The warmth and glow of a fire pit or fire table draws people together, creating the perfect space for entertaining. Whether you want to roast smores on a summer night or enjoy a warm drink by the fire in cool weather, a fire pit or fire table is a great addition to your outdoor living spaces.
In this guide, we will help you choose the right type of fire pit or fire table for you. You’ll understand the different types of fuels available as well as the different fire pit or fire table materials you can consider. Finally, we’ll provide recommendations for building an entertaining space with a fire pit or fire table as the focal point.
We’ll explain everything you need to know to purchase and set up your own fire pit or fire table.
Choosing Between a Fire Pit or Fire Table
While the terms fire pits and fire tables are sometimes used interchangeably, there are differences between the two.
A fire pit is typically a low piece that holds fire and may have pavers or a ledge around it. Guests may draw a chair up to the fire pit though won’t typically sit up at the ledge of the pit. A fire pit is typically a more passive piece.
A fire table acts more like a table than a fire pit, where guests can sit and even eat at the table, with a fire in the middle. Fire tables are typically constructed so that the ledge or table around the fire won’t get hot from the heat of the fire. These pieces are active and meant to be interacted with.
Types of Fire Pits
Often, the idea of a fire pit consists of a hole in the ground, perhaps lined with rocks or a metal ring. You might be reminded of summer camp or camping trips. However, modern fire pits are a far cry from a hole in the ground. You can find different designs, shapes, materials, and fuels to fit within your backyard theme.
A basic fire pit can be constructed by stacking a circle of bricks or CMU blocks and grouting them in with a heat resistant grout. You could also put inserts into your ring. Small, portable ones may be constructed with metal. These can be moved around your backyard for different entertainment needs.
You could also purchase a fire pit appliance. These appliances come in a wide range of sizes, shapes, materials, and fuel types. Consider our American Fyre Designs 48″ Versailles Fire Bowl. The bowl sits above ground and provides a refined, warm look to your entertaining space.
Types of Fire Tables
Fire tables come in a variety of styles to fit any entertaining need. Small tables that sit only a couple of people are intimate and cozy, while larger tables that fit eight to ten people accommodate larger entertaining needs.
Linear fire tables have long, narrow fires in the middle of the table, such as our Outdoor 42" Uptown Linear Burner Gas Fire Pit Table, which can be used similar to a coffee table. Another example, Outdoor Kenwood Linear Dining Height Gas Fire Pit Table, can comfortably sit six to eight people.
Round fire tables compare to cocktail tables, such as the American Fyre Designs Fiesta Fire Table, which is perfect for a romantic dinner for two. The American Fyre Designs Contempo Round Fire Table is great for gathering the family around, providing places around the fire to set drinks and plates, or even cards and games.
Types of Fire Pit Fuels
Both fire pits and fire tables can use different types of fuels. Basic fire pits typically use wood. However, fire pit and fire table fixtures can use natural gas and propane.
Gas makes using your fixture easier and quicker, without having to buy wood and deal with feeding the fire. Burning gas also reduces the amount of smoke you experience.
Many of our products are available in both types of fuel, such as our American Fyre Designs French Barrel Oak Cosmo Square Firetable. Regardless of fuel type you use, make sure you know and are able to quickly use the shutoff valve.
Using Natural Gas for a Fire Pit or Fire Table
Natural gas is typically piped to your fire pit or fire table. If you are building a new home or renovating your outdoor space, you can plan to run the gas line to where you want to put your fire pit or table.
Natural gas lines eliminate the need to keep a tank full or stockpile wood. The fuel that you use is charged on your monthly utility bill. However, the downside is that you cannot easily move your fire pit if you decide you’d prefer it in a different location. You would have to shut off the gas service at your home, disconnect the fixtures, and have a plumber reroute the line to a new location.
Inside the appliance, there will be a valve where you can turn on the gas or adjust the volume of gas flow for a smaller or larger flame. Many cities will also require an emergency shut off valve that can be quickly used in case of an accident or fire.
Using Propane for a Fire Pit or Fire Table
If you don’t have a natural gas line or don’t want to install one, you can use tanks of propane to fuel your fire instead. Many pits and tables have a compartment to hook up the line for the propane and hide the unsightly tank.
Even though you have to remember to refill your propane tank when it’s getting low, these fire pits are much easier to relocate if you want to reorganize your backyard.
