Sunday, July 8, 2012

DIY Fire Pit...step by step

Ever since we moved in Andy has wanted a fire pit; we just didn't know where to put one.  We have several large oak trees and would hate to catch one of those bad boys on fire...So, when our beautiful tangerine tree ( which my Grandmother planted) got sick with root fungus and died we were extremely upset but saw a silver lining.  Where the Tangerine tree stood would make a perfect spot for  a fire pit.  Andy researched and planned and enlisted the help of two awesome friends, Chris and Katrina.  It took about a day and a half and was totally worth braving the Florida heat to complete our masterpiece...
How did we do it? I am so glad you asked...I took pictures throughout the whole process to be able to give a detailed account of how to create your very own fire pit! Here we go!

Step 1: 
Finds some help of course!
 We found Chris and Katrina! They were so awesome to come out and help on a hot summer day! 

Step 2: 
Once we decided where we wanted our fire pit and how big. Andy drove in a stake in the middle of where we wanted the pit and attached a string to it. Then, he tied the string to a can of spray paint (I had a ton for him to pick from) and sprayed as he walked around the circle keeping the string pulled tight.  Then he did the same thing for the outer gravel seating area. This marked off the areas we would dig out.

Step 3:
We started digging out the inner fire pit circle first.  We wanted to go down about 6 inches, so we all got a shovel and got to work!

Step 4:
Once our pit was dug out about 6 inches we laid in 8 bags of pea gravel picture below...
Then we compacted the gravel (we didn't have a tamper so we went old school and used cinder blocks)so it was level and ready for the next step.
 Here are the boys at work...
 They got tired, so me and Katrina stepped in to finish the job!  hehe (this is what Andy calls a photo opp)

Step 5:
We laid down 5 bags of paver base or coarse sand over the pea gravel. Then, compacted again...

 Did I mention how great Chris and Katrina are for helping out?! They are great workers!!!
We checked to make sure we were level and then continued on with step 6.

Step 6:
After the paver base was compacted, we laid 4 bags of fine leveling sand or paver sand on top and guessed it...compacted it.

You can see we only compacted the outer edge...the middle will not have anything sitting on it so it will be fine. Also, we will use the extra sand in the middle to level out the pavers as we go.

Step 7:
Start laying the first row of pavers.  We bought our pavers (chiseled front in harvest gold)from Lowes in the garden department.  We ended up needing 62 pavers for our pit. Make sure to have your level ready because you want every stone level front to back and side to side and level with the other stones around the circle.  It is worth it to take the extra time here and make sure the first row is perfectly level.  If you do the first row right, every other row will fall into place.
You can see in this picture we are laying the stones and checking level to see where we need to add or take out sand from each paver.  You can specifically see Katrina packing some more sand under the paver to lift it up level with the other pavers. This was the most time consuming part, but again it is worth the time! Once you have your first row set and completely level you are ready for the next step!

Step 8:
 We are dry fitting our pavers. What that means is, we did not use any mortar or construction adhesive to glue the stones together.  The pavers had a lip on the back that we faced down over the back side of the stone below it.  Once the circle is complete the stones are locked into place.  You can push all you want they are not going anywhere! This gives us the flexibility to move it if we need to down the road without having to break up the stones.  Also, using construction adhesive is not a good option because when it is heated up it will release toxic fumes into the air... yuck! We offset our stones to give it more variation. The second row went so smooth until we needed to cut a piece down.  Luckily Andy is good with a saw and chisel...

 Andy measure the front and back of the gap and then marked his line to cut. Then got the circular saw out and used a masonry blade to cut through the stone. 

Step 9:
The third row went sooo smooth! We laid the stones and they were a perfect fit so we continues on with the forth and final row.  Again, Andy had to cut one stone down to size and we were done with phase one...

Step 10:
Dig out the outer circle for the seating area.  Here we only had to go down about 3 inches. Thank goodness, because it was a much bigger circle.

Don't cry Andy, you are half way there :-)

Step 11:
Once the circle is dug out, rake it to level and put down weed barrier or weed block will be glad you did down the road!

Step 12:
Lay down a thick layer of pea gravel.  We have a stone yard a couple of miles away where we got our pea gravel.  A yard was just the right amount for our size sitting area. We drove the trailer down and had them fill it up. The wheel barrow came in handy hauling the gravel!

See that cute little mushroom looking table on the left in the photo above? That is the old tangerine tree! I couldn't just chop it down! My Grandma planted it; so I created a side table out of the trunk! I will show you how in my next post! Until then, good luck with your fire pit!