I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — outdoor rugs make almost any area look better and more alive. But can you use them around a fire pit?
The answer is relatively simple. It depends entirely on the rug in question!
While you can place some outdoor rugs underneath a wooden fire pit, you shouldn’t place just any rug near a fire. If the rug is rated as flame-retardant (or you have a comprehensive fire pit mat or pad) you’ll be okay. If it isn’t, you’re inviting trouble!
The equation changes slightly for propane fire pits, depending on the model.
Propane fire pits are generally fine to place on combustable surfaces (such as rugs) because the heat tends not to radiate toward the earth. Not all propane fire pits are like this however and extreme caution should be taken when placing a propane fire pit on an outdoor rug.
A non-fireproof rug is a safety hazard when exposed to hot embers. Additionally, cheaper outdoor rugs tend to fall apart when exposed to harsh weather. Although not all non-fireproof rugs are made cheaply, this is something to consider.
If you’re unsure about whether or not your rug is flame-retardant, or you’d just like to be safe, you should do three things.
For one, you should look into purchasing or installing a fire pit spark screen — I go through the best options in this article.
Next, consider getting a fire extinguisher like this one to put near your fire pit in case of emergencies.
Finally, you should add protection between the fire pit and the surface underneath.
What Should You Put Underneath an Outdoor Fire Pit?
A good foundation for your fire pit is essential. As with most things, not all rugs, mats, and shields are created equal.
In this section, we will help you decide the best surface protector for your fire pit.
Luckily, you have a few options:
- Firepit mat
- Firepit heat shield
- Brick surface
With these in hand, I’m going to lay out the differences so you can choose the one right for your situation.
Fire Pit Mat
There are a few types of fire pit mats. Let’s start with the ember mat (Amazon link).
The ember mat is adept at preventing sparks from contacting the ground. Additionally, the mats are flame retardant, so you don’t need to worry about them melting or bursting into flames.
Not to mention, they’re portable and relatively inexpensive.
However, everything isn’t all sunny with fire pit mats, all the time. There are some cons.
For one, the ember mat doesn’t provide a solid foundation. This instability could cause your fire pit to topple if placed on uneven ground.
Also, the ember mat isn’t a decorative piece. So, if you want something that builds the cozy outdoor fire mood, this probably isn’t your best bet.
In the next section, we go over several solid surfaces to place underneath your fire pit.
Fire Pit Heat Shield
Fire pit heat shields are often composed of steel and aluminum. The heat shield’s construction gives your fire pit a steady foundation and protects the ground or rug below.
Though the heat shield has some benefits, there are a few cons:
- More expensive
- Less decorative
If you do a lot of camping and need to put something underneath your fire pit, the heat shield will be bulky during travel.
Also, you’re going to be spending more money. The price will vary depending on the product. The heat shield listed here about costs $190 — a stark contrast to the $70 price for the ember mat discussed previously.
Finally, though the heat shield is more stable than a mat, it still isn’t the most pleasing to the eye. In the next section, we will go over an option that is well-built and beautiful.
Brick or Tile Fire Pit Surface
Building a fire pit foundation out of brick or pavers can be very rewarding for the handy and ambitious.
Here’s a list of some of the benefits over other options:
- Strong foundation
- Fire resistant
Where the heat shield falls short, the tile and cement surface thrives. You get a durable surface, and there are infinite options for creativity.
See this article from a woman who created a “rug-like” pad for her outdoor fire pit.
Using fire-resistant mortar and bricks, the options for an eye-popping design are endless.
Well, it will take you some time, energy, and money to build. Also, you will need to plan out a safe structure. This will be a project for the avid DIYers.
Can you put a fire pit on an outdoor rug? Yes. However, be sure it is the right type of rug. While a traditional fabric rug isn’t the best choice for stability or fire resistance, there are several other rug-like options.
If you’re a frequent traveler and camper, then you’ll probably want an ember mat. For those who enjoy a backyard retreat, the solid construction of the heat shield or brick and pavers will serve you well.
Whatever you choose, remember — safety first. Check with your city or township and follow all rules and regulations regarding fire pit construction.
A well-constructed fire pit paired with a fire-resistant rug will warm the hands as well as the soul.
If you perhaps chose an incorrect rug, check out our deep dive on how to choose the perfect outdoor rug.