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Can A Firepit Go On A Custom Composite Deck?

Can A Firepit Go On A Custom Composite  Deck?

If you have a composite deck, you might wonder if adding a fire pit to your outdoor space is safe. After all, fire and combustible materials don’t usually mix well. However, with the right design and taking the necessary precautions, you can safely create an inviting and comfortable outdoor space for family and friends to enjoy. Here, we’ll look at the important factors you need to consider before installing a fire pit on a custom composite deck.

Different types of firepits

Fire pits come in three primary varieties: wood-burning, gas and electric. When choosing your firepit, be sure to consider each type’s characteristics to ensure it’s suitable for your composite deck.

1) Wood-burning fire pits

Wood-burning fire pits have many advantages, including their lower installation costs (compared to gas or electric fire pits) and their ability to provide a more traditional ambience. The crackling sounds and the scent of burning wood can create a relaxing atmosphere.

However, wood-burning fire pits require more maintenance and upkeep than other types. Regular cleaning of the ashes is necessary, and you need to keep sufficient stock of wood.

Composite Decking
Composite Decking

Moreover, the fire risk is greater, so it’s important to take extra precautions when using them on your deck. In fact, many local authorities have stricter regulations on wood-burning fire pits and do not allow within 25’ of any structure.

2) Gas fire pits

Gas fire pits are popular due to their ease of use and lower maintenance requirements compared to wood-burning fire pits. They are also considered safer and more energy-efficient.

Propane or natural gas is used to fuel gas fire pits, which can be turned on or off with the flick of a switch.

Propane is stored in a tank, while natural gas is piped into the pit. To use a propane-powered fire pit, you must ensure the tank is full. Natural gas fire pits are more convenient, but their installation can be expensive and challenging. You need to run new gas lines from your home to the fire pit, which can be a considerable undertaking.

3) Electric fire pits

The latest types of fire pit available on the market are electric. These come with several benefits: they’re easy to operate, require no maintenance, and offer a high level of safety, as the risk of fire hazards is significantly lower.

However, electric fire pits can be more expensive and require a lot of electricity to function. In addition, the flames produced by electric fire pits are not as hot as those generated by wood-burning or gas fire pits.

If you want a low-risk fire pit that’s easy to operate and requires no maintenance, an electric model may be a good option for you.

Firepit installation manual

When shopping for a fire pit, it’s essential to refer to the installation manual to ensure that it’s suitable for your space.

Manufacturers will always provide pertinent information on minimum clearances, stating the required distance between the fire pit and any surrounding structures or combustible materials.

It’s important to carefully review these specifications to ensure that the fire pit is safe to use both in your desired location and on composite decking.

Composite Decking with Fire Pit
Composite Decking with Fire Pit

Location and clearance restrictions

For any given fire pit, you need to give it sufficient space or face an increased fire risk. You also need to check the local fire codes to ensure fire pits are allowed in your area at all.

Don’t place the fire pit too close to your house. No matter how big your outdoor space may be, the risk of your home catching on fire is a very real one. The heat produced by a fire can damage your siding, leading to an unsightly exterior or costly repairs.

One of the biggest concerns regarding a fire pit on a composite deck is the radiating heat through the bottom, directly onto the deck itself. Not only can this cause heat damage and discoloration over several years, but without proper insulation, this heat can also cause the deck itself to catch fire. 

In the case of wood-burning fire pits, the base also needs to extend at least 24 inches around the fire pit to prevent sparks and embers from flying out, landing on the deck, and potentially starting a fire.

Weight requirements

It’s also important not to install a pit that’s too heavy for your deck.

Fire pits, particularly those that require a stone base, can be quite heavy. In fact, the weight of a fire pit can vary drastically from as low as 38 pounds up to 260 pounds, depending on the materials it’s constructed from. 

To determine if your deck can handle the additional weight of your fire pit, follow these steps:

  1. Determine the weight of the fire pit and any necessary accessories.
  2. Add this weight to the total weight of your outdoor furniture and the maximum number of people who will be on the deck at the same time.
  3. Compare this total weight to the maximum weight that your deck can support.

If you’re uncertain about your deck’s weight capacity, it’s advisable to consult a structural engineer to avoid any potential safety hazards.

Custom Composite Deck
Custom Composite Deck

Safety tips

To reduce fire risks and protect your deck’s users from other hazards, here are a few safety tips to follow:

  • Use a fire pit screen. A fire pit screen is a heat-resistant metal mesh screen placed over the top of a portable fire pit or a wood-burning pit to prevent sparks and embers from flying out and creating a safety hazard.
  • Keep a hose or fire extinguisher close by. If you have a well-designed composite deck fire pit, the risk of your deck catching on fire is very low. However, it’s a good idea to have a hose or fire extinguisher close by in case of an emergency.
  • Keep flammable objects away. You should always keep combustible materials at least 10 to 20 feet away from a fire pit, as they could catch on fire if the wind blows in the wrong direction. These include awnings, sun umbrellas, or patio furniture with flammable parts, such as seat cushions.
  • Beware of overhanging items. Don’t forget to scan for hazards from above too. Watch out for tree branches, overhangs, awnings, umbrellas or a pergola. You need enough clearance that neither sparks nor radiant heat can cause anything to ignite. 

Add a fire pit or other interesting features with Decked Out Builders

A fire pit is an excellent way to make your deck more inviting, especially during the colder months. At Decked Out Builders, we can help you enhance your deck with these and other features. If you want to learn more about how you can add extra life to your deck, don’t hesitate to contact professional decking company. We can talk you through all the considerations and help you design the deck of your dreams!

118 Barrington Commons Ct Ste 207, Barrington, IL 60010
(815) 900-5199