My husband and I have been homeowners for almost 3 years. When we bought our house, it had been empty for quite a few months and the yard was extremely dead and overgrown. We looked at the yard as a fun project, but little did we know how big of an undertaking we were going to be dealing with!
Fast forward to today . . . we have made huge strides in our yard, but still have quite a ways to go. One thing that we wanted to do in our yard was build a fire pit. Our yard is long and skinny and all along the back edge weeds grew in abundance (our kids even nicknamed that area of our yard “The Jungle” because many of the weeds were taller than they were!).(“The Jungle” . . . of weeds!)
We started searching for plans to build your own fire pit and found a couple that we loved. We took our ideas over to our local Lowe’s Home Improvement store and that’s where our project began!
Tools and materials needed to build your own fire pit and paver patio:
Carpenter’ s Level
Polymeric paver sand
2 x 4 piece of wood (3-4 feet long)
Retaining Wall Block
A couple of things to think about:
-Calculate the amount of material needed (for more tips, click HERE)
Before you get started, you need to decide where you are going to build your patio and how big it will be. From there, you will have a better idea of how much material you will need. To estimate the amount of material you need for the patio, measure the length and width. Multiply the two numbers together to get the square footage of your patio.
Example: A 10-foot-by-10-foot area is 100 square feet.
-Amount of Gravel
For 4 inches of gravel, you’ll need to calculate the volume. Length x Width x Height = Volume
Example: For a 10-foot-by-10-foot patio with 4 inches of gravel, you’ll need (10 x 10 x .333) = 34 cubic feet or 1.25 cubic yards.
-Amount of Sand
Once you have the amount of gravel needed, calculate the amount of sand. You’ll need 1 inch of sand above the gravel base. You must allow for sand to filter into the gravel base and space between bricks.
Example: For a 10-foot-by-10-foot patio, 1.25 cubic yards of gravel is needed. Multiply 1.25 x .333 to calculate the amount of sand needed. You’ll need .42 cubic yards or 11 cubic feet of sand.
-Number of Bricks
Standard brick pavers measure 4 inches by 8 inches. To cover 10 square feet, you’ll need about 45 pavers. A surplus of 5% to 10% is recommended to allow for breakage and future repairs.
Example: For a 10-foot-by-10-foot patio, the patio is 100 square feet. 45/10 = 4.5 and 4.5 (100) = 450 bricks Add 5% to 10% for breakage. 450 x .10 = 45. So you’ll need 495 bricks to do a 10-foot-by-10-foot patio.
If you’re using pavers that aren’t the standard size, find out the surface area of your material. Take that number and divide it into the surface area of the patio for the number of units needed.
1. Decide a location and dimensions for your patio/fire pit
a. My dimensions were 10 ft x 13 ft for the patio; the fire pit had an inside diameter of 32 inches.
b. If it’s a rectangular patio, make sure you measure your diagonals to ensure you build a rectangle, not a rhombus
c. Mark off the area with stakes/twine.
3. Lay 4 inches of gravel in the bottom of your hole.
(This provides a firm, stable foundation upon which you can lay your patio.)
a. Make sure that it’s as level as possible, and tamp things into place.
4. Lay 1 inch of sand on top of your gravel.
(Not only does Lowe’s have everything you need for this project, but they help load everything in your car too! Thank goodness, because those bags of sand were huge and heavy! And even if you don’t have a truck to haul all the sand and brick to your house, Lowe’s will let you rent one.)
a. Level your sand as much as possible with a rake and tamp it in to place.
b. Screed the sand level: I used a 3-foot 2×4 with a carpenter level. Move the 2×4 on top of the sand back and forth screeding it level (check the level with your carpenter level- watch the tutorial videos at the bottom of this post to see how it’s done!).
5. Brick time!
a. Choose your brick- we took into account the colors that already existed in our yard and around our home. We went
with a charcoal brick with tan highlights. Lowe’s has a ton of options (Notice the pictures at the top of the instructions? Those were just a few of the color combinations that we were playing with at Lowe’s. They have a lot of fire pit examples at the store for you to see).
b. Decide on a pattern… lots exist!
c. Start laying brick in one corner and work outwards following your guide lines.
d. Leave 1/8-1/4 of an inch between bricks for the paver sand to lock things in place.
e. A rubber mallet and a 2×4 are essential! Ensure things stay level and even by tapping them with a mallet. The 2×4 works well to level multiple bricks at a time.
f. Make sure you ensure things stay straight with your carpenter level.
g. I filled my brick pattern from the outside in.
6. Set paver brick in place using polymeric paver sand
a. Recommended to use a funnel or bag to set sand directly into joints and minimize the sand/dust
that gets on top of your brick (I did not have that kind of time!).
b. I dumped the sand along the joints and used a broom to push it between the bricks.
c. Use a leaf blower to blow the dust off the top of the brick. If the dust gets wet it can discolor your brick.
d. Mist the sand into place. Do not spray as this can wash the sand out of the joints or cause splattering/discoloration.
e. Recommended 24-72 hours for polymeric sand to set depending on climate where you live. (I covered mine with a tarp so my sprinklers didn’t affect it while it dried. I gave it two days in the dry, June heat and it worked just fine.)
7. Congratulations! Your patio is complete!
8. Pick the block for your fire pit
a. I went with 8-inch retaining wall blocks; the 1⁄4 inch lip on the back broke off really easily with a hammer.
b. Decide the diameter of your fire pit (mine was 32 inches in diameter measuring inside edge to
inside edge; 42 inches diameter outside edge to outside edge).
9. Mark the area for your fire pit on your patio
a. Find the center of your patio by measuring opposite corners and dividing by two. Where these lines intersect is
the center of the patio.
b. I cut a piece of twine the same length as the inside radius of my fire pit (16 inches) and drew a circle on my patio using chalk.
10. Use landscape adhesive to glue your first brick layer to the patio and then glue each subsequent circle to the one beneath it.
I staggered each layer of block by 1⁄2 block on the layer below it.
Grab your hot dogs and marshmallows and enjoy your wonderful new outside area!
For questions or comments, please email us at [email protected]
Project patterned after DIY project found at Lowes.com
And be sure to check out the entire step-by-step process ON VIDEO!
My cute husband did most (okay, almost all) of the work on this patio and he is the star of the show! 🙂
Disclaimer: Lowe’s did supply me with most of the supplies for this project, but all ideas, opinions, and choices were my own.