Shop­ping for a fire pit

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Peo­ple have sat around an open fire out­doors for cen­turies. Not only does fire pro­vide warmth and light, but also it of­fers a re­lax­ing set­ting for con­ver­sa­tion and so­cial­iza­tion. The out­door fire pit has trans­formed the con­cept of back­yard en­ter­tain­ing. Homeowners un­der­stand how a fire pit can add value to a home and make their yard an invit­ing place to be on a sum­mer evening or a chilly au­tumn night.

Out­door fire pits are a rel­a­tively new cre­ation that con­tinue to grow in pop­u­lar­ity. Once avail­able strictly through spe­cialty re­tail­ers, fire pits can now be found on the shelves of many home im­prove­ment and big box stores as well as on­line.

Fire pits can add a lot to a home’s ex­te­rior en­ter­tain­ing area. Some fire pit styles and ma­te­ri­als will last longer than oth­ers. Homeowners should as­sess their needs and the space avail­able be­fore choos­ing a fire pit for their home.

First, homeowners must de­cide if they want a per­ma­nent or por­ta­ble fire pit. If you are ready to make an en­dur­ing change to your yard and land­scape, then a per­ma­nent fire pit is the way to go. Th­ese can be made of stone or brick and are of­ten very durable. Per­ma­nent fire pits can be in­cor­po­rated into land­scape de­signs to cre­ate a pro­fes­sional pa­tio look. They’re also some of the safer types of fire pits be­cause they can­not be knocked over and the bricks or re­tain­ing wall con­struc­tion pro­vide a bar­rier around the fire.

Por­ta­ble fire pits are free­stand­ing units that can be moved around the yard on a whim. They also can be loaded into the car and taken to a neigh­bor’s house or even to the beach. Por­ta­ble fire pits are less ex­pen­sive than per ma­nent models, and some homeowners pre­fer a trial run with a por­ta­ble pit be­fore de­cid­ing to in­stall a per­ma­nent struc­ture.

Por­ta­ble fire pits are made of metal and usu­ally coated with a fire­proof paint. Over time, ex­po­sure to the el­e­ments can cause the metal to rust or weaken, some­thing homeowners should con­sider prior to pur­chase.

Homeowners also must con­sider a fuel source. Wood is a com­mon fuel source for fire pits. Wood can be in­ex­pen­sive, es­pe­cially when gath­ered from around the yard. How­ever, a wood­burn­ing fire will con­stantly have to be fed with new branches. If you want to have a roar­ing fire but don’t want to main­tain it, then a gas-fu­eled fire pit is bet­ter. Nat­u­ral gas fire pits can run off of a por­ta­ble propane tank (think bar­be­cue tank) or be di­rectly con­nected to a home’s nat­u­ral gas sup­ply.

Now you can de­cide on the style. Gas fire pits will give you a greater num­ber of de­sign op­tions, but there are still plenty of choices with wood fire pits. From bowl-shaped pits to rec­tan­gu­lar-shaped pits to bar­rel-style pits to chimineas, there are de­signs to fit most pref­er­ences and size con­straints.

Once you have cho­sen a fire pit, safety should pre­vail. Here are some tips to con­sider.

• Keep the fire pit away from the home and ob­jects that can burn. Main­tain a safe dis­tance from the fire pit at all times.

• The best place to have the fire pit is on hard stone, ce­ment or tile. Por­ta­ble fire pits can be placed on pa­tio stones in the lawn.

• Use a screen to keep em­bers and sparks from es­cap­ing dur­ing use.

• Keep chil­dren a good dis­tance away from the fire pit and al­ways su­per­vise when the pit is in use.

• Make sure the fire is com­pletely ex­tin­guished be­fore go­ing in for the night.

• Do not use any ac­cel­er­ants to make the fire big­ger or light faster.

• Buy a vinyl cover to pro­tect the fire pit from the el­e­ments when not in use.

METRO SER­VICES PHOTO

Fire pits can add a lot to a home’s ex­te­rior en­ter­tain­ing area. Some fire pit styles and ma­te­ri­als will last longer than oth­ers.

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