Fire pits often wrap up the perfect backyard. If you have pavers, you might wonder if it’s safe to place a fire pit on or around them. You’ve probably heard horror stories of people having their pavers shatter or explode from fire pits, but is this actually possible?
You can put a fire pit on top of pavers if the pavers are fire-resistant, porous, and level. Non-resistant pavers will crack under heat and pressure. Furthermore, uneven pavers will wobble and cause uneven weight distribution, which leads to fire hazards. Always use porous pavers.
In this post, we’ll explain whether or not it’s safe to put a fire pit on your pavers, why some pavers explode, and how you can protect your pavers from a fire pit.
Is It Safe to Put a Fire Pit On Top of Pavers?
It’s safe to put a fire pit on top of pavers. However, you need to make sure the pavers are rated and approved for fire pits. They need to be much more porous and breathable than traditional decorative pavers. If they don’t have small holes, the pavers will explode under the heat of the fire pit.
JS Brick Corporation explains most modern pavers can handle the heat of a fire pit, especially if you have lava rocks in the pit. Lava rocks and other forms of insulation prevent excessive direct heat from hitting the pavers. This distributes the heat evenly and makes it much less likely to damage the materials around the fire pit.
Can Pavers Explode From Heat?
Pavers can explode from heat if they’re non-heat-resistant. Fire-resistant pavers are designed to withstand the heat of summer, fire pits, and other high-temperature situations. However, non-porous pavers quickly crack and crumble under the fire pit. Keep in mind that the pavers need to be able to withstand the fire pit’s weight, too.
Let’s take an in-depth look at each of these concerns:
- Fire resistance: Not all pavers are created equal. In fact, a lot of them are simply for design purposes. You can’t use aesthetic pavers without any heat resistance around or under a fire pit. They will crack the first or second time you light a fire, causing all sorts of unwanted damage. You’ll have to carefully remove and replace the pavers.
- Porous pavers: Cement, concrete, and many other materials are porous. If your pavers aren’t porous or they’re covered in thick paint, they won’t be able to breathe. The porous surface allows heat to pass through without building up. This naturally prevents them from shattering or expanding from the extreme temperatures.
- Low weight capacity: Make sure your pavers are rated to handle hundreds of pounds. While most fire pits don’t exceed 100 pounds, it’s always better to be above the capacity than below it. Again, decorative pavers don’t often have the weight, heat, or porous recommendations and requirements for fire pits.
Pavers can undoubtedly explode from heat, but choosing the right ones will prevent this from happening. If you’re unsure whether or not your pavers are ready for a fire pit, contact the manufacturer beforehand. You can also apply some of the techniques mentioned in the following section to protect your pavers from the fire pit.
How Do You Protect a Paver Patio From a Fire Pit?
To protect a paver patio from a fire pit, follow these steps:
- Place a fireproof mat under the fire pit. For example, The Original Ember Mat is specifically designed for fire pits. Place this large mat under any fire pit to absorb and distribute the heat. It also cools down fallen ashes and embers, preventing unwanted fires from spreading.
- Clean and maintain the fire pit weekly. Remove excess debris, including ashes and burnt wood. Don’t forget to clean the grate and burner plates if you have a gas fire pit. It doesn’t hurt to take everything apart and scrub it thoroughly. This process prevents excessive heat buildup that can damage the pavers.
- Level the pavers under the fire pit to keep them stable. Always make sure the pavers don’t wobble or shift when they’re under the fire pit. If they move around too much, there’s a high chance of one of them breaking. Instead, level the pavers with a leveler tool and keep an eye on the tool while you place the fire pit on top of them.
- Switch to porous, heat-resistant pavers if possible. The best way to protect your pavers is to have the right ones. You can’t preserve and protect low-quality, non-resistant pavers from a heavy-duty fire pit. Do yourself a favor and upgrade your pavers to match the durability and resistance required for the pit.
- Consider using a heat screen. Clever Patio recommends heat screens for those who have pavers around their fire pits. Heat screens catch flying debris, preventing it from burning the wood, pavers, and furniture around the fire pit. These screens also catch some of the smoke and heat to make the fire pit more enjoyable.
Here’s that fireproof mat!
You can try all of these tips whether or not your pavers are designed for fire pits. It’s always better to be safe than sorry. You can have fire-resistant pavers, but a small slant can cause a world of problems. You can also keep a thin ½-inch gap between the pavers to allow some of the heat to escape.
What to Do if the Pavers Crack Under a Fire Pit
If the pavers crack under a fire pit, follow this method:
- Wait until the fire pit cools down, then remove all of the debris and accessories. Use safety gloves and safety goggles since some of the chipped or exploded paver bits might still be hot. Turn off the fire pit right when you notice the cracked pavers and wait for a couple of hours.
- Remove the fire pit. You have to remove the fire pit (if it’s not permanent) to access the damaged pavers. Make sure the feet are level and don’t have damage from the exploded pavers.
- Get rid of all of the cracked pavers and switch to concrete pavers. Use a wide flat shovel to quickly scoop out all the dust and debris caused by the exploded pavers. Consider removing all of the pavers that will come in contact with the fire pit, even if they’re not damaged.
- Use a leveler tool to make sure the new pavers are flat and even. Always level your pavers before putting a fire pit or anything else that’s heavy on top of them. Again, choose a heat-resistant paver to replace the old damaged ones.
- Place a heat shield between the new pavers and the fire pit. You can use a fire mat or anything else that’s rated for the heat and weight of a fire pit. Some people add sand around the fire pit to help with the heat insulation.
Never replace cracked pavers with the same material. Take a Yard claims cement pavers are the best for fire pits because they’re naturally heat resistant. They won’t crack or crumble from the heat, nor will you have to worry about them getting as hot as the metal ring around the fire pit.
You don’t need to get rid of your pavers if you have a fire pit. If your pavers aren’t porous, surround them with a heat shield or sand to limit their exposure to the heater from the fire pit. Always level the pavers before putting a fire pit (or any other decorations) on top of them.