As the end of the summer neared, Robbin Mangano, the lifestyle blogger behind The New England Life, and her husband, Jeff, were eager to spend the last few days of the season outside. A DIY granite fire pit from Swenson Granite Works was the perfect end-of-the-summer project and a great way to extend the livability of their backyard into the cooler months.
“Since moving into our new home, Jeff and I have been trying to find new ways to get outside,” explains Robbin. “For years, we’ve been looking into building a fire pit that we’d use ALL the time for backyard fires, roasting s’mores, grilling hotdogs, etc.”
An excellent option for lively entertaining and quiet fireside dinners alike, a fire pit is one of the best ways to make an outdoor space more comfortable and functional from spring through fall.
While other fire pit options can be difficult and time-consuming to install, Swenson’s DIY granite fire pit kit takes less than a day to complete.
“At first, I was a bit hesitant...unsure if we’d be able to build this ourselves,” says Robbin. However, after learning about the simple installation process, she was confident they could handle the project on their own.
The DIY Granite Fire Pit Kit
Swenson Granite Works’ DIY granite fire pit is made from Woodbury Gray granite and is also available in Autumn Pink, Caledonia, Deer Isle, Bethel White, Concord Gray and Cambrian Black by special order. Homeowners can choose between 1-tier, 2-tier and 3-tier fire pits. A tier consists of 16 granite blocks, each weighing around 50 pounds, providing a sturdy structure with exceptional durability.
Unlike brick and concrete, you'll never have to worry about frequent repairs or replacement with a granite fire pit. Granite is a long-lasting and low-maintenance material that will hold up well against harsh climates and the freeze-thaw cycle.
The kit comes with a 30-inch diameter cast iron ring and tilt-back cooking grate (other ring options are available). You can also purchase a metal dome screen for your fire pit at any of the nine Swenson Granite Works locations to protect sparks from flying out of the fire. These dome screens can be opened for grilling over an open flame.
For many homeowners, the best part about this fire pit is the easy installation process. No mortar is used in this project; you simply arrange the pre-cut blocks of granite, which will stay together once stacked. With fewer stones than a brick fire pit, this one is fast and easy to assemble with no professional masonry required.
Preparing for the Project
On the weekend, Jeff drove to his local Swenson Granite Works location in Hanover, MA and picked up the kit, which consisted of granite stones and a cast iron fire ring with a tilt back cooking grate.
The Manganos were able to transport the entire kit in their SUV, but Robbin says some may want to consider making several trips or opting for delivery if they are concerned about exceeding their car’s weight capacity.
Robbin was pleasantly surprised by how quickly they completed the project. “Start-to-finish, it took roughly an hour and a half, from measuring and excavating the area, filling in the stone, leveling out the pit area, placing the granite blocks in their proper place, and filling the perimeter with stones for a more polished look,” she explains.
Simple Installation Process
Before building their fire pit, the Manganos mapped out the perfect place in their backyard for their new addition. “We ended up choosing a spot right near our outdoor patio so that if we had friends over, we could all easily spill over onto the lawn where the fire pit was located. Plus, with the right placement of our adirondack chairs, we could kick back and relax with perfect viewing of the wall where we project our movies and sports games.”
Next, they began clearing the area to prepare for installation. They dug a six-inch deep hole," here measuring four and a half feet in diameter, with a 12-inch diameter, 24-inch deep hole in the center to ensure proper drainage. The Manganos then filled the excavated area with crushed stone and compacted it until level.
Next, they began installing the granite blocks, using the metal ring to determine placement. They placed the first tier of blocks around the ring, setting the pieces tightly together and level to one another.
Robbin and Jeff chose a 2-tier fire pit, so they added the second layer, overlapping the remaining blocks on top of the first tier.
To complete the installation, they placed the metal fire ring in the center of the granite blocks and filled the pit with crushed stone, gradually compacting each layer until it reached the bottom of the ring.
A Cozy Backyard Retreat
After completing the installation, Robbin and Jeff picked up firewood and wine and spent the evening outside enjoying their new fireside retreat with friends.
With Swenson’s DIY granite fire pit kit, you can easily create a cozy outdoor space in your own backyard to enjoy with friends and family for years to come.
Take a look through The Heart of the Home Inspiration Guide for more ideas on how to incorporate a natural stone fire pit, indoor fireplace or outdoor fireplace into your home design. Download it here.