Everything you need to know before buying a fire pit

The right outdoor fire pit has the power to transform a backyard or commercial space into a year-round gathering destination—from s’mores in the winter to spritzes in the summer.

Fire pits can be a long-lasting addition to your outdoor space, so it’s important to choose one that’s the right size, shape, style and functionality. Here is everything you need to know about high-quality fire pits before purchasing.

Fire Pit Styles


Outdoor fire pits come in a variety of styles—each of which fits into a unique aesthetic and function. When choosing the right style for you, consider how you plan to use your outdoor space and what kind of look you’re after. Here are some of the most popular styles:

A white fire bowl on a wooden deck with burning fire rocks.

Fire Bowls

• The most popular fire pits.

• Can sit directly on the ground, be elevated with legs or even placed on a pedestal.

• Available in a multitude of materials, most commonly low-maintenance metals or durable cast concrete.

• While many fire bowls have a thin edge, some have a wide rim that allows for additional functionality.

Style tip: Not all fire bowls are round. You’ll find square, octagon, and rectangle fire pits, as well as ones with shapely edges.

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Two concrete fire tables side by side in front of blue sofas and metal chairs.

Fire Tables

• Function like a fire pit and outdoor coffee table, with a controlled fire in the center.

• Typically fueled by Natural Gas (NG) or Liquid Propane (LP) to allow safe, close interaction.

• Often available with an optional lid that covers the burner, creating additional surface area.

Style tip: It’s most common to see a fire table in front of a deep-seating group of furniture.

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A fire urn with burning fire rocks in front of a pond.

Fire Urns

• Elongated versions of fire bowls.

• Inspired by Roman decorative elements.

• Most include the ability to conceal a standard 20-pound LP tank.

Style tip: Fire urn styles range from casual to contemporary, depending on the design elements.

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Fire Pit Fuel Types


If the sound and smell of a crackling fire is what you’re after, consider a wood-burning fire pit. Alternatively, if ease of use is a priority—or if your space is smaller or has an overhead roof — a propane or natural gas pit might be the best fit. Here’s a breakdown of each fuel type:

A large fire bowl with burning fire wood while a man sits near it.

Wood Burning Fire Pits

• Can produce much larger fires than other fuel types.

• Require hands-on tending.

• Not suitable for use on wood decks or other combustible locations.

• Usually less expensive to purchase and to operate compared to non-wood burning fire pits.

Style tip: All wood burning fire pits should only be used in open spaces that are safe from other flammable materials.

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A liquid propane fire table in front of a sofa. A smaller image on the top right corner shows the fire table opened with the propane tank inside.

Liquid Propane Fire Pits

• Ideal for those who don’t want to use wood, or who don’t have the ability to run a natural gas line.

• Can be activated with the flip of a switch and allow more control over the flame.

• Cost more to run than wood-fueled ones and require refilling.

• Recommended use is with lava rock or colorful fire glass.

Style tip: For a clean look, opt for a hidden tank option. Alternatively, consider a tank cover, which hides the tank and functions as a side table.

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A man reading the newspaper in front of a square fire pit.

Natural Gas Fire Pits

• Preferred choice for a permanently installed fire pit.

• Ignited with the push of a button or the strike of a match. Options available for electronic ignition.

• Require a natural gas line connected by a certified professional.

• Recommended use is with lava rock or colorful fire glass.

• Generally less expensive to burn than liquid propane fire pits.

Style tip: Because there’s no propane tank, most natural gas fire pits are low to the ground, making them ideal for deep seating arrangements.

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Fire Pit Materials


Material informs the longevity, maintenance, price, and look of your fire pit. Materials like concrete are durable and potentially heavy, ideal for permanent fixtures. Other materials like corten steel take on a beautiful, rustic-modern patina over time. It’s important to know the basics of each type before making a decision:

A round carbon steel fire bowl with burning wood.

Carbon Steel

• Exceptionally durable and low maintenance.

• Great for both wood- and gas-burning fire pits.

• Brands like Fire Pit Art, pictured, are handmade in the US and available in a variety of sizes and unique shapes. Inquire for custom options.

Style tip: Many carbon steel fire pits feature an oxide patina that's virtually maintenance-free and will mature and darken over time.

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A pyramid shape corten steel fire pit in front of a woven chair.

Corten Steel

• Often referred to as “weathering steel,” will begin to oxidize and take on a rustlike appearance when placed outside.

• Resists corrosion and will maintain tensile strength.

• Available in wood, natural gas, and liquid propane fuel types.

Style tip: Full oxidation takes close to six months.

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A round stainless steel fire pit in front of a sofa and chair.

Stainless Steel

• Ideal for withstanding fire and weather conditions.

• Typically found in a natural, brushed finish and a (newer) powder-coated finish.

• Generally higher priced than other materials because of its high quality and durability.

Style tip: Stainless steel pits are typically sleek and contemporary, making them the preferred choice for a modern aesthetic.

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A large concrete fire table in front of a sofa where three women are sitting.

Concrete

• Exceptionally durable in varying climates and do not chip, patina, or peel over time.

• Available as fire bowls and fire tables.

• Best suited for natural gas and liquid propane fuel systems.

• Available in a wide range of sizes, shapes, and heights.

Style tip: Concrete fire pits tend to be heavy and are not typically placed on raised wooden decks.

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A brown plastic fire table surrounded by some chairs in front of a pool.

Marine Grade Polymer (MGP)

• Sturdy, easy to maintain, and withstand all kinds of weather.

• Frequently have aluminium accents.

Style tip: The polymer content allows MGP fire pits to be made in a variety of colors.

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A rectangular stone fire table surrounded by some chairs.

Natural Stone

• Commonly used for permanent installations and are not intended to be moved.

• Ideal for both wood-burning and gas fuel systems.

• Feature a naturally textured finish and are able to withstand any weather.

Style tip: R & R Living Fire Pits, pictured, feature handmade finishes in natural stone.

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FIRE PIT SHAPE


Round, rectangular, and square shapes are most popular in fire pits, but oval, hexagonal, octagonal and pyramid shapes are also available. Select a shape and size that works best for your space—based on form and function.