How to build a Fire Pit and Paver Patio Tutorial (plus a video tutorial!)

 

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!).DSCN4020(“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!

Lowe's Bricks

Tools and materials needed to build your own fire pit and paver patio:
Stakes
Twine
Tape Measure
Shovel
Carpenter? s Level
Tamper
Garden Rake
Work Gloves
Gravel
Polymeric paver sand
Sand
2 x 4 piece of wood (3-4 feet long)
Rubber mallet
Landscape adhesive
Brick
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.

 

Step-by-Step Instructions

firepit-1

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.

firepit_2
2. Grab your shovel and dig!
a. Dig to a consistent depth of 7 inches throughout the area of your patio (see the video for a surveyor trick without the fancy equipment using stakes and twine).

gravel
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.

sand.jpg

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!).

bricks

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).

paver patio

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.

finished fire pit

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.

fire pit complete

11. Congratulations!
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.

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Comment on this Post

24 Responses to “How to build a Fire Pit and Paver Patio Tutorial (plus a video tutorial!)”

    • Terrie
      Hi! Great job on this tutorial! @Kayleigh- you can often buy kits for projects like this. They are usually a couple of hundred dollars, and include everything you need to make a pit. If you are in their service area, Basalite actually has kits available AND a rebate offer. If you go to their blog at info.basalite.com, there's an article about fireplaces and fire pits (I think it's the 5th article down), and a link in the article gets you a free e-booklet and an emailed rebate offer. The pits really do add an awesome coziness to yards!
  1. Fawn @ Happy Wives Club
    Woohoo - so happy to find this on SSS! I was writing a blog post for tomorrow and included having a campfire in the backyard as one of the date ideas but needed to find someone who had done it. And I found you :). Thanks, Camille, for this awesome tutorial! If I had a place for it, I'd be building my own.
  2. It turned out perfect! We need and want to do something like this is our yard. Thanks for sharing such a detailed tutorial and planning info. Pinned and Featuring this at Family Fun Friday! Monica http://happyandblessedhome.com/category/family-fun/
  3. Joyce Hopkins
    We just finished this project, thanks for the step by step instructions. It was hard work, about 22 man hours but less than a 1/3 cost of slab. The since of dIY made it worth it. Found all the materials at Lowes, purchased sand and gravel at a different lumber yard. Posted our pictures on FB
  4. Melanie
    Thank you for the step-by-step instructions! I think my husband and I are going to attempt this project this weekend. We were wondering though... did you have to call the utilities company before you started digging? Or are power lines much deeper than the 7" you dug?
  5. I am working on the same project in my backyard and this tutorial is one of the more detailed and thorough that I have found. Most of the tutorials I have seen actually build the fire pit into the patio instead of on top. I like the way you did it better (no brick cutting). I do have a couple of questions though. 1) Did you put gravel or sand in the fire pit to protect the paver bricks below? 2) Does the patio floor ever get hot when you burn a fire for an extended period?
    • Camille
      Hi Dan! Thank you for your kind words! I am glad that our tutorial is useful! :) As far as your questions go: 1. We actually didn't put any dirt or sand in the bottom of the fire pit. We just build the fire right on top of the bricks! We have had it for over a year now and it has worked just fine without any sand in the bottom. :) 2. We have found that the only area that gets hot is the bricks that make up the fire pit wall (and obviously the bricks underneath the first). Other than that, we haven't had any problems with hot bricks. I hope that helps! Please let me know if you have any other questions!!
  6. My question is also about when it rains...how does it drain? Does the dirty water just sit inside the pit or does it leak out onto the rest of the patio? We have a white concrete slab that I'd like to put a pit on, but I'm nervous about where the excess water will drain and how it will look.
    • If puddling on the slab is not a problem now it probably won't be a problem after the pit is on. It's not water tight and there is some space between the bricks. Some people like to cover it when not in use. Hope this helps!! You should not have big water issues unless it rains constantly where you live....then just cover it up!

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