Sunday, November 6, 2016

Building a Backyard Firepit

One of my goals for this year was to build a firepit in the backyard. For years we've had a succession of portable firepits. They lasted a few seasons, then rusted out. Now that we have a big yard, I thought it was time to upgrade to something a bit more substantial. We talked to a landscaper about building one for us. Then we got the estimate. Yowza! My next thought was, "How hard can this be? I'll do it myself." And you know what? I did! All by myself. And it wasn't that hard.

After tossing around a few ideas (e.g. buy a bunch of stone and wing it), I decided to purchase this kit from Home Depot. I also ordered these Mexican beach pebbles. Since I wisely concluded that trying to transport hundreds of pounds of rock in my station wagon wasn't a great idea, I had the materials delivered for an additional $60. Well worth it. The materials arrived stacked on a pallet and the driver very nicely dropped it off as close as possible to where I planned to build the firepit.

Since I was not building this on a hard surface, I needed to remove the sod and level the ground first. This was the hardest part. Lesson learned: find a relatively level spot to start with. Mine was not. I did the best I could and kept checking with a level, but I'm not going to lie--it's not perfect.

The actual building could not have been simpler (actually, it would have been simpler if the ground was perfectly level...). You place the first row of stones in a circle 48" in diameter. Then the second row of stones is staggered so that the seams don't match up. The cap stones are placed last and they should align with the stones in the second row.

Once I got done I spent the next several hours tweaking it--i.e. adjusting all the stones so they were just right. Finally my daughter came out of the house and told me to stop obsessing and just get on with it. Good advice.

The next step is to use construction adhesive to hold it all together. I started by removing one capstone and the stone below it. I then applied adhesive to the exposed top of the two stones in the first row. Next I replaced the stone from the second row and then applied adhesive to the top of this stone. Finally, I replaced the capstone. I repeated this with all the stones.

To complete the project, I filled the ring with stones I had collected on the beach to depth of about 2". There is a metal ring that fits inside the stone to protect the stones from the heat of the fire. It comes in 2 pieces. I just had to fit them together and then insert screws to hold the pieces in place. I then placed the metal ring on top of the beach stones. There was about a 3" gap between the metal ring and the stone of the firepit. I had planned to fill this gap with the Mexican beach pebbles which are a pretty dark gray, but I didn't have nearly enough. So I used some less pretty random stones to fill in except for the last 2" and then topped it off with the Mexican beach pebbles.

Here it is all done!

We have really enjoyed using it and now that the weather is cooler, I expect we'll be using it even more.  I added some wool throws to make it cozier on chilly evenings.


Wouldn't it be great to top off Thanksgiving dinner with a few s'mores?

Here's the breakdown on costs:
30 in. Fossil Limestone Fire Pit Kit from Home Depot--$451 (+$60 delivery)
2 0.4 cubic ft bags of Mexican Beach Pebbles--$34
Construction adhesive & caulk gun--$8
Beach stones--free
Highwood synthetic wood Adirondack chairs in Nantucket Blue from Overstock--$270 each.

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