How can i put a fire pit on my wood deck

How Can I Put a Fire Pit on My Wood Deck?

08/25/2021|by Jason Klein
Fire pits are great for getting together with friends and family in the warmer months, but if you're planning to build one on your deck, you may be wondering whether it will even work. After all, fire pits can get really hot - sometimes hotter than a bonfire! But don't worry- there are ways of building a safe fire pit that won't damage your wood deck. The trick is finding out what type of deck you have and which fire pit style will work best for you. This article will help walk through some options to make an informed decision about how to proceed.

Which Fire Pit is Safer, Gas, or Wood-Burning?

Wood-Burning Fire Pits

Wood-burning Fire Pits are not safe to have on a wooden deck. Firewood can cause the wood to smoke, char, and eventually catch fire. Firewood also produces toxic fumes that can damage the person's lungs. Wood-burning fire pits are classified as "uncontrolled" fires because they cannot be regulated or controlled without constant observation. Firewood can also be an ignition hazard because it tends to roll around and off of the deck. Wooden decks will want to make sure they have a metal skirt around them so that people will not use them as a ladder for climbing up onto the deck.

Gas Fire Pits

In contrast, gas fire pits are safe for a wooden deck because they don't produce embers and burn lower temperatures. They also release fewer toxic fumes than a wood-burning Fire Pit. In addition, gas Fire Pits have an electrode to keep the fire burning at a steady pace so that it cannot get out of control. Gas Fire Pits are classified as "controlled" fires because they can be turned off and regulated.

Fire Pit Location and Clearance 

  • Typically, it is advised that a fire pit has ample space on all sides and should be located at least three feet from any combustible materials. 
  • Fire pits should also be at least five feet away from any structures, decks, or fences. 
  • Fire pits should be located in a cleared area, not under overhanging tree branches or trees that can catch fire. 
  • Fire pits must also not be located near poles, power lines, and wiring (fences/gates included). 
  • Fire permits are required in many areas, so make sure to check with your local Fire Department about their regulations for fire pits. 
  • Fire pits are not allowed in many places, including National Parks, and Fire Pits should never be placed near or under any structures. 

Check Your Local Fire Codes and Regulations for Outdoor Fire Pits

Depending on where you live, fire codes and regulations may specify the specific types of fire pits that can be used on wooden decks. Local jurisdictions govern fire codes, so even if your deck is in your backyard, it may not be up to the same standards as a deck in someone else's backyard. Fire regulations will also vary depending on the type of wood the deck is made from and its construction. A cedar or redwood deck is less likely to ignite than one made with a cheaper pine or fir wood.

Therefore, before making a purchase, do your research about what is allowed in your city and county. Fire codes and regulations can vary from place to place, so be sure you know the rules where you live before buying or building a fire pit like the one I’m going to describe here.

What Type of Wood Deck Do You Have?

Knowing what kind of deck you have will help inform what is safe for your home and family. There are a couple of different types of decking: composite decking, wood, and vinyl.

  • Composite Decks - Composite decking is an option for somebody who wants the look of a wooden deck without the upkeep. Composite decks are made from recycled materials, plastic, and wood particles combined with resin or another synthetic polymer and then shaped into boards for installation. Composite decks are combustible but provide scratch resistance, durability and are virtually maintenance-free.
  • Wood Decks - Wooden decks are attractive for their natural qualities, including warmth and charm. They require more upkeep than composite decks, but many stain them to match any house colors. You can also purchase wooden decks unfinished for a more natural look.
  • Vinyl Decks - Vinyl decks are made from plastic PVC, a combustible material that can pose an obvious danger when used with a fire pit. Vinyl also expands quickly and is likely to crack when exposed to excessive heat, leading to warping and instability.

Select a fire pit that is safe for the type of deck in your backyard. All three types are combustible, making them susceptible to embers, sparks, and high radiant heat. 

Fire Pit Weight and Base Protection

The first thing you need to consider when thinking about putting a fire pit on your deck is the weight of the fire pit. Fire pits typically range from 50 to over 200 pounds, so you'll want to be sure that your deck has some protection for its support beams to avoid structural damage. Manufacturers of fire pits recommend that you place them to be centered and entirely supported by the deck. Many fire pits are giant, bulky pieces of equipment, so make sure your decking is strong enough to support it.

Another thing to consider when you're thinking about putting a fire pit on your deck is protection from radiant heat. As it burns, fire radiates heat around the base. That intense heat can cause problems for the decking material underneath. Placing a protection pad between the deck and the fire pit can help protect your deck from any damage or warping. Firegear fire features are designed to move the heat up and away from the base, reducing radiant heat issues.

Is It Safe to Put a Fire Pit on a Wood Deck?

Fire pits are a great way to get your family and friends together for a fun evening outdoors. Firepits can provide warmth, ambiance, and an opportunity for socializing with friends and loved ones. However, firepits need care when it comes to placement. Be sure to consult your manufacturer's manual and instructions and your cities regulations and local fire codes. Firegear fire features have been designed for safety, flexibility, and style to give you the outdoor living area that fits your lifestyle.