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What Is the Proper Height for a Built-In Fire Pit?

By Judith Docken ; Updated September 21, 2017
A built-in fire pit must be low enough to be enjoyed by everyone.
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One way to enjoy the great outdoors in your own back yard is to build a fire pit out of stone, brick, or concrete blocks that are made to look like natural stone. Relaxing by an outdoor fire with family and friends on a cool evening is one of the great benefits of taking on this project.

Check Your Local Codes

Before starting construction on your fire pit, check first with your local codes and bylaws regarding having an open fire in your back yard. In some places, an open fire is allowed if it is covered by a grate. Other places have no such regulations, or may not allow open fires at all. To avoid problems down the road, know what is permissible in your area.

Location of Your Fire Pit

When deciding where to build your fire pit, make sure it will be well clear of overhanging trees, power lines, buildings, or flammable vegetation or structures. Also make sure your fire pit is set far enough away from your neighbor's homes, so that they will not be affected by smoke or sparks.

Size of Your Fire Pit

Generally, a good inside diameter for a fire pit is 36 to 44 inches. When marking out the area where you want to build your fire pit, allow for the outside diameter of the circle. Cut the circle out of the soil or sod using a shovel, and dig down to a depth of about 6 inches. Dig down further if you want to build the firepit on a base of sand or gravel to provide stability and drainage.

Height of Your Fire Pit

The idea of a fire pit is to provide warmth, and if walls are too high, it can be difficult to feel any warmth from the fire, or to see the flames. A good rule of thumb is to build the walls up no higher than about 1 foot high. Your first row of bricks or blocks should sink into the ground about 6 inches to provide stability. If you are using bricks, you will need four or five layers to reach the proper height. If you are using 6-inch stones or concrete blocks, two or three layers should be high enough.


About the Author


Based in Calgary, Canada, Judith Docken specializes in plant care and the challenges of gardening in an unpredictable Canadian environment, as well as in a wide variety of locations on the North American continent. Docken has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Ambassador University in Pasadena, California, in the United States.