Pool Fire Pits – What You Need To Know

Pool Fire Pits – What You Need To Know

Poolside fire pits at night, friends and family gathered together, and great food. You can probably feel the warmth of the fire when you conjure those images. It’s an experience that can color entire periods of people’s lives. But it’s not something that has to remain a distant memory or an equally remote dream. You can actually create that experience for yourself in your own pool area and help make your outdoor space ever more enticing to spend time in. But to do so you’ll need to keep the following tips in mind.

Types of Fire Pits

The first thing you’ll need to consider is the type of fire pit that will best fit your needs. You might be surprised by the sheer variety of options to choose from. Each has its own benefits and will improve the aesthetics of your outdoor setting. So it’s important to really step back and imagine what it’d be like to sit poolside in your home as you relax in the warm glow of a good fire.


inground fire pit in a stone patio
Inground fire pits offer a more ‘camp fire’ feel than other types of fire pits.

The inground style takes the “fire pit” concept quite literally. Inground fire pits are essentially carved out of the ground like a tiny well. The main difference is that an inground pit is shallow enough for you to easily manage. And the pit is also generally surrounded by some form of barrier for safety’s sake. This can take the form of a well-maintained physical ring of rocks or bricks, a patio, or anything else that would effectively create a physical boundary. Many pool deck ideas can act as a perfect frame for an inground pit.

Above ground

Above ground fire pit with quarter seating on edge of garden
Above ground fire pits are the more common type and are often set up to be the center piece of a seating area.

Above ground fire pits encompass a huge variety of different designs. But their main defining feature is that they rise above the round rather than descend into it. Inground pits are a literal, if shallow, pit. But above ground pits can be thought of as a shallow chimney of sorts or an open fireplace. The pit itself sits in the middle of an artificially raised enclosure. This means that the pit and the materials within it are raised above ground level giving you more design choices and in general makes it more of an eye catching feature even when not lit.

With this style you also have the advantage of being able to add table top to it to create an outdoor coffee table, this maximizes the usability of the space allowing you to enjoy even when not having the fire going.


Round concrete gas fire pit
Buying premade firepits can be a cheaper option than having your builder start one from scratch.

Premade fire pits are generally a one size fits all solution to your needs. Despite the name, a premade fire pit might require you to actually put it together yourself. You can think of premade as somewhat analogous to furniture. Some furniture is brought to your home already assembled. Other furniture needs to be assembled at home. But either option essentially creates the exact form and fit that you saw at the store. The same thing goes for premade fire pits, the same benefit applies as with furniture where you have a lot of choices when going with this option and usually these are more cost effective than the other types of fire pits.


Square gas fire pit with nech seating around it
Often pool owners want a custom fire pit to ensure the design ties into the rest of outdoor space.

Custom fire pits are one of the more expensive and time-intensive options. As such it’s often best to consider them while using a pool payment calculator to see how it fits into your budget. Many people use a custom option when they’re first putting together their final pool project cost. But you can always have a custom pit and seating area installed well after your pool’s been finished up.

Custom pools usually come about through direct work with a consultant to determine exactly what you’re after. A custom pit can generally take almost any form you can think of and when done right the contrast of fire against water makes a dramatic setting. The only limit is your budget and the amount of time you’re willing to put into the project.

Fire Bowls

Fire bowl above pool near the beach
There are a huge amount of fire bowl designs out there and can be used as a center piece or use varias to adorn your backyard, some people even have them above the waterline in the pool itself.

Fire bowls are, technically, a form of above ground pit. But the popularity and style of fire bowls generally give them a unique classification that’s all their own. As the name suggests, a fire bowl is essentially a raised bowl shape that contains flammable material. Fire bowls generally have two main benefits. The first is flexibility of design. You’ll find a huge variety of shapes and styles to choose from. Materials used for the bowl range from concrete to cast iron and steel.

The second distinction stems from their size. Fire bowls can be sized in a comparable way to an above ground or inground pit. But you also have the option of using very small bowls for the pit. The ability to scale sizes to match your needs makes fire bowls a great match for areas with limited space.

Types of Fuel

In addition to the type of pit, you’ll also need to decide what kind of fuel to use. This essentially boils down to two choices – gas and wood.


Gas fire pit coffee table on deck next to pool
Gas has the benefit of being able to be turned on and off with just a switch make it more usable.

The biggest benefit of gas is that it produces a cleaner burn. And that fact will also impact the amount of work you need to put into keeping the pit clean. But gas systems are also generally more expensive to set up and use than wood. These are a great option if you are setting up an outdoor kitchen as they can share the same gas line and you can save some costs in the construction.

You can generally think of gas as higher price and lower maintenance.


wood logs burning in an outdoror fire pit
Wood has a more authentic feel and offers more heat but has disadvantages like being messy and taking time to get going.

Using wood comes with a number of technical benefits. It’s a green, renewable, and inexpensive fuel. But perhaps the most important benefit of wood is that it sets the mood extremely well.

The sound of a crackling fire burning through wood is something uniquely relaxing as you dry off from a good swim or relax at night with a drink in hand.

Wood fires have the benefit that you can easily put a grill across it and use it to cook on, but they do have the downsides of being dirtier and more maintenance, there is also the consideration of hot embers possibly being blown around on windy days.

Location-based considerations

Outdoor couches under a roof with a gas fire pit closer to the pool
You need to consider what is above or near your fire pit so there is no chance of it causing damage, in this sense gas is more controllable and therefore safer than wood.

There are also a few location-dependent points to consider. You can solve some issues by considering different fence ideas for your pool. But others might require additional paperwork or construction.

Legal requirements

Ultimately, the viability of any poolside fire pits comes down to legality.

It’s important to look into your local laws before you get your heart set on any particular pit idea.

Thankfully the regulations for a poolside fire pit will often intersect with those you already worked through during the initial construction of your pool.

Stay away from structures

Legal restrictions aside, it’s also just a solid precaution to build your pit away from any structures. General wisdom holds that it’s a good idea to make sure you have at least 10 feet between your pool and pit. And you should put the same amount of consideration into nearby structures. While 10 feet is a good rule of thumb, you should also think about how the elements are going to impact those distances. For example, a windy area will often require more distance than one where that’s not as much of an issue.

Ensure shelter from wind

You should also consider how the wind might blow embers toward structures, flammable materials, pets, and people.

There’s really no way to totally escape the wind if you’re enjoying the great outdoors. But you can limit the potential impact of a light breeze by making sure the area around the pit will provide a little shelter from the wind. You ideally just need enough to make sure that embers won’t blow into any potentially dangerous area.

seats around a gas fire pit next to a pool
The laws change depending on your location but in general more require a fire pit to be at least 10 feet away from any structures.

Putting a Fire Pit Plan Into Action

Now that you’ve seen all of the options for poolside fire pits it’s time to make a decision. Sit down and really imagine what these options would be like with your own pool. And when an image feels right, go make it a reality.

If you are in the research/design phase of your pool project these other articles may also help you:


This blog is based on information available at the time of publishing and for the purpose of sharing information with the public related to swimming pools and projects that can be financed through Viking Capital. Although we strive to be complete and accurate, it is not information that is verified or maintained. It should not be relied upon for making financial decisions. An investment such as a swimming pool is significant. Viking Capital recommends consulting with a financial professional regarding your financing decisions and with pool professionals regarding pool options. To learn what financing options are available for you today, please apply with Viking Capital and you’ll receive your free loan consultation. Click Here to Apply.

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