Are you considering building a fire pit in your backyard and want to protect it from the heat and smoke? Or perhaps you already have a fire pit and are looking to protect the inner walls from smoke and heat damage, helping it last for as long as possible?
Whatever your reason might be, we have the solution for you: a fire pit ring insert! These inserts will protect your fire pit while keeping your fire contained and warm for everyone to enjoy.
But how do you know which is the best fire pit ring insert to purchase, and where do you even begin? What do you look for when it comes to the insert? How much should you spend on one? What are the differences between them?
These are just some of the questions that must be keeping you up at night as you wonder what the best fire pit insert is for you.
Well, wonder no more! Today we are here with the only fire pit ring insert buyer’s guide you’ll ever need, covering all the relevant topics and offering you some fantastic recommendations! Prepare to become a fire pit ring insert expert, pick up your ring insert, and protect your fire pit today!
What is a fire pit ring insert?
For those unsure or in need of a re-cap, let’s first look at what a fire pit ring insert is.
There are two types of steel fire pit rings commonly used across the US: fire rings and fire pit ring inserts. Sellers might give them different names, but in reality, they can be distilled into these two categories. Let’s take a closer look at those now.
Fire rings are steel outdoor fire pit rings that are a section or sections of sheet material in a square or circle shape. These fire pit rings are placed on the ground with tinder, kindling, and wood added to give you your fire pit.
They usually don’t have a bottom, so your fuel (wood) sits directly on the ground. You can even have colleges and sports teams logos and images cut out of the metal too! Some feature decorative cut-outs or scenes from nature in the metal which many enjoy in their garden.
While these fire pit rings are a fantastic option for some, they aren’t the ring we talked about in this article. If these rings do appeal to you, you can pick them up online or at your local hardware, home, or garden store.
Ideally, you’ll want a galvanized fire ring that takes years and years to rust. Opt for these over thin and painted carbon steel rings; they just don’t last long enough.
For those that don’t find these fire rings appealing, keep reading for the second type!
Fire Pit Ring Inserts
These are the bad boys we are talking about today! These rings are used as inserts for fire pit projects using stone or brick to make a wood-burning fire pit. The ring insert is essentially a metal barrier positioned in the mouth of the fire pit (or brick or stone surround).
Its purpose is to slow the damage done to surrounding stone, brick, and masonry adhesive that regular exposure to heat and flames causes. Some of these inserts will have bottoms to hold fire pits contents off the ground and provide a dry and low moisture environment perfect for wood burning!
Typically, these fire pit inserts are round and feature a 360-degree lip at the top that extends out from the opening. The insert will then rest on the masonry fire pits top layer of bricks or stone. Typically, the pip measures between 1-6 inches of overhang, depending on your purchase.
While the lips are common, not all fire pits have them and instead will look like the rings that are dropped on the ground and used (like we mentioned earlier). These types of rings are installed below the top layer (coping) of brick at the mount of the fire pit, or in some cases, extend beyond the opening!
The walls of these fire pit inserts are generally between 6-12 inches in height and will provide heat protection for most of the fire pit’s stone, brick, and adhesive or mortar.
They are made from steel, usually a 10 to 16 gauge carbon steel treated with a high-temperature resistant finish, making them perfect for fire pits.
The thickness of the steel is important, with thicker inserts providing a better quality of protection from the heat. They tend to be more durable, too, and ensure the masonry components of the fire pit are protected from heat exposure and the damage it can cause.
When we talk about the gauge and thickness of the steel, we refer to the metal gauge system that offers a standard thickness guide across the industry. The metal gauge helps determine the thickness of the material, with lower numbers representing a greater thickness.
There is some variance in thickness from metal to metal, but it’s fairly easy to understand once you are familiar with the system.
The 10 to 16 gauge range mentioned earlier represents a thickness of 3.57mm and 1.58mm. These numbers might not seem relevant now, but will come up when shopping for your fire pit inserts, so keep them in the back of your head.
When shopping for these rings, the lower the number, the thicker and better the steel and insert will be.
Does a fire pit need a ring insert?
Now that you know what a fire pit ring insert is, you might be wondering, do I need one of those? Well, the short answer is no, you don’t need a fire pit ring insert.
However, if you have spent the time and money prepping your fire pit site, building the fire pit, and you want it to last and look good for years, then a fire pit ring is essential.
