Tutorial: Build an Amazing DIY Fire Pit Pergola for Swings

Build a beautiful fire pit pergola for swings. This round open gazebo style structure can be used to hang swings or hammocks around the fireplace and features an optional outdoor movie screen add-on! 

Complete the perfect outdoor space with couple more outdoor woodworking projects, like this patio table with drink coolers, a beautiful garden arbor, and a monogram letter planter filled with your favorite flowers

How To Build A Backyard Fire Pit Pergola For Swings, LWH Blog For Remodelaholic

Build a Circular Fire Pit Pergola for Swings
by Brett and Lauren from Little White House Blog

See more from Lauren on Instagram: @mrslaurenash

For your convenience follow the link below and 
Get a printable version of this backyard pergola tutorial

Please note that the 22-page printable firepit pergola plan includes the tutorial for planning and building the pergola structure in 3 sizes around a circular fire pit — plans to build swings are not included at this time.

Brett is a career Firefighter and is the overall facilitator and muscle behind all-things-reno at the farm. I work part-time and devote the rest of my time as a SAHM to our precious son, homemaking and cultivating our farmhouse dreams. We have a passion for restoration and we’re eager to see our property transform. You can join us over on our blog as we embark on the ultimate DIY: Our 100 year old farmhouse!
Pergola Tutorial with Fire Pit by Little White House Blog featured on @Remodelaholic

Without a doubt, one of our most beloved DIY projects and our favorite area to retreat on the farm is our outdoor pergola and fire pit.

It is truly an outdoor oasis and an area we created for the sole purpose of bringing our family and friends together. It’s a conversation piece around our small town and we love making s’mores, star gazing and relaxing here at the end of the day.

We are so excited to collaborate with Remodelaholic to bring you this tutorial and the detailed printable backyard pergola plans so that you can create a retreat like this to enjoy at your own home!

Diy Backyard Firepit Pergola For Swings Tutorial And Plans, LWH Blog For Remodelaholic

This post contains affiliate links. Please see our full privacy policy and disclosure here.

Backyard Pergola Time and Cost Breakdown

The time to build a round backyard pergola like this will depend on how hard you want to work and what your skill level is.

If you have at least two individuals dedicated to the project who have general knowledge on carpentry and power tools, you can complete this project in a weekend.

Because we were only working in our spare time (some evenings and weekends) and Brett worked alone many days, it took us about two weeks to finish our project.

Material Cost

  • $1300 – All materials with the exception of seating and lighting.
  • (Six) 6 foot porch swings – $600-$2000 depending on where you purchase them or if you choose to build them yourself and what materials you choose to use.
  • (Six) Adirondack Chairs – $300-$1200 depending on where you purchase them or if you choose to build them yourself.
  • $75 – Outdoor String Lights (optional)

Backyard Fire Pit Pergola For Swings And String Lights, Tutorial And Plans, Remod

Estimated Total Cost

We spent approximately $2,300.00 on our project when we built it in 2015. This includes daily equipment rental of an auger and all materials. No labor is included in this overall cost as this was entirely a DIY project.

The cost for this project could range as high as $5,000 depending on potential labor costs, seating options and material choices.

Product Sources

Materials and hardware purchased from Lowes, Home Depot and Ace Hardware. Glass bulb lights purchased from Target and Cost Plus World Market.

Want to install a pergola on a deck? Check out our Modern DIY Deck Pergola plus this backyard pergola tutorial.

How to Build a Round Fire Pit Pergola or Gazebo Structure

What You’ll Need:

Tools

Materials List is included in the printable tutorial and plan here.  

From Remodelaholic: Please remember, this blog is for entertainment purposes only. As with ALL of our DIY projects and tutorials, be certain to read over the complete tutorial before starting a project. Build at your own risk and be smart, be safe. We will not be responsible for any injury or damage incurred while following a tutorial from our site. None of our posts should be considered expert advice; please consult a professional when needed, read all safety and instruction manuals, and take all safety precautions. All projects performed following instructions found on this site are done at your own risk. 

