Can you put a fire pit under a pergola? Discover the Facts and the ‘How’

Can you put a fire pit under a pergola? I bet you’ve asked this question on a chilly evening while stargazing or sitting outside catching up with your people, and your feet were freezing.

Having a pergola over a fire pit is great and will transform your backyard’s ambiance, making it warm and more welcoming.

If you’re ready to warm up your outdoor living space, this article will explain the necessary considerations, the types of fire pits to choose from, and much more helpful information.

Let’s get started.

Can you put a fire pit under a pergola?

Yes, you can put a fire pit beneath a pergola. However, ensure that you get clearance from your state regulation, be mindful of the overhead clearance and placement from other structures, allow proper ventilation, and most importantly, adhere to the fire safety recommendations.

Is it safe to have a fire pit under a pergola?

Yes, it’s completely safe to have a pergola over a fire pit. However, the condition for usage is to be mindful of the fire safety practices. That said, you can have natural gas, propane, or wood-burning fire pit under a pergola safe.

The only place it’s not safe to have a fire pit is on a wooden deck, covered patio structure or any enclosed space.

Types of fire pits to use underneath a pergola

Primarily, fire pits are either permanently fixed or portable. Permanently fixed fire pits are part of the outdoor structure and can only be lit in that specific spot.

A permanently fixed fire pit can be custom-built to suit your preference. Alternatively, some could be premade and permanently installed under an existing pergola. An excellent example is the natural gas fire pit because its installation involves pipes connected to the main house.

On the other hand, portable fire pits are mobile; you can carry them to whichever spot you please. These portable fire pits are mostly made of light materials like steel, cast iron, copper, or clay. Propane gas and wood-burning fire pits fall under the portable fire pit category.

Here’s a detailed elaboration of the types of fire pits suitable for use beneath a pergola.

  • Wood-burning fire pit

Wood-burning fire pits can produce more heat than any other fire features. Most people prefer wood fire pits because of the musky wood smell and the comforting white noise it produces.

When using a wood fire pit underneath a pergola, ensure to use a fire screen to tame the embers and ashes. Also, ensure proper ventilation because wood produces thick smoke that can be overwhelming.

  • Natural gas fire pit

Can you put a natural gas fire pit under a pergola? Sure you can, and here’s why. A natural gas fire pit is a clean-burning and safe option for use beneath a pergola because it doesn’t produce smoke.

However, natural gas fire pits are best used in homes that already use natural gas for heating; installing a new wire from the house to the fire pit is easier.

  • Propane fire pit

Can you put a propane fire pit under a pergola? Absolutely. Propane fire pits are another safe and clean-burning option for use underneath pergolas. Propane fire pits are portable, and when buying, you can choose a size bigger or smaller, befitting your needs.

What you should consider before installing a fire pit

These considerations are guidelines that will guarantee you enjoy the warmth of a fire table under your pergola.

  • Check your local fire safety laws and regulations

First, check your local regulations for fire pit pergola clearance and installation process. Some states bar homeowners from installing and lighting fire pits during dry summer days. At the same time, other states restrict the sizes of the gazebo or pergola fire pits.

  • Ensure proper ventilation

Before introducing a source of heat in the space, eliminate any overhanging limbs and flammable materials to ensure there’s good air circulation in your pergola.

If you’re planning to use a roof over your pergola, consider using an adjustable louvered roof or a double-vented roof to give you more flexibility when allowing for roof ventilation.

Side ventilation is equally important, especially if it’s covered with shade curtains or retractable insect screens. Always open the curtains when the fire pit is burning to ensure enough air flow.

  • Ensure sufficient overhead clearance

How much overhead clearance do you need? A minimum of 10 feet. This recommended clearance is the height measured between the roof of the pergola and the top of the fire pit. Any overhead height shorter than 10 feet might cause radiant heat or smoke damage to your painted metal pergola.

  • Consider the location of the pergola

As the state regulations recommend, ensure that the pergola is located on a level surface and at a safe distance from the boundary line of the main house and nearby flammable fence.

Also, check the wind direction to avoid having the fire pit smoke accumulate in the pergola or billow into the main house.

  • The type of flooring

A fire pit is best placed on concrete, brick, and stone floors because there’s no risk of heat damage. Sensitive floor materials like wood or vinyl flooring can easily get damaged by residual heat and sparks.

If you must have the fire table on wooden flooring or an outdoor rug, then you must use a fireplace screen or build a concrete wall around the fire pit.

  • Type of fire pit

Decide whether you want a built-in fire pit or a portable one. Whether it will be natural gas, propane gas, or wood fire pit.

  • Ensure proper spacing

Ensure there’s sufficient space for people to move around without getting too close to the fire.

  • Be mindful of the pergola furniture and curtains

Avoid low-lying curtains or loosely tucked covers that could flow towards the fire when the wind blows.

