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Can You Put a Fire Pit on a Wood Deck? And Should You?

When planning a new deck, you might think of putting in fire pits. But not just any type of fire pit–a wood-burning or gas burning one. However, there are some things to consider before adding this pricey feature that could change the look and feel of your outdoor space for better or worse.

The “what do you put under fire pit on deck” is a question that many people are wondering. There are two options to consider when putting a fire pit on your wood deck: either put it on the ground or put it on top of your decking.

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Can-You-Put-a-Fire-Pit-on-a-Wood-Deck

Whether you want to build a fire pit on your wooden deck, you may be unsure if it’s really doable. After all, a fire pit’s temperatures may match that of a bonfire, and any logical person would see that such temperatures and a wood deck are unlikely to combine. 

It is feasible to build a fire pit on a wood deck as long as it is done safely. Fire pits on a wood deck are made safer by the location of the fire pit, its closeness to combustible items, base protection, and safety guards. Gas fire pits are a safer option for a wood deck than wood-burning fire pits since they emit less heat and produce fewer sparks. 

If done wrong, placing a fire pit on a wood deck may be dangerous—even lethal. Furthermore, certain communities’ fire pit ordinances and regulations may prohibit it. Continue reading to learn everything you need know before constructing a fire pit on your deck, as well as how to do it safely. 

 

Contents Table of Contents

  • Is Putting a Fire Pit on a Wood Deck Safe?
  • Radiant Heat and Fire Pits
  • Wooden decks, fire pits, and fire codes 
  • Clearance Restrictions and Fire Pits
  • Weight of Wood Decks and Fire Pits
  • Base Protection and Fire Pits
  • Location Safety and Fire Pits
  • Deck Safety with Fire Pit Accessories
  • Before you install a fire pit, ask yourself these questions.
  • Wooden decks with fire pits are fantastic, but they must be installed with care.

Is Putting a Fire Pit on a Wood Deck Safe?

A fire pit may be safely installed on a wood deck, but there are a few precautions to take. It’s not simply a question of lighting a fire on top of a wooden building; even if the fire pit and the deck aren’t in direct touch, the heat and sparks that fly may still start a deadly fire. 

The following are the primary factors that make a fire pit safe to construct on a wood deck: 

  • Clearance: To avoid a fire on the deck, make sure the fire pit is not near combustible items or in close proximity to them. Keep in mind that combustible materials do not have to come into direct contact with a fire pit to ignite due to the heat created. That’s why a fire pit ring is also recommended.
  • A fire pit or bowl without legs cannot be put directly on a wood deck because it would heat up the decking and perhaps start a fire. Instead, a heat-resistant foundation should be installed between the fire pit and the deck to absorb radiant heat from the pit’s bottom and prevent it from combusting or burning the wood decking.
  • When selecting to construct a fire pit, you must first determine how much weight your deck can handle, and structural supports should be installed to guarantee that the weight of the pit does not cause the deck to give way. This is particularly critical if you anticipate big groups of people congregating around the fire pit, adding to the deck’s weight.
  • Safety accessories: It’s a good idea to have certain safety accessories for your fire pit on hand, such as a fire extinguisher and spark guards, to minimize the hazards to a minimal. These may help lessen the risk of a stray ember catching fire on the deck and, in the worst-case situation, can help you put the fire out fast. 

Because decks are often immediately related to residential areas, ignoring any of these concerns when installing a fire pit on a wood deck may result in an uncontrolled fire that quickly engulfs the rest of the home. As a result, each of these elements must be examined separately. 

Radiant Heat and Fire Pits

Radiant heat is a serious threat of fire pits on a wood deck. Even if there is plenty of space between the fire pit and other combustible things on the deck, the radiant heat emitted by fire pits—particularly wood-burning fire pits—can catch anything on fire even if they aren’t close by. 

 

Sparks and embers are another concern that fire pits bring to a wood deck (although this is more of an issue with wood-burning fire pits than gas fire pits). Logs in a wood-burning fire pit may not only emit a lot of radiant heat as they break down, but they can also emit sparks and embers that can fly away from the fire and ignite surrounding items. The bigger the fire pit and the bigger the flames, the more dangerous the scenario becomes. 

