Building a Brick Fire Pit on a Slope with Stairway Access: 8 IDeas

Building a fire pit in your backyard can be a rewarding project that adds warmth and ambiance to your outdoor space. Whether you’re looking to create a cozy gathering spot for family and friends or simply want to enhance your landscape, a brick fire pit can be a charming and functional addition. However, constructing a fire pit in a sloped backyard presents unique challenges that require careful planning and execution. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the steps to build a durable and aesthetically pleasing fire pit from bricks, ensuring it fits seamlessly into your sloped terrain.


Detailed Explanation


1. Planning and Design

Site Selection

  • Location: Choose a location that is safely away from any structures, trees, or flammable materials. Consider prevailing wind directions to avoid smoke blowing into your home or neighbor’s yard.
  • Accessibility: Ensure the fire pit is easily accessible but does not obstruct the main flow of your backyard.

Design Considerations

  • Shape and Size: Decide on the shape (circular, square, etc.) and size of your fire pit. A diameter of 36 to 44 inches is typical for a circular fire pit.
  • Slope Management: Determine the degree of the slope where you plan to build. Steeper slopes may require more extensive leveling and retaining wall construction.

2. Gathering Materials and Tools

Materials

  • Bricks: Choose fire-rated bricks to withstand high temperatures.
  • Gravel: For drainage and leveling the base.
  • Sand: To create a smooth, level base for the bricks.
  • Concrete: For the foundation and retaining wall (if needed).
  • Metal Fire Ring (optional): To contain the fire and protect the bricks.

Tools

  • Shovel: For digging and leveling.
  • Tamper: To compact the base materials.
  • Level: To ensure a flat surface.
  • Trowel: For spreading concrete.
  • Measuring Tape: To measure dimensions accurately.
  • Masonry Saw (if needed): To cut bricks to size.

3. Preparing the Site

Marking the Area

  • Use stakes and string to outline the perimeter of your fire pit. For a circular pit, use a string tied to a center stake as a compass.

Excavation

  • Base: Dig a hole about 6-8 inches deep within the marked area for the base. Extend the excavation to accommodate the slope, creating a level surface for the fire pit.
  • Retaining Wall (if needed): If the slope is significant, dig a trench for a small retaining wall on the higher side of the slope to prevent soil erosion.

4. Building the Base

Gravel and Sand Layer

  • Fill the excavated area with 3-4 inches of gravel. Compact it using a tamper.
  • Add a 1-2 inch layer of sand over the gravel. Level the sand to create a smooth surface.

5. Laying the Bricks

Foundation Layer

  • Mix and pour a concrete foundation if needed for stability, especially on sloped areas. Allow it to cure according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Lay the first layer of bricks on the sand or concrete foundation, ensuring they are level and tightly fitted together.

Building Up

  • Continue to lay bricks in a staggered pattern, offsetting each row to ensure stability.
  • Check for level after each row and adjust as necessary.
  • If using a metal fire ring, place it inside the fire pit as you build up the walls, adjusting the bricks to fit snugly around it.

6. Creating Brick Stair Steps

Building a fire pit at the top of a small hill adds an extra level of complexity and charm to your project. To ensure easy and safe access, you can create brick stair steps leading up to the fire pit.

Planning the Steps

  • Measurement: Measure the distance from the base of the hill to the top where the fire pit will be located. Determine the number of steps needed based on the rise and run of each step.
  • Layout: Mark the path for the stairs using stakes and string, ensuring they are wide enough for comfortable use, typically around 3 feet wide.

Excavation and Base Preparation

  • Excavation: Dig out the steps along the marked path, making sure each step is level and consistent in height.
  • Base Preparation: Fill the excavated step areas with a layer of gravel for drainage and stability. Compact the gravel using a tamper.

Laying the Bricks

  • Foundation: Lay a concrete foundation for each step if the ground is unstable or the slope is steep. Allow the concrete to cure.
  • Brick Placement: Start at the bottom step and work your way up. Lay bricks in a staggered pattern for each step, ensuring they are level and secure.
  • Mortar Application: Use mortar between the bricks to bind them together and ensure durability.

7. Finishing Touches

Backfilling

  • Backfill around the fire pit and steps with soil or gravel to secure them in place and integrate them into the landscape.
  • Compact the backfill material to prevent shifting.

Safety Considerations

  • Ensure there is a clear area around the fire pit for seating and safety.
  • Have a water source or fire extinguisher nearby when using the fire pit.
  • Add railings or edging to the steps if necessary for additional safety.

8. Maintenance

  • Regularly clean the fire pit to remove ash and debris.
  • Inspect the bricks and mortar periodically for any signs of damage or wear.
  • Check the stairs for stability and repair any loose bricks promptly.

