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A wood fire in a fire pit burns warmly in the night.

Building or Buying a Fire Pit in Ottawa? Here’s What You Need to Know!

Fire pits are great additions to backyards and patios. They get year-round use as warm spots to gather at night. They can even help keep the bugs away in the summer!

Best of all, fire pits come in a variety of styles to suit your backyard and patio needs. Some include additional features, such as built-in table space or additional storage, taking double-duty as furniture.

It goes without saying that there’s a lot to consider when buying a fire pit. To help you choose the best fire pit for your backyard, we’ve put together a few things you should keep in mind when you go shopping around.

Of course, the only person who can truly determine the best fire pit for your needs is you!

It all depends on your space, budget, and local bylaws. You might need to get a permit before using a fire pit in your backyard.

Take some time to review any regulations before you make a final decision, and keep the following in mind:

Fuel Type


Portable and semi-portable propane fire pits are easy to use. Simply hook up a propane tank in the enclosure at the bottom of the fire pit, close the door to hide the tank, and press a button to ignite the flames.

These usually come with ledges around the fire bed to act as a coffee table, and feature lava rocks in the fire bed to add visual appeal.

Like barbecues, fire pits will come with covers to keep elements and ignition covered from the elements when not in use. However, most fire pits are very durable and weather-resistant.

If you have a gas line to your home, you may be able to hire a professional to hook up gas to a permanent fire pit.


Wood fire pits can be permanent or portable. Permanent fire pits are usually made of brick or stone. Portable wood fire pits are made of various materials, such as terracotta, steel, copper, or cast iron.

Unfinished metal fire pits are prone to rust if exposed to the elements for too long. So to keep water from pooling up in a metal fire pit, drill a few drainage holes in the bottom of the bowl, and cover your fire pit when not in use.

Chimineas allow you to burn wood in a small fireplace with a chimney. These don’t give off as much heat as other types of fire pits, but they do have the look, sound, and smell that many people are after.

Note: Do not burn pressure-treated wood in chimineas or any other fire pits.


Portable fire pits allow you to move your fire pit easily around your property. They come in various sizes, and may be wood-burning or propane-fueled.

There are even compact fire pits that use 5-gallon propane tanks. The size of the flame is controlled with a dial. These are ideal for use while camping, and when burning wood is unsafe, illegal, or inconvenient.

There are also small fire bowls that may come with a grill top for cooking and a protective screen cover to prevent embers from flying at you.

Small fire pits and fire bowls are ideal for small yards and patios.


Permanent fire pits are typically made of a large ring of stones. To prevent water from building up in the fire bed, these often have drains connected to underground pipes.

While normally wood-burning, permanent fire pits may be connected to your home’s gas line.

Permanent fire pits are customizable to suit your preferred size and design. But large fire pits tend to have larger flames when burning too much wood, and may be banned for use in urban areas.

If you do use a large fire pit, do keep the fires small for everyone’s safety.

Gas Fire Pit Tables

Fire pit tables are ideal for an outdoor living space. These large, stylish, and durable tables with broad table tops have plenty of surface space for dining and drinks.

Fire tables also have glass beads in the fire bed that shimmer and sparkle with the flames.

These tables are often made of weather-resistant materials and finishes that prevent rusting and corrosion. And they also come with covers to prolong their lifespan and quality.

What Is the Best Height For A Fire Pit?

Fire pits should be at a comfortable height for people to enjoy while sitting around the fire.

If it’s too short, you will have to crouch down to be near the heat. And if it’s too tall, it will hold in the heat and be difficult to enjoy the fire while sitting.

An above-ground fire pit should be 12 to 14 inches tall. This height is a bit shorter than the average seat height of patio furniture.

You can go a bit taller, up to 20 inches. But any taller than this will be too tall for heat and comfort.

How Deep Does A Fire Pit Have to Be?

The fire pit depth will depend on the type of fire pit your are building. If you are building a fire pit with garden stones or brick you may only need to dig 1 to 1.5 feet deep, and then build the stone wall up to your chosen height.

How Do You Build A Fire Pit in Your Backyard?

First, before building a fire pit in your backyard, you must check with your local laws on open flames in your neighbourhood.

These laws may also inform you of the maximum size allowed for fire pits, the required distance from nearby structures, and other fire safety precautions you must take.

Once you have determined your allowable fire pit size and type, choose a safe location in your yard. This should be separate from your outdoor dining area.

Be sure to consider the wind in the location you’re planning to use. You don’t want the smoke from a fire blowing into the faces of people sitting nearby.

Dig a circular hole 1 to 1.5 feet deep, and 4 to 5 feet in diameter. Flatten the ground and lay firebricks or garden stones around the circle. Use fire-resistant materials to join the layers of bricks together.

Fill in any space outside the circle with dirt. Fill the centre of the pit with river rocks. And add a decorative edge around the fire pit with paving stones or garden stones.

Allow for six feet of open space around the fire pit on every side for ease of access and safety.

And make sure there’s enough room for shuffling patio furniture around and for people to move behind the chairs. You don’t want people walking or sitting too close to the fire. This rule applies to both built-in fire pits and portable fire pits.

Choose a fire pit design that complements the materials on your patio. This will help bring together the entire backyard patio architecturally.

You can also design your fire pit to be the focal point of your backyard.

How Far From My House Should I Keep my Fire Pit?

For fire safety, fire pits must be at least 10 feet away from any structure or combustible surface. But make sure to check with your local burn laws for an accurate distance.

Fire pits should also never be used under overhanging trees, a building overhang, or a partially-enclosed space.

Make sure to check the weather forecast before lighting a fire. If it’s too windy, the wind might blow embers to combustible surfaces.

Always clean up around the fire pit, such as picking up leaves and other combustible materials that could cause a fire to spread. Keep water, sand, or a garden hose nearby when lighting a fire. Always stay up to date with burn bans and bylaws.

With year-round use, fire pits are a good investment for your backyard enjoyment. Once you’ve decided to build one or buy a stylish new one, you can start enjoying the warmth and atmosphere of a fire pit in your backyard.