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In compared to the flames and embers of a fire pit, radiant heat is a mainly unseen risk. Nearby combustible things, such as dry leaves or pine needles, may spontaneously ignite without ever being touched by fire due to the electromagnetic radiation emitted by the fire.

When fire pits burn through the bottom of a wood deck, radiant heat is partly to blame. The heat radiating from the bottom of the fire pit may burn the wood of the deck and ultimately combust if the fire pit is hot enough over a lengthy period of time without sufficient insulation between the wood deck and the fire pit.

Wooden decks, fire pits, and fire codes 

Before you contemplate installing a fire pit on your wooden deck, you should first check the local fire rules and housing ordinances. Due to current fire laws, it is forbidden in certain cities or municipalities to construct a fire pit on a wood deck under any circumstances. Because some of these places are arid or prone to wildfires, additional measures are required. 

Other housing laws may allow you to have a fire pit on your wood deck, but it must be a gas-burning fire pit rather than a wood-burning fire pit. Other fire codes may not have any restrictions on the usage of fire pits on decks. It all depends on where you live and how stringent the local fire codes are. 

If you’re not sure whether or not you may legally install a fire pit on your wood deck, check with your local housing rules before buying one. Check the limits on exterior structures and accessories on your property if you reside in a HOA-controlled community, since many HOAs ban a fire pit even though local rules allow it. 

It’s also a good idea to see whether your neighborhood has any “burn prohibitions.” Burn bans are seasons of the year when controlled burning such as bonfires and pit fires are restricted owing to the possibility of wildfire in dry or fire-prone areas. If you are discovered operating a fire pit during a burn ban, you may face a fine or (at the very least) a reprimand from the fire marshal, depending on the restrictions in your region.

Clearance Restrictions and Fire Pits

You must consider the clearance around the fire pit while creating a fire pit on a wood deck. This is the area that must be kept free of any combustible things that might cause the fire to spread beyond the fire pit. 

The following are some of these items: 

  • Sun umbrellas and awnings
  • Seat cushions and other combustible pieces of patio furniture
  • Grilling using firestarters or other accelerants

The majority of the time, a fire pit’s instruction manual will provide extremely clear and exact requirements for footage clearance around the fire pit’s perimeter and above it. To properly install the fire pit on a wood deck, certain clearance requirements must be rigorously obeyed. In many instances, the fire pit’s maker will also post these specs online, so you may review them before making a purchase. 

You can’t skimp on this part of fire safety when it comes to fire pits and decks. Your deck isn’t big enough for a fire pit if it isn’t large enough to guarantee appropriate clearance around and above the fire pit. 

Weight of Wood Decks and Fire Pits

When it comes to building a fire pit on a wood deck, it’s important to keep in mind the weight. The weight of a fire pit may range from 38 pounds to 260 pounds, depending on the type and the materials used in its construction.

Unless sufficient structural support is put below the fire pit to counteract its weight, lighter fire pits should be selected to be built on top of decking. If you go with a larger fire pit, there’s a potential it’ll completely collapse the wooden deck. This is both prohibitively costly and possibly hazardous, particularly if the deck falls when a large number of people are on it. 

You should perform one of the following to ensure that your wood deck can securely handle the weight of a fire pit:

  • Choose a fire pit that is made to be used on a deck.
  • Have a structural engineer inspect your deck to discover whether the fire pit you plan to construct need any additional support.

Because you may not be able to predict the number of people who will be present at future events, it’s always better to overestimate the amount of weight a deck can carry than to underestimate it. Make sure the deck is sturdy enough to withstand the weight of a big gathering of people gathered around the fire pit. If you need to double-check safety, don’t be hesitant to bring in an expert. 

Base Protection and Fire Pits

When it comes to a fire pit on a wood deck, one of the most common worries is the heat radiating from the fire pit’s bottom right onto the deck’s wood. Not only may this create heat damage and discoloration over time, but it can even cause the deck to catch fire if it is not properly insulated. 

