heavy
Fire pits, especially those made from high-quality metal, are very heavy. Therefore, the added weight on top of your barbeque, patio furniture, and guests might result in your deck having a heavier load than it can handle—all that extra weight will cause damage over time. Remember, you are not just factoring in your fire pit’s weight but also all the additional accessories required (fire mat, spark screen, poker). You must also consider the weight already sitting on your deck, like the patio umbrella, furniture, or potted plants. Finally, consider the weight of how many people might gather around the fire pit at once. This is a lot of weight for your poor deck to handle.
Generally speaking, most decks built with traditional wood framing can carry loads of about 50 pounds per square foot. However, this number is not exact, and your deck could potentially handle more or less weight.
3. Is Your Space Too Small?
Take a moment to examine the space where you want to place your fire pit. Be realistic about your deck size and dimensions and the reality of how much room you have. You want to enjoy the heat from your fire pit without being too close to your home, as the heat can and will warp the siding and cause ashy, ugly marks on your home.
4. Your Fire Pit Could Damage Your Deck
Never, under any circumstance, place a fire pit directly on your wood or composite deck. Placing your fire pit on the deck without a barrier will cause expensive problems! Anything from complete fire damage to the weakening or destruction of your decking to damage to your deck’s supporting structure to cosmetic damage from scorching. In addition, much composite decking consists of PVC or plastics, so you run a high risk of warping or melting your decking with the high heat caused by a fire pit.
Even with a barrier, these problems can occur.
To avoid potential damage or a full-blown fire disaster, skip putting your fire pit on the deck and instead opt for a safer location where you can enjoy your fire pit without the constant worry of damage to your home, deck, or neighbors.
A Few Fire Pit Tips
Always keep the area around your fire pit clear. Anything from a pile of dead grass or leaves to a potted plant is easy tinder for a fire. Make sure to pick up any dry sticks, leaves, or pine needles before lighting. Fire pits snap and pop, which send embers flying in multiple directions. In addition, it is a good idea to sweep your deck before lighting your fire pit to avoid stray dead leaves or grass.
A Layer Of Sand
Always pour 2-3 inches of sand at the bottom of a new fire pit before lighting it. The sand adds more protection and creates another layer of space between the fire and the ground. In addition, the sand helps keep your fire pit working well for longer and will keep your fire pit pad effective for longer.
Invest In A Spark Screen
While an open fire is very inviting, a spark screen provides peace of mind. The spark screen efficiently prevents embers from shooting into the air where the waiting wind can carry them towards your home or yard.
Clean Up The Ash
Once your fire pit hangout is over, thoroughly douse the fire with water before calling it a night. Once the fire pit and its contents have completely cooled (usually around 24 hours), take care of the ashes! We have lots of tips for reconstituting your wood-burning ash. However, there are several reasons why it is beneficial to remove the ashes immediately after they cool. First, ashes are corrosive once wet. Second, when the wind picks up, those ashes can make a lovely black confetti explosion all over your yard and deck, and no one wants to clean that up!
Yes, while an outdoor fire pit on a deck sounds cozy, homey, and welcoming, it has the potential to be very dangerous. From how we manufacture our top-quality fire pits to our placement recommendations, fire safety always comes first! We hope you found our reasons why you should not place a fire pit on a deck helpful! From the fire pit experts at Fire Pit Art, we wish you many cozy evenings near the safe, cozy flame!