Fire Pit Pergola Tutorial Steps

For your convenience follow the link below and 
Get a printable version of this tutorial
The printable plan includes the materials list and detailed diagrams and measurements for 3 sizes of backyard pergola.

Step 1: Prepare and mark the area

Choose an area on your property to begin building backyard pergola. Place a stake in the center of your build space. The layout of the circular design of the fire pit and pergola will be referenced from this point.

DIY pergola tutorial - aerial view of the fireplace, pergola, swings, and adirondack chairs - Little White House Blog on @Remodelaholic

Using a tape measure, determine the radius of your fire pit and pergola from the center stake. Mark the exterior points using orange marking paint.

To mark the points for the fire pit and round pergola:

  1. Tie a string around the center stake.
  2. Stretch the string out to the length of your first radial mark. (Ours was at 4 feet for the fire pit.)
  3. Hold the string tight and using your paint, walk in a full circle marking the entire circumference for your fire pit.
  4. Repeat process at the next radial mark to create boundary markings for the pergola portion of the project. (Ours was 12 ft.)
Building a Pergola by Little White House Blog featured on @Remodelaholic

 

Step 2: Mark your post locations

This design requires eight 6X6X12 wooden posts to anchor the pergola. Use a 2X4 cut to length to determine and mark where you will need to set your posts.

The distance between post centers (and length of this 2×4 spacer) is determined by the size of your pergola — the detailed plans include 3 different dimensions.

To mark the pergola post locations:

  1. Determine where you want your pergola entrance to be and place the 2X4 there on the outermost circle. Each end of the 2X4 must be touching your orange marks.
  2. Mark each end where the 2X4 is placed.
  3. Pick up the 2X4 and rotate it around the circle by placing one end where your last marking is.
  4. Continue until you’ve circled all the way around. You should have eight intersecting marks along the outermost circle. These points are where you will place your posts.

Step 3: Dig post holes

Using an auger, dig your post holes approximately 3 feet deep. Use a post hole digger to remove any remaining dirt the auger may leave behind.

Building a Pergola and Fire Pit by Little White House Blog featured on @Remodelaholic
Building a Pergola Step by Step by Little White House Blog featured on @Remodelaholic

Step 4: Install posts and level

Place a 6X6X12 wooden post in each post hole. One flat face of each post should be facing the center of pergola, directly towards the fire pit.

Using a level, level your post as much as possible.

Each post will require two bags of fast setting concrete mix.

Pour concrete bags around the base of the post and add water per the product  directions to stabilize the post.

Using a level, level the post in both directions before the concrete sets. Repeat steps for each post.

Step by Step Instructions for Building a Pergola by Little White House Blog featured on @Remodelaholic

Cut your posts to desired height or to the height of the shortest post. Ours posts are 9 feet tall — the height can vary based on your needs and the dimensions of the full pergola.

To cut the posts to height:

  1. Use a rotary laser level to ensure that all the heights of all the posts are level.
    • If you do not own a rotary laser level, you can make an affordable water level to achieve the same result. You can find tips on that HERE.
  2. Use a speed square to mark square lines on all four sides.
  3. Using a circular saw, cut along the lines on each side of the post. (Carefully and using proper safety gear!)
  4. Then, use a reciprocating saw with a woodcutting blade to finish cutting the remaining wood.

Pergola and Fire Pit Tutorial by Little White House Blog featured on @RemodelaholicStep 5: Install the fire pit (optional)

If you’re building this pergola around a fire pit, now is a great time to add the fire pit! You can add it later, too, or build this pergola around an existing fire pit.

We made the fire pit in our pergola from stone blocks but you could add any type of fire pit you like, or use a curved fire pit kit like Justin and Cassity did hereStep by Step Instructions for Building a Pergola and Fire Pit by Little White House Blog featured on @Remodelaholic

To install a stone block fire pit:

  1. Dig a trench around the circumference of the fire pit approximately as deep as one of the stone blocks you’re using to build the pit. This will anchor the fire pit.
  2. To create the first row of stones for your fire pit, begin laying your blocks tightly together. It’s ok if the back edges are farther apart. You can adjust them based on the design you prefer.
  3. Spread liquid-nails landscape adhesive one top of the first row of stone blocks. Begin layering your second row of stone blocks, making sure to stagger the seams.
  4. Repeat steps until fire pit is as tall as desired.
Building a Fire Pit with a Pergola by Little White House Blog featured on @Remodelaholic

Step 6: Prepare anchor posts

The following illustrations demonstrate how to cut the top of the anchor posts so that you can install the beams that span from post to post. You will hang your swings from these horizontal beams, so a secure installation is very important.

