A frequently asked question by homeowners with wooden decks is whether wood-burning fire pits can be used on wooden decks. The answer to this question is both yes and no.
No, because using a wood-burning fire pit on a wooden deck is a fire hazard especially when the fire pit is placed in direct contact with the wooden surface. However, this hazard can be mitigated through the help of invaluable fire pit accessories that enhance safety in such a scenario.
Hazards Posed by Wood-burning Fire Pits on a Wooden Deck
For starters, there are fire pit types that are outright unsafe to use on a wooden deck. Any fire pit whose wood-burning chamber is NOT suspended from the floor should not be used on a wood surfaced deck. The fire pit should have legs and a suspended log burning chamber.
While such a design of a fire pit is helpful, it does not fully mitigate the risk of your wooden deck catching fire.The nature of a log fire is that it will inevitably produce sparks. Flying sparks can land on any combustible object nearby such as a newspaper or piece of cloth and inadvertently cause a fire that ends up igniting your wooden deck resulting in a fire that quickly gets out of hand. This is the main danger of using a fire pit on your wooden deck.
While wooden decks are beautiful, their beauty is delicate. Placing a fire pit with a stand on them which is usually of metallic material often creates nasty scratches that ruin the look.
Also, wood burning fire pits burn really hot and so the indirect heat of the fire pit that is conducted log burning chamber to the leg stands and onto the wood can lead to unsightly discolored marks on the wooden surface.
How to Safely Use a Fire Pit On a Wooden Deck
These fire hazards can be overcome through the following ways that ensure the safe use of a fire pit on your wooden deck.
- Choose the right type of wood-burning fire pit for your wooden deck
A fire pit whose wood-burning bowl is suspended from the ground is most recommended when selecting a fire pit for your wooden deck. The burning logs, coal, and ash are secured in the bowl keeping your wooden floor clean while reducing the risk of a fire. The legs or stand on such a unit also ensures there is no exposure of direct heat from the fire pit onto your wooden deck.
- Location of the fire pit
The location of your fire pit on a wooden deck is important towards further reducing the risk of fire. As a rule of thumb, you should see to it that the fire pit is placed at least 10 feet away from house walls, wooden railings, and anything else that is combustible such as tree overhangs, or fabric.
- Use a fire pit heat pad
Placing a heat-pad as a barrier between your wooden deck and the stand of the fire pit is most recommended. That is because the indirect heat that is conveyed to the leg stands of your fire pit will be absorbed and neutralized by the heating pad. This means that the chances of wood discoloring or getting burnt from heat through the fire pit legs are eliminated. Furthermore, the pad prevents metal fire pit stands from scratching your wood deck.
Should any sparks make their way out of the chamber, they are likely to fall on the heat pad and be neutralized.
In place of a heat-pad, you can also improvise. Consider placing a stable non-combustible material beneath the fire pit legs such as a neat concrete slab or slabs. Several concrete slabs joined together will protect your wood deck from errant sparks.
If you are a fan of cooking on your fire pit, concrete slabs will help keep the immediate surrounding wood from unsightly fat stains from roasting meat. The concrete slabs can be cleaned, dried and placed right back to help the area stay clean and tidy.
- Use a Fire screen
Errant sparks are a danger when using a fire pit because they can land on a combustible item as mentioned earlier and ignite a fire with catastrophic results. An effective way to make a fire pit safer for use on a wooden deck is to incorporate a fire pit screen. These come in numerous shapes to suit your fire pit design. The shapes can range from dome-shaped options to rectangular, square, and pyramid shapes to name a few.
They feature a mesh screen that arrests any flying sparks and prevents them from going anywhere beyond the fire chamber. They also serve as a barrier that prevents overly curious kids and pets from getting too close to the flames.
Ultimately, using a wood-burning fire pit on a wooden deck is possible though not recommended. It requires caution because of the delicate and combustible nature of wooden decks where fire is concerned. Be sure to choose a fire pit that elevated a few inches from the ground with stable leg stands and use a fire pit heat pad and fire screen to help with safety and comfort.