Whether you want to keep warm in your garden, spruce up your patio or you’re looking for a more authentic way to cook your dinner, an outdoor fire pit could fit the bill.
Gaining popularity as we all spend more time at home, fire pits are super versatile and can add some glamour to your garden. But choosing the right type, size and material before investing is essential.
Use our expert advice to help you choose the best type and brand, discover interesting fire pit ideas and even learn how to make your own.
Alternatively, head straight to our guide on using your fire pit.
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Types of fire pits
There’s no 'one size fits all' when it comes to fire pits, so picking the right type can take time. We run through the pros and cons of some of the most popular types:
Fire pit table
This does exactly what it says on the tin. It's designed with a fire pit in the centre of a table where you can place drinks and food – great for keeping your guests warm while you're socialising outdoors.
The extra space between the pit and the edge also provides a little more safety – children can’t get too close – but you still need to be careful never to leave it untended. If you’re keeping under an umbrella or covering, you’ll need to check there’s enough ventilation and that it’s high enough so the flame won’t catch.
You can get a variety of designs, including coffee tables, dining tables and high-top tables; they’re almost always powered by gas or electric, but you can get wood-burning ones, too. We list brands to buy in our garden furniture buying guide.
- Functional and decorative
- Great if you’re short on space
- Lots of designs available
- Typically you won't be able to cook on it
- More expensive
- If it emits smoke, you may not want to sit too close
Brick fire pit
Often homemade and permanent, brick fire pits are structures built from the floor up using fire-safe bricks such as refractory brick for the inner walls and surrounded by a more decorative brick. You can’t use normal bricks for the inner wall, because they will crack under the heat. You’ll also need to ensure you have a solid concrete base.
Make sure you leave it to set for about a week before lighting your first fire.
- Cheaper if you’re handy with DIY
- You can match your brick to other décor in your garden
- Can be used as a grill
- More time building the fire pit
- Not portable
- Less maintenance
- Will emit smoke
Silhouette fire pits
Normally made of steel, this style of fire pit features intricate designs that create a picture silhouette lit by the flames behind them. You can choose from a variety of sizes, shapes and designs.
- They make a statement
- You can personalise your fire pit
- Will give off lots of heat
- No ledge/table to rest drinks on or sit around
- Will emit smoke
Portable or camping fire pit
Ideal if you like to go camping or you don’t want the fire pit to be a permanent fixture in your garden. Portable fire pits should be lightweight, and preferably have wheels and/or a carry case to make it easy to manoeuvre and store.
A portable fire pit will typically be small- to medium-sized and might come with a grill to cook on. Always try to use a safety screen to prevent getting burnt by flying sparks.
- Easy to move and store
- Great for smaller spaces
- Handy for camping trips
- Less attractive
Washing-machine fire pit
These fire pits are made using a recycled washing-machine drum – great if you want to get creative and save some money. All you need to do is remove the drum from the machine, along with any plastic parts, then stake it safely into the ground. You can add legs if you want it higher off the ground.
- Cheap alternative
- Recycling old materials
- Easy to make
- Less attractive
- The metal can get very hot
- Can damage the ground underneath if not on legs
- Will begin to rust over time
Kadai fire pit
Kadai is an Indian word for a thick, circular and deep cooking pot, and traditional Kadai fire pits or bowls have been used for hundreds of years to provide warmth and cook food.
Made of iron, they come in a variety of shapes and sizes and can be used as a permanent or portable pit. To keep yours in good condition, you should rub it with oil after every other use.
- Individual designs
- You can use for cooking
- Lots of cooking accessories available
- More maintenance
- Can be expensive
- Will create smoke
Gas fire pit
Built with convenience and aesthetics in mind, gas fire pits are normally impressively designed around pebbles, faux wood or glass.
The flames are powered through gas that you can easily switch on and off. You can get portable models, however most gas fire pits tend to be permanent –and they can be expensive.
You’ll also have the added expense of buying the gas and you’ll need to make sure it’s topped up before entertaining.
- Easy to use
- No ash to clear
- Might not be portable
- Less authentic
Tabletop fire pit
Built to sit directly on an existing surface, a tabletop fire pit is great if you're looking for something small and portable.