Without a ring insert, you can expect your stone fire pit to look dirty, rustic, and even like it’s crumbling. If that look appeals to you, then don’t get a fire pit ring insert, as it's going to slow the effects of heat, keeping it looking fresh and new.
As fire pits can generate heat and temperatures of 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit and over, you can expect your fire pit to suffer the effects of fire. The heat will break down the masonry structure and what holds your fire pit together in a shorter time if you don’t have a ring insert.
Fire pit ring inserts are a fairly small investment and ensure that your fire pit build is durable and will stand the test of time. It also reduces your outdoor maintenance costs as you won’t need to spend as much repairing or tending to your fire pit.
What diameter should my fire ring insert be?
The size and diameter of your fire ring insert should be based on your preferences, the space you have, the budget, and other factors, making it hard to give one right answer to the question, but we can help narrow your choices down!
Most available steel fire pit ring inserts range from 24 inches to 46 inches in diameter in the US. If you need a larger or smaller option, then you can customize the size and go wild!
Most sellers are more than happy to provide you with a custom-sized fire pit ring insert, for a price, of course. Provided you have the money; you are unlikely to find a metal fabricator that won’t make you the size ring you need for your fire pit.
When looking at your fire pit ring diameter, remember that this diameter refers to the inner diameter of the ring insert, not the outer.
It also does not include the edge of the lip, and you will need a separate outer diameter measurement to include this. The inner diameter will help see if the ring insert will fit in your fire and represent the opening of your stone fire pit.
For those still planning their fire pit build, it's best to build your plans around the size of the fire ring to ensure that it's the right fit. Select the fire pit ring you want and the size, and build your fire pit to those specifications.
It means you get the fire pit ring that you want without needing to compromise along the way, perfect if you have already stumbled upon your fire pit ring of dreams!
If your fire pit is already built but with no ring, then you will want a ring insert that has an inner diameter that fits the opening and enough lip around the edge to rest on the top level of your fire pit's brick or stone coping.
Ensure that the lip overhangs the inner edge of the coping all around the fire pit evenly so it won’t become dislodged from the rim of the fire pit or fall in!
If you are after a recommendation, we would say not to use a fire ring smaller than 30-inches, unless you have limited space. Anywhere between 36 inches to 40 inches is ideal, offering you plenty of room to stack your wood correctly and allow for the necessary airflow.
Although you can use smaller-sized ring inserts, you might need to cut your firewood into smaller pieces for them to fit properly. Larger-sized ring inserts also offer you a larger circle of warming or seating space, making it the ideal choice for anyone entertaining large groups.
You will also want to consider the depth of your fire pit ring too. Commonly they are around 10-inches in-depth but check that your current fire pit has room for the depth before making your purchase. You might need to explore other options or have a ring made with a custom depth to suit your fire pit.
The best advice we can give you is to buy the largest ring you can afford that fits your space when it comes to your fire pit ring insert.
How much are fire ring inserts?
The price of fire pit ring inserts varies, but most of them are affordable, costing no more than a few hundred dollars. That said, you can find some real bargains where the ring insert can cost you less than $100!
While you are likely to find a good quality fire pit ring insert on a budget, if you have more money to spend, you can find a pricier model too! The higher price point usually translates to higher quality, and you can expect more expensive fire ring inserts to last longer than the cheaper options.
When purchasing your fire pit ring insert, it's best to set a clear budget and stick to it as best as possible. If you are building the fire pit yourself, consider the costs of the other materials you need and factor the ring insert into this budget. You will also need to consider the size and quality of the ring insert, as thicker steel often costs more.
Similarly, if you are paying a professional to build the fire pit, they are likely to ask you about a ring insert when giving you a price estimate.
The cost of the ring insert will then be incorporated into your estimated cost, and you can either select the ring insert yourself, or the builder will do it for you. If you have a specific ring insert in mind or any criteria, it might be easier to select the insert yourself.
You don’t have to decide straight away, but it does make it easier to know if you want a ring insert added or not. The size can then be factored into the fire pit design rather than searching for an appropriately sized ring insert once the fire pit has been constructed.
Whatever your budget, you are sure to find a fire pit ring insert that doesn’t break the bank and still delivers on quality and performance!
Best Fire Pit Ring Inserts to Buy
Now that we have covered what you need to look for in a fire pit ring insert and got you all brushed up on the terminology let’s look at the best fire pit ring inserts on the market! We have compiled a list of the most popular, ensuring one to suit every budget and need without compromising on quality!
