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Can You Put a Fire Pit on a Deck? What You Need to Know

Can You Put a Fire Pit on a Deck? What You Need to Know

Backyard fire pits can provide warmth and ambiance to enhance a deck. But the big question is - can you safely put a fire pit on a deck?

The short answer is yes - with the right precautions, you can place certain fire pits onto decks. But there are critical considerations to ensure safety.

This comprehensive guide covers everything you need to know about responsibly and safely installing a fire pit on a deck. We’ll provide tips for choosing the best type of fire pit for your specific deck along with placement, protection, and maintenance advice. Let's begin.

Key Takeaways

  • You can safely put certain fire pits on decks with proper precautions like using protective pads and following manufacturers' safety guidelines.
  • Propane and natural gas models are safest since they don't produce sparks.
  • For wood decks, special insulation bases or deck-mounted frames protect from heat damage and fire hazards from embers. Keep ABC extinguishers and water nearby.
an image of a round concrete fire pit on a deck surrounded by outdoor furniture

    Is It Safe to Put a Fire Pit on a Deck?

    Putting a wood-burning or gas fire pit onto a deck is possible depending on the construction material and with adherence to essential safety guidelines. You must select the best fire pit model, suitable for this placement, and use insulating protection between it and your deck’s surface.

    The biggest concern with placing fire pits onto decks is fire risk. Wood and composites can ignite when exposed to sparks or intense heat. So fire-rated pads, rigorous safety practices, and careful monitoring of fires are required. Responsible installation and flame containment paired with caution when burning make enjoying a deck-based fire pit safe.

    Assessing Fire Pit Types Compatible with Decks

    There are several types of fire pits to consider for deck installation. When selecting the right model, you'll need to weigh factors like spark risks, heat output, fuel requirements, and ease of maintenance. Reviewing our comprehensive fire pit buyer's guide can help simplify your decision based on your specific deck material and needs. 

    • Wood Burning Fire Pits - If used on a deck, wood-burning pits must have mesh screens to contain embers and sparks. 
    • Propane Fire Pits - an outdoor propane firepit utilize a gas burner so they don’t produce sparks, making them generally safer on wood, composite, and vinyl decks. 
    • Natural Gas Fire Pits - They are safe to use because no sparks or embers escape. However, installation costs are high as gas lines must be extended to the deck. 
    • Gel Fuel Fire Pits - Gel fuel fire pits burn clean and emit no sparks, making them suitable for decks. 
    • Electric Fire Pits - As electricity powers them, no sparks or heat hazards exist making them safest for decks. However, heat output and authenticity are limited without an actual fire.

    Here is a quick overview comparing suitable fire pit types for decks:

    Fire Pit Type Spark Risk Heat Output Fuel Type Maintenance
    Wood Burning High Medium Wood logs Ash removal
    Propane Low High Propane tank Tank replacement
    Natural Gas None High Piped gas Minimal
    Gel Fuel None Low Gel canisters Canister refills
    Electric None Low Electricity Cord inspection
    a fire pit table on a composite deck with outdoor dining chairs

    Assessing Deck Material Compatibility and Safety

    While certain fire pits are safer for decks than others, you must also consider your deck’s construction material when assessing safety and fire risks.

    Wood Decks

    Wood decks are highly susceptible to fire and require extensive precautions when installing pits. Ember or spark penetration between deck boards presents risks. Fires can quickly spread under the deck’s substructure. It's vital to use a protective base pad beneath fire pits on wood decks.

    Composite Decks

    While more fire-resistant than pure wood, high heat can still impact composite decks. The wood fibers and plastic polymers may melt from intense or prolonged flame exposure. Employing a protective pad under fire pits is wise, even when on flame-retardant PVC composite boards.

    Concrete Decks

    Concrete itself is non-combustible. However, consistent intense heat can cause cracking or discoloration, especially with polymeric sand fill between paver joints. Use a protective pad and don't place a fire pit near deck edges or cracks.

    Other Deck Materials

    Alternative decking materials like stone, porcelain, metal tiles, aluminum, and galvanized steel panels have high heat tolerance. However, placing pits on non-combustible patio surfaces is still recommended. Heat may travel through gaps between materials, presenting fire risks.