The detailed building plans include suggested measurements and additional details for this step. 

To cut the top of the anchor posts:

  1. Measure and mark the top of each post to create a pie-shaped triangle wedge on top of the post. (Detailed dimensions and angles included in the printable woodworking plan.)
  2. Use a circular saw (carefully!) to cut along the angled lines on top of the post.
  3. Finish the cut with a reciprocating saw with a wood blade.
  4. Cut horizontally along the side of the post to meet up with the previous cut, to remove the wood chunk along the side of the triangle wedge.

Cut Top Of Pergola Post To Receive Beam, DIY Backyard Fire Pit Pergola Tutorial #remodelaholic

Step 7: Cut and install beams

You’ll create your own tight fit and “perfect measurements” by cutting to fit your exact beams to your exact post cuts.

  1. Set your beams on top of the cut posts, making sure to align the interior edge of the beam with the corner of each post.
  2. From the underside of the post, use a pencil to mark the the angle to the bottom side of the beam. This will ensure that the beams and post will fit tightly together.
  3. Cut each beam along your markings using a circular saw and reciprocating saw.
  4. Secure the top beams with 4″ deck screws from the outside into the pie shaped section of the support post.
Install Top Beams On Backyard DIY Firepit Pergola For Swings #remodleaholic
How to Build a Pergola with Lots of Seating by Little White House Blog featured on @Remodelaholic
How to Build a Pergola and Fire Pit by Little White House Blog featured on @Remodelaholic

Step 8: Cut and Install the Top Cap

The last step to complete the pergola framing is to cut and install the top plate that caps the beams. These plates are mitered so that they meet evenly in the corners over each post.

  1. Measure, cut and place your plates using the same marking process as the beams, overlapping the joint at the pie-shaped triangle wedge of the post to create your exact fit angle.
  2. Secure the top plates with 4″ deck screws, and also place screws through the top plate into the beam about every 10″.
replacew ith updated imageTop Beam And Cap, Diy Backyard Pergola Tutorial, LWHBlog For Remodelaholic
Creating a Pergola and Fire Pit by Little White House Blog featured on @Remodelaholic

Step 9: Install swings on the pergola

Using a corded drill with a 12″ long and 1/2″ bit, drill the holes to place your eye bolts for your swing hardware.

You will need to find the center of each pergola section and your measurements will depend on the length of your porch swings.

We used six 6-foot porch swings that we purchased from a local craftsman. Install eye bolts and secure your porch swings in each opening.

*Looking for a great porch swing tutorial? Try these: Sawdust2Stitches (fits a crib mattress) | Ana White | Shanty 2 Chic

Building a Pergola with a Fire Pit and Adirondack Chairs by Little White House Blog featured on @Remodelaholic

Step 10: Create the bar/storage area

In the opening directly across from the pergola entrance, we chose to create a multi-purpose bar area that also serves as an area for wood storage.
Building a Pergola with a Bar and Adirondack Chairs by Little White House Blog featured on @Remodelaholic

To create the bar/storage/serving area:

  1. Divide the distance between the two posts  into thirds and place two 6X6 posts cut to 5′ tall to support the bar top. (Use an auger or post hole digger to create the hole for the two support posts.)
  2. Place a post in each hole and use a level to level the posts in each direction. Stabilize them using quick setting concrete according to concrete directions.
  3. Trim 1.5″ off of the the front and rear facing sides of the two bar posts (see illustration).
  4. Cut and install two 2X6 beams to fit between the two main support posts. They will rest on the two bar posts for support. Attach each beam securely to each post with screws.
  5. (Optional) Attach a corbel to both bar posts beneath each beam for additional support.
  6. Trim each end of two 2X10 beams to fit tightly between the two outside support posts.
    • The angle of these cuts will vary based on the dimensions between your posts and the angle at which they are positioned.
  7. Place each beam horizontally across the span of the bar area and use a level to level the beam. Secure both beams using screws.
Fire Pit Pergola Bar Storage Area Remodelaholic

Building Outdoor Adirondack Chairs

We chose to build own own adirondack chairs and spent approximately $50 per chair in materials.