It's worth noting that this isn’t a comprehensive list and that there are plenty of other excellent fire pit ring inserts on the market if you don’t find one today (we highly doubt that), so be sure to conduct your research if you want even more options to choose from!
After scouring the market, we are pleased to bring you the best of the best and our three best fire pit ring inserts. Let’s look at them now!
OUR TOP PICK
Kicking off our list today is Sunnydaze’s fire pit ring insert! At a reasonable price, the steel insert is sure to provide long-lasting use and protect your stones or bricks from excessive heat damage! Let’s look at the stats you need to know.
- Sizes - 30-inches, 36-inches, and 39-inch options
- Material - 2mm thick steel finished with high-temperature paint
- Assembly - easy four-piece assembly
- Warranty - 1-year manufacturers warranty
You get a decent range of sizes with Sunnydaze’s ring insert, making it a suitable option for most fire pits, although if yours is larger, you might need to look elsewhere.
The rings are 10 inches tall and weigh 30 pounds, so be sure to have a second pair of hands to help install the ring if it's a little heavy for you.
The ring insert features 2mm of shtick steel to provide you with the protection you need. The black insert is finished with high-temperature paint to provide you with long-lasting quality and durability in all weather types.
It’s worth noting that the paint is likely to peel away after substantial use, but that's to be expected with any fire pit insert! You can re-paint it yourself with fire-resistant paint if you wish to maintain an even finish, but it should not impact the performance of the ring insert.
You can assemble the insert easily, too; it comes with four pieces that can be assembled in no time!
The lip of the ring will sit flush against your fire pit, too, for the perfect fit. You won’t need to worry about it sitting incorrectly in your pit, providing you have selected the right size.
It's worth noting that there is no bottom to this fire pit insert, so you will need to put something in place to collect the ash and debris to make cleaning the fire pit an easier task for you.
Some customers did note that their packages arrived damaged, with bends in the lip of the ring. This was not a common complaint, but one to be aware of!
It's worth noting that these complaints were from reviews left a few years ago, so the packaging has likely been updated, and this shouldn’t happen to you! Thankfully, their amazing customer service means you can get a replacement sent out to you if this occurs to you.
For those worrying about the fire pit insert, there’s no need! It comes with a one-year manufacturer's warranty, so should anything be wrong, you can send it back for repairs or a replacement if needed! But with so many rave reviews, we don’t think you’ll be sending this fire pit ring back any time soon.
Customers praised the durability of the insert and its outstanding performance. They found it straightforward to assemble and install and that in no time, they were enjoying warm and safe fires! They noted that it kept their bricks looking new and slowed the signs of heat and fire damage down.
With many customers reporting years of success, you know you can put your faith in this fire pit ring and spend your hard-earned cash on something that will work!
- Brilliant mid-price point fire pit ring
- Good range of sizes, suitable for most fire pits
- Excellent value for money considering the high-quality
- 1-year warranty protects you from manufacturers damage
- Paint will peel and flake after use but can be rectified by repainting if needed.
Next up, we have Pleasant Hearth’s solid steel fire pit ring. The fire ring is perfect for those on a budget and wants to protect their fire pits from damage at an affordable price. To find out the stats, you need to know, keep on reading!
- Size - 28-inch inner diameter
- Material - steel, thickness not stated in the description
- Assembly - easy assembly
- Warranty - not listed but covered by Amazon’s return policy.
It’s the smallest fire pit ring on the list today, with a 28-inch inner diameter. It's a fantastic choice for those after a smaller fire pit or who are concerned about the space they have. The lip should fit flush against the bricks for the perfect fit and look lovely in most fire pits.
The black finish is stylish, and thanks to the thick steel, you don’t need to worry about any damage to the bricks or stones of your fire pit! The exact thickness of the steel is not listed in the product description, but we are sure if you reach out to the seller, they will be happy to provide you with the information.
While the black finish is stylish, it's worth noting that the paint is likely to flake and peel after use. It's common on painted surfaces exposed to fire and will happen on most fire pit ring inserts.
However, customers noted that with this fire pit ring, it happened quite quickly. Some customers also noted that rust started emerging on the ring when the paint flaked and peeled away.
