Fire pits on a deck: Guide to Safety and Care

Propane fire pits are a fantastic way to add ambience and warmth to any outdoor setting. However, these must be used with caution when you put a fire pit on the deck of a house or other structure. This article will explore some of the safety considerations you need to know before using a propane fire pit on your deck.

Are Propane Fire Pits Safe on Decks?

Certified propane fire pits are the safest and best fire pits compared to any other fire pit for the deck. Propane fire pits produce comparably low heat than wood-burning pits. Thus they are safe to use on all kinds of decks. Besides, you can control the gas and quickly turn it off.

Most propane fire pits are compact and portable. Moreover, you do not need vast deck space for propane fire pits. You can even move it to your backyard. Propane fire pits produce no smoke, sparks of flame, or ashes. Hence, they are easy to use and maintain. 

However, it is still better to read the manual of your propane fire pit to see if it is safe to use on your deck. Although propane pits do not produce smoke, you should not use them in an enclosed area. The carbon monoxide produced by propane fire pits can cause serious health issues. 

Besides, you have to check the gas cylinder quality and gas connection from time to time to ensure that they are in superb shape. Using cheap materials to build propane fire pits can lead to accidents. 

Whether you can use a fire pit on any deck depends on the burner size and the heat they produce.

How hot does a fire pit get?

A wood-burning fire pit may reach temperatures of up to 1,200°F (1,100 °C). That’s the temperature for a bonfire, and it’s hot, so take care on your balcony! A propane gas-powered gadget has about 70K BTUs, which is more intense than most other options in this category.

A British Thermal Unit (BTU) is the energy required to raise 1 pound of water by 1 degree Fahrenheit. The number varies depending on the fire pit or outdoor decorative appliance, but for most items, it ranges from 30,000 – 100K+. In short, more BTUs means incredible warmth!

Props to you for thinking about the fire safety issue!

The choice between natural gas and propane is an important one. While propane burns hotter, 2500 vs 1000 BTU’s of heat output per pound; Some purists believe that it’s crucial when cooking anyway, so make sure your deck can accommodate either type as well as proximity both near windows and doors (and also its size).

Burner Size

The burner/ ring size depends on how much heat you want from the propane fire pit. The bigger the burner ring will be, the more BTUs you will get from the fire pit. However, the heat depends not only on the burner. It depends on the combination of the burner and fuel of the fire pit. 

For example, if you choose a 12-inch fire burner and you have 20lb of gas fuel, then you can expect to have up to 90k BTUs of heat for 4 to 5 hours from your propane fire pit. Now, if you want 120k BTUs, you will need a larger burner and extra gas power. Thus, the propane also gets more prominent. 

For safety, fire pit manufacturers often advise keeping a 6 inches gap on all four sides between the perimeter of the burner and the rim of the fire pit. 

Since propane fire pits can produce a good amount of heat, people are often concerned about using these pits on any kind of deck. 

Which Decks Are Safe For Using Propane Fire Pits? 

Propane Fire Pit and Wine
Propane Fire Pit and wine: Photo 213974429 © Emgallagher | Dreamstime.com

So, let us see whether you can set a propane fire pit on decks like wooden decks, vinyl decks, and concrete decks. But what about composite decks? Can you use a propane fire deck on wood and composite decks? We shall also see that. 

Wood Decks

In short, propane fire pits are the best options for wooden decks. Regarding using a fire pit safely, There is no possibility of coal and hot embers or burning woods falling on highly combustible surfaces like a wooden deck. So, Propane fire pits are a popular deck fire pit. People often place their small portable fire pits directly on the wooden deck because they produce low heat. 

However, you should examine the handbook for your fire pit. All fire pits are recommended to be far from combustible materials. Check the safety code of your area to see how far you can place the fire pit directly from your house. Since wood fire is flammable and a fire hazard, you should put a fire-resistant pad under the propane fire pad to use on the wooden deck. 

Fire pits on wood decking

Adding fireproof pre-coated exterior plywood (such as the Fire-X brand) will help keep your home safe if you intend to maximize the use of your fire pit on a wood deck regularly and need to construct a new deck or replace an old deck board.

