If you are considering a fire pit, there are a number of options. We’ve gone over the DIY smokeless fire pits you can build. We’ve also touched on how much a fire pit will cost and rustic fire pit design. However, what if you want a fire pit that’ll match your retaining wall blocks. Or you like the look and the concept of a precast block fire pit? If you want to build a retaining wall block fire pit, this article is for you. We will go over the big 4 manufacturers, what they offer you, and also a few drawbacks of precast fire pits.
Precast concrete blocks are nearly all made the same way. They are pressed concrete into a form kind of like making ice cubes. There are additional differences from manufacturer to manufacturer and some different methods of coloration. For the most part, the concrete color will be integral, running all the way through the block. This means when you need to trim a block to fit, you can without drastic implications color wise.
Retaining Wall Block Fire Pit Advantages
The advantage over using natural stone is the predictability of the dimensions of retaining wall block. When building a retaining wall block fire pit, it’s an extremely simple process when compared to the trimming, chiseling and finicky nature of natural stone masonry. We love natural stone walls and natural stone fire pits. But sometimes the cost just pushes the fire pit out of reach and you need to look for a cost effective alternative. This is where the retaining wall block fire pit comes in handy.
One of the recent advents which have improved retaining wall block fire pit design is the advent of kits. It used to be that when building a fire pit with retaining wall blocks, you just had to figure it out on your own. Not anymore. These kits are a game changer, as they come complete. You tell your sales person the dimensions of the fire pit your want, and they will provide the block you need as well as some basic instruction. If you have trouble putting the fire pit together, you can always call tech support.
Within each manufacturer’s product line, they also provide gas burning fire pit kits, or wood burning kits. Most of the fire pit’s we have built with retaining wall blocks have been wood burning, but you certainly could go gas or propane. However, you ought to enlist a professionals help whenever building a gas or propane fire pit, as there’s more to consider when it comes to ventilation, code compliance, and just plain safety whenever working with fossil fuels. Gas lines should always be installed by licensed plumbers.
Retaining Wall Block Fire Pit Disadvantages
Ultimately, the downside of these are the issue of customization. You can’t customize a retaining wall block fire pit the same way you can a poured concrete fire pit or natural stone fire pit. However, we still think a retaining wall block fire pit is the best solution for many projects, and we hope you pursue them and choose the best option for you.
Retaining Wall Block Fire Pit Manufacturers
Now lets review the manufacturers behind retaining wall block fire pits. There are four major companies that we’ve bumped into over and over. We’ll explain what makes each one unique.
First there’s the Belgard retaining wall block fire pit. Belgard (Old Castle) has been around for a long time, and has been in the precast block business for decades. Within their fire pit line, there are three basic types from Belgard, with slightly different appearances. Within each type there are color ranges to choose from as well. There’s nothing exceptionally special about the Belgard kits, but you might find they meet your price needs, and you can often find these at masonry supply houses ready to ship.
The next manufacturer is Pavestone. Pavestone is the Home Depot special precast block fire pit. Their product line has been simplified over the years to meet the needs of their largest distributor, and it shows. That’s not to say there isn’t a place for a pavestone retaining wall block fire pit. They look great, and don’t cost the earth. If you’re looking for a quick solution, Pavestone is often the best bet. Just don’t expect much variation unless you’re willing to wait for a special order.
Unilock has gone toward maximizing the customization and options to the point where you can get some very detailed fire pits and fire places made with retaining wall blocks. This company has numerous textures and colors available, really something for just about any project. Their customer service is known in the industry to be some of the best.
They have distribution centers placed all around the country and generally speaking are willing to ship from any of them if you have a product you need and your local distributor doesn’t have it. However, you will pay much more than you would for Pavestone or Belgard, but the product line speaks for why that is. It’s a far more luxurious and high end product.
Last but certainly not least is Techo-Bloc. Though Techo-Bloc has a simpler product line than Unilock, this doesn’t mean you should look past them. Within the big four manufacturers, Techo-bloc continually exceeds expectations with providing product which will work in the modern landscape of today. Case in point, the Raffinato fire pit. Like Techo-Bloc’s hardscape line, there is attention paid to textures and color. This helps their product line look less like it’s pretending to be stone, or look obviously like a retaining wall block fire pit.
Retaining Wall Block Fire Pit Summary
Hopefully this quick review gave you some design ideas and direction. You’ll now know what you should look for with a precast concrete fire pit. Retaining wall block fire pits are a great feature for just about any backyard. However, you might consider not putting one in if you have an aesthetic issue with seeing concrete. Sometimes the precast concrete blocks just don’t work with a natural stone environment. Though the blocks are getting better, with Unilock and Techo-Bloc as stands outs, some of our clients still can find issue with the fact that you’re using concrete.