We mentioned earlier that rust appears faster on cheaper fire pit ring inserts, and the reviews have proved us right. You can delay the rust by applying your heat-resistant paints or sprays to the fire pit ring before use, but be mindful that rust will likely emerge after a year, as the reviews suggest.
If you are on a budget, the rust and flaking paint is an issue you will need to deal with until you can afford to splash out on a higher-quality fire pit ring.
Apart from the rust, you can expect a durable construction, with the majority of complaints being towards the paint rather than the performance of the fire pit ring.
Warranty information about the fire pit ring is not available in the product description, but at the very least, it will be covered by Amazon’s return policy. Should you encounter any issues, you can contact their customer services for further advice or arrange a refund if you wish.
For those on a budget and with a smaller fire pit, this ring insert from Pleasant Hearth is a fine option and will protect your fire pit from excessive heat damage!
Just be aware that it is likely to need replacing before more expensive options, and your paint is likely to peel and flake after a few uses.
- 28-inch diameter makes it a good choice for smaller fire pits
- An affordable option for those on a budget
- Solid steel construction provides durability
- Black paint is likely to peel off, with some customers noting rust after one year.
Completing our list today is the Doniks fire pit ring. At a reasonable price, the sturdy and durable fire pit ring insert is ideal for those with larger fire pits that they want to protect from excessive heat damage. Before we get into our review, let’s take a look at everything you need to know!
- Size - 39-inch inner diameter
- Assembly - easy assembly with four-pieces
- Warranty - warranty information not listed; you will need to contact the seller directly.
- Material - 3mm thick steel
The larger 39-inch diameter is perfect for bigger fire pits that need protection. You will also enjoy a 45-inch outer diameter and 10-inches depth, making it perfect for most DIY and professionally built fire pits.
You don’t need to worry about durability with this fire pit ring, as it features a whopping 3mm thickness! The ring has also been finished with high-temperature paint to protect your bricks and stone from damage.
It’s worth noting, though, that the black paint does peel and flake off. Some customers noted that it began to peel after a few uses. While this is expected of most paints, it does mean the black finish might not stay nice for very long.
You can add another heat-resistant paint if you wish, but it is also likely to flake and paint and need to be regularly maintained. Thankfully, this was the only complaint of the fire pit ring, so provided you don’t mind some flaking paint, you are sure to be pleased with Donik’s fire ring!
The fire ring is super easy to assemble, thanks to the four-piece construction. Within no time at all, you can be sitting back and enjoying the fire! Customers praised the fast and easy assembly, making it ideal for DIY novices and experts alike.
Customers praised the durability of the fire pit ring, finding that it was lasting well and not rusting compared to other cheaper fire pit rings on the market. If you are after a reasonably priced fire pit ring, Doniks is the one for you, especially after thick and durable steel!
- Reasonable price makes it suitable for a range of budgets
- The larger size is perfect for bigger fire pits
- 3mm thick steel offers plenty of protection and durability
- Paint peels off easily after a few uses - its best to follow with a heat defense treatment
- Easy assembly allows you to spend more time enjoying the fire
If you want to go directly to a manufacturer and request custom ring sizes, we have some options for you! Any of the following brands are of good reputation and are sure to cater to your needs. Choose from:
- Titan - for US-made fire pit rings that come in larger sizes and easy assembly.
- Ohio Flame - for handcrafted fire pit inserts that are protected by a lifetime warranty
- Breeo - for smokeless fire pit inserts that will reduce your smoke emissions and offer durability
Don’t Forget Etsy!
While Etsy currently doesn’t have many fire pits insert vendors that are happy to make custom-sized ring inserts, you are spoilt for choice when it comes to the sizes available! If you have been struggling to find a particular size, we strongly recommend checking Etsy out.
There are many fantastic sellers on there with a wide range of options to suit all different-sized fire pits. Some sellers will even make a custom fire pit ring insert for an added cost. Be sure to message them first to see if they are willing to do this!
As fire pits continue to grow in popularity, more and more sellers will likely adapt to making custom-sized fire pit ring inserts to meet the demand.
And just like that, we have come to the end of our fire pit ring insert journey today! As you can see, a fire pit ring insert is a smart investment to make if you are looking to preserve your fire pit for years to come!
You won’t need to spend a fortune to enjoy the countless benefits a fire ring provides your fire pit and its structure with! And for those after bargain fire pit ring inserts, you can replace them easily with a more pricey and durable insert when the time comes.