Most are powered with bio-ethanol, which means it won’t create smoke and should be easy to switch on and off. It should also have some type of safety screen or glass surrounding it.
If you’re sitting under an umbrella or covering, you’ll need to check there’s enough ventilation and it’s high enough so the flame won’t catch.
- Easy to move and store
- No ash to clear
- Will need to be refilled
- Won’t give off as much heat as other pits
BBQ fire pit
A BBQ fire pit is a great multifunctional tool, in that you can use it for flame-grill cooking as well as warmth (perfect if you're short on space). It makes an interesting centrepiece for any garden event, and if you opt for a larger than average pit, it can accommodate food for big parties.
These fire pits are usually log-fuelled, and you can even burn certain wood chips to flavour your food. However, it's worth bearing in mind that they can produce a lot of smoke from the meat or oil drippings, so they need to be cleaned frequently.
- Decorative and attractive
- Lots of designs to choose from
- Some models can be awkward to cook on
- Most do not come with solid BBQ lids
- Can give off lots of smoke and require a lot of cleaning
If you fancy having a homemade pizza while you relax around your fire pit, here's thebest pizza ovens.
Which size of fire pit is best?
If you’re buying a fire pit from a shop, then the dimensions will be predetermined, and most bands offer varying sizes (small, medium, large); however, there’s no one size fits all. The size of your fire pit depends largely on the type you choose: a portable or tabletop design will most likely be your smallest option, while fire-pit dining tables and gas fire pits are usually bigger.
If you’re building a brick fire pit yourself then a 90cm-wide fire pit should be big enough for smaller gatherings, while a 1.8 metre wide one (including the surrounding walls) will be large enough for six to eight people.
The height will often depend on whether you want to rest things on a table, but if you want to feel the warmth from your pit, you shouldn’t go much higher than 50cm from the ground.
Generally speaking, the larger the pit, the more heat it will give off, although other factors can change this, including what materials it's made of and the fuel you use to power it.
Are you renovating your garden? If so, how about adding a hot tub? Here's our hot tub buying guide.
What material is best for a fire pit?
- Pros:Corrosion-resistant and durable, lightweight, easy to maintain
- Cons:Can be expensive
- Pros: Great for radiating heat, lightweight
- Cons:Low- to medium-maintenance, expensive
- Pros:Sturdy, extremely durable, budget-friendly
- Cons: Very heavy
Where to buy a fire pit
Generalist retailers and dedicated garden shops both offer a wide range of fire pits. To make sure you're buying a fire pit that's well built and safe to use, only shop with trusted sellers online or in store.
Ideally, you'd get to see some fire pits in store before buying, but if this isn’t possible, find out as much information about it as possible before investing.
For more details on shopping online safely and arranging refunds for faulty equipment, see our online shopping advice.
Cheap fire pits
The cheapest fire pits are typically made of cast iron or steel and prices start at around £30. You can find cheap fire pits from online retailers including Argos, Amazon and the Range.
Some large supermarkets such as Aldi, Lidl and Asda have started stocking them, too.
Fortunately, if you're looking to save money, some of the more affordable materials are durable , so you won’t need to keep replacing it each year.
Do remember that the more basic options won’t come with safety extras such as lids or screens, so you might need to spend a little more on accessories.
Or, if you’re handy with DIY, you could try making your own. Washing-drum and brick fire pits are both budget-friendly – and it gives you a chance to get creative. Keep scrolling for our tops tips on building a homemade fire pit.
Popular fire pits
We don't currently test fire pits, but at the time of writing, Homebase, Amazon, Aldi and The Range are some of the most searched-for retailers for fire pits. Below is a selection of different types and styles from those picks.
Amazon Basics Portable Folding Fire Pit, 66cm
- Price: £40.99
- Type: Portable fire pit
- Size: H41.9cm X W66.8cm
This log-fuelled compact fire pit is comprised of a steel bowl and comes with many accessories, such as a fire safety screen, carry bag and fire tool.
It can be set up without tools, and comes in at the cheaper end for most fire pits at just over £40. Plus, it's portable, which is handy if you're going camping or you just like to move your fire pit around the garden.