When you’re ready to light the fire, you open the valve on the tank. You may have to use a lighter to light the flame unless your appliance comes with an igniter.
Fire Pit and Fire Table Materials
Different fire pits and fire tables offer materials to fit with the theme of your outdoor living spaces. Regardless of your outdoor color or material palette, the perfect finish is available for your fire pit or fire table.
- Wood: Fire tables often have wood tabletop options, such as the Outdoor Edison Round Gas Fire Pit Table. Dark stains provide a more refined look, while rough-hewn planks cater to a more rustic look.
- Stone: If you need a stone finish to fit with your theme, consider an option such as the Outdoor Sierra Square Gas Fire Pit Table. Stone can have a rustic or refined look, from rough stone veneers to polished stone table tops.
- Concrete: Concrete doesn’t have to look industrial. Polished concrete comes in many different colors and textures, such as Outdoor Company 24x24 Cove Square Gas Fire Pit Bowl in gray, versus the American Fyre Designs 48″ Fire Bowl that comes in three different colors. Glass fiber reinforced concrete (GFRC) concrete is more durable than typical concrete.
- Metal: Metal often heats up too quickly to be used heavily in fire pits or fire table, but metal-like materials or metal veneers are available, such as the Outdoor Cortlin Linear Mocha Natural Gas Fire Pit Table that mimics corten steel. Other fire pits may be made our of aluminum, which is typically resistant to correction, or copper, which looks nice but can stain easily.
$1,999.80 The Montego Gas Fire Pit Table looks as beautiful as it is durable. Clean and simple lines put the focus on the dazzling 12x42" Stainless Steel Crystal Fire Burner. The Black tempered glass top comes with a Grey Glass Burner… Read More
OGC Montego Linear Gas Fire Pit Table
The Montego Gas Fire Pit Table looks as beautiful as it is durable. Clean and simple lines put the focus on the dazzling 12x42" Stainless Steel Crystal Fire Burner. The Black tempered glass top comes with a Grey Glass Burner… Read More
How Much do Fire Pits and Fire Tables Cost?
Fire pits and tables can be purchased for a wide range of prices to fit every budget.
Local big box stores, hardware stores, or furniture stores have fire pits and fire tables for small budgets. Ranging from $40-1000, these small portable pits and tables are typically wood-burning or use propane tanks.
For the price, you can expect these pits to last a few years, depending on the climate and weather it’s exposed to. Many metal pits will rust within a couple of years.
Medium end fire pits and fire tables will last longer. Higher quality finishes will be less prone to rusting, colors less likely to fade, or finishes less susceptible to cracking.
The highest-end products will last decades. These appliances will be reliable and look great for many, many years.
For example, the glass fiber reinforced concrete (GFRC) in our American Fyre Designs 36″ Fire Bowl will hold onto the color and won’t crack over time. This fire bowl line, depending on size and shape, ranges between $1,680-4,800. With correct maintenance and care, these pieces will last as long as your home.
Where to Put a Fire Pit or Fire Table
When determining where to put your fire pit or fire table, consider some of the following questions:
- Does my city allow the installation of fire pits and fire tables in residential areas?
- How often do you plan to use your fire pit?
- How many people do you want to be able to gather around the fire?
- Do you plan to cook, serve food, or eat around your table?
- Do you want to use natural gas or propane? If natural gas, where is the nearest gas pipe for you to tie into?
- Is there a level spot available to put the fire pit, or do you need to create one?
- Are there any flammable or combustible materials around?
Your fire pit or fire table is for outdoor use only and should never be placed indoors or in a confined space, as the unventilated smoke could build up to harmful levels. It should be placed on a level spot. Uneven grounds or floors could cause the appliance to rock or tilt, which increases the risk for burns or gas leaks. Make sure that there is enough room for the largest gathering you anticipate. Crowded spaces are more prone to accidents, where someone or their limb could be knocked into the flames.
Your fire pit or table should also be located away from flammable or combustible materials. In case of an accident, you want to avoid a tree, part of your house, or any surrounding structures from catching on fire. Try to locate your fire pit around 10’ away from any structures or trees.
Make sure there is also plenty of space above the fire for heat and light smoke to rise up. The heat from the fire pit or table can cause some materials to melt, discolor, or even ignite.
