Fire pits are the ideal deck feature, especially if you have a small backyard. You may wonder if adding a fire pit to your composite deck is safe or compromises its integrity.
Adding a fire pit is perfectly safe, but you must take a few safety precautions to minimise potential heat damage to your composite decking.
In this article, we will outline the necessary safety measures as well as which fire pit is the safest to use on your composite decks.
Is It Safe To Build a Fire Pit on a Composite Deck?
It is safe to install a fire pit on your composite deck; however, a few factors and safety precautions need to be considered. Composite decking is engineered from recycled materials, including wood fibre and plastics. While these materials make composite decking fire resistant, it does not mean that it is not susceptible to heat damage.
It is important to remember that not all composite decking materials are the same and that some materials are more vulnerable to heat damage. High heat temperatures from a fire pit could cause warping or even melt your deck. It would be best if you avoid installing or placing a fire pit directly onto the composite decking boards.
Is Composite Decking Fireproof?
Before installing your fire pit, you need to understand that composite decking boards are not fireproof but are fire-resistant. Although the words are used interchangeably, you must understand the difference.
Fireproof materials are engineered to resist burning and withstand extreme heat. Fire-resistant materials are treated with a flame-retardant coating to effectively slow the spread of fire and reduce the fire’s intensity. Composite decking is engineered to slow down the spread of a fire. Our standard range of composite decking is Fire Class C, Fire class B can be ordered upon request. Please speak with our technical team or review our data sheets for more information on fire retardant composite decking.
Composite Decks and Heat
Composite decking materials are fire-resistant and can withstand high heat temperatures. However, composite decking can warp or melt under extreme heat.
When temperatures reach 170 degrees, composite boards can start to warp; when temperatures reach 200 degrees, you can expect them to melt. Fire pits can reach temperatures of up to 4oo degrees.
Fire pits are perfectly safe to install on composite decking; however, you must prepare your deck with protective measures to prevent heat damage. Using fire pit barriers and fire pit mats can prevent your composite deck from heat damage.
What are the Best Fire Pits for Composite Decks?
The best and safest fire pit for composite decking is a propane fire pit, gas fire pit or an electric fire pit. A wood fire pit is perfectly safe for a wood deck or composite deck, although you must take extra safety precautions.
Propane Fire Pits and Natural Gas Fire Pits
Propane and natural gas fire pits are the safest options for composite decks. They do not produce as much heat as wood-burning fire pits. They also do not throw off any embers or sparks that could cause damage o your composite decks.
Gas and propane fire pits can easily be installed into your deck. If you are using portable propane or gas fire pits, you would still need to use a fire mat to protect your composite deck.
Fair warning: The legs on a gas fire pit get hot, ensure that you have an effective heat-resistant barrier to protect your wood or composite decks and wait for it to cool down before handling it with your bare hands.
Wood Burning Fire Pit
Wood fire pits are safe to use on composite decking, but you need to ensure that every precaution is taken to protect your deck. The risk is that wood fire pits can get extremely hot, embers and sparks fly away, and a wood fire should never be left unattended. The best option is to have a portable wood-burning fire pit on decking instead of a built-in fire pit.
Never leave a wood fire pit burning overnight on your composite decking. Allow the coals sufficient time to cool down before removing the fire pit from your deck.
Electric Fire Pit
Electric fire pits are new to the market and are one of the safest options for composite decks. They are low maintenance, have a low fire risk, easy to use, and can be built into wood or composite decks. The downside is that electric-free pits are expensive, use electricity, and generate less heat than wood and gas fire pits.
Deck Fire Pit Protection
There are various ways to create a thermal barrier to protect your deck’s surface from heat and fire from your fire pit.
Heat-resistant pavers provide an added layer of protection for your composite deck. Create a platform that will be large enough to accommodate your portable fire pit. The pavers will act as a base for your fire pit and ensure that your composite decking is safe and protected from heat.
Fire mats are designed to withstand high heat temperatures. If a fire pit is placed directly onto wood or composite deck, your deck will suffer significant heat damage. They act as a barrier to protect surfaces from damage and are placed between high heat sources like fire pits.
Fire mats are made from multiple layers of fibreglass or aluminium cloth. Not only can fire mats withstand high heat temperatures, but they are also resistant to moisture and debris like hot coal ash. Clean or wipe your fire mat after every use to get the most out of it.
Fire Protection Stand
Fire protection stands are not readily available, so if you find one, buy one. A fire protection stand is usually made from carbon steel or heat-resistant metal that is sturdy, durable, and can withstand heat. Make sure that the fire protection fits your portable fire pit, and a slight knock could see your fire pit topple over and spread hot coals onto your composite deck.
How Close to My Home Can I Build a Fire Pit?
It is generally recommended that your fire pit be placed approximately three meters from your home. The most important safety precaution is keeping the fire pit away from flammable materials on wood and composite decks, including foliage, wood fencing, and garden sheds. Also, ensure the fire pit is clear from electrical wires, awnings, and tree branches.
4 Fire Pit Safety Tips
A fire pit can be used on composite decking with safety precautions. Here are a few pointers to keep in my regarding deck fire pit safety.
- Use a Fire Pit Spark Screen
Fire pit screens are used to prevent hot embers and sparks from flying out. The metal mesh screen is placed over the fire pit and is heat-resistant. Depending on your fire pit type, a fire pit screen may not always be necessary. They work best with wood fire pits or portable fire pits.
- Create a Thermal Barrier
Thermal barriers are essential regardless if you have a portable or built-in fire pit. Thermal fire barriers prevent your composite deck from heat damage, warping or even melting.
Use concrete bricks or pavers to act as deck protection from the heat. Or use a heat-resistant metal tray that will keep your fire pit off the ground and act as a barrier between your decking and fire pit.
- Never Leave a Deck Fire Pit Unattended
While this might be obvious to some, it is the most essential fire pit safety rule everyone should follow. When you have a roaring fire burning, never leave it unattended. No one controls the weather, and a small gust of wind can cause significant damage to an ember flying out and catching fire.
This applies mostly to wood-burning fire pits and portable fire pits. They can easily tip over and cause significant damage to your composite decking.
- Keep Water & Fire Extinguisher Close By
Although the risk of your composite deck catching fire is low, it pays off to be well prepared. Keep a fire distinguisher or water close to the fire pit. It makes it easier to contain the fire as quickly as possible, should anything untoward happen.
Can you put a fire table on a composite deck?
Fire tables are safe to use on a composite deck. They are designed to direct the heat upwards and away from the deck. However, it would be best always to create a fire barrier or use a fire mat when using a fire table on composite decking.
Can you put a chimenea on composite decking?
Chimneys are designed to radiate heat and should be elevated off the ground. While using a chimenea on a composite deck is safe, it must be done using a thermal barrier to prevent your composite deck surface from warping or melting.
How do I protect my decking from a chimenea?
Most chimeneas have a raised base which allows them to be used on any surface. To avoid heat damage to your wooden or composite deck, use fire-resistant bricks and pavers to elevate it further from the ground.
Can you use Solo stove on the composite deck?
Solo stoves are generally safe for decks if the correct safety precautions are taken. Ensure that your Solo stove is elevated off the ground and that the correct stand is used. Include a fireproof mat to increase the protection of your composite deck to prevent any heat damage.
Nothing is better than spending summer nights under the stars around a cosy fire. You can put a fire pit on a composite deck from Ecoscape if you take the necessary precautions to protect your deck from significant heat damage.
Avoid placing a fire pit directly onto your composite deck. Ensure that you create a heat barrier and use a fire mat or fire protection stand to protect your composite deck.