Fire pit basics

You’ve likely come across some impressive fire pit installations if you’ve been researching design ideas. While traditional backyard fire pits are fine for many, others want something a bit more unique. This is why we often get questions about installing fire pits on decks, under overhangs, or inside screened-in porches. Safety should always be one of your primary concerns when installing your fire pit, so we’ve put together this guide with some of the details you’ll want to keep in mind if you’re designing a project for one of these locations.

Installing a gas fire pit on a deck

Prism Hardscapes Moderno IV 48-Inch Round Gas Fire Pit

One of the most common questions we get is, “Can I install a gas fire pit on a deck?” Generally, yes, you can install a gas fire pit on a deck as long as you adhere to manufacturer specifications. However, your local building codes and fire ordinances will take precedence over these guidelines, so always research local restrictions ahead of time. These will vary greatly from one jurisdiction to the next. You’ll also want to check with your insurance company to make sure fire features are covered by your policy.

Gas fire pits are the safe option

A wood fire pit should not be installed on a deck. With gas fire pits, less heat is generated and there are no floating embers or sparks to potentially land on your deck, which makes gas fire pits the safe option to use for deck installation. However, since many decks are still made of flammable materials and are, therefore, combustible, you’ll want to take proper precautions any time you’re dealing with an open flame.

Consider deck strength

You should always take the weight of your fire pit into consideration when installing on a deck. Though this may seem obvious, the heavyweight of a fire pit can be easy to overlook when focusing on other safety requirements. This is especially true for installations utilizing paver blocks or cement to create an enclosure. Your fire pit will last many years, so be sure your deck is up to the task.

Refer to your owner’s manual for the best information

Regardless of the specifics of your installation, be sure to consult your installation or owner’s manual and abide by all manufacturer-recommended clearances. These are the conditions the fire pits have been tested under and will help ensure you have a safe installation. Required installation conditions will vary from product to product based on factors such as size, heat output, and ignition type.

Fire tables provide an alternative option

A gas fire pit installed on a deck can create a beautiful entertaining space. However, ensuring all requirements are meant maybe more than a homeowner will want to deal with. Fortunately, fire tables offer a great alternative to a more traditional fire pit. Many of these options, like the popular Muskoka Fire Table from Napoleon, are safe to use on decks. As an added bonus, these fire features can be used as regular outdoor tables when the flame is not in use, making them an excellent option for a functional area.

Installing a fire pit in a covered area

Many of the guidelines for installing a fire pit in a covered area will be similar to the considerations you’ll need to make for installing on a deck (see above). However, there are additional considerations you’ll need to make, as well. An improperly installed fire pit can create a major safety hazard, which makes following manufacturer instructions even more important. Always defer to manufacturer specifications or local building codes before installing your fire pit. With that said, here are some general guidelines to keep in mind.

Fire pit surroundings

The room you’re installing your fire pit in will need to have open airflow to ensure safe operation. This is in addition to the manufacturer's recommended clearances to combustibles.

One of our top fire pit manufacturers, The Outdoor GreatRoom Company, offers several guidelines regarding fire pit installations in a screened-in area:

  • The units themselves are not UL approved for these applications.
  • The screens used must be permanently open—they cannot have windows that close.
  • The screened-in walls must provide a minimum open area of 30 percent.
  • All ceiling and wall clearances must be met, including a minimum porch area of at least 96 square feet.

These requirements will not be the same for all fire pits. For example, Hearth Products Controls, another top fire pit manufacturer, requires no more than two sides of your fire pit to be surrounded by a solid structure or combustibles. Again, always review manufacturer guidelines before installing.

Height requirements

Clearance requirements for overhead structures such as pergolas, roofs, overhangs, screens, arbors, or sidewalls will need to be met to avoid potential fires or inadvertent damage. These requirements will largely be dependent on the size of your fire pit.

As an example, Hearth Products Controls advises 36 inches of side clearance and 84 inches of overhang clearance for fire pits up to 200,000 BTU. For fire pits larger than this, 48 inches of side clearance and 120 inches of overhang clearance are required. This is in addition to the minimum of 12 inches of clearance from combustible materials.

If you’re unsure of the clearance requirements of your fire pit or if you’re having difficulty locating this information, give us a call and we can assist you.

Find the right fire feature for your project

Your satisfaction is our highest priority. Our team has years of experience helping customers build a space they can be proud of, and they’d love to help you, as well. Contact us by phone or email to speak with one of our experts and we’ll set you up with the right products for your build.

You can also check out our other helpful guides, like how to design your fire pit (part one and part two) as well as a video on how to assemble your fire pit kit.

We’re looking forward to working with you.