Installing a fire pit on a wood deck necessitates the use of a non-combustible foundation between the fire pit and the deck’s wood. This is one of the most significant things you can do when building a fire pit because it creates a fireproof barrier between the fire pit’s radiant heat and the deck’s wood. 

A hearth pad is the ideal method to include base protection into your deck fire pit. These cushions act as a protective barrier between the fire pit and the deck.

Location Safety and Fire Pits

Along with clearance, the position of the fire pit on a wooden deck and its closeness to other deck structures should be considered. 

You must not only offer sufficient clearance for people to sit three to five feet away from the heat of the fire, but you must also ensure that pergolas and other deck structures are properly separated away from the radiant heat. Even if they don’t catch fire, prolonged exposure to a fire pit, especially if it’s too near to vertical wooden surfaces, may cause staining and other damage to decking.  

Installing a fire pit in an area of the deck that doesn’t receive a lot of foot traffic is also a smart option. The more people wandering around and around the fire pit to get to other parts of the deck, the more probable an accident with someone being burnt on the pit would occur. 

Deck Safety with Fire Pit Accessories

You may purchase a variety of accessories for your fire pit that will make it safer to use on a wood deck. Here are a few examples: 

  • Spark guards are screens that go over a fire pit to keep sparks and embers from flying out and possibly igniting a fire. Spark guards may also assist prevent people from reaching right into the fire pit and risking a burn. If you’re going to have a wood fire pit, a spark guard is a must.
  • Wind and flame guards are square or rectangular glass walls that are erected around a fire pit to provide safe clearance and to prevent the wind from capturing flames or embers from the fire pit and distributing them around the deck. When putting a fire pit in a wood deck, a wind and flame guard is advised. A glass flame guard, on the other hand, will not protect against radiant heat combustion.
  • Fire extinguishers and fire blankets: If you use any form of fire on your wood deck, even if you’re only grilling, a fire extinguisher and a fire blanket are both smart expenditures. You never know when you’ll need to rapidly extinguish a fire. A deck fire may swiftly evolve into a home fire if fire safety precautions are not taken.

Wood-burning fire pits provide a greater risk of fire than gas-burning fire pits. As a result, if you’re installing one, you should think about fire safety accessories for your fire pit to avoid accidently setting your deck on fire. 

Before you install a fire pit, ask yourself these questions.

Whether you’re thinking of putting a fire pit on your wood deck, there are a few things you should ask yourself to see if it’s safe to do so. 

Here are some things to think about before you go ahead and do it: 

  • Is there enough room on your deck for the fire pit to be properly cleared? 
  • Is it possible to place the fire pit in a low-traffic location to reduce the risk of unintentional burns?
  • Is the site of the fire pit far enough away from any pergolas, awnings, or other deck structures that may catch fire? 
  • Is the deck sturdy enough to handle the weight of the fire pit and the guests who will be gathered around it? Is the weight of the fire pit you plan to build too much for your deck? 
  • Is there anything combustible on the deck near the fire pit that may catch fire from the radiant heat? 
  • Is it legal to build a fire pit on a wooden deck in your city, or does your HOA prohibit it? 
  • Will you require the assistance of a structural engineer or other experts to build a fire pit? 
  • What sort of foundation protection can you use to insulate the fire pit from the deck? 

Before you buy a fire pit, make sure you have the answers to these questions. Otherwise, you risk having a fire pit that is either unsafe to build or illegal to install. This might result in anything from minor HOA harassment to a significant danger of fire in your property, depending on where you reside. 

Wooden decks with fire pits are fantastic, but they must be installed with care.

There’s nothing quite like sitting around a fire pit on the back deck for a romantic evening, but it must be done correctly to ensure your safety. Whether you just purchased a new Solo stove, read this article to see if it can be placed on a wood deck.

When it comes to constructing a fire pit on a wood deck, cutting corners is a formula for catastrophe. So, if a fire pit is a remodeling you’re considering for your outside area, you’ll want to think about all of the potential safety concerns before proceeding with the installation. If you’ve chosen to buy a fire pit, here are our best picks for backyard fire pits.

 

You can put a propane fire pit on a wood deck, but you should be careful of the placement. Reference: can you put a propane fire pit on a wood deck.

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