How to Build a Fire Pit & Flagstone Patio

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Building a fire pit and a flagstone patio adds value to your home while providing a comfortable and attractive outdoor space for your family to enjoy. If you want to build a fire pit surrounded by a flagstone patio, you will need to do a bit more work than if you were building a simple flagstone patio surface. With basic masonry tools, however, you can construct and start enjoying your new patio and fire pit within a week.

Things You'll Need

  • Stakes
  • Hammer
  • String
  • Spade or shovel
  • Level
  • Hand tamper
  • Masonry adhesive
  • Gravel
  • Sand
  • Joint expansions
  • Broom
  • Choose a site for your patio and fire pit and obtain a building permit if required by your local government. When you apply for the building permit, local authorities will check that the site you chose does not intersect with any overhead power lines or underground wires, pipes or your septic tank.

  • Drive stakes into the ground with a hammer around the edges of your patio site. Tie lengths of string between the stakes to guide you as you excavate the patio area.

  • Dig out the sod and soil inside the staked area. Excavate a total depth of 8 inches with a spade or shovel. Check the bottom of the site with a level. Dig out more soil to remove any high spots and create a perfectly level base for your patio and fire pit.

  • Compact the soil at the bottom of the patio site with a hand tamper tool. Hold the tamper's pole in your hand and thrust the flat end against the ground repeatedly to firm the soil until it ceases to shift under your weight.

  • Choose a location inside the patio space for your fire pit, and determine its size and shape. You will build the fire pit first, then build the patio around it.

  • Lay the first row of stones for the fire pit walls. Place the stones end to end, with no overlapping pieces, following your desired shape.

  • Set more flagstones into place over the first row. Apply masonry adhesive to the bottom of each new flagstone before you set it in place. Build up the walls of the fire pit by placing one layer of rock at a time, until the walls reach a height that's 1 to 2 feet above the ground surrounding the patio site.

  • Fill the patio area with a 3-inch layer of medium-grade gravel. Tamp the gravel down to create a firm surface. Lay a second 3-inch layer of gravel and tamp it down. Loose-fill the fire pit with an 8-inch layer of gravel.

  • Apply a 2-inch layer of sand to the patio area around the fire pit. Compact the sand layer using the hand tamper.

  • Set the first flagstones into place around the fire pit, then work outward as you lay more stones. Level each stone with a level and rubber mallet. Create consistent joints of 1/4 to 1/2 inch between the flagstones by using a joint expansion tool as you lay the stones.

  • Fill the entire patio area with flagstone, continuing to level and evenly space each new stone. When finished, pour sand over the patio surface. Sweep the sand into the joints to fill the gaps between the flagstones. Sweep away any excess sand.

Tips & Warnings

  • To simplify and shorten the time necessary for the excavation process, you may consider hiring a backhoe service to dig the patio and fire pit site.

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