How to build a fire pit – cheap!

How to build a fire pit – cheap!

how to build a fire pit cheap

How to build a fire pit cheap!

If there’s one thing that makes spring and summer evenings more enjoyable, it’s a cozy outdoor fire with friends or a loved one while sipping a glass of wine (or beer) as a cool breeze wafts over freshly cut grass.

But this romantic picture is often daunting to many people who couldn’t fathom shelling out hundreds of dollars for a custom-made or store-bought fire pit. The cheaper fire pits are just that – cheap. They aren’t made to last and either melt or weaken due to HEAT. Imagine that? A fire pit afraid of a little fire.

So the best alternative is to build your own. Which is why you are here – to learn how to build a fire pit cheap.

I’ll give you several suggestions and some precautions to take when considering the design and placement of your fire pit.

1. Field stone fireplace. If you have access to a stony piece of farmland or a large field, take your wheel barrow out and start collecting some big stones. You might need between 70 and 100 stones, depending on the size of your desired pit and the size of the stones. Tip: bring the kids and make a game out of it while you sit in a chair playing Candy Crush.

Once you get these stones home you’ll need to prepare the spot where you’ll be placing the fire pit. Dig a hole – as deep as 2 feet if possible – and fill it with gravel and sand. This will prevent your fire pit from becoming an ashy mud pit when it rains heavily. If you buy enough gravel, you can extend the coverage a few feet out from the fire pit for a comfy and dry place for people to stand.

Sort your stones by size and start by placing the largest stones on the bottom. Dry stack them or assemble them with concrete. Dry stacking allows for easy replacement of stones if any crack shatter due to hidden water inside the pores of the stone. (For this reason, don’t use river rocks unless they have been sitting to dry for several years.) If you use concrete, apply only to the outside portion of your fire pit.

Make sure the nearby area is free of flammables. Look up. Is there a tree or an overhanging roof? Avoid these areas.

Cost: $50-$200 for gravel, sand, and concrete, depending on size.

2. Washing machine drum fireplace. This is definitely my favorite answer to how to build a fire pit cheap. When the fire is burning really well, the holes in the drum give it a really wicked glow.

You can source a good washing machine drum from a junkyard, an appliance repair shop, or your neighborhood hoarder. It shouldn’t cost you much and the older the washing machine, the better. Older machines have stainless steel drums, which last longer under repeated fires. You may be able to get the junk yard dealer to remove the drum for you for a few bucks or the promise of an invite to your first outdoor party.

Install a fire proof liner inside. You’ll likely have to get this cut down at the Home Depot or Lowe’s. After the initial circle is cut, have them cut it in half down the middle so you can put it inside the drum.

You’ll need a base for this kind of fire pit. The base of an old office chair – with wheels, if possible – will provide a good height for the fire pit and protect the ground below. Other bases can include the metal legs of an old coffee table – wrought iron if possible. Wheels allow a freedom of movement that stone can’t have. This fire pit can be stored in the shed or garage when not in use.

Sanding and painting will make this a real work of art.

If you aren’t good at welding or machinery-type work, hire someone who is once you’ve assembled your pieces. Estimated cost: $20-$100

Your best bet for how to build a fire pit cheap is to get all of your supplies at Lowe’s or the Home Depot. Both of these retailers offer great customer service, a massive selection, and the highest amount of cash back to customers who order online and either have it delivered or pick it up in the store later.

3. Concrete blocks, bricks, retaining wall blocks. I listed this last because you will most likely have to buy all of the supplies at the hardware store. But with this material you can be sure that all the pieces match and are of equal size. Another bonus with this material is you can figure out how many you will need by using a little simple math. Well, geometry was simple for me, anyway.

Follow the preparation instructions for the fieldstone fire pit and take the same precautions. If you already have a stone or brick patio, a fire pit can be a natural extension of it and can add to your credibility as an outdoor party host.

Cost: $100-$600

Your best bet for how to build a fire pit cheap is to get all of your supplies at Lowe’s or the Home Depot. Both of these retailers offer great customer service, a massive selection, and the highest amount of cash back to customers who order online and either have it delivered or pick it up in the store later.

(Click on the ad beneath this article for more info and to get started saving big now.)

I hope this helped you figure out how to build a fire pit cheap and I look forward to my e-invite to your first backyard soirée of 2015.

Check back here for more helpful articles on DIY projects, money saving tips, and consumer advice.

  • Deb Lane

    Loved the tip about the washing machine drum!

  • Brandy Barajas

    Hahaha… Sit in a chair and play candy crush while you make the kids pick rocks… Love it… Hope it works 😉

  • Kristin Kauth

    Who doesn’t love to sit in front of a fire on a nice summer / fall evening. Love the advice stated and will pass that information along as well.

  • Anne Marie Conforti

    Love the tips! I want one!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • mike zacher

    last week my neighbors washing machine died.. so he took the drum and used it for the fire pit…. glad he also looked at the trees .. Cut some branches back.. he and his son cut about 3 feet around the pit and put some nice colored stones around it.. good tips..

  • Jolanda Junge

    I love the idea of recycling a washing machine tub – on wheels no less. Portable is good!!!

  • Anne Moore

    Those washing machine barrels are great fire drums. Would love to build an a fire pit.

  • shuntermiller

    If you have your own well and the pressure tank fails, these make GREAT patio fire bases. You do have to get it cut in half, but here you could get really artistic and cut in tree and mountain outlines. A 4-5″ cut-off from 12-16″ pipe would make a nice base, and voila!

    Have fun!

  • Steven L. Rhyner

    Let me tell you a pit fire where I live in Alaska comes in handy when you want to have a get together! Let’s do it!

  • Dianna

    Love the washtub idea – I’ve actually got one of those in use now as a large planter. Might just have to find another one!