Removing damaged and weak decking that may catch fire and replacing it with pressure-treated wood that is fire-tolerant will be the next stage.

Vinyl Decks

Wood-burning fire pits produce a lot of heat that can damage the surface of the deck. On the other hand, propane fire pits produce moderate heat and have a lower chance of causing a fire. Thus, they are suitable for your expensive vinyl deck’s surface. 

Then again, for the local safety code, put a fire-resistant pad or other safety material under the propane fire fit to protect the deck surface from heat damage. 

Besides, the weight of a fire pit can damage the surface of the vinyl deck. So, consider how much weight your vinyl deck can handle.  

Concrete Decks

Propane fire pits are a better choice than wood-burning fire pits for concrete patios. They produce few BTUs and do not heat the concrete underneath. On the other hand, wood-burning fire pits can even cause explosions of concrete patios. 

However, if you see the concrete getting too hot under the propane fire pit, you must use pads under the fire pit. Besides, it will not damage the concrete so fast. If you continually use the fire pit on the same spot, that area may get damaged over time. So, you can choose different locations to fire the pit. 

Now, there is another kind of decking which is composite decking. First, let us know what composite decking is, and then we will see which fire pit is suitable for it. 

What Is Composite Decking?

Composite decking gained popularity because of its low price compared to wooden decks. It is a kind of decking made from a mix of materials like wood fibers, PVCs, other types of plastics, and some bonding agents. 

Composite decking is a good choice because it is not high maintenance like wood. However, if you want to place a fire pit on a composite deck, you should think twice.

The material even gets uncomfortably hot under sun heat and gets soft at just 176 degrees. Thus, fire pits that emit high heat should not be placed on composite decks. 

You can place propane fire pits that produce extremely low heat. Also, make sure your composite decking can bear the weight of the fire pit. The surface gets scratched very easily, so you should use protective pads on the deck before placing the fire pit.  

What Are The Safety Considerations With Propane Fire Pits On A Deck?

Round Propane Fire Pit Patio
Round Propane Fire Pit Patio: Photo: Photo 194427174 / Propane Fire Pit © Susan Vineyard | Dreamstime.com

As you can see, no matter what type of fire pit you use, you must take some safety measures, such as heat shields, screens, and spark guards.

After all, you do not want to damage your deck. Repairing it will cost significantly more dollars than buying a few safety materials for your propane fire fit. 

Here are a few safeguards you could undertake:

Heat-Resistant Fire Pit Mat

Heat-Resistant Fire Mat is specially made for protecting your deck from the heat and open flames of the fire pits. Many manufacturers make heat-resistant fire pit mats compatible with all deck surfaces, such as wood, stone, vinyl, brick, cement, composite decking, etc. These mats are inexpensive and available, and easy to buy.

Fire-resistant mats are PVC, fire-resistant fabrics, rubber, fibreglass, fire-resistant films, silicones, and many other materials that can tolerate heat. The mats are often lightweight and can be stored easily. They also come in various shapes and sizes. They can be round, oval, or square. The size of the mats typically is between 22″ to 36″.  

Paver Safety Base

Propane fire pits may not produce as much heat and emit sparks as wood fires. But, they are still fire hazards, and if it tips on the deck or a grass-covered patio, fire can spread quickly. So, to give your propane fire pit a little more stability, you can buy a paver safety base. 

Safety bases for fire pits are frames made of powder-coated irons. It can give room to 16″ x 16″ paver stones that cover the deck surface or grass of the patio. Thus, you can use the fire pits on any surface without the fear of tipping it over and burning the area. 

As the iron base is collapsible, you can assemble it without any problem and store it in any corner of your house. Therefore, it is also easy to move around to different areas of your deck. 

DIY Fire Pit Pad

If you are not willing to spend money on fire pit pads, you can DIY them at home at a low cost. You may have some extra pavers somewhere on your property. Or you can ask someone you know to help you in this matter.

When you are going to ignite the propane pit, arrange the pavers on the deck first. Measure the size of your pit and place pavers. The dimension of the paved area should be larger than your fire pit size. The feet of your fire pit should not be at the edge of the pavers. Otherwise, it may tip. 

