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What is a Good Size for a Fire Pit Area?

What is a Good Size for a Fire Pit Area?

Fire pits for backyards is a popular backyard feature that brings warmth and ambiance for gatherings with family and friends. But determining the right size for your fire pit area takes careful planning and consideration.

The ideal fire pit size depends on the type of fire pit, number of people, available space, and safety clearance required. A good rule of thumb is to allow at least 2 feet of clearance on all sides and 4 feet of space per person seated around the fire.

Let's get into detail and help you find the perfect size for your fire pit.

Key Takeaways

  • Allow more space for wood-burning pits versus gas and portable
  • Minimum 2 feet clearance; 3-4 feet for portable; 5-7 feet for in-ground
  • Size seating area based on number of people (2-4 feet per person)
  • Pick the right size based on available backyard/patio space

    Factors to Consider When Determining Fire Pit Size

    When deciding on the right outside fire pit size for your backyard or patio, there are several key factors to take into account:

    Type of Fire Pit

    The type of fire pit you choose can impact the amount of area needed. For instance, in-ground fire pits that burn wood generally require more clearance than portable steel fire pits or a gas propane fire pit. This is because wood-burning fire pits produce sparks that can jump out of the pit, so more space is needed. Here are some typical recommendations:

    • Wood-burning fire pits: At least 5-7 feet clearance on all sides
    • Propane fire pits: At least 2-3 feet clearance on all sides
    • Portable fire pits: At least 3 feet clearance on all sides

    The shape of the fire pit also matters. Round and square fire pits need a greater radius of space than rectangular or oval-shaped fire pits.

    Number of People

    Consider how many people need to be able to gather around the fire pit comfortably. Fire pits meant for 2-4 people can be smaller, while a large fire pit is needed to accommodate 6 or more people. The number of seats needed around the fire is a good gauge of space requirements.

    Available Space

    If adding a fire pit to an existing patio, the patio size also determines the maximum fire pit size. Here are some patio fire pit size pairings to consider:

    • Small patio (8x8 feet): Opt for a portable 30-inch fire pit.

    • Medium patio (12x12 feet): Choose a 36-44 inch fire pit with 4-5 feet clearance.

    • Large patio (16x16 feet): A 44-60 inch fire pit can fit nicely with room for seating.

    • Huge patio (20x20 feet): Go big with a 60-inch diameter custom fire pit as a focal point.

    As a rule of thumb, allow your fire pit diameter and surrounding safe zone clearance to take up no more than 1/3 of your total patio area. This leaves room for patio furniture arrangements.

    Safety Considerations

    Proper safety clearances from structures, trees, and bushes are crucial for fire pit placement. Wood-burning fire pits should be at least 10 feet away from the home or branches overhead. Check local fire codes for exact requirements. Also, consider having a spark screen and fire extinguisher nearby.

    Design and Experience

    The overall backyard or patio design can help guide ideal fire pit sizing. Intimate gatherings suit smaller fire pits, while larger parties may call for bigger pits as the focal point. Fire pits can illuminate and bring warmth to patio seating areas as well.

    If you are yet to purchase a new fire pit, be sure to read our detailed guide for buying fire pits first. This will help you understand the different types, features, materials, and other considerations to make the best choice for your needs.

    When determining the right total size for your fire pit area, including the pit itself, surrounding patio space, and clearance zones, use the following recommendations as a guide:

    Small Fire Pits

    • Fire pit diameter: 30-36 inches
    • Total area: 7-8 feet wide
    • Good for: 2-4 people
    • Type of fire pit: Portable steel, gas fire table

    A small fire pit of around 3 feet in diameter creates an intimate setting with seating for 2 to 4 people. It can be easily moved as a portable fire pit. The total area needed is around 7-8 feet wide to accommodate the pit and safe clearances. Small fire pits work well in compact patios and tiny yards.

