Choosing your firepit
Your choice of firepit will be based on things like available space, budget and, of course, municipal bylaws that may restrict the use of firepits altogether. Here are five key factors to consider as you contemplate warm nights toasting marshmallows under the stars.
1. Local bylaws
Before you purchase or build a firepit, be sure to check with your local municipality for rules and restrictions. Even if firepits are allowed in your area, there may be rules about the type of fuel that can be used.
2. Fuelling the fire
Wood or gas? Gas fires are easy and convenient (no smoke or cleanup!), but you might miss the cozy crackle of a real wood fire. Check to see if wood-burning outdoor firepits are allowed in your area. If you go with gas, a tank of propane costs around $20 and provides 20 to 25 hours of burn time. Some dual-fuel fire bowls and tables let you do both, and you can design a built-in firepit to do the same if you have the inclination and budget.
3. Built-in or portable
A firepit built into the landscape can serve as an attractive focal point, but homeowners with limited space or budget may opt for a portable firepit. If you choose built-in, you can do it yourself, buy a kit, or hire a contractor. Opting for portable? Lightweight copper or stainless-steel bowls are easy to move. Fire tables are like bowls, but at coffee table height. There are also freestanding chimney-style firepits that come in a range of materials.
You can put in a firepit without spending a lot of money. A small portable firepit can cost as little as $100. If you’re handy, you can do it yourself, or hire a contractor to create a pit with comfortable seating. Costs can range from under $100 for a small portable fire bowl to several thousand dollars for a permanent natural gas or propane firepit, depending on size.
Although you want it in a spot that will accommodate plenty of seating, make sure your firepit is also located at least three metres away from buildings, shrubbery and trees. If you have a portable firepit, place it on concrete, stone, gravel, brick or patio stones – never a wood deck. Permanent firepits should be built on a gravel base surrounded by bricks or a thick steel ring to keep the fire contained.
Firepit safety tips
Before you light that fire, make sure you follow some basic safety precautions.
- Supervise children and pets around the fire.
- Use a metal mesh screen or spark guard to reduce the spread of embers and sparks from wood-burning firepits.
- Keep the garden hose or a bucket of water nearby just in case the fire gets out of control.
- Consider the neighbours—some people can be sensitive to the smoke from outdoor firepits.
- It’s a good idea to tell your insurer that you’ve added a firepit to your backyard, especially if it’s a permanent fixture.
- Always put the fire out with sand or water before you go to bed.
- Don’t leave a fire to burn unattended.
- Don’t start a fire on a windy day.
- Don’t use lighter fluid as an accelerant.
- Don’t burn pressure treated wood, yard waste or garbage, which may contain dangerous chemicals.
- Don’t bring wood from another region, as it can spread unwanted pests and diseases.
Completing your outdoor oasis
For many people, gathering around a firepit with family and friends is part of summer. These backyard firepit ideas are just the beginning! Why not complete your backyard getaway with some DIY projects? And you could add solar-powered accent lights to light up walkways. If you’re feeling ambitious, add a water feature, stepping stones, pergola, flower garden and trees.
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What to know before adding a backyard firepit
What could be nicer than having family and friends around an outdoor fire on a summer evening? Many Canadian homeowners want a firepit in their backyards. We’ve put together some backyard firepit ideas, tips and inspiration to make the job easier.
The Personal refers to The Personal General Insurance Inc. in Quebec and The Personal Insurance Company in all other provinces and territories.
The information and advice in this article are provided for informational purposes only. The Personal shall not be liable for any damages arising from any reliance upon such information or advice. The Personal recommends using caution and consulting an expert for comprehensive, expert advice.