Screens And Spark Guards

Although there is very little chance of sparks flying from propane fire pits, it is wise to have a spark screen or spark guard. It can be helpful in many ways apart from flying sparks. Sometimes leaves or insects can fall on the fire. The protective screen can prevent that. 

Spark screens have various shapes and sizes. So, you have to measure your fire pit to buy a fitting screen. The screens are made of iron and steel. Moreover, they are foldable. Thus, you can store them easily. Keep these in mind before you fire up your propane fire pit.

Tips For Keeping Your New Fire Pit Safer

Imagine yourself enjoying a nice barbeque party with your friends and family. Someone accidentally tips off your propane fire pit, and your use gets on fire! Not a pleasant thing to happen, right? 

To avoid something like this from happening, you should take some steps to protect your house. It is recommended that your fire pit space should be at least 20 feet away from your home. In addition, you can take protective measures like: 

All-Metal Fire Pit Barrier

They have a similar function as Paver Safety Base. All-metal fire pit barriers also protect the deck surface from heat and provide stability to the fire pit. So, the possibility of accidents gets lower.

All-Metal Fire Pit Barriers are more durable than heat-resistant fire pit mats because they are metals like High Temp Carbon Steel. 

Insulated Fire Pit Barrier

Do you have a composite deck? Then, get an Insulated Fire Pit Barrier. It is a metal tray that stays a few inches above the ground. The feet of the tray is wrapped with rubber or plastic. Thus, it will protect the composite deck from getting scratched and burned by the fire pit. Furthermore, it provides steadiness to the fire pit. 

There are various sizes available for insulated fire pit barriers; you can pick a shape and size according to the measurement of your fire pit. Always choose a larger size than the dimensions of the fire pit. The extended edges will lower the risk of the fire pit tipping over.  

Outdoor Fire Pit Tables

Fire Table
Outdoor Fire Table Photo 52188640 © Saltcityphotography | Dreamstime.com

Want something safe as well as stylish for your deck? Well, the outdoor living propane fire pit table is just what you want. They are durable and can be enjoyed in any weather. There is no fire, spark or fear of tipping over. Therefore, it is safe. The gas cylinder stays covered in the table, so the propane fire pit table looks like a sophisticated table. 

Several, “Propane and Gas Fire Tables” are available from manufacturers such as Outland Living, DINELI, and BALI Outland, all of which are sizeable smokeless fire pits that also serve as tabletops.

Besides, you can completely cover fire space if you do not want pit fire. Instead, you can use the table to serve drinks and snacks. The tables are also portable so that you can move them to different locations of your property. 

The dimensions of large propane fire pit tables are typically L 44″ x W 32″ x H 24″, and the smaller ones are L 30″ x W 30″ x H 24.1″. You may choose from squire, oval, and hexagon design tables. 

However, it’s wise to remember that tables are only for outdoors. Using the tables indoors is not a good idea. 

What Are Some Of The Most Important Things To Be Aware Of When Using A Propane Fire Pit In An Outdoor Setting!

Wood fire on deck
Wood Fire on deck needs fire screen could be danger: https://www.twenty20.com/photos/

No doubt, propane fire pits are comparatively safer than wood-burning fire pits. Even so, it is better to stay aware of matters for your safety. When you are using a propane fire pit, be careful about the following things:

Gas Supply

Take good care of your gas cylinder and propane line. Do not forget to check for leakage. If you smell propane releasing from the propane fire pit or any foul odour from the fire pit, turn it off right away. Then, take the help of experts to repair the fire pit. Besides, you should learn about fire fighting hazards during propane tank fires so that you can prevent accidents. 

Cover

When you are not using the propane fire pit, keep it covered. Propane fire pits need only gas and the burner to create fire.

Any combustible material falling on the fire pit can cause trouble. Also, covering will protect the propane fire pit from insects that could damage the gas lines. 

Metal or stone covers

When not used, the cover prevents the burning of buildings and helps protect against the elements. In some cases, covers are required for validation of the manufacturer’s warranty.

Burn Media

A propane fire pit can be a fantastic decorative item for your deck, backyard, or patio. In order to improve the aesthetics, you might include some burn media.