These style chairs are easily found at your local outdoor furniture retailers ranging in price from $50-$250 or you may decide to choose different styles of seating to surround your own fire pit.

Remodelaholic designed there own version of a Adirondack chair you can get here.  They even have a Adirondack bench version here

 

 

Building Adirondack Chairs by Little White House Blog featured on @RemodelaholicBuilding Adirondack Chairs and Pergola by Little White House Blog featured on @Remodelaholic

Finishing the Pergola

Once you’ve allowed ample time for your pergola to acclimate to its surroundings and for the wood to dry out, we recommend that you seal or stain all wood surfaces using a water proofing product. (Two consecutive dry weeks is the standard recommendation.)

Create a Wonderful Outdoor Space with a Pergola and Fire Pit by Little White House Blog featured on @Remodelaholic
Freshly stained! July 2015
This is the perfect outdoor retreat for summer! (and spring and fall too!) Get the full detailed tutorial for this awesome porch swing pergola-style structure with a firepit and add-on movie screen option.

Add-on: Removable Outdoor Screen

Our next proposed addition to this space is a removable outdoor screen that will hang in the opening above the bar area.

We plan to host our family and friends for outdoor movie screenings and gatherings. Below is an illustration of our plan. (The detailed pergola plans include more details, measurements, and a suggested materials list.)

The screen will be comprised of a rectangular wooden frame with outdoor fabric stretched and secured to the rear facing side.

It will hang in the bar opening by turn buckles and will be designed to be easily removed and stored when not in use. The estimated cost for this addition is approximately $125.

Building a Pergola with an Optional Movie Screen by Little White House Blog featured on @Remodelaholic
Outdoor Movie Screen Proposal – Front View
Pergola Tutorial with Optional Movie Screen by Little White House Blog featured on @Remodelaholic
Outdoor Movie Screen Proposal – Rear View
full render of the diy pergola with firepit, chairs, and swings - DIY tutorial Little White House Blog on @Remodelaholic

 

Enjoy your pergola!

Once you’ve finished placing your outdoor seating as desired and stocked your firewood, you are ready to enjoy your own slice of outdoor heaven!

Building a Pergola with a Bar by Little White House Blog featured on @RemodelaholicHow to Build a Pergola with a Bar and Adirondack Chairs by Little White House Blog featured on @Remodelaholic

We sincerely hope you find this tutorial to be a helpful resource and that you enjoy your space as much as we adore ours. For questions and comments or to see more of our farmhouse and project  details such as our son’s nursery makeover and our most recent spare bedroom reveal, check us out at the Little White House Blog. Thank you so much for reading!

Regards from Stillwater Farm,
Brett and Lauren Ashworth

Reader Built Backyard Pergolas

This post and tutorial have been so popular and we love seeing your hard work and creative modifications of the plans to fit your space and needs. Send us a photo of your project here. 

DIY Backyard Pergola with a Shade Screen

Reader Al Rogers added a shade screen to the pergola for comfort on summer days. He also added additional top beam supports which look wonderful! (June 2016)
DIY round pergola with firepit and shade screen featured on @Remodelaholic
DIY round pergola with swings, firepit and shade screen featured on @Remodelaholic

DIY Pergola with Swings over a Paver Patio

Reader Dee Rowell built this gazebo style pergola over a lovely paved patio.
Tutorial for round pergola with swings and fire pit featured on @Remodelaholic
Tutorial for round pergola with fire pit and swings featured on @Remodelaholic

More ideas to make your backyard a perfect summer retreat:

Build an outdoor pergola around a firepit, including swings, a serving area, and a movie screen - DIY tutorial from Little White House Blog on @Remodelaholic
Remodelaholic is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. Please see our full disclosure here.