Building Tips


  1. Proper Planning and Design:
    • Assess the Slope: Understand the degree of the slope to determine the extent of leveling and retaining structures needed.
    • Choose the Right Location: Pick a spot that provides both safety and aesthetic appeal, away from flammable materials and structures.
  2. Use Quality Materials:
    • Fire-Rated Bricks: Ensure the bricks are designed to withstand high temperatures.
    • Durable Foundations: Use concrete and gravel for a solid base to prevent shifting and erosion.
  3. Excavation and Leveling:
    • Create a Level Base: Dig and level the area where the fire pit will be placed to ensure stability.
    • Terracing for Stability: If the slope is steep, consider terracing the hillside to create flat surfaces for both the fire pit and the steps.
  4. Building the Fire Pit:
    • Staggered Brick Layout: Lay bricks in a staggered pattern to enhance the structural integrity.
    • Consistent Level Checks: Frequently check the level of each layer of bricks to maintain even construction.
  5. Constructing the Stairway:
    • Uniform Steps: Ensure each step is uniform in height and depth for safety and ease of use.
    • Secure Footing: Use mortar between the bricks to prevent movement and provide a stable walking surface.
    • Handrails: Consider adding handrails for added safety, especially if the steps are steep or if the fire pit will be used frequently at night.
  6. Drainage Considerations:
    • Prevent Water Accumulation: Ensure proper drainage around the fire pit and steps to avoid water damage. Use gravel and sand layers to facilitate water flow.
    • Slope Management: Direct water runoff away from the fire pit and steps to prevent erosion.
  7. Safety Measures:
    • Safe Distance: Keep the fire pit at a safe distance from flammable materials and structures.
    • Emergency Preparedness: Have a water source or fire extinguisher nearby when using the fire pit.
    • Clear Surrounding Area: Maintain a clear area around the fire pit to prevent accidental fires.
  8. Regular Maintenance:
    • Inspect for Damage: Regularly check the fire pit and steps for any signs of wear or damage, and repair as needed.
    • Clean the Fire Pit: Remove ash and debris regularly to keep the fire pit in good condition.
    • Monitor Stability: Ensure that the steps remain stable and secure, and address any movement or settling promptly.

Estimating the cost of building


Here’s a rough breakdown:

Materials

  1. Fire-Rated Bricks:
    • Average cost: $0.70 – $1.00 per brick
    • Quantity: 300-500 bricks
    • Estimated cost: $210 – $500
  2. Gravel and Sand:
    • Gravel (1 cubic yard): $40 – $60
    • Sand (1 cubic yard): $30 – $50
    • Estimated cost: $70 – $110
  3. Concrete:
    • Bags of concrete mix: $4 – $6 each
    • Quantity: 10-20 bags
    • Estimated cost: $40 – $120
  4. Metal Fire Ring (optional):
    • Average cost: $40 – $200
    • Estimated cost: $40 – $200
  5. Mortar:
    • Bags of mortar mix: $5 – $10 each
    • Quantity: 5-10 bags
    • Estimated cost: $25 – $100
  6. Additional Materials:
    • Stakes and string: $10
    • Leveling tools and tampers: $20 – $40 (if not already owned)
    • Estimated cost: $30 – $50

Labor (if hiring)

  • Professional labor costs can vary widely based on location and complexity.
  • Estimated cost: $50 – $100 per hour
  • Total hours: 20-40 hours
  • Estimated cost: $1,000 – $4,000

Tools (if not already owned)

  • Shovel: $15 – $30
  • Tamper: $30 – $50
  • Level: $20 – $40
  • Trowel: $10 – $20
  • Masonry saw rental: $50 – $100 per day
  • Estimated cost: $125 – $240

Total Estimated Cost

  • Materials: $415 – $1,080
  • Labor (optional): $1,000 – $4,000
  • Tools: $125 – $240

Overall Cost Estimate

  • DIY (without hired labor): $540 – $1,320
  • With Professional Labor: $1,540 – $5,320

These estimates can vary depending on your specific location, the exact materials chosen, and whether you do the work yourself or hire professionals. Be sure to get multiple quotes for materials and labor to ensure you get the best price for your project.

About Joe Hats 177 Articles
Joe Hats is the founder of FreshPatio.com. Joe has been remodeling homes since 1997 when he bought his first fixer-upper. He has built many pieces of indoor and outdoor furniture with his own hands and has every DIY woodworking tool in his possession. Coming from an engineering background, he has designed and built many patio fixture plans. Following his wife's lead, he is also very passionate about home decor and together they keep track of the latest trends. When he is not remodeling or trying a new woodworking tool, he is busy gardening or designing a new outdoor plan.