But make sure these are not combustible. The burn media for the propane fire pit should only be for decoration. You may use fire glass, stones, lava rocks, and gas logs as burn media for your fire pit. 

How close can a fire pit be to a house?

When choosing a room for your fire pit, it is common practice that you should be about 20-30 feet from the structures of your house. Consult your local fire department and your local fire codes for specific rules for your area.

The challenge with this is to have a deck that could accommodate the sort of structural standoff. My house is barely within this limit, and I wouldn’t consider it much. Call some regional fire crews.

Check Your Town’s Code

When you are buying a fire pit, consider the safety regulations and codes of your area. Learn all the rules and safety codes to prepare your space for the fire pit. Wood-burning fire pits often have seasonal or yearly rules.

Fortunately, propane fire pits are permitted to be used all year round. No matter how safe propane fire pits are, you still have to buy safety equipment according to the code of young fire pits. 

What are the Advantages of Propane Fire Pit Over Other Types Of Outdoor Heating Systems?

roast marshmallows on propane fire pit
roast marshmallows on propane fire pit: https://www.twenty20.com/photos

You may wonder what makes propane fire pits better than the other outdoor heating systems, like electric and wood. As you can see, propane fire pits are safe for any kind of deck, no matter what material it has. Besides, there are some other benefits:

  • Propane fire pits use propane gas and have a gas cylinder that can be refilled. It does not need to be attached to a gas line. 
  • Propane fire pits are quite portable. So, if you are going camping, propane fire pits are the ultimate choice for roast marshmallows. Just carry a propane cylinder with you, and you are good to go. 
  • There is no need for electricity like the electric fire pits, which can ramp up your electricity bills. So, you can save power and money. 
  • They have a simple design; you just have to turn a knob to turn on the propane fire burner. There is no need for wood or coal for the fire.
  • Propane fire pits do not create smoke, produce sparks or ashes. Thus. It is easy to maintain and clean. Not to mention it also keeps the fireplace smoke free.
  • They do not take too much space on the deck or backyard. Since it does not need wood, the size of the propane pits is smaller. 
  • You will get not only a heating source but also a beautiful decorative item for your deck. The clean fire and burning media of the propane fire pit look aesthetic. Thus, your night parties with a friend become more relaxing. 

Which is safer: propane or natural gas fire pit?

Natural gas tends to burn a lot cleaner (less soot) and more cost-effective. Propane can be stored in portable containers, which you install yourselves. You can move your propane fireplace if that is necessary so it won’t connect your gas pipes.

Natural gas is piped, so it needs to be available before you begin working with it and be willing to engage with qualified fitters.

You won’t notice any difference between the two types of gas except having one portable container of propane that you can use. Generally, a significant difference comes with installation.

Wood vs Propane Fire Pits for Decks

Propane is unmatched for its ease of use. It’s small, lightweight, and easy to store when not in use – perfect for when you need heat but don’t have enough room or patience on your own land!

Some people want the rustic feel of a wood-burning fire pit in their deck. If you do, too, it’s important to note that concrete is much more durable than natural materials and will withstand high temperatures better when placed near an open flame or spark-provoking material without catching on fire!

A propane fire pit may be the best option for most decks, but it still needs safety precautions. You’ll want to be assured that you have a flameproof heat shield and/or a fire extinguisher nearby!

Do fire pits keep mosquitoes away?

No, that would be a response based on my natural experiences; nevertheless, research disagrees. Mosquitoes and other pests are always drawn to sources of heat and warmth.

No assurance burning the charcoal will keep migratory mosquito species at bay, but it can help. Fires fueled by gas or propane emit little to no emissions, and the heat draws those itchy nasties.

Critters will avoid a wood-burning fire pit because they dislike the smoke and odours, and It may help discourage them, but if your blood is healthy for them, think about alternative options.

What can I use with my propane fire pit to discourage mosquitos??

You can use bugs to your advantage by planting mint and lavender. Citronella candles are also great for keeping the insects at bay on any outdoor surface, especially hardwood decks where you’re most susceptible!

