Home Happies: DIY Firepit

Thanks so much for the comments on our firepit!  I passed the praise along to Brian and he was oh-so-proud of himself.  Honestly, he put up the biggest protest for the longest time about the project, thinking it would be way bigger of a task than he was up for taking on.

WELL, after showing him the tutorials that I had found and putting together a shopping list, he agreed that we could do it.  If you browse Pinterest, as with anything else that you look for there, you'll find a million results, varying in degree of difficulty.  

Some people built their firepits on top of their already-paved patios, or areas in their yard where pavers had been laid (this was my favorite look and something I wanted to begin with but we just weren't able to take on such a big project right now-- ain't nobody got time to build their own patio on a random Saturday!):

Others built right on to the grass and without a firebowl insert so they could place their logs/whatever they're burning straight in the bottom and use whatever cover suited their fancy: 

And then we have the tutorial that we followed, doing a little manual labor with digging the circle and laying the blocks, but we added our own step by a little help by purchasing a firepit kit from Lowe's:

Our shopping list was easy: 
*Pea Gravel (4 bags at around $4 each-- we actually ended up buying 2 additional bags on Sunday to fill in a bit higher around the perimeter) 
*A stamper (to make sure the ground was nicely compacted after digging the circle but before spreading the rock/building the pit (update: this is called a tamper, but that makes no sense, so I shall continue calling it a STAMPER.  This was around $26.)

We drove our little Subaru over to Lowe's and once we wheeled all 48 of our (heavy, cement) stones out to the car, plus the four bags of gravel and the huge box holding the firepit, we realized this was going to be a multi-trip project.  So we loaded up 24 of the stones, two bags of the gravel, the stamper and the firepit, and drove home.  Once we unloaded, Brian started the manly task of digging the big circle while I drove back for the second batch of supplies.  

If I would have been home, I would have taken pictures, but instead will hopefully explain (not the same, I know).

1. We picked our spot in the yard (10 feet away from our house, trees, anything that could catch fire if a quick wind picked up a rogue flame) and placed the screen top that came with the firepit on the ground. 

2. We knew that we wanted to account for plenty of gravel space around the edge of the firepit once it was completed, so Brian laid out two rows of the stones around the screen (two rows side by side, not stacked, if that makes sense), and used the shovel to mark a full circle around the outer rim. Then he moved everything out of the way and started digging.

3. This is when I made my reappearance with the rest of the supplies (and lunch).  Luckily, Brian had the entire circle cleared and had started using the (s)tamper to level and flatten the ground.  The yard sloped just a tiny bit, so one edge was a little higher than the other, so that took a bit of leveling out.

4. Using our trusty fire screen again, we set it in the center of our circle, making a row of the pavers along the outside of the rim.  Once we had our bottom row, we moved the screen out of the way.  Based on the size of the screen, we ended up only using 11 blocks on our first row. 

5. For the next layer, we staggered the blocks so that a paver sat like a tripod/connector on the two pavers below it (you can see the stagger in this photo). Once we had the first two layers, we laid the fire bowl inside to make sure that everything laid flat and that the blocks were spaced appropriately-- it was perfect!

The second layer and the remaining two layers also each had 11 pavers, which left us with 4 leftover.

Once the four layers were stacked, we poured one full bag of the pebbles into the center, and the remaining three bags around the edge.  We did this instead of pouring all of the pebbels and then stacking the pavers on top of the pebble layer so that the bottom pavers were on the compacted dirt, making it all a bit more steady.  

As I mentioned, we did end up buying 2 additional bags of pebbles, but only because of the higher edge on one side that Brian leveled-- it needs a little more coverage.  We also love that the pebble edge extends further away from the firepit itself-- the tutorial that we followed noted in their instructions that they wished they'd done so, to make it easier to navigate when mowing.  I also like that it makes for a little more space between the fire and your chairs :)

6. The last step for us was to inset the firepit bowl from the firepit kit.  We unscrewed the brackets on the bottom of the bowl (meant to screw into the legs, if you're using the firepit kit as a stand-alone set) and discarded them.  You can see in the picture that the lip of the bowl overlaps the inner rim of the pit-- this was why we used the screen as our reference tool when deciding how to place the first row of pavers, knowing that we wanted the rim to be more snug so that the firebowl would nestle in and be sturdy/balanced, not... wiggly. 

All in all, this was easy-peasy.  Once you have the ground leveled, it took us all of 15 minutes to stack and fill everything, and it actually came out being fairly cheap compared to other tutorials that I've seen.  And I definitely recommend buying the firepit kit-- it comes with a grate inside, the screen, a tool to use to adjust the screen/grate, the legs and a cover.  We tested the cover and while it doesn't fit over the entire firepit, our plan is to remove the firebowl/screen during the winter, cover it with the cover, and store it in our shed so that the snow doesn't rust it.

That was legit probably the worst tutorial ever, and it was PICTURELESS, which is basically criminal in blog-world.  But oh well-- y'all had some questions and I answered! Happy building!

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