Yes, you can put a gas fire pit on your deck. However, there are some safety considerations you should follow.
No Fire Danger With a Gas Fire Pit
A gas fire pit behaves differently than a wood-burning fire pit. As long as you follow the manufacturer’s guidelines, there is no danger of fire using a gas fire pit on your deck. They do not spit burning embers or project an intense heat onto the deck’s surface that might cause combustion.
Gas fire pits direct the heat upward and outward. Very little heat radiates downward from your fire pit burner. In fact, you can barely feel the heat just a few inches below the bottom of your burner.
Because the heat from the flame is not directed at your deck’s surface, there is no danger of combustion underneath the gas fire pit. Whether your deck is made of wood or composite material, it is safe to locate a fire pit on top of it. But, be sure to maintain proper clearances as discussed in the next section of this article to prevent other avenues for fire.
Clearances Around Your Fire Pit
Decks are attached to houses. As such, you need to consider how close your fire pit or table is to your house siding, especially if you have vinyl siding.
Industry recommendations are for a minimum of 3 feet of clearance on each side of your fire pit (6 feet from vinyl siding) and 8 feet above it.
VINYL SIDING can easily be deformed or ignited by high heat. Industry experts recommend at least 6 feet of clearance from a high heat source.
Also, if you have flammable materials on or around your deck, you should allow for greater clearance. Consider potential hazards such as the wind, which can catch the flame and blow it sideways toward flammable items.
Be aware of overhead fire dangers. Overhead features such as a canvas umbrella, pergola, or tree branches can pose a threat. Maintain a minimum of 8 feet of clearance above your gas fire feature. Some industry experts prefer a distance of 10 feet.
You will also need to check with your Homeowners Association and local ordinances in case they have requirements beyond those of the manufacturer.
For more on clearances, see our article, Outdoor Gas Fire Pit Clearances and Other Safety Considerations.
Don’t Forget the Weight
Most people are worried about fire when considering putting a gas fire pit on their deck. They often overlook the other big safety concern—weight.
Typically, gas fire pits are not overly heavy, but you must keep in mind the total weight on your deck. That’s why it’s essential to know how much weight it can handle and then do a quick calculation of items located there. And don’t forget the people; how many guests are you likely to have, and what would be an approximate total weight?
THE AVERAGE DECK is built to hold 50 lbs. per square foot. However, building materials, design, and the deck’s age can all skew those numbers upward or downward.
This total versus your deck’s limit might determine if you can safely place a fire pit on your deck.
Remember that a concrete fire pit is an entirely different animal. Concrete fire pits can be pretty heavy. Therefore, we don’t recommend placing them on decks – especially if the deck is significantly higher than ground level.