Can I put a firepit on my decking?
There’s nothing quite like the sitting outside with friends and family on a warm summer evening as the sun goes down, and lighting the firepit in the middle to bring extra warmth, light and happiness can only make the experience and memories all the more special!
Everyone knows the risks of fire though, so a very common question we are often asked is “Can I use a fire pit on my decking?” Well you’ll be pleased to know that with the right precautions and safety measures, you can in fact use enjoy your fire pit on your and your decking area!
In this article, we’ll go through the key steps which will allow you to sit back and relax around your fire pit, knowing that you and your property are safe.
Rule number one is very simple, but comes first for a reason. When using a fire pit on your wooden or composite decking, or anywhere in your garden for that matter – never leave it unattended! While following all of the safety precautions in this article will make your fire pit nice and safe, you can never control sudden changes in the wind which might cause issues. And always make sure you have a water source or other fire extinguisher nearby at all times, in case the unexpected happens. You can never be too safe!
Space and Location
Before using your fire pit, make sure your decking area is clear and tidy, and in particular that there is nothing easily combustible nearby. Remember that your fire popping & crackling will cause spark and even embers to jump out of the firepit. If these were to land in a pile of dry leaves or something else highly combustible, this could very easily ignite and spread. So sweep up and make sure there’s a nice, big clear area around your fire pit.
It's also critical that you keep your fire pit a safe distance from the house and any other building or structure, being sure to be aware of overhand and gutters as these could melt from the heat. It’s best practise keep your fire pit at least 5 metres away from the house, and as central as possible in your decking area.
Never place your fire pit directly onto your decking, whether you have wooden or composite decking. Even most of the heat from your fire pit travels upwards, a lot of heat will also radiate down towards the decking, which can scorch or burn the deck. This will cause unsightly damage to the surface, structural weakness in the boards, or worse.
You need to create a protective separation surface between the decking and the fire pit, and there are a number of ways to do this. You can buy specially made fire pit mats online which are designed for this purpose, or a cheaper DIY method is to lay paving slabs onto the decking for the fire pit to sit on. You’ll need to be careful that the paving doesn’t scratch the surface of the decking with this method.
A great alternative option is to create a paved area in the centre of your decking area. This creates the perfect setting for your fire pit, and can also bring a really nice contrast to the decking design. Have a look at the Tectonic® paving and decking subframes https://ovaeda.com/pages/porcelain-paving-subframes-pedestals , which will allow you to easily create this central paved area. A good option for the paving would be 20mm Porcelain Paving, as this will line up flush with the decking surface to create a neat and seamless transition. Take a look at the Ovaeda Porcelain Paving range here to be inspired https://ovaeda.com/collections/porcelain-paving-slabs
To prevent sparks and embers from escaping from your fire pit, invest in a spark screen. This doesn’t have to be used all the time, once you have a hot fire that has settled down you will be safe without it, but often when your fire is getting up to temperature or with particular types or condition of wood you can get excessive sparks or flying embers popping and crackling which you will be safest to keep in the firepit with a spark screen until it settles down.
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Additional layers – pour sand in first
It’s a good idea to add a layer of sand, approx. 40 – 50mm in the base of the fire pit before lighting your fire. This serves two purposes, provides another heat insulator between the fire and the decking below, and it also gives the internal surface of the fire pit some protection from the fire and ash which may increase the life of you fire pit.
This may sound obvious, but don’t use your fire pit when the weather is not suitable. You’re unlikely to be planning to sit outside for a relaxing evening in gale force winds, but still we need to mention this point! Never light your fire pit in high wind, as sparks will travel much further and risk igniting other items. High wind will also cause the fire to burn more vigorously than usual so the flames will be larger and blow sideways as well as upwards! So when there’s anything more than a gentle breeze, avoid lighting your fire pit.
It's also important to be aware if the weather has been warm and dry for extended periods as this will have dried out everything in the surrounding area, meaning it would catch fire more easily.
Consider fire-rated materials
Whilst a lot of decks are constructed from timber decking and a timber subframe and it is possible to use a fire pit safely in these cases, it is definitely worth considering using fire rated decking products to build your deck area instead. This means that in the event of the fire spreading, the surrounding deck area is at a far lower risk of igniting quickly, and if something does catch fire, it will spread a lot more slowly. There are two elements to consider here, the decking boards themselves, and the decking subframe.
Ovaeda composite decking is Class B fire rated, which makes it a lot safer when in close proximity to a fire pit than with timber decking. Have a look at the Ovaeda range of composite decking here https://ovaeda.com/collections/composite-decking-boards
Another way to lessen the risk when using your fire pit is by installing your decking on a non-combustible aluminium decking subframe. Take a look at the options available here https://ovaeda.com/collections/composite-decking-boards/decking-subframes
Now that we’ve covered the 7 key elements to make sure you’re fire pit is as safe as possible, you can look forward to those cosy evenings round the fire pit with friends and family.
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