 It is possible to eliminate mosquitoes at the same time using your gas fire pit. However, be sure that nothing gets burnt in the fireplace as debris can cause issues with lava flow and damage rock blocks or heating apparatus you might want to avoid together!

The mosquitoes are coming! But don’t fret; I have a few proposals on how to keep them away. For example – burning eucalyptus oil or growing tropical plants will drive their appetite away from you and your property while eliminating certain items that attract them can help outsmart them as well (check out my article).

Deck Firepits: a Comprehensive Understanding.

Below is an excellent podcast from Woodland Direct that summarises what is discussed in this blog article. I recommend that you listen to get a thorough knowledge of fire pits on decks in general. While I have stated that propane is the preferable option, it is not without risks. Listen in as Mike and Randy debate whether it’s safe to instal a fire pit on your deck. Some excellent reasons for understanding this from an insurance standpoint if you ever have an accident. 

Woodland Direct Inc. (2020, June 16). Can I Put a Fire Pit on My Wood Deck? – Episode 1 | Experts in Fire [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cc0dj7jp7oo

Conclusion

Ultimately, it is entirely up to you that what kind of fire pit are you going for. But if your decision falls on a propane fire pit, a few things to consider buying is some safety equipment according to your area’s code and make sure all the rules are followed during the installation process.

That’s all from us! We trust you found this post to be helpful. Do not forget to share your feedback and suggestions with us through the comment box below!

Sources of Information

Montana Fire Pits. (2020, August 5). How to Choose the Right Fire Pit Burner! The TOP 6 Burner Sizing Questions Answered! [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S6-RUuIpaes

The Outdoor GreatRoom Company. (n.d.). Understanding BTU’s | The Outdoor Greatroom Companyhttps://www.outdoorrooms.com/company/advice/understanding-btus

L. (2021a, July 9). Are Propane Fire Pits Safe? (Essential Information). Take a Yard. https://takeayard.com/propane-fire-pits-safe/

A. (2021a, July 15). Fire Pit on Deck – Yes or No?! Do’s, Don’ts & Considerations. Outland Living. https://outlandliving.com/blogs/news/fire-pit-on-deck

Oakley, M. (2021, September 6). A Guide To Fire Pit Burners – How they work, what you need? The Magic Of Fire. https://themagicoffire.com/a-guide-to-fire-pit-burners/

7 thoughts on “Fire pits on a deck: Guide to Safety and Care”

  1. A fire pit is definitely something that I must have in my dream home. This article is very informative and I learnt a lot about firepits. I now know how to be safe when it’s time for me to own my very own. I also know how dangerous it can be, especially around kids so I have to be extra cautious with it. 

    Reply
  2. I haven’t actually considered a propane fire pit on a deck as I thought it would be a hazard but your article convinced me that it is low risk. With no smoke, sparks, or ash. Open wood fires have all these hazards and are so messy to keep clean and it always concerns me that someone could fall in or kick a log out and set a fire on the deck.

    You can turn the gas off and quash any dangers I would think. This is an excellent idea.

    Reply
    • Absolutely, Lily. While there are still some dangers, you should consider your fire pit’s placement and size. A propane fire pit is a way to go on a deck. Perfect for summer and winter parties.

      Many Blessings  

         

      Reply
  3. Having a fire pit on a deck must be great. You can enjoy the fresh air and view that you hopefully have, while also staying warm. I did not realize though that one can get a propane gas fire pit for a deck, which is so much safer than a wood burning fire pit. No sparks flying around, and the temperature doesn’t go as high as with a wood burning fire pit. 

    It is great to see that a propane fire pit is suitable to be used on all types of decking, and fire guards are also available in the unlikely event of sparks flying. 

    Reply
    • It is lovely to be able to share fire pits with your family. I’m not sure about the above high apartment. You may want a smaller biofuel type for that, but propane will make sense if your stand-alone house or decking.

      Reply
  4. Safety is very important generally an be that’s why this article is b very important. I had to save it for a reread because it was very nice,, shared it with my colleagues and I know they’ll love it definitely.  Thank you so much for sharing these safety tips here, it was really nice learning these tips

    Reply

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