The idea of installing a fire pit in their backyard gets many homeowners inspired. The thought of a weekend rendezvous around the fire pit with friends and family feeds that desire. However, for many, the excitement soon fades when they consider the work involved in building a DIY fire pit, the cost of hiring a contractor, or the maintenance required.
Many shelve their dreams in favor of a propane barbecue grill they assume would cost less and require less maintenance. It might surprise you to learn the national average cost to install a fire pit is right at $700, and most spend between $500 and $1,500 for the project.
Of course, it depends what materials you use, if you hire a contractor, what fuel you use, and what type of patio or surface material you want around the pit, if any. In areas where spring and summer bring the mosquitoes and other flying pests out in droves, you might want to consider an enclosure. After all, a bug zapper will only do so much.
One of the decisions you will need to make before you figure out what materials and supplies you will need, and how much your project will cost, is which fuel you will use in the fire pit. Some materials are not right for every fuel type, the maintenance requirements may not be the same, and some will require an electrician or plumber’s help.
Fire Pit Fuel Types
The type of fuel you expect to burn will make a difference in the materials you use. However, a fireproof bowl or fire bricks inside the ring, with a mesh cover, will allow you to burn almost any fuel.
Gas fire pits are very convenient and pre-made pits are usually reasonably affordable. Installing a natural gas line that runs to the home’s gas line will increase the cost dramatically, as they typically require the expertise of a plumber and additional materials for the piping. It’s also possible to use propane or gas as the fuel for a custom built fire pit.
Wood-burning fire pits require fewer mechanics, which can lower the cost. Some prefer a wood-burning fire pit, but they do require a little maintenance and require a stock of wood to burn.
Fire Pit Materials
The type of materials you use will depend on your budget and how you want your fire pit to look. Although there might be other choices, the most common materials are concrete blocks, stones, or brick.
Concrete blocks are the largest and least expensive of the building materials you will purchase. You can often get the materials for a fire pit for around $100 – $125 using concrete blocks and mortar. Although many think of concrete blocks as rectangular, you can buy rounded blocks or blocks with a decorative front as well. Some even use these to build a pizza oven into their fire pit.
Field or Quarried Stones
You can build a fantastic fire pit with field stones that you gather yourself or buy from a local quarry. Choose igneous or metamorphic rocks, and stay away from soft sedimentary stones. Soft stones contain air pockets that could explode when heated. Purchasing the required stones will cost around $300.
Lining the inside of the walls with fire bricks and using pavers for the rest will cost around $300 for materials as well.
Fire Pit Kits
Several manufacturers offer a kit with a complete set of materials that merely need to be installed on site. These kits can include concrete block or pavers, and usually cost between $500 and $1,250.
Patios, Seating & Enclosures
The prices quoted above are for materials and do not include enclosures; which could cost up to $15,000 for a complete patio, or a seating area about $2,500. It really depends on which material you will use for seating, but the cheapest method is to use the same material as the fire pit, and it looks natural too.
Built-in seating or enclosures will likely increase the cost significantly, as they require more labor and material than a simple pre-made kit.
It’s common to install a patio to surround the fire pit and sit on. One type to consider, if you choose a brick pavers fire pit, is a paver patio. It will cost between $8 – $20 per square foot.
Learn more about various types of patios and estimate costs and materials using our patio installation resources.
The Cost of Labor vs. DIY
Labor costs represent a significant portion of a fire pit project price. The cost of labor varies across the nation, depending on the going labor rates in the region. Some landscapers will charge by the hour, but most will bid a project like this as a flat rate project.
One option to reduce the cost of the project is to install yourself. Unless you have the tools you need, a hoe, masonry jointer, four-foot level or string level, measuring tape, concrete mixer, rake, and shovel, you will need to buy, borrow, or rent these for your fire pit project.
Besides the time and tools, you will need a fire screen for $50 – $150, fire glass for $50 – $75 per 10 lb. bag, $20 for mortar mix, 1/2-inch rebar at about $50 to $100, and a fire grate for $50 – $100.
If you have to buy, it might be less expensive and time-consuming to hire a contractor, though less rewarding. The labor for a fire pit is typically twice what the materials cost. In some cases, you will be required to hire a contractor, especially when gas is used as the fuel.
Installing a fire pit, especially a gas-fueled one, may require a building permit, so be sure to check with the local building inspector’s office before you begin. The cost of a permit varies, but they’re usually $20 to $100 for a small project.
We suggest getting several estimates from professionals in your area, compare their statement of work, check for license and insurance, and ask to see pictures of finished fire pits they have done. This is a sure-fire way to get an accurate cost for your specific project.
All pricing information on this page is based on average industry costs, and is subject to variance for project-specific materials, labor rates, and requirements.