Fire pits are a natural fit for outdoor spaces.
They not only create a beautiful, stylish living space but also deliver warmth and enjoyment on cooler nights, allowing you to spend quality time outside in comfort when entertaining family and friends.
However, choosing a fire pit for use on your deck is not as simple as selecting one for backyard burning. It’s important to create a no-burn zone beneath and around your fire pit, position them away from furniture, railings and plants that could catch fire. A heat resistant covering or surface underneath portable fire pits is vital to protect the deck surface from radiant heat.
No deck handles the heat quite like HardieDeck™ decking, as it is made from premium fibre cement and is deemed non-combustible. HardieDeck™ decking is designed for use in bushfire area up to BAL-FZ, and is safe for use around fire pits.
Coating of any deck is important but even more so when building with a fire pit. To provide the best protection against the risk of damage from sparks and embers, we recommend the use of Crommelin Diamond Coat or Enhance sealing systems.
Tips for decking with fire pits:
- You should always consult local authorities to ensure local laws are adhered to as they may have regulations around the type of fire pit allowed, the size, location, hours of use etc.
- Ensure that your deck is designed with a fire pit in mind. Whether using a portable fire pit or installing a built-in fire pit, always engage a specialist in fire pit design.Depending on the complexity of the design, you many need to engage a structural engineer.
- HardieDeck™ decking is a great choice for use with fire pits since it is deemed non-combustible. However, you should always remember that embers and sparks can still mark and mar the surface. It is recommended that a suitable covering is placed over the fire pit to capture sparks and embers when in use. If these land on the deck surface, extinguish it immediately.
- Fire pit placement and location - avoid placing the fire pit near anything combustible. This includes firewood, furnishings, plants and railings. Plan a suitable spot for firewood storage so that it is convenient to retrieve, but not so close that it could catch fire from rogue embers
- Consider prevailing winds – avoid placing seating or dining areas downwind of the fire.
- Always sweep the deck clean of debris and foliage before using the fire pit.
- Accidents can happen – always keep a fully-charged appropriate class of fire extinguisher nearby to deal with any mishaps. And of course never leave a fire unattended.
- Radiant heat is an important consideration – both for the safety of the users and for the deck surface
High radiant heat can result in an unsafe surface temperature on the deck, as well as cause blistering, cracking and discolouration of the deck sealer. Always place a fire pit pad or suitable protective covering under a portable fire pit to prevent this. Ensure the pad is large enough to protect the deck surface from radiant heat under the fire pit, as well as capture stray sparks falling out from the fire pit. Built-in fire pits must be suitably designed to manage radiant heat and sparks.
If designing a seating area around or near the fire pit, ensure that you’ve allowed sufficient clearance. For example, if you plan to have a roaring fire, people often cannot be closer than ~1.5m to the edge of the fire. This also means that outdoor table settings should be at least 3m away from the edge of the fire pit, so that there is enough space for people to safely walk behind chairs. The clearance required will vary depending on the size of the fire.
Note: Gas fire pits designed for deck use do not produce sparks and embers and, from this perspective, might generally be considered to be a safer option.
If you want to make sure your deck makes the grade and creates a safe place to entertain, rethink traditional decking options and ask for HardieDeck™ decking by name.
Disclaimer: The information provided above is intended for general information purposes only. This guidance should not be relied upon as advice and you should always consult a fire pit specialist and the James Hardie literature relevant at the time of installation before building a fire pit with HardieDeck™ decking. If you have any questions or queries please do not hesitate to contact James Hardie via the following link: Contact Us