Local Building Codes and Regulations for Fire Pits
In some cities and states, wood fires are prohibited. Different jurisdictions may typically allow wood fires normally, but ban them during periods of high fire danger. Stray embers can be carried away from the fire pit by the wind, sparking flames in dry grass, brush, or even structures.
Gas fire pits and fire tables are less likely to spark fires. Without wood as a fuel, there are no embers than can be carried away.
Always check with your city to make sure you understand what is required. For example, the City of Austin, Texas, requires gas fire pits to be 15’ away from structures. They also say that they should be attended by a “competent” adult and that you must have a fire extinguisher easily available in case of an accident. There is also a note that if the city determines the environmental conditions are unsafe for open flames, they can have you extinguish the fire immediately.
Make sure your fire pit is installed correctly. If your nosy neighbors worry that you have installed or are operating a fire pit in an unsafe manner, they can report you to the city.
How to Set Up Your New Fire Pit or Fire Table
After you’ve selected your perfect fire pit or table and have chosen an ideal location, you just need to follow a few simple steps to set up your fire table.
- Make Sure the Base is Level. Larger bases need hard, solid, level ground. Make sure the base does not wobble, lean, or tilt, even when you lean on it or set something heavy on the top of the table.
- If your table comes in separate pieces, assemble the pieces together, careful to make sure the gas connections are properly installed and secure.
- Before connecting the natural gas line, make sure the gas valve is securely closed. You will likely have a flexible gas hose to run between the hard gas line and the final gas connection on your appliance. When screwing the gas line together, use two wrenches, turning in opposite directions, to make sure the connection is secure to avoid gas leaks. Gas leaks can ignite and gas vapors can make you sick. Consider using gas safe plumbers tape for a extra secure fitting.
- When installing a propane tank, do not use wrenches. Hand tighten only. Propane tanks are meant to be removed and reinstalled frequently, so their connections are softer and more easily damaged. After connecting, slide the propane tank into the hidden compartment, if you have one.
- If your fire pit or fire table comes with a sparker or ignitor, make sure the electrical connection is plugged in. Test the system by pushing the spark button. Make sure you hear or see the spark.
- Finally, if your fire pit or table comes with media, sprinkle or scatter the media into or onto the table.
Safely Operating your Fire Pit or Fire Table
When operating your table, make sure that you use care and precaution.
You can always check for gas leaks by spraying soapy water around the connections. If you see bubbles, then you have a gas leak. Turn off the gas valves and repair the connection. Make sure to wait several minutes before trying to light the fire to make sure the gas has dissipated.
When lighting your fire, press the spark or igniter button. Make sure you hear the spark, then open the gas valve. The fire should ignite. If it doesn’t, immediately turn off the gas to troubleshoot the igniter function.
Some igniters need batteries that may need to be replaced. If your igniter is hard wired, check the wires or receptacle. Once you’ve resolved the issue, wait for the gas to dissipate before trying again.
Creating an Entertaining Space With Your Fire Pit or Fire Table
The space around your fire pit or fire table is an opportunity for you to create an entertaining space that draws your family or guests around.
After you’ve determined how many people you plan to entertain, you can determine how large of a space you want to create. You can also consider if you want built-in cabinetry, how many seats you need, if you need lighting, or even shelter.
Putting Fire Pits or Fire Tables Under Gazebos
Fire pits and fire tables are safe to use under gazebos, pergolas, canopies, and other structures. The structure can protect your family and friends from rain and snow, or even wind or bugs while enjoying the fire.
There are several design aspects that you should consider when planning for a structure around your fire pit.
Heat Issues with Fire Pits Under Structures
When considering buying a pre-made structure, check the temperature rating of the materials. Some canopies with fabric or canvas covers may have a low temperature rating.
The heat rising up from the fire could cause the fabric to melt, discolor, or even catch on fire. Consider other material options first, but if you still choose to use a fabric or canvas, make sure the roof structure is far enough above the fire that the heat dissipates.
Trapping the heat under the structure may feel great in the winter, but can make your guests uncomfortable on a warm summer night. Having curtains or screens that can be closed up during the window, but open during the summer, is a great way to have an adaptable space.
