When it comes to backyard leisure, nothing feels quite as relaxing as a crackling fire pit on a cool evening. You can acquire a fire pit by buying or building one from scratch. Thus, if you’re on a tight budget, you may want to consider a cheaper approach to acquiring a fire pit for your home.
It’s cheaper to buy a fire pit than to build one. The cost of building a fire pit ranges between $300 and $5,000, while buying one is between $35 and $500. Labor, materials, and design are the factors that make building a fire pit costly.
In the rest of this article, I’ll discuss the materials used to build fire pits, including their prices and how they affect the cost. I’ll also cover pre-made fire pits so you can decide which one meets your requirements. Let’s get started!
Materials Used To Build Fire Pits
The durability of a fire pit depends on the materials used in building it. Most fire pits can have temperatures as high as 800°F (426.67°C). Thus, you must get materials that can withstand high temperatures if you want your fire pit to last long and serve you better.
Fire pit building materials are expensive. They account for more than 50% of the budget.
The most common materials used to build fire pits are:
Stone is the most popular material used in building fire pits because:
- It’s beautiful
- It’s natural
- It is easy to work with
- It’s durable
However, you just don’t wake up one day and collect stones from your backyard to build a fire pit. You’ll get an inefficient fire pit that will expose your family to fire pit injuries. Suitable and safe fire pit stones must be:
- Less likely to absorb water
- Resistant to high temperatures
- Smooth on the edges
Based on these conditions, the best fire pit stones are:
- Granite: This stone is beautiful, durable, and easy to work with. It’s also heat resistant and non-porous.
- Basalt: This stone is similar to granite, but it’s cheaper. It’s also durable and has a smooth surface.
- Limestone: It’s easy to work with and is heat resistant. However, it’s not as durable as granite and basalt.
- Slate: It’s a denser stone less likely to absorb water. Therefore, it can withstand high temperatures without exploding.
- Bluestone: This is your go-to stone if you want a beautifully-looking fire pit. It also has immense durability and is dense, making it suitable for fire pits.
- Stone veneer: These are manufactured to be heat-resistant and dense for a fire pit or oven purposes.
It’s worth mentioning that stone is among the most expensive fire pit materials. These materials are made to be durable and heat resistant. Thus, they’ll last many years without needing repairs or replacements.
The cost of stone varies depending on the type you choose. For example, bluestone is more expensive than limestone. However, the average price of a 36-inch (0.91-meter) stone fire pit ranges from $350 to $3,010, depending on the size and stone type.
Another material you can use to build a fire pit is concrete. It’s cheap, readily available, and easy to work with. Concrete is also durable and won’t break down under high temperatures.
It’s worth noting that unique design and reinforcement are needed to make concrete more heat-resistant. When exposed to extreme heat for a long time, concrete loses most of its structural strength and may end up cracking.
Fire pit concrete is commercially designed with gravel, stones, cement, and sand. This is done to make it stronger and able to withstand high temperatures from the fire pit.
Quikrete 5,000 is one of the best types of concrete for fire pits because it sets faster and is blended for durability.
Building a concrete fire pit is cheaper than stones. The average cost of a 36-inch (0.91-meter) concrete fire pit ranges from $200 to $1,000, depending on the design.
Most backyard fire pits are built with bricks. Bricks are considered suitable for fire pits as they can withstand thermal shocks caused by temperature variations in fire pits.
There are two types of bricks used in building fire pits:
- Normal bricks
- Refractory bricks
Normal bricks are the most common bricks used in building fire pits. They’re made from clay and shale. These bricks are readily available, and you can buy them from any home improvement store.
Normal bricks are fired at temperatures ranging from 1,500 to 2,000°F (815.56 and 1,093.33°C). The American Journal of Civil Engineering states that firing normal bricks at such high temperatures increases their compressive strength, making them suitable for fire pits.
The main advantage of using normal bricks is that they’re cheap. A pallet of 500 standard red bricks costs between $175 to $450.
The downside of normal bricks is that they are unsuitable for regular use as they can’t withstand constant thermal shocks. Exposing these bricks to constant thermal shocks leads to cracking and eventually crumbling.
Refractory bricks are made from fire clay, alumina, and silica. These materials give the bricks a high resistance to heat.
The firing process of refractory bricks is done at temperatures exceeding 2,000°F (1,093.33°C). This makes them more rigid and durable than normal bricks.
The main advantage of refractory bricks is that they’re more durable and heat-resistant. Thus, they can withstand constant thermal shocks without breaking down.
The downside is that these bricks are costly. The firing and hardening process makes these stones expensive but worth it due to their high quality for fire pits.
Metal is the final material used to build fire pits. Experts recommend steel as the best metal for fire pits since it’s cheap, versatile, and strong.
You can use other metals, such as aluminum, but they’re not as durable or heat-resistant as steel. Aluminum is a good choice if you want a light and rust-resistant fire pit.
The cost of a 36-inch (0.91-meter) steel fire pit ranges from $250 to $1,200, depending on the design.
It’s advisable to consider the disadvantages of steel before using it to build a fire pit. One of the main problems with steel is that it rusts when exposed to water and oxygen.
To prevent this, you must coat the steel with rust-resistant paint or powder. Although the coating process adds to the cost, it’s worth it to extend the life of your fire pit.
Pre-Made Fire Pits
A pre-made fire pit is your go-to option if you don’t want to go through the hassle of building one. These fire pits come in all shapes, sizes, and materials.
The average cost of a pre-made fire pit ranges from $35 to $500. The price will depend on the fire pit’s size, design, and material.
Pros of Pre-Made Fire Pits
- Are delivered ready-made: You don’t have to worry about sourcing materials and designing. Once delivered, you can install it at your chosen location, ready for use. You may only incur installation costs if you don’t know how to go about it and need to hire someone for installation.
- A wide range of options: You can find pre-made fire pits made from all sorts of materials, such as concrete, stone, brick, steel, and even glass.
- Different shapes and sizes: Whether you want a small and intimate fire pit for your backyard or a large one for commercial use, there’s a pre-made option.
- Are cheaper: These fire pits have a more affordable initial cost than those built from scratch.
Cons of Pre-Made Fire Pits
- Costly in the long run: Although the initial cost may be cheaper than building one from scratch, the long-term costs will be higher as these fire pits require regular maintenance and replacement.
- Not as durable: Most pre-made fire pits are less durable than those built from scratch. They may not last as long and may need to be replaced more often.
- May not fit in your planned space: These fire pits come ready-made. Therefore, you may get a larger or smaller pit than your intended area.
Building a fire pit is costly due to the many processes involved. You must source materials, design the fire pit, and install it. On the other hand, pre-made fire pits come ready for installation. Thus, a pre-made fire pit is your go-to option if you’re on a tight budget.