If you’re considering a fire pit for your deck or patio, read our fire pit buying guide for our top tips on what to look for in a fire pit that you will enjoy for years to come.
There’s nothing like a fire to gather around. It’s the perfect focal point, whether you’re seeking a relaxing retreat, a quiet spot for intimate conversations, or a dramatic view for your next dinner party.
Fire pits offer the ability to extend your outdoor season, too. The warmth of a fire lets you linger outside longer on cool spring evenings or frosty fall nights. We’ve checked in with our experts for our top tips in choosing the right fire pit for you.
TIP #1: CHOOSE YOUR FUEL - GAS FIRE PITS OR WOOD FIRE PITS
Outdoor fire pits are fueled by either gas or wood, and both fuels have advantages and considerations. fuel switch fire pit
Natural Gas or Propane
A fire pit fueled by natural gas or propane is the ultimate in convenience. Simply push a button or light a match to start the flames, then turn a dial to adjust your flame height from tall and dramatic to low and intimate. When you’re done, simply dial back the gas and the flame goes out.
Igniting Your Fire Pit
These fire pit tables will have either a match-light or spark-light ignition system. The simplest is match-light, where the fire is lit by you with a flame from a match or lighter. It has the fewest parts to maintain but requires that you keep long matches or a lighter on hand.
A push button igniter uses a spark from electricity to ignite the gas. The igniter requires a battery to power the spark and the battery will need to be changed every once in a while. A push button igniter can eventually fail due to usage or weather exposure, so plan to replace the igniter every couple of years or so.
Cost Considerations and Propane Tank Storage
There are considerations when choosing between natural gas and propane to fuel your fire pit. Natural gas is cheaper to fuel in the long run, but natural gas fire pits require a plumber to install and the fire pit can’t be moved from the natural gas source.
Propane fire pits don’t require special installation but you will want to watch your fuel level so you don’t run out during your get-togethers. And here’s a pro tip: Check where the propane tank is installed in a propane fire pit table. We recommend styles with propane tank storage inside the unit. Otherwise, you’ll need a propane tank cover and will have to navigate around fuel lines.
Also, take a look at the storage compartment. A well-designed fire pit table will have easy access to the fuel chamber and uncomplicated fuel hookups. Castelle fire pits come fully assembled with a roomy propane tank chamber. With a ring for the propane tank to sit on, your tank will be stable and up off the ground. The access door uses a magnet to keep it shut and has a decorative handle.
The flame control knob for this match light fire pit is on the outside of the unit, next to the access door. A natural gas conversion kit is also available for their fire pits. These thoughtful design elements make it possible to enjoy the fire pit right out of the box. Ohio Flame carbon steel fire pit
Wood-Burning Fire Pits
Wood-burning fire pits help recreate a traditional campfire and engage all the senses: the view of the dancing flames, the smell of the smoke, and the sound of wood crackling as it burns. If this is the fire pit for you, keep in mind you will need a place to store wood and keep it dry.
A wood-burning fire pit shouldn’t sit directly on a wooden deck and must have at least 10 feet of clearance from structures. The fire pit unit will heat up and can cause serious burns, so use caution to keep everyone safe. Never leave a burning fire pit unattended, and make sure the fire is fully extinguished each time you use the fire pit.
TIP #2: WHAT SIZE FIRE PIT TO BUY
Take a moment to think about how you will use your fire pit. Will it be a place to gather for conversation, or do you imagine dining around fire?
A chat height fire pit is perfect for a casual gathering. Standing at a coffee table height of 22.5 to 25 inches, they’re tall enough for informal dining but low enough to keep your friends and family in sight.
If you want to enjoy a drink or small plates, get a 40-inch or larger tabletop to rest your dinnerware or have small tables nearby. 49” round dining fire pit table from Castelle with aluminum basketweave base and detailed forged top
Dining around a fire makes for a memorable meal. Dining-height fire pit tables are 28 to 30 inches tall and come in a range of sizes and shapes.
Look for a tabletop that’s at least 48 inches wide so there’s room for the center burner plus your plates and glasses. Woodward 42 by 60 inch counter height fire pit table
Counter-height fire pit tables measure about 36 inches tall, giving enough of a lift to let you see over a railing or retaining wall. Counter-height sets are growing in popularity because the chairs are easy to get in and out of and the tables are tall enough that people can stand around them for easy mingling.
TIP #3: CHOOSE THE BEST MATERIAL FOR YOUR FIRE PIT
One of the most versatile materials in fire pit table construction is aluminum. It’s rust proof, durable, and can be made into a variety of shapes and finished in a range of colors and textures. Most aluminum outdoor furniture is made either of cast aluminum or extruded aluminum. cast aluminum basketweave fire pit table top
Casting is made when molten aluminum is poured into a mold. The furniture parts are cast individually and, once the aluminum solidifies and cools, removed from the mold and sanded before assembling with welds and bolts. Cast aluminum is heavy and the mold can take on intricate details and ornate designs. Quality outdoor furniture manufacturers will sand the welds to create a nearly flawless finish. Hanamint extruded aluminum fire pit table top
Extruded aluminum furniture is made by pushing solid aluminum through a die to create a tube. The extruded aluminum is then shaped into furniture parts (think legs, arms or tabletops) and then assembled into finished pieces.
