Fire pits are an awesome addition to your patio but it is absolutely essential that they be used properly. The most common question people ask is, what to put under the fire pit on their patio?
It is always best to play it safe when it comes to fire and your patio. The ideal solution, is to place a fireproof mat combined with a heat shield, directly underneath your fire pit. Use the largest size mat that is convenient for the area your pit is in and fits your heat shield. Depending on how close the fire pit is to your house, you may also want want to consider a concrete backing. This is to separate the heat and flames from things like your siding and your house.
What Mats are Best Under Your Patio?
There is a lot of variety when it comes to fireproof mats and options these days. However, I believe that there is also a tremendous difference in the quality of many of these items. With average fire pit temperatures easily rising above 1,000 degrees, it is extremely important to use high quality products. Some things to consider when purchasing a fireproof mat are:
- The material that it is made of
- The temperature rating that the product has been tested at
- It’s ability to withstand other elements such as rain
- The overall size of the mat
One of my personal favorite mats to use on my patio or deck is this one by Infinite Heat Solutions. I have found them to be a quality manufacturer, that makes a quality product. Several of their other items have served me well in the past also.
What is a Heat Shield?
A heat shield, used in combination with fireproof floor mats, offers added protection from fire risk. Heat shields are large aluminum and steel plates that are 100% fireproof and can even have features like wheels to make them easier to transport.
Heat shields work in three main ways to stop the transfer of heat:
- Highly reflective materials to reflect heat
- Using the aluminum as a heat sink
- Creating an insulation effect using air spaces in metal
Another important point to note about heat shields, make sure that you pay close attention to all the details. Things like: the size of the heat shield compared to the size of your fire proof mat, and making sure you know whether your fire pit is gas or wood burning. The heat shield should be rated for the pit you are using.
Is Concrete Safe to Use?
Concrete can be an excellent material to protect your fire pit and its surroundings. You can use it underneath your fire pit and gas logs on your patio, or as a backing plate to protect your siding and electrical wires. You must be aware that not all concrete is an optimal choice for extremely high heat scenarios, such as a fire pit.
I recommended that you install firebrick, a special type of concrete made specifically for high temperatures. Especially, if you are planning on using the concrete underneath your fire pit. If that is the case, I often recommend firebrick like this from Rutland, because of the supreme quality and ability to withstand extremely high temperatures.
If you are intending on using the concrete as more of a backing plate to protect your house, you can usually use something like a little fireproof cement mix. Make sure that it is rated for heat and high temperatures even if it won’t be consistently exposed.
How Do I Know What Size Fire Mat I Need?
Choosing the correct size mat to put under your fire pit on your patio can be overwhelming. There are a wide variety of different shapes and sizes available. The rule that I always try to follow is to cover at least 30″ from the base of my pit in all directions. I used to really spend a lot of time putting thought into details like this but now I generally just go with the largest size that is in my budget.
The set-up that I personally use and recommend is laying your large fire mat across your patio and spreading it as far as is possible. After that, place your heat shield in the center of the mat, to maximize the protected area on all sides. Now, set your fire pit on top of your heat shield. I consider this to be a very safe set-up that is worthy for almost any patio.
What Other Safety Concerns are There?
Areas surrounding your pit need to be protected. Cover your siding and house with proper shielding and always have water near by your fire. It is extremely important to protect the top of your fire pit as well. Sparks and embers escaping from the pit are a leading cause of property damage. A simple spark cover is an elegant solution to solve this.
They sit right over top of your fire pit and take your level of protection up-a-notch. They defend against sparks and embers making their way onto your wooden deck or onto your patio. It is such a simple an inexpensive item but yet so many people do not use these. I meticulously use my spark cover whenever I am not personally in front of my pit.
Another way to prevent this is switching to fire glass, an extremely safe alternative to wood, and eliminating most of the risk altogether. These are really picking up steam for 2020.