Gas fire pits are excellent outdoor appliances for various functions. The illusion of flames they produce is a decorative sight to behold against the contrast of the outdoors, especially at night. Learn how to build a DIY gas fire pit in 7 steps here.
You also get to enjoy the exceptional warmth emitted by the heat of flames as the gas burns, all in your own backyard or outdoor space.
While you can enjoy these and other benefits by having a professional install your backyard fire pit, it is possible to make one yourself through a simple DIY gas fire pit installation project.
If you can get some of the natural items like lava rock easily, you’ll be able to bring down the cost.
In this article, we discuss the process of how to build a DIY gas fire pit in seven simple steps.
Some of them may seem pretty obvious, but they are central to your backyard fire pit construction success. As such, ensure you fulfill all the requirements for each step without bypassing any aspects.
Table of Contents
1. Select a Good Location
The location of the gas fire pit is key because of several factors. First, it determines the design options you can choose for the pit. Second, it dictates what fuel source you will use and how it will be connected to the pit.
If you want to install the pit in a grass-covered area or on top of a patio, you will need concrete pavers to make a paver base in the grass option and a vapor barrier for both to keep away moisture that may destroy the gas burner kit.
You won’t need the barrier if you build on a concrete slab.
For utmost safety and burning efficiency, the fire pit should have a clearance of at least six feet all around.
2. Decide What Gas Type to Use
A gas fire pit uses either natural gas or propane as fuel. There are two options between natural gas fire pits and propane fire pits. The former are the better option for a permanent fire pit, while the latter can be dismantled easily and installed in a different location.
With natural gas, you will need to install a permanent gas fuel line.
The cost may be high here because of the different materials required and the help of a gas technician, but you won’t ever run out of gas as long as you are connected to the natural gas system in your home.
For more flexibility during the installation, consider using a propane gas fire pit. Of course, you can set this up from scratch in a separate DIY process, but to save on time, go for a readily manufactured propane-fueled fire pit kit.
Note that these two gas systems are not interchangeable. If you decide to change into a new one later, you might have to alter the design of the fire pit and the gas supply system to match the setup needed for the new fuel source.
3. Choose Your Burner and Other Key Components
A custom fire pit requires a burner and several other key components you can’t build a cozy fire pit without accessing first. Firstly, you will need a complete gas burner kit for burning the gas and determining the gas flame size and the flame height.
You can buy a fire pit burner kit with all the required items included or purchase the burner individually.
Other components include a pan for holding your preferred media, connectors and fittings for directing the fuel to the burner, an air mixer if you use a propane fire pit, media such as lava rocks or colored fire glass for even gas distribution, and a manual or automatic ignition system.
4. Install the Underground Gas Line
If you are building a permanent fire pit to use natural gas, you will need to set up a permanent gas line to direct the fuel from the chief supply point to the fire pit. At this point, enlist the help of a certified gas physician to make the connection for you.
The groundwork process involves digging a trench, laying pipes and risers, connecting and testing the gas line, and laying a detector wire for ease of locating the covered gas line.
5. Set up the Base for the Enclosure
At this point, you have the gas line at the spot where you want to build the fire pit. Setting up the first few layers of blocks here serves the enclosure function for either the propane fire pit or the natural gas option.
Use 4-inch radius pavers or masonry building blocks to make the wall block around the internal fire pit components. You can have spaces between the blocks for ventilation, or you could use the optional vent block system where you leave out one space where the vent will be.
You don’t have the liberty to explore different design ideas with the wall block because a cylindrical one is the best for achieving the whirlpool effect that distributes the heat evenly.
Once the base for the enclosure is set, fit in all the fireplace inserts or components, including the pit insert kit, ventilation, gas fire table, burner ignition system, pan, media, and air mixer for the propane fire pit.
Note that fire glass and lava rocks are more preferred because, unlike river rocks, they are non-porous and do not absorb moisture that would cause swelling and cracking in the entire system.
6. Complete the Enclosure or Surround
Once you have all the internal and external components in the right places, it’s time to complete the enclosure or surround. Keep adding layers of blocks or concrete pavers and holding them together with heat and moisture resistant adhesive.
7. Light it Up
The last step in constructing the DIY gas fire pit is to light it up and enjoy the warmth and illusion of flames the fire pit creates. The lighting-up method depends on the ignition system you choose. You’ll need a match for the manual option.
While it is easy to build a DIY gas fire pit, you should enlist the help of a certified gas professional to help set up the system and advise you on the best design, location, and fittings to use for the best results.
For more detailed step-by-step instructions, the four sites listed below will come in handy. They have explanations for different designs and gas fire pit types, complete with diagrams and the pit installation process from step one to the last lighting stage.