Are you afraid placing your portable fire pit on your deck will cause damage and cost you hundreds or even thousands of dollars to fix? Perhaps you’re concerned about this being a safety hazard. There are ways to avoid this, so don’t panic just yet.
You can put a portable fire pit on a deck if you account for some safety concerns. Firstly, the sparkles from the fire pit can damage your deck depending on the material it is made of. You can protect your patio with a fire pit mat, spark screen, and by storing a fire extinguisher and blanket.
In the following article, I’ll discuss the different materials decks can consist of and how those materials are affected by extreme heat. I will also share some tips and tricks to avoid damage while enjoying your fire pit on your deck without any worries.
How a Portable Fire Pit Can Damage a Deck
Decks can be made out of different materials, and these materials have different heat-resistance levels. Protection should be used with every type of deck because no matter how heat-resistant it is, there is always some damage because of the heat.
Softwood is, as the name implies, most often softer than hardwood because of its structure. Some examples of softwood are cedar and pine. Softwood isn’t as durable as hardwood, which also makes a difference when it comes into contact with intense heat.
Softwood isn’t as fire-resistant as hardwood because of its porosity and lower density when compared to other types of wood. This means that softwood decking is the most likely to catch fire or show damage after close contact with fire.
It’s very important that you never place a portable fire pit directly on your wooden deck. There are ways to avoid direct contact that I will discuss further in the article.
Oak, lime, and walnut are some examples of hardwood. They are highly fire-resistant because of their very strong structure, more than softwoods.
However, you still shouldn’t place a fire pit directly onto a wooden deck. It will undoubtedly cause damage. Even if your portable fire pit has legs, you need to ensure some protection is in place. On top of the risk that it will damage your decking, it could also cause a serious fire.
Composite decking is made from different materials. Most of the time, it’s a combination of plastic and some type of wood. It is more flammable than PVC but less flammable than simple wood decking.
That means that, even though it might not be affected by sparks and ashes as much as wood decking, you should take the same precautions and protect your composite decking from heat damage.
PVC is Polyvinyl chloride, a type of plastic. Plastic can deform when it comes into contact with ash and sparkles from the fire. PVC is highly fire resistant. However, all plastic melts at some point. Don’t take the risk and provide protection between your fire pit and the deck (and any other flammable things).
PVC burns at almost 750 degrees Fahrenheit (almost 400 degrees Celcius), a significantly higher temperature than wood. Nonetheless, when it does burn, it can release a toxic gas. This gas is very harmful, so avoiding sparks or ash from falling onto the ground is better.
How To Prevent Any Damage to Your Decking
There are several ways to protect your deck from any damage and fire risk, so you can enjoy sitting around the fire pit on your deck without any worries. A small investment may be necessary, but it’s important if you want to limit the risk of fire damage.
Use a Spark Screen
A spark screen is a dome made from steel with small holes that can be used to cover your fire pit. The dome will stop any sparks or ash from the fire from flying out of the fire pit and falling onto the deck, causing holes. It’s a great way to keep the heat away from your deck.
Spark screens are available in different sizes and shapes; you will find one that fits your fire pit. It is also a way to prevent anything or anyone from directly touching the fire. That extra protective layer could come in handy if you have curious young children or clumsy people around the fire.
The screens can be expensive, but they are a good long-lasting investment. It’s better to be safe than sorry. You can find the Good Directions Spark Screen on Amazon.com, available in 20 inches (50.8 cm), 25 inches (63.5 cm), 30 inches (76.2 cm), 37 inches (94 cm), and 40 inches (101.6 cm). It’s a hinged screen, so you can open it with a handle without taking it off the fire pit.
Fire Pit Mat
A fire pit mat is a mat you can lay down underneath your fire pit for sparkes to fall onto. The mat is heat-resistant, so it won’t get damaged, and forms a shield between your fire pit and your deck. They are often made from fiberglass or aluminum.
Fire pit mats are available in different sizes, shapes, and colors. That means you don’t have to worry about a fire pit mat making your deck look bad because you can always find one that matches your house exterior. They are also a lot cheaper than a lot of spark screens. It will be easier to buy a mat because you don’t have to find one that exactly fits your fire pit, unlike a spark screen.
You can buy the WHOLELY GRILL Fire Pit Mats on Amazon.com, which you can also use underneath a BBQ. It’s made from fiberglass and is portable, making it easy to store.
Location of the Fire Pit
Where you put the portable fire pit is very important. You have to ensure not to put it anywhere near things that can catch fire or melt because of the heat.
Maybe you don’t even notice it, but some loose fabric hanging somewhere near or some type of roofing over your deck can be a fire hazard. Place your fire pit carefully on the deck, ensuring that all loose flammable material is tucked away or downwind.
Fire Blanket and Extinguisher
Make sure you have a fire extinguisher and blanket stored somewhere not too far away from your fire pit. In an emergency, you should be able to grab those within a couple of seconds and avoid any serious danger.
It’s a good idea to always have those somewhere in your house because fires can always happen accidentally. Just make sure that you are prepared.
Fire extinguishers aren’t very expensive. You can buy some on Amazon.com, like the First Alert HOME1 Fire Extinguisher, a rechargeable, multipurpose extinguisher perfect for home safety.
Fire blankets are often very cheap and can also be found on Amazon.com, like the Jdox Fire Blankets. These blankets are available as a two-pack, are easy to use, and will also protect you and your loved ones in case of a house fire.
No matter how heat-resistant the material that your deck is made of, ash and sparks from the fire can cause damage to the decking. This is why it’s important to always protect the decking when you’re using a portable fire pit.
You should invest in a spark screen and/or fire mat, a fire extinguisher, and a blanket, and make sure to place your fire pit nowhere near anything that could possibly catch fire. Fire is hard to control, so you should always be prepared for the worst.