Brick fire pits are attractive additions to patios, decks and other areas where people gather outdoors- even on grass.
When planning your fire pit, you must first decide whether or not it will be gas or wood-burning. If you opt for the brick design, you’ll need to choose bricks that can withstand exposure to high temperatures without breaking apart.
Depending on how much time you have to build the brick fire pit and how complex your design is, this project can take an afternoon or several days.
When selecting bricks for your outdoor fireplace, choose as close as possible to uniform size and thickness. Wood burning outdoor fire pits require very flat surfaces for the mortar joints to be relatively smooth, so you must take your time selecting each of them. Be sure to work on a level surface, such as a cement patio or driveway.
If you’re laying a gas line into the fire pit area, consult with a professional about how low to put the hole about ground level so it doesn’t freeze during the winter months. Avoid using reclaimed bricks for either design, wood-burning or gas because their uneven edges can pose serious safety hazards. Remember, you can purchase an
if this is all too overwhelming to DIY!
- Video Guide: Building a fire pit with bricks
- Brick Fire Pit Building Guide
- Step 1: Laying Out the Bricks
- Step 2: Mixing Mortar
- Step 3: Spreading Mortar Using a Notched Trowel
- Step 4: Placing Bricks in Mortar
- Step 5: Grouting Brick Fire Pit
- Step 6: Curing and Preventing Staining
- Step 7: Additional Tips
- Bottom Line
Video Guide: Building a fire pit with bricks
Brick Fire Pit Building Guide
Step 1: Laying Out the Bricks
The first step in building a brick fire pit is to lay out the bricks to create your design, which should be an octagon or rectangle measuring about 3 feet on each side. If you’re making a gas-burning fire pit, make sure there’s enough clearance around it for people to move freely without fear of being burned by flames or hot coals.
Step 2: Mixing Mortar
Mortar consists of three parts sand to one part cement with just enough water added to produce a thick but workable consistency. Follow the mortar mix manufacturer’s instructions to determine how much dry material and water you will need.
Stir dry ingredients together thoroughly before adding any water. It ensures the even distribution of cement and sand. Add water slowly, a little at a time, and mix thoroughly until the material is the right consistency.
With dry mortar, it’s possible to add too much or too little water and produce a mixture that’s either too runny or so thick that it won’t spread properly. Adding water prevents this from happening.
Step 3: Spreading Mortar Using a Notched Trowel
Spread your first layer of mortar over bricks using your notched trowel as you would cake frosting to ensure an even surface for each brick. The thickness of the mortar should be about half or less than one-third the thickness of the brick. Thicker layers hold more moisture which can cause it to slip out of alignment during curing.
Step 4: Placing Bricks in Mortar
Place the first brick, so it’s centered and align appropriately with the other bricks to ensure a tight fit between them when you finally add water. Spread a little extra mortar around the edges of the brick before placing the next one, which you should place directly adjacent to the first brick.
Be generous with your mortar because this procedure ensures that each successive layer is held firmly in place while allowing expansion during curing. Allow each layer to dry thoroughly but work fast enough that your final layer can go on without too much delay.
If necessary, you can use a hose or sprinkler set at low pressure to accelerate curing time by misting slightly. Avoid getting any liquid into cracks between bricks or joints because it will cause discoloration.
Step 5: Grouting Brick Fire Pit
An alternative to mortar is grout, which should be available at your local home and garden center. Before filling the gap between the bricks with grout, wash off each brick to remove all dirt particles that could hinder adhesion.
Apply a liberal amount of grout over the gap using a trowel until the gap is filled and excess material has been removed from around the exterior of each brick. To help bond with stones, apply more grout as needed. It may take several hours for this grout to dry, so avoid stepping on areas surrounding the brick fire pit before enough time has passed for it to set.
Step 6: Curing and Preventing Staining
Cure the grout by misting it with a hose or watering can until it begins to form a skin. Allow to dry for several hours or overnight before use, which will prevent it from rubbing off on hands and feet. To avoid the staining of surrounding grass and plants, cover them with plastic sheeting during curing.
Step 7: Additional Tips
Although brick fire pits are relatively low maintenance once they’ve been cured, you should avoid using soaps or detergents when washing these objects because the harsh chemicals could wear away at mortar joints over time. Also, avoid exposing bricks to excessive heat, Wood fires in particular because this might cause discoloration that’s difficult, if not impossible, to remove. It’s best to make sure the fire is out before leaving the pit.
Using bricks with a tumbled or rough surface will make it easier to fill the gap between the bricks with mortar. Avoid bonded brick if you can because mortar doesn’t adhere well enough to prevent shifting during use.
To avoid overheating, don’t build a fire that’s higher on one side than on another. It could cause bricks to push out of alignment on the lower end resulting in an uneven surface. Ensure there’s ample room on all sides before lighting any fires and keep other wood away from the pit until the ignition is complete. It keeps the heat at manageable levels, so safety isn’t compromised by flying sparks or ember spread.
When lighting, use fire starters to avoid the possibility of burning yourself or spreading any grass fires. Keep a bucket of water on hand if these precautions aren’t enough, and never leave a fire unattended.
By following these steps, you can build a brick fire pit to enjoy with family and friends. Just make sure your area is large enough before you begin construction. There’s nothing worse than having visitors enjoying the party spoiling their night because they’re stuck playing catch-up with an out-of-control bonfire that has spread into neighboring yards or property lines.