Stone Decking Around a Fire Pit

Remember being a kid, sitting around a fire, and roasting marshmallow with your family – those are some of the best memories. A recent focus on fire pits and fire bowls is probably due to these memories and their ability to give you the feeling of the great outdoors in urban settings.

Can a fire pit be added to an existing deck? Most decks are made of either wood, composite or a stone. Stone decking around a fire pit is your best bet as you will not have to worry about heat, sparks or embers landing on the surrounding area. A fire pit or bowl on a wood or composite deck introduces the risk of the wood being damaged or catching fire and composite decking can damage or melt. So, what can you do if you have one of these decks, knowing that stone decking around a fire pit is the safest option? Transforming the entire deck into a stone deck is one option, but if that is not within your budget, you could simply replace the wood or composite boards in the area of the potential fire pit or bowl with stone. There are two pretty cool products on the market; SilcaGrate and Paverdeck Plank that let you add stone to a wood framed deck.

It is important to have stone decking around a fire pit, but also under it. Stone protects the framing of the deck from being damaged, and you may want to consider using specific fireplace bricks under the actually fire pit depending on the size of the fire pit. These specialty stones are manufactured to withstand high temperatures.

Weight can be a factor when adding stone decking around a fire pit depending on the size and the types of stones being used. Take this into consideration and add the extra bracing or supports needed.

If you are building a fire pit on the ground, stone decking around a fire pit is still the best option. It not only gives you a relatively flat, even surface to build your fire pit, but allows for a seating area as well, ensuring the area around the fire pit is non-combustible. You don’t need to be a landscape contractor to create stone decking around a fire pit, thanks to products like Gator Base and Silca SoilGrid. These products let the average do-it-yourselfer build a flat, robust surface to support the fire pit. Be aware, however, that putting these products directly under the middle of the fire pit is not recommended, as the heat from the fire could melt these products.

The perfect spot on your deck or in your back yard is another import point of consideration when putting stone decking around a fire pit. Consider lower traffic areas to prevent anyone from inadvertently making contact with a hot fire pit. Be aware of overhead structures such as roofed-in patios, or awnings and tree branches that might encroach on the area above. Covered areas are fine, but the overhead structure may need to be modified or built to local building codes. Choose an area that can easily be monitored and controlled to keep children and pets safe. Finally ensure the area is big enough to allow 3-5 feet of distance around the fire pit in all directions.

Safe installation is key with the gaining in popularity of fire pits and bowls, particularly considering backyard decks can be expensive so the last thing you want to do is damage them. By using stone decking around a fire pit, you will not only protect your investment, but also add to the look and feel of your deck.

Stone Deck vs Wood Deck

Living in Canada ensures that everyone appreciates spending time outside – especially in the spring/summer/fall months when the weather is better. We often find ourselves adding useful outdoor elements to our homes to allow us to use our backyards more. Decks are an effective way to create a beautiful outdoor space, but depending on the materials chosen, the maintenance involved can take away from their enjoyment. So, let’s talk about the advantages of a Stone Deck vs a Wood Deck?

A wood deck is literally made of all wood – framed with and cladded with wood decking boards. This is problematic in that it allows the wood to weather and rot over time. Conversely, stone is widely used in landscaping and building industries, highly prized for beauty, durability, strength, and certainly its maintenance-free qualities. 

Besides the obvious differences noted, we should talk about the similarities of a stone deck vs a wood deck.

What is similar is the construction techniques and concepts of both a stone deck and a wood. The structure itself is framed using pressure treated lumber or similar materials. Depending on soil conditions, this framed structure can be either floated or supported by footings. Footing supports are either made of concrete or mechanical screw piles. The actual framing of a stone deck vs a wood deck may require slightly larger framing members, to support extra weight of the stone. Once the structure is framed, you can choose from several innovative products that allow you to create that stone deck.

SilcaGrate by StoneDeks System and Paverdeck Plank by Evolutiondeck are two products that are attached to the framing and act as a sturdy all weather subfloor to support the stone.

The maintenance of a stone deck vs a wood deck will be very different. To maintain a stone deck, simply pressure wash to get rid of the grime from winter or when needed. A wood deck, however, will require regular maintenance with an extensive process, that includes pressure washing, sanding the deck, followed by applications of a stain or sealer. This can be a very time-consuming process depending on the size of the deck!

Those living in northern areas must consider winter maintenance. With snow and ice build-up, keeping your deck clear may be a bit of a challenge. Let’s compare a stone deck vs wood deck for winter maintenance. Some stone products may be affected by salt, so the best option for removing snow and ice is a calcium chloride-based “ice melt” or rock salt. Look for things such as “safe for concrete”, “safe for flagstone” and “will not kill grass.” Conversely, wood decking boards will discolor, and we would not recommend using salt or ice melt products on any of them. Using a metal or plastic shovel or even snow blowing will not affect a stone deck, and any non-slip grit that is applied will easily wash off in the spring. If you have a wood deck, sand or grit should be avoided as it can scratch and damage the surface. Metal shovels, sharp-edge tools and snow blowing are also not recommended for use on wood decking surfaces.

In comparing the cost of a stone deck vs a wood deck it is important to consider the type of wood being used to do a fair comparison. Since both builds are essentially the same from the footings to the framing, the difference in pricing will be the cladding materials. If you are looking at creating a pressure treated or cedar cladded deck, the costs would be less. But both of these options demand a high level of maintenance. If, however, you are planning to clad with exotic woods, such as Ipe or Cumaru in an effort to reduce your maintenance, you will find the costs to be very similar to stone.

When deciding on a stone deck vs wood deck, be sure to consider the advantages and disadvantages of both options before deciding which one is right for you. Don’t forget to look at the many different styles available in stone – if you want to maintain the “wood deck” look but avoid the maintenance, there are options available to you.

Welcome to the deck revolution!