    Medium Fire Pits

    • Fire pit diameter: 36-44 inches
    • Total area: 8-12 feet wide
    • Good for: 4-6 people
    • Type of fire pit: In-ground stone or concrete bowl, steel bowl pit

    A medium-sized fire pit with a diameter of 3 to 4 feet can accommodate 4 to 6 adults. Allow for at least 8-12 feet total width for the fire pit, surrounding patio area, and clearances. This gives enough room for patio chairs or benches around the fire. In-ground masonry and pre-fabricated steel fire bowls are common for medium-sized fire pits.

    Large Fire Pits

    • Fire pit diameter: 44-60 inches
    • Total area: 10-16 feet wide
    • Good for: 6+ people
    • Type of fire pit: Custom-designed in-ground masonry, large steel fire pit

    To create a spacious area for gatherings of 6 or more people, choose a large fire pit size of 4 to 5 feet in diameter. This provides ample room to add chairs and benches around the fire. For wood burning pits, allow a total space of 10-16 feet wide to incorporate safe clearances from the flames and smoke. Large, custom-designed fire pits make an impressive centerpiece.

    Here's a quick overview:

    Fire Pit Size Diameter Total Area Needed Seating Capacity
    Small 30-36 inches 7-8 feet wide 2-4 people
    Medium 36-44 inches 8-12 feet wide 4-6 people
    Large 44-60 inches 10-16 feet wide 6+ people
    Outdoor fire pit area with seating, lights, and stacked wood

    Tips for Designing Your Fire Pit Area

    When planning and designing your fire pit space, keep these tips in mind:

    1. Choose a location at a safe distance from structures that accounts for prevailing winds and allows smoke to dissipate. Avoid placing it under low tree branches.
    2. Add a paved area around the fire pit using materials like concrete, flagstone, or pavers. This creates a surface for furniture and walking around the fire.
    3. Arrange benches, chairs, stools, and logs around the fire pit to provide enough seating based on the number of people.
    4. Decorative crushed glass, pebbles, or fire-rated rocks around the inside of the pit reflect the flames beautifully.
    5. Some neighborhoods prohibit open fires or have rules about fire pit placement. Check ordinances before installing your fire pit.
    6. For rentals or flexibility, opt for a portable steel fire pit bowl so you can relocate it as needed.
    7. Be sure to check local fire codes and have proper extinguishing tools and water access nearby. Install a spark screen.

    Final Words

    Properly sizing your fire pit area creates an inviting, eye-catching focal point for your outdoor living space that provides warmth and ambiance for years to come. With some planning and preparation, you can design the ideal fire pit zone to match both your functional needs and aesthetic vision. Get ready to build a fire and make memories with family and friends.


    Is it possible to have a backyard fire pit without a patio?

    Yes, you can create a fire pit seating area without a patio. In such cases, you might choose a portable fire pit that you can use in different parts of your garden. Just ensure the pit is set up at a safe distance from structures and is on a non-combustible surface.

    Can I have a rectangular fire pit on a circular patio?

    Yes, you can have a rectangular fire pit on a circular patio. The variety in shapes can create a visually appealing design juxtaposition. However, ensure the fire pit size makes sense in your space, and that there's enough room for guests around the pit.

    Can a fire pit double as a table?

    Yes, some fire pit designs function as a fire pit table. Such designs allow you to use the surface area as a landscape table when the fire pit is not in use, essentially providing a 2-in-1 solution. This type is especially useful for smaller patios or where multifunctional outdoor furniture is desired.

    How high should the edge of the fire pit be for safe use?

    While the height of the fire pit edge can vary based on design and preference, a safe minimum is about 12 inches. This allows for ample containment of the fire without posing an obstruction and provides a place where you can prop your feet up at a safe distance from the flames.

    How does the size of the fire pit affect the warmth it provides?

    Naturally, a big fire pit would generate more heat, but the size of the burning area also dictates this. A smaller, more intimate fire pit might offer concentrated warmth to those seated closely. Meanwhile, a larger fire pit can provide a broader radius of warmth, but may not feel as intense unless you are positioned close to it.

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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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