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99 Comments

    1. Thank you so much, Seng! We love this space! And you can absolutely customize this project for a smaller area. That’s the best part of DIY and design. You can make it your own!

  1. Well done guys on a beautiful garden feature. I am about to embark on a smaller version and your blog has really helped boost my desire to try it. Thank you. Nikki in England UK

  2. We built this over the weekend and found ourselves short two of the 2×10 planks – the instructions mention using two 2×6 planks for the bar area side supports, but they aren’t listed in the materials list. I didn’t realize at first so we used the 2x10s and need to replace them for the caps.

    At any rate, thanks for the awesome instructions and idea! I will reply here with completed pics but here’s some in progress: https://imgur.com/tGUfPEo,Rsyvq7R,2Ha5Icn

  3. Is your total diameter for the outer ring 24 feet? I tried marking a 24 foot diameter circle and then spreading posts 12 feet apart on my outer ring, but it only gave me 6 total posts and a hexagon shape! Are your swing sides shorter than 12 foot each? Or is your total diameter larger than 24 feet? Thanks,

    ~Confused!

    1. Hi Stephen — thanks for the question! I asked Brett and Lauren and they clarified the measurements, so I’ve added that to the post. But yes, you are correct — for a 24 foot diameter, the posts will be approximately 9 feet apart. For the posts to be spaced 12 feet apart, the diameter will be roughly 30 feet, not 24. Sorry for the confusion! But send us a picture when you are done! https://www.remodelaholic.com/share-brag-post/

  4. I’m trying to mark this in my yard but am struggling! The distance between your 6×6 posts is 12 feet? If so, how can you get eight sides out of a 24 foot diameter octagon? I was only able to get 6 sides unless I shortened the side lengths. Is your total pergola diameter bigger than 24 feet maybe? Thanks!

  5. Stephen,

    Yup we had the same problem. A diameter of 24 feet is definitely not big enough for the 12 foot beams as an octagon.

    We measured the 12 foot radius first and realized we were only getting 6 posts marked. We did another circle with a radius of about 15-16 feet and marked where the posts should be on that. We came up a bit long on the last two so we ended up just making sure that we had _exactly_ the same distance between each post. We were around 11′ and 3-1/2″ between each marking (not including the post size, this was just point to point before drilling).

    This approach does move the true center of the structure a bit but in general it worked fine for us.

    Good luck!

    1. Thank you, Nick! I asked Brett and Lauren and they clarified the measurements, so I’ve added that to the post now. But your changes made it work, and Brett’s updated info reflects that for a 24 foot diameter, the posts will be approximately 9 feet apart. For the posts to be spaced 12 feet apart, the diameter will be roughly 30 feet (like you did), not 24. Sorry for the confusion! But please send us a picture when you are done! https://www.remodelaholic.com/share-brag-post/

  6. This idea is brilliant! I love it. I would suggest a clear roof over top of it so that when/it if rains, you can watch the rain and still stay doing what you’re doing. You could put glass on all sides, maybe even solar panels.

    1. A great suggestion, Heidi! That’s the beauty of DIY, that you can make it into anything you want! 🙂 (Just be careful of the firepit with a roof, of course)

    1. Teresa, we actually purchased them from a local family who sells wooden swings on the side of the road in Sylacauga, Alabama! I think their business name is “Swings N Things”?! If you’re local to the Birmingham area they have a small office building located just off highway 280. You can see tons of swings and wooden pieces from the road. 🙂

  7. I’m trying to print the tutorial, but I only get a couple of pages! Is there a way to print the whole tutorial? Thanks! It’s awesome!!! =)

    1. Sorry, Nancy — we had a small glitch on our end. It’s fixed now so the print preview will pull up correctly for you to print the entire thing. Thanks!

  8. How long should I wait for the concrete to set? Just a general idea. I have several people that are coming to help me and we are looking to do this in a day. I was wondering approximately how long I should wait before starting the top?

    1. We allowed our posts to set overnight, but I would recommend following the specific directions provided by whatever product you choose to use.