This fire pit dining table from Hanamint is constructed of rectangular extruded aluminum tubes to create a plank-top style. Quality extruded aluminum furniture manufacturers will add internal ribbing to the die or reinforcements to the tubes so that the extruded pieces can withstand harsh weather conditions and heavy use.
Finishes for Aluminum Patio Furniture
Once the pieces of the aluminum patio furniture are created, they’re cleaned and powder coated. This powder coating creates a tough, durable layer that protects the aluminum and helps the furniture stand up to harsh weather conditions so you can have years of enjoyment.
After powder coating, skilled painters and artisans apply the final finishes in a multi-stage process before sealing the furniture with a protectant coating. Quality manufacturers will stand behind their aluminum finishes with substantial warranties. Castelle offers a 5-year warranty on their finishes and Woodard offers a 7-year warranty.
While aluminum dominates the market in gas fire pits, other fire pit materials also offer versatility, style and durability for years of relaxation and enjoyment.
Polywood gas fire pits are made from recycled high-density polyethylene (HDPE). HDPE is a durable plastic that’s widely used to make items like milk jugs and laundry detergent bottles.
These used containers are recycled into durable, weather-resistant and easy-to-clean patio furniture. The recycled plastic is ground into pellets, then dyed and extruded into poly lumber. The HDPE lumber requires very minimal care and resists fading, chipping, cracking, or peeling.
Quality wood-burning fire pits are constructed of heavy gauge steel. It’s tough, durable and resistant to corrosion and rust. When shopping for a wood-burning fire pit, consider the gauge of the steel and the heaviness of the unit, and look for a 20-year or even lifetime warranty.
The Solo Stove is a 304 stainless steel fire pit, a premium grade that can withstand extreme heat while maintaining its shape. Ohio Flame fire pits (like the one shown here) are constructed of carbon steel that’s about 0.714 inches thick, much heavier and more durable than sheet metal units.
Materials can influence price. We often field questions about the difference between the price of the fire pits we carry versus those listed with big box stores. Once you compare the quality and thickness of the materials, the weight of the fire pit, the design details, and the frame and finish warranties, it will be easy to see which fire pit is built to provide years of enjoyment.
TIP #4: EXPRESS YOUR STYLE
With so many size and design options, you can seamlessly incorporate a fire pit into your outdoor living space.
Castelle offers realistic slate and wood finishes for their aluminum furniture, giving the look of natural materials without the maintenance.
For an elegantly rustic look, consider a hammered metal or live edge tabletop design. The styles by Castelle blend seamlessly with traditional and casual styles, and are a great counterpoint to sleeker contemporary styles.
For a more traditional look, consider a solid tabletop with edges that are beveled or beaded to mimic a dining table. The cast aluminum beaded edge top from Woodard is a popular choice.
An open, airy trellis pattern is another popular traditional look. This Hanamint Mayfair fire pit includes a braid detail around the edge.
Fire pits are at home in any style. The sleek and modern Trento collection from Castelle is paired with their Moderna slate-top fire pit. The metallic finishes lend a lux look. Shop these lines in store, or other Castelle options online.
Polywood fire pits offer a relaxed, casual style. The HDPE lumber looks like satin-painted wood and comes in wood tones, neutrals and brights.
Solo Stove fire pits have an innovative design that burns hot without smoke. The streamlined style and stainless-steel components look right at home in either rustic or minimalist settings.
For a wood-burning fire pit Made in the USA, check out the Ohio Flame line. Their Stellar Artisan Fire Bowl is sure to be a conversation piece in any outdoor living area. The fire pit is crafted from thick carbon American steel sourced from local steel mills and is built to last a lifetime – in fact, Ohio Flame fire pits come with a lifetime warranty.
BONUS TIP: FIRE PIT ACCESSORIES
Cover Protect your investment and extend the life of your fire pit with an all-weather cover. Simply drape it over the top and cinch it into place to guard against UV rays, rain, snow, dust and pollen.
An easy way to change up the look in your gas fire pit table is to swap out the fire pit glass. Often called fire pit jewelry, the fire glass comes in a range of colors, shapes and reflectivity.
Fire glass is as practical as it is pretty—filling the burner pan with fire glass covers the fire pit burner and drain holes to give the fire pit a finished look, and the fire glass helps disperse the flames.
Here’s a pro tip when deciding among the choices: Large glass chunks allow bigger flames while smaller glass pieces help spread the flame more evenly; and mirrored glass and reflective beads let the flames sparkle across their surfaces.
Fire glass in gold, blue and red hues lend a rich glow and allow the flames to reflect off the many surfaces. Black fire glass creates a deep, dark backdrop that makes the flames the focal point.
Fire pit glass is made from tempered glass, so it won’t melt or release toxic fumes. It’s very different from decorative glass found in craft stores—do not substitute craft store glass for fire glass.
To help manage your flames, consider wind screens for gas fire pits or iron mesh covers for wood-burning fire pits. Wind screens are made from glass panels that sit around the burner pan of a gas fire pit.
They help keep the flames in the center of table when it’s breezy and provide a physical barrier between you and the flames – a consideration for those with little ones who are fascinated with the flames. Iron mesh covers go over the top of a wood-burning fire pit to keep embers from floating off.
Whether you’re hosting a crowd, planning a cozy evening for two, or escaping to your personal sanctuary, a fire is a welcoming spot. Take advantage of our tips and you’ll be enjoying your fire pit for years to come.