    Refer to this chart for quick recommendations based on your specific deck material:

    Deck Material Fire Pit Type Recommendation Protection Needed
    Wood Propane or electric Insulating base pad
    Composite Propane or electric Protective heat shield
    Concrete Any type Heat-resistant mat
    Other non-combustible Any type Optional protection

    Placement Considerations for Your Fire Pit

    Where and how you situate your fire pit influences safety. Correct placement helps prevent fires from spreading or damage occurring to surrounding structures. Consider:

    Allow for Proper Ventilation and Airflow

    Good airflow circulation ensures smoke, heat, and combustion gases dissipate properly. Avoid placing pits near walls, corners, or enclosed areas that can trap emissions. Position them centrally allowing adequate room around the fire pit for airflow.

    Keep Away from Structures and Overhangs

    Whether combustible like wood fences or heat-resistant like stucco walls, intense heat can damage building materials. Make sure your fire pit resides at least 10 ft away from surrounding structures. Also, avoid areas under deck or roof overhangs so flames don’t ignite materials above.

    Place on a Non-Flammable Surface

    Putting fire pits directly onto grass or dirt isn’t advisable as embers can ignite the ground. Non-combustible surfaces like stone, masonry, or concrete pavers are far safer. For wooden decks, use a protective deck-mounted frame or place the fire pit atop special heat shields.

    a round steel fire pit on a fire pit pad placed on a wooden deck

    Protecting Your Deck When Using a Fire Pit

    To prevent damage, it’s critical to install protective measures between fire pits and deck surfaces:

    Use a Fire Pit Pad or Insulating Base

    Placing pits directly onto decks can harm materials or enable heat transfer threatening the structure. Fire-rated pit pads or insulation bases act as shields. These are made of non-combustible mineral board or stone substrates that resist temperatures exceeding 1100°F.

    Have Proper Fire Safety Tools on Hand

    When using fire on a wood deck, having water or an ABC fire extinguisher nearby is critical. Establish safety procedures like prohibiting horseplay or testing extinguishers annually. Inform everyone in your household, including children, about basic fire safety and have them assist in planning escape routes.

    Follow Manufacturers Instructions Carefully

    Reputable manufacturers provide important guidelines and warnings for safe operation. For example, wood-burning models advise what materials to use as fuel and proper loading procedures to prevent flare-ups. Make sure everyone understands and follows all guidance to prevent accidents.

    an image of a fire pit surrounded by stone on a deck within a garden

    Conclusion

    Fire pits create alluring, welcoming sights that instantly improve outdoor living spaces. With prudent fire pit selection for your specific deck material, vigilant safety practices, and proper maintenance, enjoying evening ambiance or warmth is possible without undue risk. Responsible installation paired with caution and common sense keeps your deck safe when using a fire pit.

    FAQs

    Can I place a wood burning fire pit on a wood deck?

    Although it's not recommended, if you are committed to using a wood-burning fire pit on a wooden deck, there are ways to do so safely. Use a heat-resistant mat under your fire pit to protect the wood from sparks and heat. Always keep water or a fire extinguisher nearby, and never leave the fire unattended.

    How can I ensure that installing a fire pit on my deck will not void my homeowner's insurance?

    Before installing a fire pit on your deck, it is important to check with your homeowner's insurance company. Some policies do not allow open fires in outdoor spaces, including decks. You don't want to find the best fire pit for your wood deck only to find out it's not permitted under your insurance policy.

    How should I prepare my deck before lighting the fire pit?

    Sweep away any dry leaves or flammable materials from the area before you light your fire pit. Check the fire pit for any damage that could lead to a fire hazard, such as cracks. Make sure the fire pit is stable before lighting it up, and always keep an extinguisher or a bucket of water nearby in case the fire spreads.

    Are certain types of fire pits not applicable for use on a deck?

    Yes, wood-burning fire pits are generally not recommended for use on wooden decks due to the risk of flying sparks and cinders. Gas or propane fire pits that are designed for use on decks are typically safer and are more often recommended.

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    About The Author

    Andy Wu - Resident Expert

    Andy Wu - Resident Expert

    Andy Wu is the resident backyard products expert and hails from Atlanta, Georgia. His passion for crafting outdoor retreats began in 2003.

    As a fellow homeowner, he founded Backyard Oasis to provide top-quality furnishings and equipment, collaborating with leading manufacturers.

    His main focus is on sheds and generators!

    In his spare time he like to hike the tallest mountains in the world and travel with his family.

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