finished bluestone patio with granite fire pit built by Jenn Nawada
Steps // How to Build a Fire Pit Patio
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Overview

 
Step One // How to Build a Fire Pit Patio

Overview

overview illustration of building a bluestone patio with granite fire pit
Illustration by Gregory Nemec

Day-to-Day Timeline
SATURDAY:
Prep the base and install the fire pit (Steps 1–9).
SUNDAY: Lay the bluestone pavers (Steps 10–16).

 
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Build the Base

 
Step Two // How to Build a Fire Pit Patio

Build the Base

spreading a 3-inch-thick layer of paver base with a rake for a bluestone patio
Photo by Anthony Tieuli

String a mason line to a pair of stakes about a foot beyond the final patio size. Add three more perimeter string lines to complete the patio outline, squaring each using the 3-4-5-foot rule. Use a line level to slope the strings  inch per foot, so water will run off the patio and away from the house. Make an X with two more strings diagonally between corners. You’ll use all these lines to measure the height of the base as you build, removing and replacing them as needed. Now dig up the topsoil layer, about 8 to 12 inches, then tamp the subsoil with a plate compactor. Finally, spread a 3-inch-thick layer of paver base and rake it level.

 
3 ×

Compact It

 
Step Three // How to Build a Fire Pit Patio

Compact It

Jenn Nawada runs the plate compactor over the paver base surface for a bluestone patio
Photo by Anthony Tieuli

Dampen the paver base with a garden hose to keep down the dust, and run the plate compactor over the surface. Add a second layer of paver base, rake it level, moisten it, then compact again. Repeat with 3-inch layers until the foundation is 2 inches below the mason line.

 
4 ×

Drill Holes

 
Step Four // How to Build a Fire Pit Patio

Drill Holes

drilling a series of holes in granite for a granite fire pit
Photo by Anthony Tieuli

Determine the location of the fire pit—ours is centered in the patio and parallel to the nearby deck. Use the paint to mark the outside perimeter of the finished fire pit on the compacted base. Stretch a mason line across the patio base, tied off to stakes beyond the perimeter lines, then square it to a perimeter string. This represents the outside face of one of the fire pit walls, and you’ll use it later to square the pavers. To trim the granite to length (ours are 13x36 inches), start by drawing a cut line with a wax pencil along three sides of the stone. Chuck a ½-inch masonry bit into a rotary hammer, then put on hearing, eye, and lung protection. Drill a series of holes 3 inches deep and about 3 to 4 inches apart along the cut line. Spray the bit with water to keep down the dust.

 
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Add Splitters

 
Step Five // How to Build a Fire Pit Patio

Add Splitters

adding curved steel feathers and a wedge into each opening to slip granite for a granite fire pit
Photo by Anthony Tieuli

Set a pair of curved steel feathers and a wedge into each opening. Fit the wedge between the feathers, which should curve out and away from each other. Tap each wedge lightly with a 3-pound sledgehammer until it fits snugly.

 
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Strike the Steel

 
Step Six // How to Build a Fire Pit Patio

Strike the Steel

Jenn Nawada hits each wedge with a sledgehammer to split granite for a granite fire pit
Photo by Anthony Tieuli

Using the sledgehammer and working sequentially, hit each wedge a little at a time until the rock splits along the cut line.

 
7 ×

Reveal the New Face

 
Step Seven // How to Build a Fire Pit Patio

Reveal the New Face

Jenn Nawada and homeowner pry away the excess granite exposing the new split face for a granite fire pit
Photo by Anthony Tieuli

Once the rock cracks, pull the feathers and wedges out and pry away the waste, exposing the new split face.