Enclosing Outdoor Fire Pits
Do not enclose your fire pit. As natural gas and propane burn, the gas combusts, producing dangerous particles in the air. Enclosing the fire traps those particles inside, which could cause you or your guests to get sick. For example, fires produce carbon monoxide, which in high concentrations can cause carbon monoxide poisoning. Even low amounts can make people feel sick.
If you want an enclosed structure, consider a structure with a high roof vent in the middle, with low openings. The heat and gasses will rise up through the middle, and the low openings allow fresh air to come into your structure.
When selecting a fire pit or table you want to locate under a structure, you want to make sure the fire won’t be too large. Some fire pits claim to be smokeless. While you may not see or smell the smoke, as long as you see a flame, there will still be combustion particles that need to be diluted with fresh air.
For an enclosed gazebo, consider a soft top gazebo like the Sojag™ Phuket 10x12 Soft Top Gazebo. The side curtains can be closed to keep bugs out, but the mesh allows for adequate ventilation. The vent at the top relieves heat and gasses up and out of the structure.
Pavers, Patios, and Other Floors Around Fire Pits and Fire Tables
Many fire pits need a hard, level base to sit on. Designing a patio, pavers, or deck is a great way to choose a theme for your entertaining space.
If you have an existing deck, make sure your new fire pit isn’t too heavy for the structure. For example, concrete fit bowls can weigh several hundred pounds. A wood or composite deck likely won’t hold it. Consider, instead, some lightweight tables, such as the Outdoor Stonefire Gas Fire Pit Table, which weighs only 35 pounds.
OGC Stonefire Gas Fire Pit Table
The Stonefire Gas Fire Pit Table boasts a versatile and compact design that suits various outdoor spaces. This fire table is easy to move around and serves both as a table and a fire pit. It comes with a matching… Read More
When putting a fire pit or table on a composite deck, make sure that the pit that you choose does not get hot at the base. Composite decking can melt if it’s too hot.
To create an outdoor living room away from your house, you can build a patio with concrete, pavers, or even compacted dirt. For fire pits with large bases, make sure that you use a hard material, like concrete or thick pavers. Consider drainage and settling to make sure that over time, the surface doesn’t slope or crack, which could cause your pit to become unsteady.
You can also consider putting a pit pad underneath your fire pit. Pit pads help to distribute the weight of the pit across the ground but can also protect the surface underneath. They typically go right underneath your fire pit and can protect the surface up to 1000-1200F.
Lighting Around Your Fire Pit or Fire Table
The right lighting will draw your guests to your fire pit entertaining space. When your fire pit is away from your home, you want your guests to easily and safely find their way.
Consider installing pathway lighting leading towards the fire pit. Keep this lighting low to the ground, but bright enough for guests to see where they’re walking.
Around the fire pit, you may want to let the glow of the fire illuminate the space. Make sure the fire pit you choose has a bright enough flame. Otherwise, consider switched lighting over task spaces, like if you have a built-in countertop or cabinets to see where you’re preparing food or serving drinks. Try to choose lighting that matches the color temperature of your flame for consistency.
Accessories and Amenities for Entertaining with a Fire Pit or Fire Table
To complete the look of your fire pit entertaining space, you can pull together your theme by choosing patio sets and furniture.
Consider the height of your fire pit or table when choosing your patio furniture. For example, a low fire bowl may need some lounge chairs, such as an Adirondack chair. A fire table may need outdoor dining chairs for guests to comfortably be able to eat. A hightop fire table should have barstools.
You can also consider creating additional breakout spaces for cocktail parties or allowing the kids to have their own separate kids table.
To make the most of your fire pit, consider stocking up on glasses, dishware, and utensils that can be safely used outdoors. Plastic, stemless wine glasses are great for holding while sitting by the fire. Vacuum sealed, metal glasses can help keep your wine cool. Sturdy prongs and roasting sticks can help the kids roast marshmallows are hot dogs.
Bringing Your Fire Pit or Fire Table Space Together
By choosing the right fire pit or fire table for your needs, you can create a space that your family and friends enjoy. Picking out your fire pit may be the first step, but deciding where it goes, how the space around it looks, and how you use the fire pit should be considered before your new pit is delivered.
While the look of a fire pit might catch your eye, make sure that the materials, fuel, weight, safety, and cost all fit your needs.
With careful planning and a holistic dream for your outdoor living space, you will soon be enjoying the warmth and glow of your new fire pit or fire table for years to come.