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A fire pit is a fantastic outdoor feature that invites you to huddle around the flames, get warm, and share precious moments with your loved ones. The bad news, though, is that extreme heat from a fire pit can damage the pavers in your patio. How do you protect them? We've done the research to find the answer for you.
You can protect your pavers from getting damaged by the heat of the fire pit using any of these four methods:
- Build the patio around the fire pit.
- Get a fire pit pad or mat.
- Buy a fire ring.
- Use bricks.
There's a lot more to cover with regards to each method, so keep reading! We'll dive deeper into the specifics of these techniques and answer more of your questions about fire pits.
Four Methods to Protect Pavers from Fire Pit
While certainly a beautiful feature that enhances the look of your outdoors, a fire pit can severely damage the surface of your patio, even when you have pavers installed. The heat from a fire pit will cause concrete or other surface materials to expand or contract, leading to cracking, spalling, erosion, or discoloration over time.
This will be a huge problem whether you have a permanent or portable fire pit. Not only could it affect the appearance of your patio, but you could also be at high risk for fire-related hazards.
The best way to prevent this is by following a few techniques to protect your pavers. Which method you choose will depend on your skills, available resources, and willingness to spend time and money. Here are your options:
1. Build the patio around the fire pit
If your patio hasn't been constructed yet and you're planning to have a fire pit installed in the middle of it, it's best to build the design of the patio around the fire pit. This ensures that the paving on your patio is optimally designed to protect it against extreme heat.
In this case, you'll have to build the fire pit first, then create the rest of the patio around it. You can do this on your own, but it's always best to have a professional with you for optimal results.
Keep in mind that there are many considerations when it comes to building a fire pit. You need approval from your municipality and homeowners' association before proceeding with the construction. In addition, you need to consider its location, size, design type, and materials, among many other factors.
2. Get a fire pit pad or mat
Now, if you have an existing patio and you want to add a fire pit to it, your best bet may be a portable fire pit. It's easy to place wherever you want it, whether in the middle of the space as the heart of the patio or a lovely accessory to your busy backyard. Plus, it does the job and keeps you warm as effectively as a permanent fire pit.
Now the problem is that portable fire pits have bottoms made from steel, copper, or wrought-iron that are meant to conduct heat exceedingly well. They will damage and weaken the surface underneath over time.
To prevent this, you can place a fireproof mat or pad specifically designed for fire pit use. A fire pit pad typically reflects heat back up to draw it away from the surface. It also helps protect against grease stains and embers that could damage your outdoor flooring or start fires.
Plus, it will serve as a stable surface for your fire pit's legs to rest on. There should be 4 inches between the mat and the fire pit.
The good news is that fire pit mats are relatively affordable, as well as easy to use and clean. This means they're perfect for outdoor use.
3. Buy a fire ring
A fire ring aims primarily to prevent fires from spreading outside the designated area. However, it can also protect your paver patio from heat damage!
For a permanent fire pit, having a fire ring is a necessity. This is optional for portable fire pits but still highly recommended to prevent accidental fires.
Keep in mind that your fire pit ring has to have a gauge range of 10. Gauge refers to steel thickness, meaning the thicker the steel, the more protection it will provide. You'll want to get a lower gauge since it indicates more thickness. It's also best to go with a fire pit ring that comes in one piece or two pieces.
4. Use bricks
Using fire bricks between the surface and the fire pit is one of the most effective ways to prevent heat damage. You can create a brick pad by bonding bricks with cement or stacking them to elevate your fire pit. Make sure not to cover the pit entirely, though.
Will concrete pavers crack in fire pit?
Yes, concrete pavers are highly likely to crack under a fire pit. While they're safer under heat than a flat concrete surface, this doesn't ensure that they'll be spared the unsightly consequences of exposure to extreme heat. They will also experience discoloration over time.
Using a fire pit mat is the most recommended option to prevent damage to your concrete pavers.
Does my fire pit need a vent?
Yes! Fire pits need ventilation to keep the flames going. They also release excess heat and allow fresh air to enter the pit.
This is especially important for propane fire pits. Propane gas can sink to the bottom and become trapped without ventilation. As it accumulates or experiences heat, propane could ignite and explode - leading to severe injury or, at times, death.
If your fire pit doesn't have a built-in ventilation system, you may have to use cross ventilation for safety purposes. You will need to place two vents on either end of the fire pit to ensure proper airflow. It's best to consult the fire pit manufacturer for guidelines on installing a ventilation system.
What should be at the bottom of a fire pit?
There are plenty of options for materials that you can put at the bottom of your fire pit, including:
Extremely cheap and highly absorbent, sand is the most commonly used material for the bottoms of fire pits. It does an exceptional job of absorbing heat and keeping fires from spreading. Plus, it's long-lasting and easy to use and maintain.
Whether you purchase them or find them in your backyard, stones are an excellent option for the bottom of your fire pit. You can create a stone bed that protects the ground underneath from heat and adds sophistication to your outdoors.
3. Fire glass
Looking for something with a little more spice? Fire glass is one of the most attractive materials for your fire pit, keeping the flames burning for hours while creating a unique, eye-catching look for your patio.
How do you build a fire pit patio with pavers?
Building your own paver patio with a fire pit is a relatively cheap and easy task that you can accomplish in a couple of days! You will need a few tools and construction skills, however.
Here are the steps to successfully build a fire pit patio with pavers:
- Mark the area where you'd like to build your patio. Make sure to set your target size for it.
- Eliminate grass and weeds from the marked area and dig the soil using a shovel.
- Lay down the paver base, then tamp it down.
- Add sand and use a level to make sure the base is even.
- Lay down your pavers.
- Apply paver sand over the patio and make sure it gets into the cracks using a broom.
- Use a hose to wet the pavers.
- Mark the area where you'd like to build your fire pit.
- Lay down your wall blocks.
- Use a level to ensure the blocks are level once you've laid the first layer down.
- Lay down your second layer of wall blocks. Make sure to leave gaps for air holes.
- Lay down your third layer of wall blocks.
- Place bricks along the bottom of the fire pit.
Following the right methods to protect your pavers from heat damage caused by a fire pit is essential. This way, you can keep your fire pit burning and enjoy its toasty warmth to the fullest without worrying about it damaging your pavers!
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