7 August 2012

concrete firepit

 This has been the major project of the summer so far.  Since building the new fence last year, we had this big empty space in the backyard that we weren't too sure what to do with. 

I loved the idea of putting in some kind of firepit so that we could actually sit outside and enjoy the space on cool nights, but I didn't love the idea of woodpiles and smoke and hot ashes close to a dry forest (not to mention the fact that there are major restrictions on open wood fires in our residential area).

And then along came Pinterest

I'm telling you, if men had any smarts they would have somehow figured out a way to firewall this website from every home computer.

A natural gas concrete firepit sounded like it just might fit exactly what I had in mind.  We already had a gasline moved outside to allow for a future BBQ hookup, so all we had to do was put a T in the line and extend it out to where we wanted the firepit.  Well, maybe it wasn't that easy.  Here's what we did:

  1. Dig an 18'' deep trench from the side of the house to the firepit location for the gas line.  Props to my sister for doing this terrible job.
  2. Bury your copper line and cover with 'DANGER' tape and then with sand.  Dealing with natural gas is dangerous stuff so we consulted with a certified installer before doing this part.  We hired him to do the connections and hookups and I would not recommend trying to do this part yourself. 
  3. Purchase a natural gas burner kit.  The only round one I could find was made by 'Kingsman'.  You can check out the specs here if you're interested in a gas firepit of your own.  
  4. Since we had the burner plate, we could now draw out a plan with an appropriate diameter.  We decided on 18'' high, 3'' thick walls, with a total outside diameter of 36''.  
  5. Build a concrete form.  You will need a carpenter or some kind of handyman to do this job.  It was fairly labor intensive and I really have no idea how to explain this part. Basically you have to build an outside form and an inside form, and then use 1/8'' plywood and bend it around each of the two forms.
  6.  Drill holes for drainage and gasline, and bend a ton of rebar to minimize chances for concrete cracking.
  7. Mix and pour concrete.  We used about 12 bags believe it or not. Wait at least 24 hours and then strip your concrete of the wood forms. 
  8. Get your gas contractor to hook up the lines, put in a shutoff valve, and then you can figure out the height that your burner plate should be at.  I just used gravel underneath to make it the right height.  Top the burner with purchased gel-cast ceramic logs or rocks.  These are expensive, but you have to use them.  A small box of rocks costs about $150, but they will not turn black with the heat, and there is no risk of cracking or bursting.  I know that $150 for fake rocks sounds ridiculous, but do not use real rocks!

Before and after:

 Not too bad, huh.  Ignore those terrible plastic Adirondack chairs.  Although they are comfy as heck, I cannot stand plastic outdoor furniture.  We are in the midst of building new cedar chairs...update to come on that little project!

I am already spending way more time outside than ever before.  Heat makes every evening worth spending outdoors, plus it keeps the mosquitoes at bay. 

1 comment:

  1. Looks really wonderful, congratulations.



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