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When researching how to improve your exterior space, you may come across the addition of a firepit in your garden. This of course is a beautiful feature to have in your outdoor area and will ensure you can utilise your garden day and night no matter the temperature.

However, there are some important factors to take into account, if you have composite decking in your garden and want to add a firepit, to avoid causing damage to your decking boards. Within this article, we will outline the aspects that you need to consider when adding a firepit to your composite decking to take the correct safety measures.

Composite’s Composition

Due to the composition of composite decking, it is less combustible in comparison to timber decking. Composite decking is created with recycled wood and plastic fibres which are sometimes manufactured with fire-resisting qualities but are not fireproof.

It is important to note that each supplier will offer composite decking boards that have been manufactured with different levels of fire resistance. If you require a specific level of fire rating, you will need to check with your supplier before buying. 

Timber is highly flammable, whereas plastic material will usually soften at around 176 degrees Celsius on average. Therefore, it is safer to add a firepit on a composite decking rather than a timber decking, however, you must still take precautions as you can still cause damage to your composite decking and burn or melt the boards which will damage their structural integrity and require replacement. 

Create a thermal barrier

It is always recommended to put a fireproof cover underneath your firepit to avoid damaging or melting your decking boards. You must ensure there is a thermal barrier between the source of heat and the surface of your composite decking, as failing to do so will melt and burn your decking boards.

One example would be placing the firepit on an aluminium tray that contains flameproof basalt rock-fibre insulation. Be careful when using metal, however, as this can become extremely hot which can also melt composite decking.

Not only will this distort the appearance of your composite decking but it will compromise its structural integrity which is highly dangerous as it can cause your decking to collapse. 

It is recommended to build your composite decking around your firepit rather than putting a fire pit on top of your composite decking. This method will reduce the area below the firepit from getting too hot and melting.

Usually, the firepit will be built on top of a non-combustible material such as concrete, which reduces the worry of the boards below being damaged. Despite this, it is not just heat that can warp your composite decking; sparks can mark your decking surface. 

Therefore, you must never leave your firepit unattended for prolonged periods of time. This is also true for other features in your garden such as BBQs that could cause damage to your decking surface. In other words, always avoid putting a firepit directly on top of your composite decking and utilise fire protective mats or stands. 

What Firepit Should I Get?

If you have opted to get a firepit for your garden that has composite decking, you may be wondering what the safest type is to avoid damaging your decking boards. The safest fire pit options for composite decking are a propane fire pit, a gas fire pit or an electric fire pit. You may also choose a wood fire but this requires more precautions to be taken. 

Propane and natural gas firepits are safe as they do not produce the same amount of heat as wood fires do. They are also less likely to spark or throw off embers which can cause damage to your decking surface. 

If your fire pit is portable, you will still require a protective fireproof mat to act as your thermal barrier. 

If your firepit has legs that are made from metal, you will also need to ensure there is a thermal barrier to stop the legs from burning your composite decking. 

When utilising a wood-burning fire, never leave your fire unattended especially not overnight. Allow the coals to cool down before attempting to move the firepit for safety reasons. 

If possible, opt for a fire pit that has a fire spark screen such as a glass barrier that will prevent the sparks from damaging your decking surface. 

How Close Can My Fire Pit Be to My Home?

A safe distance that is generally recommended is at least three meters from your home. Not only this, you should keep your fire pit a fair distance away from flammable materials such as fencing, sheds and trees.

Anything that can be damaged from the heat or flame of a firepit should be kept away from the firepit or have a thermal barrier to separate the firepit from causing damage. This can also be said for additional features such as umbrellas or outdoor furniture such as sofas and chairs that could be damaged. 

Can I Add a Fire Table on Top of My Composite Decking?

There are now tables that have fire pits incorporated for a modern aesthetic that is perfect for social gatherings. These tables are designed to produce heat upward away from the table, which is safer, however, it is still recommended to utilise a heatproof mat underneath the table for maximum safety.

Can I Use a Chiminea on My Composite Decking?

Similar to a firepit with metal legs, a chiminea is raised with metal legs. Therefore, the same rules apply to ensure you have a heat barrier to avoid the metal melting the composite surface.

Either add bricks or pavers that are fire-resistant or a heat-proof mat or stand. Be careful when using a chiminea, as you are more likely to experience sparks or embers coming off the fire source and more likely to experience coals or wood falling out onto the decking itself. 

Conclusion

A firepit is a beautiful addition to your garden that is not only functional and will ensure you can use your outdoor space day or night but is also a social feature that can enhance your garden area.

You can still add a firepit when you have composite decking, you just need to ensure you take the correct safety precautions and have a thermal barrier to protect the surface of your composite decking.

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