How to install a fire pit under pergola

This section discusses the practical bit of bringing your vision to life. If you’re up to the challenge, follow along to see how you can DIY the job to completion or otherwise hire a professional.

What you’ll need

  • Retaining wall blocks, pavers or natural stone, firebricks
  • Mallet
  • Sand
  • Gravel

The Steps

Step 1: Map out the shape and size of your DIY fire pit. If you’re going for a circular fire pit, have a diameter between 36 and 44 inches.

Adjust the pit size based on the size of the pergola. Mark the pergola floor with paint and then outline the entire circle, rectangle or square fire pit you want to install.

Step 2: Begin laying the first layer of concrete retaining wall blocks. If you have concrete flooring on your pergola, go straight to stacking the retaining wall blocks along the edge of the marked circle. Tap the blocks with a rubber mallet to ensure uniform height.

In place of the retaining wall blocks, you can use firebricks, pavers, or natural stone.

Step 3: Continue layering the concrete retaining wall blocks. Spread masonry adhesive on the first layer of blocks and then attach the second ring. The masonry adhesive helps to hold the blocks in place while building the height of the fire pit.

Step 4: Repeat step 2 and 3 until you achieve the desired height –12 to 18 inches. You may leave small gaps between the blocks to promote air flow.

Finish laying the blocks when the pit height is between 12 and 18 inches. Let the masonry adhesive dry completely for about two days before lighting the fire pit.

Step 5: Add a layer of gravel to the internal base of the fire pit. Since we worked on concrete flooring, that didn’t require us to dig into the ground and fill the gap with sand, now we only add about 4 inches of the gravel to elevate fire pit.

Step 6: Insert a steel fire ring into the pit to keep the retaining wall blocks from drying out prematurely.

Places you shouldn’t light a pergola fire.

Avoid lighting a pergola fire if the space is crowded. Besides, no one needs more heat in a space you can barely move.

Also, avoid lighting a pergola fire feature next to a window, particularly if it’s a wood fire pit. The wind might blow the fire; cause it to produce sparks that could result in fire emergencies.

Fire pit under pergola safety regulations

These safety practices apply across all types of outdoor fire pits. They are meant to ensure that you enjoy the warmth of the fire without the risk of accidents.

  • Use a spark screen to contain potential flying embers.
  • Only burn approved firewood and not pressure-treated or finished lumber.
  • Avoid using lighter fluid, gasoline, or other flammable fluids when lighting the fire.
  • Avoid leaving the fire pit unattended and especially not with children around to avoid  fire accidents.
  • Always extinguish the fire completely before leaving the pergola.
  • Always have a fire extinguisher nearby just in case of a fire emergency.

FAQs – Can you put a fire pit under a pergola?

Can a fire pit be used under a wooden pergola?

Yes, you can have a fire pit under a wooden pergola. However, you must adhere to the state fire safety laws and allow sufficient overhead clearance. In addition, you ought to be mindful of the placement of the pergola fire, allow proper ventilation, and practice fire safety measures.

How close can a fire pit be to a pergola?

There should be a minimum of 10 feet between the fire pit and the pergola. This standard fire pit to pergola roof height recommendation can be achieved by extending the pergola’s support columns. Also, allow 24-30 inch space between the chair and fire pit.

Should a fire pit be kept in an open area, or is under a pergola ok?

A fire pit can either be left in an open area or under a pergola, depending on the type of fire pit. For example, a wood-burning fire pit can be left in an open area. While propane and natural gas fire pit tables are best used under a pergola.

Is a gas fire pit safe under a pergola?

Yes, you can safely enjoy the warmth of a gas fire pit under your pergola. Provided the gas fire pit was properly installed and the outdoor space was adequately ventilated. Ensure that you maintain it well and practice fire safety regulations.

Can you put a fire pit under a canopy?

Yes, you can have a fire pit under a canopy. The preferred kind is the propane and natural gas fire pit because they are clean–burning. Unlike wood, these gas fire pits don’t produce toxic smoke or embers that could discolor or burn the canopy.

How high should a pergola fire pit be?

The ideal pergola fire pit height is anywhere between 12 and 14 inches –from the base to the top. Still, if you’d like to prop your feet on the fire pit while seated on 18” furniture, you can raise the fire pit height to 18 inches.

How much overhead clearance do you need for a fire pit?

The minimum clearance you need is 10 feet. However, most places require an overhead clearance of 21 feet to allow for overhanging branches. Always ensure you have enough clearance regardless of the pergola material, wood, steel, or aluminum.

Fire pit under a pergola – Summary

Can you put a fire pit under a pergola? Absolutely, whether it’s propane, wood burning, or natural gas fire pit.

Again it doesn’t change a thing if you have an aluminum pergola or a wooden one; the fire feature will be a great addition to your backyard.

Always check with your local regulations, allow enough clearance and sufficient ventilation, and install it at a safe distance from the house boundary line and any materials that can easily catch fire.

We hope this article was helpful. Contact us in the comments section below if you have any related questions.

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