Homebase Texas Black Painted Steel Stripe Fire Basket
- Price: £50
- Type: Portable fire basket
- Size: H45cm x W43cm
This budget-friendly, powder-coated steel fire basket from Homebase looks a little different to most models on the market.
Painted black and designed to burn wood, it will feel super-authentic in your garden; however, it does emit smoke, so you'll need to be careful of embers.
Aldi Geometric Firepit
- Price: £79.99
- Available from:Aldi
- Type: Portable BBQ fire pit
- Size: H42.5cm (without fire mesh) X W61cm
This artsy centrepiece is part of Aldi's garden shop range. It features a modern chrome-plated geometric design and stone-effect finish.
This BBQ fire pit also comes with a removable grate and fire guard for cooking, and Aldi say it's light, portable, and simple to assemble.
The Range Industrial Fire Pit
- Price: £89.99
- Available from:The Range
- Type: Portable fire pit
- Size: H30cm X W50cm. 60cm diameter
This low-standing, steel fire pit will provide 360 degrees of wood-burning fire. It has three legs, as well as handles, so it can easily be manoeuvred around the garden and you can cook food over it if you want.
The steel will oxidise naturally over time, so it shouldn't need much maintenance.
John Lewis La Hacienda Westcott Fire Pit
- Available from: John Lewis
- Type:Kadai fire pit
- Size: H23.5cm x D60cm
This steel bowl kadai-style fire pit from John Lewis features a 'contemporary, minimalist bowl design', and is made from steel which will oxidise over time to give it a more rustic look.
John Lewis also claim that this wood-burning fire pit is easy to assemble with a sturdy base.
Making your own fire pit: top tips
If you’re handy and would prefer to make your own fire pit, here are some top tips:
- Build it at least 3 metres away from building structures, trees and fences.
- Make sure there isn’t anything hanging directly above it.
- Ensure you have a stable base for the pit walls, so they don’t crack as the ground moves over time.
- Make sure you use fire-safe bricks.
- Make a hole in the middle of the base the pit will sit on and fill it with gravel to help drain rain water; then cover the entire base area with gravel.
- Keep a bucket of water or fire extinguisher nearby in case of emergencies.
- Don't use stones that have been submerged in water, as they can explode with the heat of the fire.
- Don’t make your pit too small or too big. Too small and the fire won’t get started; too big and it can get out of control. The average size is 0.9-1.2 metres wide.
- Leave small air gaps in the inner wall to feed the fire.
- Leave your pit to set for at least seven days before lighting your first fire.
Lawsons gives a step-by-step guide on how to build your own fire pit. Or watch this video from Wickeson how to make your own fire pit.
Alternatives to fire pits
If you want something to keep you warm while relaxing in your garden but don’t fancy a fire pit, here are some other outdoor heating options to try.
Chimineas are front-loading, freestanding fireplaces with a round bottom and a vertical chimney. Typically they're made of clay, cast iron or steel and come in a variety of sizes – opt for a model that you can cook on, too.
Chimineas are normally smaller in width compared with fire pits, but much taller. The surrounding walls offer more safety because they can contain the fire, while also retaining heat and funnelling the smoke upwards rather than outwards, which a fire pit does.
However most fire pits will give you a full 360-degree view and allow you to make a larger fire.
Patio heaters are powered by gas or electric and come in all shapes and sizes. You can also find heaters for a wide range of budgets.
If safety is a priority, a patio heater should give you much more peace of mind. They usually come with grills and screens to shield the heat and will automatically switch off if they overheat, as well as turning the gas off if the flame goes out. Plus, there will be no ash and embers to worry about.
You’ll also have instant heat, with some even offering temperature control.
A patio heater won’t give the same experience as a fire pit or a chiminea, though, and you won’t be able to cook on it, either.
See ourpatio heater buying guidefor more information on how to choose the best types, sizes and retailers to buy from.
Are outdoor heaters bad for the environment?
No outdoor heater is ‘good’ for the environment. Unfortunately, wrapping yourself up in a blanket or throwing on an extra jumper is the only real eco-friendly way to stay warm in your garden.