For those having wood-burning fire pits professionally built, a contractor is likely to offer a fire ring in their estimate or an option when designing your fire pit.
Installing a fire pit ring insert to a professionally built fire pit is a no-brainer, in our opinion, it will keep the fire pit looking brand new and working well for years to come. Why wouldn’t you have one added?
Those building their own fire pit should conduct their research and decide what's best for you and your budget. If you can spare a few dollars of your budget, it's worth investing in a fire pit ring insert to preserve your hard work and protect your fire pit from smoke and fire damage over time.
There’s a wide selection to choose from, so there’s sure to be a fire pit ring insert to suit your needs!
Check with your builder, local fire pit store, home and garden center, and online for more research and advice if you need it. No matter what you choose, providing it fits your fire pit and is within budget, we are sure you will love it! Prepare to enjoy your fire pit for years to come without worrying about the prolonged heat damage.
Frequently Asked Questions
Get your last-minute queries answered here before you leave us!
Will a fire pit ring insert rust?
Over time, yes, your fire ring insert will develop rust. Even inserts made from stainless steel are likely to rust over time.
The longer your fire pit is used and how frequently it is used will determine how quickly your ring insert will start to rust. As the fire pit is used and high heats are exposed to the ring, the rust or heat resistant coating will burn off, and rust will begin to form.
How bad this rust is will depend on where you live and if you use a fire pit cover when it's not in use. A fire pit ring insert in drier climates, like Arizona, won’t rust as quickly as those used in more humid climates like New Orleans. Both rings will still rust, but those in more humid conditions are likely to rust much quicker.
A well-fitting fire pit cover can also be used to slow and reduce rusting. Placing a cover on the fire pit when it's not in use will protect the ring insert from moisture and water, reducing its ability to rust.
You want to avoid water and moisture settling on the surfaces of the ring insert or the bottom if your ring insert has one. Check that the fire pit ring insert is completely dry before covering the pit. Covering the pit while the ring is wet or moisture remains speeds up the rusting process!
Another way to reduce the chances of rust is to clean out the fire pits, ash, unburned firewood, and other debris after each burn. Removing anything that retains moisture after cooling reduces the chance of moisture being in the pit, which could damage the ring insert.
How can I find an expert in my area to build my fire pit?
Your first port of call is to ask people you know for recommendations. If any friends, family, or neighbors have had a fire pit built recently, ask them who built it and if they would recommend them. First-hand experience and reviews are invaluable when finding a masonry fire pit builder in your area that you can trust.
Also, ask for recommendations from people who have had walkways or patios fitted recently. These days, with fire pits becoming increasingly popular, most masonry or hardscape contractors can fit backyard fire pits and do a fine job.
It's also worth checking online, using contract referral services. These services often offer pre-screened contractors in your areas, reviews, tips, and much more information! You can scan through and find the contractor that suits your needs. Sometimes these websites are free or charge a small fee monthly or annually.
Consider whether the recommendation is worth the fee, especially if you have other home improvements you need to be completed by a professional. Paying for access to these sites can then be worthwhile and offer value for money, but we think it's best to stick with free sites or word of mouth for one job.
Is a smokeless fire pit insert really smokeless?
No, smokeless in this sense means reduced smoke rather than smoke-free. No reputable fire pit maker can claim they are making and selling smoke-free fire pit inserts, as these just don’t exist. Instead, they can claim the fire pit inset offers more efficient combustion, keeping smoke in the fire pit to a minimum.
So how do they work? Well, these fire pit inserts use a double-wall design that funnels cool air into the fire pits walls. The air is then heated and transported to the exit homes in the fire pit below the rim.
The heated air aids a secondary burn, incinerating excess smoke before it leaves the fire pit. The fire pit needs to be nice and hot after burning for a few minutes for best results.
It's important to note, though, that all fire pits will give off smoke, especially when new wood is added and the initial moisture burns off (moisture is the main cause of smoke coming from burning wood). Even smokeless pits will see some smoke, although it should be far less than a non-smokeless pit.
Smokeless fire pits tend to be more forgiving than regular fire pits for unseasoned firewood or wood with higher moisture content. If you’ve forgotten to season your wood or accidentally used the wrong firewood, the smokeless pit will reduce the excess smoke, unlike regular pits.
Once the fire pit is burning well, the smoke should be minimal to non-existent, and any wood added should smoke for much less time than if the fire was getting started.