If you have a wood – or composite wood – deck and you think that you’d like to put a fire pit on it so that you can enjoy sitting outside even on cooler nights, you might be wondering if this is a safe choice. Our answer is a qualified “yes.”
It should be safe to use a propane fire pit on a wood deck, but there are safety precautions that you need to observe. Some alternatives may work just as well and be even safer.
Read on to learn more about using a propane fire pit on a wood deck.
Why Propane Fire Pits Are Safe to Use on Wood Decks
First, you should know that many decks are built from wood that has been pressure-treated and treated with fire-retardant chemicals.
Composite wood decks also have fire-retardant properties.
This alone does not ensure safety – fire-retardant materials will ignite, but then they will extinguish themselves – but it does help reassure you when using a propane fire pit on your wood deck.
Secondly, propane fire pits are much safer to use on wood decks than wood-burning fire pits.
For one, there is no chance of sparks or embers escaping since it’s only the propane gas that is burning.
Also, propane fire pits don’t get as hot as wood-burning fire pits do. Wood-burning fire pits can easily reach temperatures over 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit.
Even the most powerful propane fire pits top out a few hundred degrees below that.
How to Safely Use a Propane Fire Pit on Your Wood Deck
Even though it is generally considered safe to use a propane fire pit on a wood deck, there are some safety precautions that you should follow.
You should always have respect for open flames!
Follow local ordinances and manufacturer’s use directions. Your municipal fire codes may require that you have a certain amount of clearance around your fire pit, and your area may institute burn bans during certain times of the year.
These rules are for your safety and you should follow them.
Never add anything flammable to your propane fire pit. Some people like to add rocks or gravel for ambiance, and they can indeed look great, but they can also “pop” when the moisture inside them gets too hot.
A rock that’s hot enough to explode on its own can damage a wooden deck, and it can harm anyone who happens to be in its path.
Give your fire pit a wide margin. Make sure that there are no curtains, pillows, rugs, towels, or anything else near the fire pit.
Any furniture by the fire pit should be made of metal, and it should not have fabric cushions.
Consider placing your fire pit on a heat pad or a fireplace rug.
These are made of non-flammable materials to provide additional protection. They will also protect your deck from possibly cracking, warping, or discoloring from the heat.
Never allow children to play unsupervised near a fire pit, and never leave the fire pit unattended.
We believe that it is safe to use a propane fire pit on a wooden deck, but you should always monitor your fire pit when used.
Keep a fully charged fire extinguisher in easy reach on your deck near your fire pit. Make sure that the fire extinguisher is rated to handle a propane fire.
Alternatives to Fire Pits for a Wooden Deck
As stated above, we believe that using a propane fire pit on a wooden deck is reasonably safe when you take proper precautions.
However, there are alternatives to a propane fire pit for those that think even minimal risk is unacceptable or for people who are uninterested in doing what it takes to be safe.
If the reason why you want a fire pit on your deck is for warmth, there are a plethora of electric and gas-powered outdoor heaters that provide even more heat than a fire pit without the dangers of an open flame.
Many of them are attractive and can add to the ambiance of your outdoor area. It is also generally safer for people to sit closer to an electric heater than to a fire pit.
But if you were interested in looks and heat, you may want to consider having an outdoor fireplace installed.
Both wood-burning and gas models are available.
Outdoor fireplaces are insulated and protected on three sides, and the fourth side is usually screened in.
You can enjoy the look and feel of the flames knowing that they are safely enclosed in a fireplace built to contain them.