Fire pits bring home one of the best parts of camping. The added ambience makes any evening that much more special, even if you are alone hanging out with the stars. But do fire pits have to be built directly on the ground, or can you install them on a deck?
Most areas forbid the use of a wood-burning fire pit on a deck. However, gas fire pits are often permitted, so long as you follow all local regulations. Many of these will forbid you from installing the fire pit yourself and require them to be professionally checked and certified.
Campfires are disappearing from the outdoor experience due to the increased likelihood of forest fires. Thus, the only option is to recreate the experience by installing one on your property. But it isn’t as simple as pouring cement and lining it with rocks, especially if you have a deck.
Can you put a fire pit on a deck? Read on to find out!
Guide To Having A Fire Pit On A Deck
If you want to have a fire pit on your deck, you need to look up national, state, and local laws. A good place to start in the United States is the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). Also, the ANSI certification is almost always necessary when purchasing a fire pit. Another good resource is the National Fireplace Institute (NFI).
In addition, there will be other legal hoops to consider depending:
- Your home owner’s insurance
- HOA rules
- If your deck is covered
- If your is deck screened
- The fire pit’s proximity to any additional structure, such as your house
- The material of your deck
Ideally, you want your deck made out of:
Unfortunately, most decks are made from wood, composite, or vinyl. These materials reduce the chances of being allowed to use a wood-burning fire pit to recreate your camping experience. Thus, you might be confined to gas or a faux-fire pit that’s like a fancy outdoor heater.
Can You Install A Gas Fire Pit On A Deck?
Gas fire pits are the most likely option for a deck. Regulations will almost always insist on it being professionally installed, such as by an NFI Certified professional. However, the manufacturer’s rules and local laws must also be followed in the installation and certification processes.
Can You Put Fire Pit On A Composite Deck?
Composite decks can have a gas fire pit, depending on the model and base.
Wood-burning pits are more complicated. In some places, they usually require a more “fire table” style to ensure the heat is nowhere near the actual deck. In addition, you will typically need a fairly generous “rim” or “hearth” around the “pit” of the fire.
Can A Trex Deck Have A Fire Pit?
Trex doesn’t recommend wood-burning fire pits on their material. People that do so typically cut out a hole for the fire pit and install a fire-resistant ring around the pit. Trex decking softens in high temperatures, beginning around 176F. Your average campfire exceeds that by a significant amount.
Thus, the best option is gas, professionally installed.
Can Wood Decks Have A Fire Pit?
Wood burning fire pits burn wood. Thus, in some areas, it is illegal to have a wood-burning pit on a wooden deck, no matter what you do. You’ll be limited to gas or a faux-fire heater in these instances. It will still require professional installation and certification.
However, it’s legal in some places, provided you take precautions. For example, like Trex decking, you might be allowed to have a wood-burning fire pit if you cut out a hole, have it installed, and have a hearth built around it. The other is using a “table” like fire pit that has a high stone base and an expansive brick or stone rim.
Remember, the problem with wood fire pits goes beyond being a fire hazard. The heat causes damage, warping the wood or composite, and compromising the structure of your deck over time.
Heat damage is also bad for your house, so even if you have a stone deck, you still need to consider how close it is to a wall or roof. It is advised that your fire is at least 20 feet away from your home.
What Do You Place Under A Fire Pit On A Deck?
Fireproof mats are always recommended to put between your deck and any cooker or portable pit. There are also brick or stone boards put underneath the pit. But take care when placing these down as they can scratch the deck if wood, vinyl, or composite. The pads must extend 18-24 inches beyond the fire pit’s rim in case of sparks.
It is also recommended to put a screen over the firepit to lessen the chances of embers landing on the decking or your clothing. Keeping a pail of water to hand is also a wise life choice.
Can I Have A Fire Pit If The Deck Is Covered?
Fire pits are allowed in some instances, even if the deck is covered. Many people an above shelter as it helps keep the fire pit going.
However, you will need to measure the distance between the deck and the underside of the ceiling. You also will need the measurements between the planned location of the fire pit and any structural supports and walls. Once you’ve collected the data, you can check local laws.
Also, even if it is legal to have a fire pit on a covered deck, you still need to check the manufacturer’s requirements before buying. Due to the heat radiating off the pits, the specifications between pit and ceiling heights vary.
Lastly, remember any planned mats, protective surfaces, and base adds height to the fire pit. This will reduce the distance between the heat and the ceiling. The danger isn’t just the covering catching on fire but the long-term damage that can be created by excessive heat.
Can I Have A Fire Pit If The Deck Is Screened?
If your deck is a screened porch, your fire pit options will be limited. Wood-burning pits will not be allowed. However, gas will be allowed in some circumstances.
If your deck is screened, it might be worth looking into alternative options, such as installing a fireplace or a faux-fireplace heater. These options are usually preferred by the local inspectors.
Ultimately, your choices will be determined by your local laws and home insurance restrictions.