Getting your backyard ready to entertain during the fall and winter months can take many forms. One popular outdoor trend is the addition of a fire pit. This trend seems to resurface every year for a variety of reasons. For some, a fire pit provides the perfect area for gathering family and friends on chilly nights. For others, a fire pit is an attractive feature that can increase the beauty of a backyard while offering the functional benefit of hosting “camp-style” type dinners. There are even homeowners that simply enjoy the calming effect of sitting by a cozy fire.
Whatever the reason, there are countless fire pit options ranging from cast iron cauldrons and paver stone kits to ceramic bowls and clay chimineas. However, for that truly authentic and rugged fire pit with a modern look, homeowners might consider building one out of a pre-mixed, packaged concrete like QUIKRETE 5000. While this approach will require some time and a little heavy lifting, you can take pride in creating a monumental finished product that is an affordable alternative to many other fire pits.
Steps for building a concrete fire pit
Note: When working with cement-based products, always wear eye protection and waterproof gloves.
* Build an exterior frame and smaller interior frame using two-by-fours and two-by-sixes assembled with metal L-brackets. This will serve as the form.
* Place the exterior frame in the desired spot, mark 6 inches around the outside of the frame and dig an 8-inch hole within the perimeter.
* Spread gravel about 4 inches deep into the hole and level before placing the interior frame within the exterior frame.
* Level the frames and secure in place using a couple of scrap two-by-fours.
* Drive metal stakes into the ground and suspend rebar horizontally using wire to attach the rebar between each to give the fire pit strength.
* Mix and pour the concrete foundation about 3 and 1/2 inches thick, making sure to fill all corners and tap with a rubber mallet to avoid air pockets. Let the concrete cure for about 24 hours.
* Use QUIKRETE Mortar to lay one row of fire bricks placed vertically on top of the concrete and against the interior frame.
* Mix and pour more concrete on top of the first level of concrete and the fire bricks. Let the concrete cure for about 24 hours.
* Remove the scrap two-by-fours holding the interior and exterior frames apart before mixing and pouring the final layer of concrete.
* Smooth the concrete by screeding with a two-by-four, floating with a wood trowel and finishing with a steel trowel.
* Cover the concrete with a sheet of plastic so it stays moist during the 48-hour time.
* Remove the exterior and interior frames with a prybar, chisel and circular saw.
* Spread several inches of lava rock in the bottom of the fire pit for additional thermal resistance.
* Let the concrete cure for 28 days before starting your first fire.
Homeowners can customize their concrete fire pit by adding one 10-ounce bottle of liquid cement color per 80-pound bag of concrete mix before pouring. For more detailed instructions on building a concrete fire pit, watch the how-to video at QUIKRETE.com.