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Square or Round Fire Pit: Does It Matter?

When it comes to backyard decoration, there are quite a few 'this or that' decisions you have to make. Should you start a kitchen garden or dedicate the space to a pool? Paint the exterior or install siding? One of these decisions is selecting the fire pit shape. Now, you might wonder, does shape really make that much of a difference?  For some people, yes....

round vs square fire pit

When it comes to backyard decoration, there are quite a few 'this or that' decisions you have to make. Should you start a kitchen garden or dedicate the space to a pool? Paint the exterior or install siding?

One of these decisions is selecting the fire pit shape. Now, you might wonder, does shape really make that much of a difference? 

For some people, yes. It's not just about the aesthetics but also the space constraints and design options. Here's an overview of square and round fire pits, helping you decide what would work best for your backyard.

Main Differences Between Round and Square Fire Pits

Without going into too much technical detail, there are a few differences between square and round fire bits. We'll look at these in our guide. 

  • Shape: It's pretty obvious. Both types of fire pits have different shapes, which dictates how they allow a gathering arrangement. For instance, round fire pits can have people seated in a circle, whereas square fire pits allow a defined seating plan in a linear fashion. 
  • Aesthetic: Square fire pits are considered more contemporary. They have a geometrically clean look to them. Round fire pits are traditional in design but boast a timeless appeal. 
  • Space Utilization: Due to their circular footprint, round fire pits take up more space. It's also slightly harder to fit them in a space with existing unmovable furniture. Square fire pits can easily fit in a corner or in small backyards. 
  • Cooking Options: Round fire pits are suited for campfire-style cooking. You can use grates and skewers on them, whereas square fire pits accommodate versatile cooking surfaces due to their neat shape. 
  • Design Variations: There's not enough variation in round fire pits since the shape remains the same. On the other hand, square fire pits come with additional features like storage, water features, lighting, and built-in seating. 

Types of Square Fire Pits and Advantages

Square fire pits are available in different build materials. Some of them include: 

  • Steel: These are the most common square fire pits. They're lightweight, heat up quickly and retain their heat for a long time. Steel fire pits come in different colors due to the material's durable powder coat finish. These fire pits are also lightweight. So, you can move them anywhere in the backyard. 
  • Stone: Concrete fire pits are usually fixed. They are also set to stand the test of time, lasting for years to come. 
  • Cast Iron: Although heavier than their steel counterparts, cast iron square fire pits are also portable. They're more durable, too. 

Besides the material, you'll also find variations in designs of square fire pits. These designs usually stem from additional features, such as: 

  • Built-In Seating: For instance, there will be benches around the fire pit, allowing you to enjoy the fire even more. 
  • Water Features: A fountain or an aquarium can add a soothing element to the fire pit. 
  • Lighting: You can use LED lights around the fire pit to illuminate the area even more. Lights also add a lovely ambiance to your backyard. 
  • Storage: Some square fire pits have built-in storage compartments to store extra fuel or wood. 

Advantages of Square Fire Pits

  • Take up less space in your backyard
  • Available in different sizes and designs 
  • Easy to install 
  • Durable and long-lasting due to their build material 
  • Lightweight and portable 

Disadvantages of Square Fire Pits

  • Have an old-school look
  • May have sharp edges 
  • Uneven heat distribution 

Types of Round Fire Pits and Advantages

Like square fire pits, round fire pits are also made of the same materials. However, they come in a few different designs. 

  • Fire Pit Bowl: A fire pit bowl is a shallow, metal bowl that's placed in the ground. It is usually filled with lava rocks or gravel and can be used to contain a fire. 
  • Fire Pit With Cooking Grate: Some homeowners want a 2-in-1 entertainment option. A fire pit with a cooking grate can be just the pick. These fire pits have cooking grates on them where you can grill on an open flame. 
  • Fire Pit Ring: In this design, you'll find a metal ring (usually made of cast iron) that surrounds the fire. The edges provide protection against sparks and heat. 

Advantages of Round Fire Pits

  • Allow circular seating 
  • Equal heat distribution on all sides 
  • Multiple design options 
  • Cooking capability 

Disadvantages of Round Fire Pits

  • Limited seating 
  • More space requirement 
  • Wind disruption due to shape-mediated wind drafts 

Picking a Square Fire Pit Is Best When 

You've seen the good and bad of both round and square fire pits. Now, it's decision time. 

When should you pick a square fire pit? Here's when. 

You Have Less Space In Your Backyard.

Homeowners often have to keep space constraints in mind when choosing a fire pit. Let's say your backyard already has a small greenhouse and an outdoor kitchen. 

With all that furniture, you may not have enough room for a round fire pit. In this case, a square fire pit will be the better choice as it can fit in tight spots. You can even crank it up in a corner of the yard to save space. 

You Need a Fire Pit For Ambiance. 

We're not saying a square fire pit doesn't heat up a space. However, it doesn't do it as evenly as a round fire pit. 

If you're after ambiance more than anything else, opt for a square fire pit. 

You Have a Clean-Lines Aesthetic. 

Some homeowners have a very sleek aesthetic. They prefer clean lines, muted colors, geometric patterns, and minimalistic decor items. If that sounds like you, a square fire pit will be the best option as it will fit in perfectly with your exterior design choices. 

A round fire pit would look out of place among your contemporary outdoor furniture. 

You Want to Entertain Large Groups. 

A square fire pit allows you to put up chairs on all four sides. So, you can have evenings with your family outside or invite friends over for movie nights. 

If you don't plan to move the fire pit around, go for built-in seating options. A concrete square fire pit with benches around it would look stunning. 

Picking a Round Fire Pit Is Best When 

If you're thinking that round fire pits are out of style, you couldn't be more wrong. They've come back with a bang. Now, you can get them with a ton of additional features like accompanied seating. 

You should select a round fire pit in the following situations. 

Space Is Not An Issue. 

Are you looking for a centerpiece for your lawn or backyard? You don't have any space constraints, either. 

Start with a round fire pit and then plan the rest of your outdoor space around it. 

You Don't Need An Extensive Seating Arrangement. 

The shape of a round fire pit is such that you cannot fit too many chairs or benches around it. But if you have a small family and don't plan to entertain large groups of people, a round fire pit should be good enough. 

These fire pits are also safer for pets and children due to the lack of sharp edges. However, it's still imperative to supervise your little ones around an open flame. 

You Want To Heat Up Your Space Evenly. 

Round fire pits distribute the heat evenly. So, everyone sitting around the circle should be equally warm. 

You Have a Traditional Aesthetic. 

Not everyone likes clean lines and minimalistic pieces. Some people love the old-world charm. 

A round fire pit can provide just that to your space. If your space is already somewhat decorated, you can install a round fire pit to accentuate an existing feature. 

For example, if you've landscaped your yard or added a walkway, the round fire pit can go in the center and complete the look. 

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