Unlike stairs and railings, essential ingredients for most decks, a firepit is an accent deck idea that's meant for pure enjoyment of the outdoor space. Like a campfire in the woods or on the beach that serves to warm hands and feet and stimulate friendly conversation among those gathered 'round, the firepit brings warmth and conversation closer to home. A firepit can be especially welcome when evenings turn cool or days become brisk, extending the life of the deck as an outdoor room.
Firepits are often situated on a patch of ground near the deck and its activities. When integrated directly into the deck design, however, firepits require some careful planning. Because of their weight and also as a safety measure, the base should sit directly on the ground. This works best with on-grade decks; with a raised deck, the base can be built up to the desired height using concrete blocks or masonry materials. A firepit should also be lined with heat-resistant firebrick, although a more decorative brick or natural stone can be used for the edging or trim. Finally, the sides of the firepit should be tall enough so that the surrounding deck boards will not be damaged or scorched by the fire. An alternative to a masonry firepit is a freestanding, metal woodburner. Often dish-shaped, it stands on legs and can be set on a protected surface.