Gas patio heaters are one of the worst in terms of energy efficiency and the amount of CO2 emissions they emit. They are also pretty pricey.
Fire pits and chimineas aren’t great either. In fact, according to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), while UK air quality has improved significantly over the past few decades, the burning of solid fuels (such as coal and wood) in our homes is the largest contributor of harmful particulate-matter (PM) emissions.
This is because when wood is burned, it releases harmful pollutants, such as small particles known as PM2.5. These tiny particles can be easily inhaled and can enter the bloodstream.
Wet logs and house coal emit higher levels of PM so if you still want to invest in a fire pit, always burn dry wood.
Is a wood-burning stove bad for the environment, too?Our guide covers everything you need to know about stoves and pollution.
How we selected prices and retailers
We've chosen these retailers and fire pits based on popular UK search terms, availability and what the retailers told us were popular. Prices correct as of 18 May 2022 and obtained from manufacturer's own website where possible; otherwise, obtained from third-party retailers listed on Google Shopping.
How do I choose a good fire pit? ›
Choose the Best Material for a Fire Pit
Ideally, you want a fire pit that is durable and easy to clean, and possibly even easily moved around, and above all, one that fits the look and atmosphere of your yard design. Popular fire pit materials include: Aluminum. Cast Iron.
The fire pit you choose should strike a balance between quality and cost. Better quality will cost more, so size, style, fuel, and materials will influence the price tag. However, if you plan to use your fire pit often and for years to come, a solid design with durable materials will eventually pay for itself.What type of fire pit gives off the most heat? ›
Because they can produce a fire larger than a gas burner, wood pits are usually the best choice for the most heat.What is the best material for an outdoor fire pit? ›
Cast Iron: For a classic but rustic choice, opt for a cast-iron fire pit. It is sturdy and heavy, giving you peace of mind knowing that it won't be easily knocked over. Cast iron is an excellent heat conductor and is efficient at spreading heat. Aluminum: Aluminum is a popular option for fire pits.Which is better gas or wood fire pit? ›
Gas fire pits are much safer as compared to wood fire pits. They will burn clean without the need of feeding wood or any other material to keep up the fire. Unlike a wood fire pit, there won't be any flying fire sparks or unpredictable fire flames.What BTU is good for a fire pit? ›
BTU output will generally range from 30,000 to 100,000 on a fire pit or outdoor decorative appliance. Therefore, the higher the BTU, the more warmth you will feel from the fire.What is the easiest fire pit to use? ›
From a pure smokeless performance standpoint, Solo Stove fire pits are the best. They're the easiest to start and keep lit. They also produce the least amount of smoke and generate the most intense, eye-catching flames.What is a good size fire pit? ›
The optimal size for a fire pit is between 36 and 44 inches inside diameter. That will create enough room for a healthy fire but still keep gatherers close enough to chat. As an added precaution, the fire pit should be lined with a thick steel ring like the ones used for park campfires.Whats the best size for a firepit? ›
The best size for a firepit is one that allows you to have a strong enough fire while allowing everyone to be close enough for conversation. A good rule of thumb is to have an inside diameter of 30 inches.What type of fire pit lasts longest? ›
A fire pit will last for many years with proper care and maintenance. While stainless steel burners and components are likely to last a lifetime, brass burners can survive even longer than that!
