You might be thinking that a cozy rug under your fire pit would add to the ambiance of your outdoor space, but the question is whether you can safely put a fire pit on an outdoor rug.
Read on as we explore this idea!
What Kind of Fire Pit
Most outdoor fire pits use wood as their fuel source, but gas fire pits are also available.
With a wood-burning fire pit, there’s always the chance that sparks or embers could launch themselves out of the pit unless it is screened in.
This doesn’t usually happen with a gas fire pit, though.
However, all fire pits get very hot on the underside, and if it has short legs, the heat is concentrated in the space underneath.
This heat has the potential to be problematic if there is a rug in that area.
What Kind of Rug
There are many different outdoor rugs, and some will work better than others under your fire pit.
You need to know if the rug in question is flammable.
In the United States, this falls under the jurisdiction of the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
The Standard for the Surface Flammability of Carpets and Rugs is at 16 CFR Part 1630, and the Standard for the Surface Flammability of Small Carpets and Rugs is at 16 CFR Part 1631.
Rugs that DO NOT meet these standards must be clearly labeled with “FLAMMABLE (FAILS U.S. DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE STANDARD FF 2-70): SHOULD NOT BE USED NEAR SOURCES OF IGNITION.”
Rugs that DO meet these standards because they have been chemically treated must be marked with the letter “T.”
Rugs that pass the standard are either fire-resistant or fire-retardant.
Fire-resistant rugs do not ignite or burn easily. Fire-retardant rugs do ignite, but they do not burn easily.
This may still be problematic if anything near the rug could also catch fire when the rug ignites.
Outdoor rugs are made of several different types of materials, all of which have advantages and disadvantages.
- Polypropylene: This is the most common material for “indoor/outdoor” rugs, and it’s frequently used in outdoor living spaces. It is a derivative of petroleum, which means that it has a low ignition point and melts relatively quickly. Many polypropylene rugs are treated to make them fire-retardant, but they can still melt if they get too hot.
- Wool: You might not think of wool as a good fabric for an outdoor rug, but it might surprise you. Wool is naturally fire-resistant, which makes it very well suited for use underneath a fire pit. If you choose a wool rug, it’s probably best to make sure that a canopy or gazebo shelters it.
- Acrylic: This is a popular fiber for outdoor rugs. As with polypropylene, it is highly flammable and is treated to make it fire-retardant, but most rugs sold in the United States are treated this way.
- Jute/Seagrass: These are natural, environmentally friendly fibers often used to make outdoor rugs. They are durable and attractive, and many of the grasses woven into outdoor rugs are naturally fire-resistant.
How to Be Safe with a Fire Pit on an Outdoor Rug
If you’ve read through our recommendations and still really want to use an outdoor rug under your fire pit, there are a few tips and tricks to doing it safely.
First, no matter which rug you choose, you should always have a fully charged fire extinguisher in easy reach.
If you use a synthetic rug, ensure that the fire extinguisher is suitable for the chemicals used.
You can place an ember mat or fire pit mat between the outdoor rug and the fire pit. These are made to be fire-retardant, so you don’t have to worry if sparks or embers make contact.
They are not very large or costly, so they can be a good solution if you like the look of an outdoor rug under your fire pit.
Fire pit mats are not a perfect solution, though. The main thing that you have to be wary of is that they don’t always provide a flat surface – and when placed on top of your outdoor rug, there is even more chance of instability.
Fire pits should be on a level surface, so you’ll need to be very careful with your setup.
Lastly, you could consider using a specially engineered fireplace rug.
These rugs are designed to be used in front of wood-burning fireplaces, so they are also well suited for use underneath a fire pit.
They are often made of fire-resistant fiberglass, which will not ignite, burn, or melt if a fire ember lands on it.