There’s nothing like the inviting glow of a firepit to lure you outside into the twilight. In fact, the increasing popularity of firepits is testament to just how much we love to gather around a flame. Add a chilled glass of wine or hot chocolate, and that’s your evening sorted!
This DesignBoard Luna scheme from Creative Roots has given a wood-fuelled firepit pride of place in this circular seating area
If you picture DesignBoard composite decking as the ideal complement to that cosy firepit, then we couldn’t argue! A nice feel underfoot, contemporary lines to go with the simple outline of the pit – it fits together beautifully. However, although we haven’t encountered any issues to date, we thought we’d point out a few practical considerations that, whether you choose a firepit, bowl or table (and advice below applies to all three), should be taken into account so that you can continue to enjoy your decking’s good looks for a long time to come.
Our recommendation as first choice of firepit is one that uses ethanol or gas. There’s a lot to be said for these. “They’re so much easier,” says DesignBoard Manager Antony Pasquini, “as you don’t come back into the house smelling of smoke, they don’t need cleaning out and, given the cost of fuel, especially hard wood, they’re probably cheaper to run.”
London Stone’s Surrey Showroom – an inspiring showcase of composite decking and outdoor furniture
It’s not just down to aesthetics and ease of use, though. Wood-and-coal-burning firepits can become extremely hot, and the temperatures they reach could, depending on the installation, melt composite decking. As ethanol-and-gas-burning firepits not only remain cooler but direct heat upwards, decking receives much less heat. However, the burners should be raised at least 300mm (for ethanol-burning firepits) or 350mm (for gas-burning firepits) above the contemporary decking, rather than mounted into it. There should also always be a gap under the firepit to ensure a good flow of air, preventing any build-up of heat.
Many ethanol and gas-burning firepits are built into rattan tables or surrounded by a stone substitute made of cement and fibreglass. Just make sure you don’t install something with a full metal construction which can distribute heat to the decking.
The inspiring DesignBoard exhibition stand – complete with firepit!
Do you really yearn for a coal-or-wood-burning variety, though? If so, the installation needs to be very carefully thought through. The firepit certainly shouldn’t be set directly on the decking, but equally it should not be set into a material that will conduct a high level of heat to the decking, which includes stone, concrete and metal.
There should be a wide gap between the edge of the firepit and the decking, to create an area where falling embers won’t cause damage – we suggest at least 500mm. This area can be covered with stones or pebbles but, again, care should be taken that they don’t reach temperatures that could damage surrounding composite decking.
You’ll have seen how well a firepit combines with DesignBoard if you’ve visited any of the shows we’ve exhibited at this year, including Grand Designs Live. In fact, it’s one of the things that draws people onto the stand as it illustrates how well composite decking will fit into your outdoor space. “Firepits are mood-setting,” says Antony. “They look fantastic.”
And, with a small degree of forethought, they offer a new dimension to your garden that will have you enjoying your composite decking all the more.