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Outdoor Fire Pit: Worth the Investment?

Oct 31, 2020 by Lena Katz
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A fire pit is primarily ambient/atmospheric, although it can have some warming properties, depending on how powerful it is and how large. It’s one of those lovely features for people to gather around in the evening, since it’s pleasant in cool, balmy, or even slightly warm weather. Only in downright hot temperatures does the mere look of fire cause discomfort. However, since fire pits are mainly ornamental, if weather is truly frigid or there’s a lot of precipitation, a fire pit doesn’t really do much to combat the weather and may actually get damaged.

People typically buy fire pits as part of a hardscaping project. They might come into consideration as a garden feature, but the fire features preclude them from being installed right on top of flourishing greenery. Instead, you install a stone or tile circle into the grass and put the fire pit on top of that..

The alternative to a fire pit is, of course, a fireplace, but those are much harder to install and more restricted in terms of where they can actually be installed. One of the best things about fire pits is that they can go in almost any hardscaped outdoor space, bringing the mood of a fire feature without requiring special planning or construction.

Pros of fire pits

  • Ease of installation

If you have the budget, you can dig down and install a special stone or tile deck for a firepit, but if you just want something simple and inexpensive, $300 fire pits come built into table-like structures, requiring very little in the way of installation. Overall, while the earlier definition of fire pit connoted that it would be in an actual shallow pit dug into the ground like a campfire, these days a fire pit is usually built into a structure which sits atop hardscaping. And the portable fire pits, while certainly not as atmospheric as built-in, still lend that bit of ambience even if it’s only temporary.

  • Range of power and function

How warm, bright, long-lasting, and intense do you want your fire pit to be? Do you prefer a fire pit that runs off propane, or charcoal? Do you want one that is more ornamental or one that actually gives off significant heat to warm people on cold nights? Will you need screens or grates? All of these factor into the placement, preparation and overall complexity of a fire pit installation.

  • Lends instant ambiance to an outdoor space

No matter what the price, a firepit’s stone and flickering flames lend distinct ambience and charm to any outdoor space. Although they’re not always expensive, they are a common feature of luxury outdoor spaces, so much so that having one is an instant upgrade.

  • Wide range of prices

Although fire pits are definitely among the fancier/flashier patio accents, they start off at just $300 and climb to about $2,000. Different styles are available, ranging from $300 - $500 on up, and adding one to a yard is widely agreed as a wise investment.

Cons of fire pits

  • They can be hazardous because real fire is a feature.
  • Your neighborhood may have regulations in place that say what sort of fire pit you’re allowed to have in your yard.
  • There may be operational requirements.
  • Placement is a concern. You can’t put a firepit anywhere, like under power lines or over utility lines. You should be careful to place one far away from structures, trees, dry grass, or other combustible materials.
  • Wind is a major safety hazard for any fire pit. You’ll need to install a windscreen to be truly safe.

Cost of a fire pit

According to, propane-burning fire pits cost from as little as $300 up to $1,400. The basic functions for this price range remain the same. However, the material used for construction and the fuel consumed to power it remain the two big X factors. The national average cost is $850, with concrete block being the cheapest material and DIY fire pit kits coming in around $550.

Fire pit vs. fireplace?

While originally more simple to install, fireplaces in modern homes and outdoor kitchens are extremely pricy, with an average cost of $3,000 and a lower-end price of $1,500, according to Home Advisor.

Things to consider in a fire pit:

  1. Dimensions
  2. Material (what it's made of)
  3. Fuel
  4. Requirements (for base/installation materials)
  5. Restrictions (what can be burned)

Worth it?

Yes! Though few renovations and upgrades are worth it in terms of commanding a higher price, this one is a good thing to spend money on because more people are spending a lot more time outdoors lately, and people are either looking to buy in places with beautiful usable outdoor square footage, or they’re looking to upgrade that square footage themselves on the cheap. Either way, a fire pit helps the goal without costing too much.

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