What is the safest type of fire pit? ›
That said, generally, the best option for wood burning fire pits are going to be steel fire pits that keep the fire raised off the ground, as these are the safest and easiest to maintain of any wood fire pit.Is a deeper fire pit better? ›
Fire pits are generally either shallow or deep. Although some people may prefer the look of a shallow bowl, Jackson says a deeper bowl is safer, will hold the fire better, and will protect your fire from the wind.Should a fire pit have holes? ›
Smokeless fire pits can be built without an air vent, but it is important to ensure that the fire pit has proper ventilation to prevent the build-up of carbon monoxide and other certain materials. A gas fire pit will need air holes to prevent the build-up of carbon monoxide.What do you put at the bottom of a fire pit? ›
What do you put in the bottom of a fire pit? You'll want to start with a layer of sand at the bottom of the pit, and then top the sand with gravel, lava rocks, fire pit glass, paving stones or even bricks for your fire pit. Alternatively, you can simply use dirt.Is steel or cast iron better for a fire pit? ›
Cast iron is sometimes seen as the superior choice for fire pits due to its heat retaining properties and durability, allowing you to create a lot more heat by burning either wood or coal. As cast iron is a thicker and denser metal, it takes longer to heat up than steel but holds the heat for longer.How long does a 20lb propane tank last on a fire pit? ›
For the Fire Pit, a 20# propane tank will last approximately 4 to 4 ½ hours at a continuous burn at the maximum output. The tank will last approximately 8-9 hours at a moderate gas output.Can you roast marshmallows on a gas fire pit? ›
Can you roast marshmallows over your propane or natural gas fire pit? Of course! However, gas fire pit tables are UL listed as a decorative gas appliance (not a cooking appliance), so make sure to clean off the burner and fire media (what is fire media?) to ensure the burner ports stay clean.Are propane fire pits worth it? ›
They are useful anytime – even if you don't want to have a fire. In my opinion, you get more value for your money because they can be enjoyed more often. Although you may not plan on (or want to) move your fire pit, for some people this may be a big benefit.Is 50000 BTU good for a fire pit? ›
While you need a fire pit with a heat output of 50000 – 60000 BTU to warm up a larger area. The pit with 70000 BTU (or above) is considered the most powerful that effectively work to heat up the area quickly, but they are a bit hard to use.Is 60000 BTU good for a fire pit? ›
Natural gas fire pits are the modern approach to outdoor fire pits. They produce an average of 30,000 to 60,000 BTUs, and they are ideal for both heating and cooking.
Is 60 000 BTU enough for fire pit? ›
A BTU of between 40,000 and 150,000 BTUs is ideal for a fire pit. 40,000 BTUs is best for most small patios or decks. If you have a med-large patio or deck then you should choose between 60,0000 and 100,000 BTUs. A 150,00-BTU fire pit will work the best on a large patio or deck.How big is too big for a fire pit? ›
Small fire pit dimensions should measure 3 feet wide, while a large pit can go up to 6 feet wide. Ideally a fire pit should be between 36 and 44 inches wide (including the width of the walls) in order to comfortably seat multiple people around it whilst still maintaining an intimate setting.What do you put around a fire pit? ›
What can I put on the ground around my fire pit? Gravel or crushed stone is one of the easiest and most affordable ways to create a backyard fire pit area! Putting gravel on the ground around your fire pit creates a nice, level base for seating.Do smokeless fire pits use more wood? ›
More Heat, Less Wood!
Luckily, due to the more efficient burning of the wood, smokeless fire pits produce more heat, than their traditional counterpart. They also are able to achieve this heat will a smaller amount of wood.
Finally, probably the most effective way to protect your concrete is to use fire bricks or concrete pavers on top of your concrete patio between your fire pit and the concrete surface.How far should a fire pit be from a house? ›
Place your fire pit at a safe distance (10-25 feet) from any flammable structures or surfaces. This includes your house, trees, shed, vehicle, neighbors' property, and wood deck, among other things. Keep your fire pit away from overhanging branches. A 21-foot clearance is standard for most municipalities.What do you put under a fire pit on a deck? ›
Use Pavers Underneath the Fire Pit
There are specially made fire pit mats, which are made to withstand the extremely high temperatures a pit can reach. Or simply arrange pavers or bricks in the area where your fire pit will be placed. These will protect the deck from being damaged by high temperatures.
You should get a fire pit with a minimum of 4mm thick steel. Anything less than 3mm thick will not last more than a season or two. The quality of welds on a fire pit is also important. Cheaper fire pits can come apart under the heat of the fire and/or rust through at the joints.How deep should a backyard fire pit be? ›
The hole should be 12 inches in diameter and 18 inches deep. Fill this hole with large gravel. If the soil doesn't drain well or there is heavy precipitation, dig a trench from the center out. If you're adding a drainpipe, dig about 10 feet from the fire pit.How big should a patio be for a fire pit? ›
A fire pit itself is rarely larger than four or five feet across. The patio space around it should be an additional four to six feet on all sides. Seat walls are a great way to both visually define the space and allow for lots of seating.