      This is directly from the FAQ page on the Quikrete website..

      “After setting a post or pouring a slab with Fast-Setting Concrete, how long must I wait before I can use it?

      At 70 degrees F, the concrete will set in 20-40 minutes, but you should wait about 4 hours before applying heavy loads. In cool weather allow extra time.”

      Good luck on your project!

  9. If you’re planning to project on the screen and have a fire going at the same time, I would suggest that you look into read projection so that the smoke doesn’t interfere with your movie watching!

  10. we really love this idea. am i missing where i can print out the instructions? when i did ‘click to print this tutorial’ only 2 pages printed?

    1. Hi Denise, Apologies, we had a small glitch on our end but it’s fixed now — the full tutorial should pull up when you click print. Let me know if you run into any other problems!

  11. Great looking structure, but there is a design flaw. The first thing an architect or structural engineer sees missing from the design is there is no diagonal bracing. If the vertical post were to lean to the right or left, the entire structure fails in a twisting motion. Diagonal bracing stops this motion. Your counting on the depth of the post footing to stop this action, but it may not. Backyard decks with no diagonal bracing fail for the same reason. Just add them for a safer design. My 2 cents.

  12. I ran into a problem with the angles for both the top support posts and the 2×10 top cap. When you said you can change to the 9′ space between the vertical posts but you didn’t specify the angles for that measurement. When I’m cuting the angles they are different and leaving some boards longer than others I’m no carpenter but I heard from a good one that what makes a good carpenter Kris the ability to hide the flaws: )

    1. Love those little mini swings! They are adorable!!! We’ve recently stained ours and added hooks for our hammock. And we finally bought a nice generator so we don’t have to run extension cords all the time. We’re trying to save up to install gravel because we’re sick of mowing around it.. It’s an ever evolving project for sure! 😉 😉 😉

      Excellent job and thanks for sharing, Nick!

    1. Hey Lauren, that photo didn’t come through — can you email me and I’ll add it to the post? Thank you!!

  13. Does someone tried the oudoor movie screen? I try to figuring out were the projector must be installed to prevent problems with the smoke and the light radiation of the fire pit, as mansion by someone previously. I think that retro projection come with more investment than just a screen or a bord. Is it possible to shoot the image with an angle by a side? If someone have a clue?

    1. Hi, Eric! I really don’t know anything about rear projection so I can’t provide any information about that. Maybe someone with electronic expertise can chime in. We have a mini projector that we ordered from Amazon that works great. We haven’t used it while the fire pit is going!

      1. First, your projector has to be capable of reversing the image if you want to do rear projection, some can’t.

        You also need to have a screen that accepts rear projection, most won’t.

        Third, you also need just as much space behind the screen to shoot the image as you do when your doing front projection. Depending on screen size, that could be a lot of open space.

        Setting the projector on top of a tall ladder, or possibly the cross beam of the frame, may get the image through the smoke and light from the fire pit. Make sure the projector, and all cords, are properly secured.

        You can also buy screens, or screen paint, that can help with the smoke/light issue.

  14. Awesome project! Could you share where you got your plans for the chairs and swings? The curved backs on the chairs is a great detail addition as is the design for the swings! Again my compliments on a job well done!

    1. Hi, Bob! Thank you!

      We don’t have plans for the chairs. My husband built them on the fly. I think there was a similar build plan linked on this post, though! I can also see if I can find some free plans online and post a link.

      We purchased the swings from a local vendor!

  15. This is Amazing, and I plan to make this my next project here in the next couple months. I guess I have two questions:

    1. How firm is the structure when the swing seating is full? I just picture the beams wobbling a bit when all 6 seats are swinging.

    2. Do you think it would be possible to have a bigger removable screen directly across from the bar (the opening) and have the projector on the bar itself?

    1. Hi, Tim!

      No, the beams haven’t sagged at all. They are VERY strong and rated to support a lot more weight than a loaded swing. If the swings were heavy enough to cause the beams to sag, the chains would break before the beams would fail. And yes, there is no reason you couldn’t position a screen wherever you’d like to in the design!

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