can you put a fire pit on a deck, Can You Put a Fire Pit on a Deck?

Can You Put a Fire Pit on a Deck?

Fire pits can be a great place to gather for some outdoor fun. The crackling flames create a cozy atmosphere and provide warmth for chilly fall and winter activities. 

However, outdoor fires also pose risks to people and property. Every year, fire pits and outdoor heaters cause about 6,200 injuries

So can you put a fire pit on a deck? Keep reading to find out how you can do so safely.

Is It Safe To Put a Fire Pit on a Deck?

The key to safely installing and using a fire pit on a deck is understanding the risks and taking steps to mitigate them.

Risks to Your Deck

The most obvious risk to your deck is that sparks, embers, or flames could escape your fire pit, land on the deck, and burn or scorch it. Additionally, the heat from your fire pit could cause your deck to warp, melt, crack, or discolor. Smoke and ash from a wood-burning fire pit can also cause stains or make your deck smell like smoke. 

The risks to your deck vary depending on its material.


Because wood is highly combustible, wood-burning fire pits are particularly hazardous on wood decks. A gas or electric fire pit may be a better option if you have a wood deck. 

Composite Materials

Composite materials consist of a mixture of wood, plastic, wood particles, and recycled materials. Composite materials are combustible but are not as combustible as wood. Check with the manufacturer to determine the specific heat tolerance of the materials in your composite deck.


Putting a fire pit on a vinyl deck is risky. The material is both combustible and likely to expand or crack when overheated. 


Concrete is an ideal surface for a fire pit because it is strong and non-combustible. However, any ash that escapes the fire pit could discolor the surface.

Risks to Your Home

The primary risk to your home is that sparks, flames, or embers could travel directly from the fire pit to your home, causing a fire. Additionally, if your fire pit starts a fire on your deck, the fire could spread to your home.

For this reason, installing a fire pit on a deck that is not attached to your house is safer. Additionally, heat from the fire pit could melt or crack vinyl siding, and smoke and ash could cause discoloration and other damage.

Risks to People

The two primary risks to people are burns from accidents, such as falling into the fire, uncontrolled fires that have spread outside the fire pit, and smoke inhalation. Wood smoke can worsen asthma and trigger heart problems in some people.

Legal Risks

Many local governments place restrictions on open flames. Some may not allow open flames on wood decks or within 20 feet of your home. Additional restrictions may apply during dry weather or windy conditions. Check your state, county, and city laws. If you have a homeowner’s association, your HOA rules may also restrict or forbid fire pits.

Liability Risks

You could be legally responsible if flames, heat, sparks, smoke, or ash cause injuries or property damage. Make sure your homeowners’ policy covers damage from your fire pit.

How Can You Use a Fire Pit on a Deck Safely?

While the risks of installing a fire pit on a deck are potentially serious, you can take steps to reduce them.

Never Leave Your Fire Pit Unattended

Do not allow fires to burn overnight or whenever an adult is not present to monitor the fire pit. Always supervise children and pets around fire pits.

Keep a Fire Extinguisher and Water Near the Fire Pit

Keep a water hose, bucket of water, and a Class A fire extinguisher near the fire pit to douse any unintended fires or put out a fire that is burning out of control. If the fire is large, call 911.

Keep Intoxicated Guests Away From the Fire Pit

Intoxicated people may fall into the fire or make poor decisions, such as throwing dangerous materials into the flames. If you or your guests are consuming alcohol, consider skipping the fire pit or appointing a person who is not drinking to put the fire out if people are getting too intoxicated to be safe.

Do Not Place a Fire Pit Directly on Your Deck

A fire pit can get up to 800°F and transfer 200° to 400° of radiant heat into your deck, which is more than enough heat to scorch, melt, soften, or warp some materials. Placing a barrier between the fire pit and your deck is essential.

Materials you can use include:

  • Fire pit mats
  • Pavers or bricks
  • Fire pit stands
  • Sand in the base of the fire pit

Using multiple barriers can increase safety.

Read the Fire Pit Installation Manual

Fire pit installation manuals contain installation and clearance requirements for safety. Most fire pits need at least 3 feet on each side and 6-10 feet above.

Make Sure Your Deck Can Support the Weight

Fire pits can be heavy. Check with the contractor who installed your deck or a structural engineer to ensure your deck can support the weight of the fire pit, plus furniture and people.

Clear the Surrounding Area

Before using the fire pit, remove debris from the deck, such as leaves, pine straw, and other flammable materials. Sweep the deck and ensure the area around the fire pit is clear.

Choose a Safe Location

The fire pit should not be flush against your house or any other structure. Leave at least 10-20 feet of space between the fire pit and your home. Keep the fire pit away from overhangs, plants, awnings, low-hanging tree branches, and other combustible items.

Use a Fire Pit Spark Screen

Fire pit spark screens prevent embers from traveling through the air, where they may land on flammable materials or structures. Keep the screen closed as much as possible.

Use a Poker Tool

You may need to move your logs to keep your fire burning safely. Keep a poker tool nearby to reduce the risk of burning yourself.

Do Not Use Your Fire Pit on Windy Days

Winds more substantial than a slight breeze can cause sparks and flames to spread. Avoid using the fire pit in high-wind conditions.

Do Not Pour Lighter Fluid or Other Flammable Liquids on Your Fire

Lighter fluid can cause flames to burn out of control. Gas can cause explosions. 

Do Not Burn Trash in Your Fire Pit

Do not burn cardboard, paper, plastic, and other materials in your fire pit. Some items may release toxins or create flash fires and floating ash.

Choose the Right Wood

Softwoods, such as pine or cedar, tend to spark and smoke. Harder woods, such as hickory, ash, and oak, are safer. Only burn wood that is dry and not rotten. Wood with an internal moisture content above 20% produces more smoke.

Put Out the Fire and Dispose of the Ashes

Put out the fire when you are not using it. Allow it to cool for 24 hours before disposing of the ashes. Leaving ashes in the pit can corrode the pit and create a mess on your deck.

What Type of Fire Pit Should You Use on a Wood Deck?

If you are building a new deck, consider choosing less-flammable materials. However, if you want to put a fire pit on an existing wood deck, there are options.

Metal or Cast Iron

These fire pits have sturdy legs that keep them off the deck surface. However, they are also heavy.

Gas or Propane Fire Pits

Are propane fire pits safe on decks? A gas or propane fire pit is safe on combustible decks because it does not produce sparks and directs the heat upward and outward instead of down into the deck.  Choose a model specifically designed for use on a deck, and an NFI Certified professional to install the fire pit.

Electric Fire Pits

Electric fire pits do not create smoke or ashes. 

Wood-Burning Fire Pits

Wood-burning fire pits are only safe on combustible decks if the manufacturer approves the fire pit for that use and you put the pit on a non-combustible base, such as natural stone or concrete, that extends at least 24 inches from the fire pit on all sides.

BTU Limits

If your deck has an awning or other overhanging structure, you may need to choose a fire pit with a lower BTU output to ensure flames do not get too high and the heat does not get too intense. Check the manual for the maximum output of the fire pit you are considering before you buy.

Where Can You Get Help With Your Deck Questions?

If you have questions about safely installing a fire pit on your deck or need help with a specialty project, such as installing fire pits for boat docks, it is best to consult a deck expert. 

At Decks & Docks, we understand that your outdoor space is where you make memories with your friends and family. Whether you are working with an experienced contractor or a do-it-yourself enthusiast, we’d be happy to help you with your project! Contact us for more information.