 
8 ×

Set the First Stone

 
Step Eight // How to Build a Fire Pit Patio

Set the First Stone

Jenn Nawada sets the first stone in place and checks for level for a granite fire pit
Photo by Anthony Tieuli

Use a mini excavator fitted with a lifter attachment to guide the first section of granite into place, or hire a landscape contractor to help. As the operator lowers the stone, use a digging bar to guide it into alignment along the paint markings made earlier. Set the stone in place and check for level, as shown. If the granite is out of level, lift the stone, and shovel some paver base to the low spots underneath and reset the stone.

Tip: to save time, ask if the stone yard can cut the granite blocks to size and set them in place on the base.

 
9 ×

Finish the Fire Pit

 
Step Nine // How to Build a Fire Pit Patio

Finish the Fire Pit

Jenn Nawada, with the homeowner's help, sets the second piece of granite so it butts up to the end of the first one for a granite fire pit
Photo by Anthony Tieuli

Set the second piece of granite so it butts up to the end of the first one, making a corner. Check it for level, then repeat the process for the remaining granite pieces.

 
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Add Drainage

 
Step Ten // How to Build a Fire Pit Patio

Add Drainage

Jenn Nawada dumps a wheelbarrow-full of crushed stone into the interior of the fire pit
Photo by Anthony Tieuli

Dump a 2- to 3-inch-deep layer of 3⁄4-inch crushed stone into the pit and rake it level. This stone will help the fire pit to drain after a rain.

 
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Set Bluestone Height

 
Step Eleven // How to Build a Fire Pit Patio

Set Bluestone Height

Jenn Nawada snaps a mason line across one side of the fire pit
Photo by Anthony Tieuli

Snap a mason line across one side of the fire pit 2 inches above the compacted base, as shown. This line represents the finished height of the bluestone once the pavers are tamped in place.

 
12 ×

Compact Stone Dust

 
Step Twelve // How to Build a Fire Pit Patio

Compact Stone Dust

compacting the stone dust around the fire pit to build a bluestone patio
Photo by Anthony Tieuli

Add a 2- to 3-inch-thick layer of stone dust over the base and tamp it to about a ½ inch.

 
13 ×

Set the First Stone

 
Step Thirteen // How to Build a Fire Pit Patio

Set the First Stone

Photo by laying out the first bluestone paver for a bluestone patio

Work out the patio pattern on paper first. Then lay a 24-inch-long piece of bluestone about 3⁄8 inch away from the edge of the granite so it extends past the fire pit corner by about 18½ inches, leaving enough room for the second paver and the joint. Make sure the paver is evenly spaced away from the mason line by the fire pit. Check the bluestone for level, accounting for the 1⁄4-inch pitch; tamp with a rubber mallet to set the stone.

Tip: design the patio pattern on 1⁄4-inch graph paper. Draw the perimeter first, then add pavers to scale, repositioning as necessary for a random look. Try to keep joints less than 3 feet long.

 
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Turn the Corner

 
Step Fourteen // How to Build a Fire Pit Patio

Turn the Corner

Jenn Nawada and homeowner turn the corner of the fire pit for a bluestone patio
Photo by Anthony Tieuli

Place an 18-by-18-inch paver next to the first one, leaving about a 3⁄8-inch-wide joint between the stones. Check that it’s level, then set it with a mallet.

 
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Finish the Pattern

 
Step Fifteen // How to Build a Fire Pit Patio

Finish the Pattern

Jenn Nawada and homeowner continue to install the bluestone patio pavers
Photo by Anthony Tieuli

Continue building out the bluestone pattern, mixing 24- and 12-inch wide pavers together while keeping the outside edges of the patio straight. Stagger the joints between neighboring pavers.

 
16 ×

Fill the Joints

 
Step Sixteen // How to Build a Fire Pit Patio

Fill the Joints

Jenn Nawada sweeps stone dust into the bluestone patio joints
Photo by Anthony Tieuli

Spread stone dust over the finished patio, and brush it into the joints with a broom. Repeat until the joints are full, then mist the patio down with water to settle the joints. Add topsoil around the edges of the patio to cover any exposed base material.

 
 

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