Is cast iron or steel better for a fire pit? ›
Cast iron is sometimes seen as the superior choice for fire pits due to its heat retaining properties and durability, allowing you to create a lot more heat by burning either wood or coal. As cast iron is a thicker and denser metal, it takes longer to heat up than steel but holds the heat for longer.Is 50000 Btu enough for fire pit? ›
While you need a fire pit with a heat output of 50000 – 60000 BTU to warm up a larger area. The pit with 70000 BTU (or above) is considered the most powerful that effectively work to heat up the area quickly, but they are a bit hard to use.What size fire pit should I get? ›
The best size for a firepit is one that allows you to have a strong enough fire while allowing everyone to be close enough for conversation. A good rule of thumb is to have an inside diameter of 30 inches.How big should fire pit be? ›
A fire pit itself is rarely larger than four or five feet across. The patio space around it should be an additional four to six feet on all sides. Seat walls are a great way to both visually define the space and allow for lots of seating.What type of fire pit lasts longest? ›
A fire pit will last for many years with proper care and maintenance. While stainless steel burners and components are likely to last a lifetime, brass burners can survive even longer than that!What is the best thickness for a fire pit? ›
You should get a fire pit with a minimum of 4mm thick steel. Anything less than 3mm thick will not last more than a season or two. The quality of welds on a fire pit is also important. Cheaper fire pits can come apart under the heat of the fire and/or rust through at the joints.What is the safest fire pit? ›
That said, generally, the best option for wood burning fire pits are going to be steel fire pits that keep the fire raised off the ground, as these are the safest and easiest to maintain of any wood fire pit.Is 60000 BTU good for a fire pit? ›
Natural gas fire pits are the modern approach to outdoor fire pits. They produce an average of 30,000 to 60,000 BTUs, and they are ideal for both heating and cooking.What is the difference between 40000 and 50000 BTU? ›
A 50 000 BTU fire table would have a higher running cost than its 40 000 BTU counterpart. A 40 000 BTU fire table could use more fuel than a 50 000 BTU table if you are using it to heat a space that is too large.Is 65000 BTU good for a fire pit? ›
What BTU Is Appropriate For A Propane Fire Pit? A BTU of between 40,000 and 150,000 BTUs is ideal for a fire pit. 40,000 BTUs is best for most small patios or decks. If you have a med-large patio or deck then you should choose between 60,0000 and 100,000 BTUs.
How far should a fire pit be from a house? ›
Place your fire pit at a safe distance (10-25 feet) from any flammable structures or surfaces. This includes your house, trees, shed, vehicle, neighbors' property, and wood deck, among other things. Keep your fire pit away from overhanging branches. A 21-foot clearance is standard for most municipalities.Should a fire pit be in the ground? ›
Fire pits can be dug into the ground, but more typically modern fire pits are actually built above ground to a height between 12-14 inches. However, if you want to be able to use the edge of the fire pit as additional seating when it's not in use, a height of 18-20 inches will be more comfortable.Is a 30 inch fire pit big enough? ›
The optimal size for a fire pit is between 36 and 44 inches inside diameter. That will create enough room for a healthy fire but still keep gatherers close enough to chat.What do you put at the bottom of a fire pit? ›
What do you put in the bottom of a fire pit? You'll want to start with a layer of sand at the bottom of the pit, and then top the sand with gravel, lava rocks, fire pit glass, paving stones or even bricks for your fire pit. Alternatively, you can simply use dirt.Should I put sand in the bottom of my fire pit? ›
It is recommended to put sand at the bottom of a fire pit. Sand absorbs the heat and distributes it equally throughout the whole base of the pit. If there's no sand, then the heat may become more concentrated in one area of the base. Sand is very cheap and easy to get.What do you put under a fire pit on concrete? ›
Finally, probably the most effective way to protect your concrete is to use fire bricks or concrete pavers on top of your concrete patio between your fire pit and the concrete surface.