Fire and wood don’t mix; well, they do, but it's always fire that’s going to be the winner. For this reason, a lot of people are dubious about using a fire pit on decking made from wood, and rightly so. Regardless of how experienced you may be, playing with fire should always be done in the safest and most sensible manner.
But the problem is that so many of us have our seating areas on a wooden deck. What’s the use of having a fire pit if it is in the middle of the lawn where nobody can benefit from the heat and light?
You might think that all is lost and that you’ll have to make do with another solution, but there is hope. It is possible to use a fire pit on decking, provided you do it correctly. In this guide, we will be telling you everything you need to know.
Can You Use A Fire Pit On Decking?
You might think that using a fire pit on decking is going to end in disaster; and you’d be right in thinking this if it isn’t done properly. You may be worried about the deck becoming damaged from the fire or even catching alight should a rogue piece of fuel fall out.
The good news is that it can be done but you will need to have a fire and heat proof barrier between the fire pit and the deck as well as ensuring proper placement. In short, the fire pit should not be placed near any structure that could become damaged by the heat and flames, such as your house.
You probably spent a lot of money creating a beautiful decked area for you and your family so let’s take a look at everything you need to do to get your fire started.
How Hot Will My Fire Pit Get?
It may come as a surprise to learn that a fire pit can get as hot as, wait for it...1100ºc! Of course, these kinds of temperatures are capable of causing devastating damage so, as we have mentioned, creating a barrier to protect your deck is essential.
While many decked areas are made from wood, there are some that are composite decks. These decking materials are made from a combination of different wood fibres along with things like PVC and wood flour, among other things. While a composite deck tends to be much more durable and does not require anywhere near as much maintenance as a wooden deck, it is important to keep in mind that the hold heat extremely well. If you have a composite deck and have ever attempted walking on it with bare feet in the summer, you’ll know exactly what we are talking about.
With this in mind, it goes without saying that when you place a fire pit on a composite deck, extra precautions may need to be taken.
Using A Fire Pit On Composite Decking
Since composite decking contains plastic-based materials, there is a lot of concern from homeowners that the heat of the fire will cause the deck to warp beyond repair. Of course, this is true, if you expose this material to super high heat like that of a fire pit, it is going to cause some damage.
However, depending on the manufacturer, there may be varying levels of fire resistance. But this is something that you will need to check before risking using your fire pit on this type of decking. Some manufacturers, such as Trex recommend not using a fire pit on their decking at all unless a fire retardant coating like DeckProtect has been applied during the manufacturing process. This product makes the deck much more heat resistant and will ensure that any escaped embers do not cause damage.
Using A Fire Pit On Wooden Decking
Wooden decking is one of the most popular types. One of the most common problems when using a fire pit on decking made from wood is that there is a significant risk of aesthetic damage. If any embers fall from the fire pit onto the decking, there is a very real chance that the material will become scorched and blackened.
What’s more, repeated exposure to heat could cause the wooden structure to become unstable and weakened, meaning that ultimately, it will need to be replaced. If you have decking installed, you will know that it doesn’t come cheap. For people who are planning to use a fire pit on a wooden deck, it is imperative that you use a treated, fire retardant wood.
Placing A Fire Pit Close To The House
A very significant concern of many home owners is that placing their fire pit near to the house is likely to end in disaster. It is important to make sure that there is a good clearance between the fire pit and the house or any other structure in your garden such as a shed or outbuilding.
Typically, the further away from the house that you can place the fire pit, the better but as a general rule, you should maintain at least a 20ft distance. The problem is that many people have decked areas directly outside the house, making it easy to access the outdoor seating area.
If you are intending on building a deck and using a fire pit, it may be worth considering placing the decking further away from the home. Yes, this means that you will have to walk across the garden to get to it, but at least you won’t be paying for hefty repairs after the fire causes damage to your home.
Where Is The Best Place To Put A Fire Pit?
With the above considerations in mind, you are likely asking yourself where the best place to put your fire pit is. Let’s take a look at some important points to think about when it comes to choosing the best spot.
First of all, it is vital that you place the fire pit well out of the way of any high-traffic areas. This is especially important if there will be a lot of guests or family members. It takes only one small bump to knock the pit of its feet, causing irreparable damage and potential injury.
It is also important to make sure that the fire pit is not placed under any overhanging trees. If there are any present, you should make a point of first trimming these back. Additionally, it is important to consider any overhead structures such as an awning or Hard Top Gazebos, the fire pit should always be placed out in the open.
Many people like the idea of sitting around the fire pit to make the most of its warmth and light. This is fine but you should ensure that any seating is placed at least six feet from the fire pit in any direction. You should also make sure that there is enough room for the fire pit to be accessed by whoever is managing the fire. It is also wise to have one allocated ‘fire attendant’ to avoid multiple people trying to mess with the fire.
How To Protect Your Decking When Using A Fire Pit
One of the best ways to ensure that your decking is fully protected from the fire pit is to provide a barrier. Even if you have used a fire retardant material, this barrier is still a must; after all, you cannot have too much protection.
There is a range of fire pit pads available on the market, and we will show you a few examples shortly. But it is also entirely possible to create your own DIY fire pit pad using materials you may already have at home.
For example, paving slabs make a great barrier for your fire pit and many of us have some extra ones lying around from the last time the garden had a makeover. Do make sure that you use enough paving slabs for the size of the fire pit and that the base is stable. This is one of the most important things to keep in mind. If the base is not stable, there is a risk of the fire pit tipping over which could be incredibly dangerous and cause a huge amount of damage.
Furthermore, if you have a composite decking, it is worth taking extra care when laying the paving stone as the rugged material could cause scratching.
Alternatively, you could purchase a fire pit mat which is an affordable piece of equipment that is incredibly easy to store. These mats are typically made from PVC or rubber and come in a variety of shapes suitable for various fire pits.
One thing to consider when you are buying this type of equipment is that there should be a good enough clearance between the bottom of the fire pit bowl and the protection mat. If the two are too close together then the performance of the mat may be negatively affected. This is not something we can list in detail in this guide but checking with the manufacturer will give you a clear indication of what this clearance needs to be.
We won’t go into great detail on the various products in this guide, but some of our favourite fire pit mats include the following:
Features three protective layers and can be used on a variety of surfaces including decking. It requires a two inch clearance and is easy to clean and will be suitable for most fire pits.
EventualX Grill Mat Pad is a rectangular fire pit mat that is suitable for use on patios, grass and decking and comes in a choice of three sizes. It is lightweight and portable making it ideal for using at home and on camping trips. (Infact we wrote an article about best camping firepits that's worth checking out)
Using A Metal Fire Pit Protection Barrier
There are some products out there that are designed for the fire pit to sit on top of and these feature a metal construction. This type of barrier is excellent if you are looking to protect your deck since metal is one of the most fire-resistant materials on earth.
However, the problem comes with the stability of these products. For the most part, you are limited on the size and this means that, if you have a larger fire pit, it may not be 100% stable.
A fire pit is a great way to keep warm, obtain light once the sun goes down and even cook food, check out our guide to cooking food on a fire pit. However, when using it on decking and look into Cast Iron Chimineas. , there are several things that you will need to think about if you want to keep your decking safe.
While it is possible to have a fire pit on decking, you should always make sure that there is a protective barrier between the fire pit and the decking. Furthermore, ensuring that your decking is fire resistant is essential. Another serious consideration is that the fire pit must be placed correctly, away from the home and any other outdoor structure.