Patio-enhancing fire pits

Submitted by David Arroyo, president and CEO of Strictly Stone Inc

One key fixture that many homeowners consider when mulling over ideas for their patio is a wood-burning fire pit. When contemplating this option, there are a few things that should be taken into consideration before agreeing to have such a unit installed.

Patio size: When a customer approaches me with a request for a built-in fire pit, one of the first things I consider is the patio size. Typically, if the patio space is less than 600 square feet, I begin by educating my client regarding the actual time spent using this key fixture and what it will do to the remaining usable space.

Since fire pits tend to be used most in early spring and in late fall, they leave a big window of non-use. Installing a built-in fire pit limits the amount of usable space available for the summer months.

Regulations: Since regulations vary from community to community, homeowners must be aware of their communities’ specifications. Typically, regulations require a built-in fire pit to be installed at least 25 feet from the home.

Keeping the unit this distance from the home structure may affect the design in a negative way. However, gas powered units typically have to be only 10 feet away from the home. This makes gas powered unites much easier to work into the patio design.

When the setting requires me to steer a client away from the built-in unit due to space, specification or regulation issues, I offer very workable options.

Option 1: Portable Fire Pit Area. Creating an area that is designed for a fire pit provides a versatile addition to the setting. This area can be used throughout the summer for seating, entertaining and other recreational activities. During the spring and fall months, a portable fire pit can be placed in the specified area to satisfy that urge for the warmth of a beautiful fire. Option 1 maximizes usable space for all seasons.

Pros. Inexpensive, maximizes space, easy to relocate
Cons. Messy, not as visually appealing, damage easily

Option 2: Gas Powered Fire Pit. Some clients mistakenly believe that a gas powered fire pit is out of their price range. Though until recently this may have been the case, some companies are now offering very competitive pricing. In addition, gas powered units tend to be used at least 10 times more frequently than the wood burning units.

Imagine coming home after a long day of work with the hope of enjoying a glass of good wine before a warm fire. The last thing you want to do is to gather wood for the fire. A gas powered fire pit allows you to simply flip a switch in order to enjoy the ambiance of a warm fire with or without that glass of wine. Clients who select this option are inclined to use their fire pit more often.

Pros. Quick start and stop, adjustable flame, non-smoky and non-smelling, visually appealing
Cons. More expensive, smaller fires

A fire pit is a key feature and focal point for any patio. Taking these few tips into consideration before making a purchase will ensure your enjoyment of your patio for years to come.

David Arroyo of Strictly Stone started laying brick as a summer job in High School. David went on to study design at the Illinois Institute of Art which allowed him to further develop his expertise and to enhance his artistic eye. Nineteen years later, David has over 1000 brick paving projects under his belt.

As of September 2, 2011, this service provider was highly rated on Angie’s List. Ratings are subject to change based on consumer feedback, so check AngiesList.com for the most up-to-date reviews. The views expressed by this author do not necessarily reflect those of Angie’s List.


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Backyard fire pit surrounded by patio furniture
A wood-burning fire pit or a gas-powered fire pit can add ambiance and entertainment to your outdoor living area. (Photo courtesy of Strictly Stone)

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Comments

That was well written and very helpful. I am impressed and delighted that you are doing so well. I would have a fire pit from the information you provided, but no yard is a huge factor against a pit.

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