I just got a portable fire pit and some new furniture for my back porch. The fire pit is 3' in diameter, and the porch is 10'×10', with a 9' ceiling.

It would be nice to be able to have a small fire with the fire pit sitting at the far edge of the patio without having to move it to the yard every time I'd like to use it. My only concern would be that the heat from it might cause damage to the paint on the ceiling of the patio. Certainly, after time, I might be able to see some residue from the smoke, but as long as it's not causing damage, I'm okay with that.

Would this cause damage to the paint, or should this setup be fine?

back porch sketch

Additional details

  • The patio ceiling is painted with the same exterior paint as the rest of the house.
  • The house was built earlier this year.
  • The area I live in almost always has at least a slight breeze.
  • There are no obstructions near the patio that would block wind.
  • I'm not interested in creating any gigantic bonfires in this fire pit—just a few logs at a time.
  • Opinion? Shouldn't be a problem. Guarantee? Nope: nobody can do that for you. I'd try it, waving your hand (high) over the pit to see how warm it gets close to the ceiling. Nov 16, 2017 at 2:59
  • @DanielGriscom yeah, I was just thinking that I should clarify that I’m not going to send a bill for new paint to whoever told me it would be fine :) but yeah, that sounds like a good way to go about it. Thanks Nov 16, 2017 at 3:01
  • 2
    Sure. Just have a plan on how to extinguish the fire in case it isn't working out. Nov 16, 2017 at 3:04
  • @DanielGriscom Right. Kick it over and stomp on the flames. Jk, sounds good. Nov 16, 2017 at 3:26
  • is this a wood deck or concrete slab or what? Is the porch just two posts and a roof, no screens etc?
    – agentp
    Nov 17, 2017 at 1:01

5 Answers 5


Unless you limit usage to tiny kindling fires, this is a bad plan. Sparks are common when burning wood, and a slight breeze can put them almost anywhere. Logs burn at 600-1000 degrees F or more and hold a lot of heat in case of a tipover, etc.

You will see smoke deposits almost immediately, not "over time". Wood smoke is very dirty. It's also likely that the ceiling will get hot enough to sustain physical damage, especially on calm days.

Then, the notion that wood smoke is somehow less dangerous from a health perspective is simply wrong. It contains many carcinogenic chemicals and other irritants. Having an unvented fire in a confined space and that near your house is simply unwise.

It's almost certainly illegal as well.

  • Smoke deposits is a pretty nice euphemism for creosote. Who wouldn't want their ceiling covered in tar? Chimney fires must be way more exciting when they're right inside the space with you. Nov 19, 2017 at 6:52

The smoke alone is going to choke you out. Even a small fire in this location is a genuine hazard. The overhead roof is way to close. The fire department would go nuts if they know you wanted to do this.


If you want to have a fire pit there, go get yourself a nice propane fire pit.

If you want to have a wood fire there, you'll have to build some type of chimney to direct the heat/smoke away from the ceiling.

If you're really ambitious, you could build an outdoor fireplace. Just make sure the chimney is high enough above the roof, to meet local codes.

enter image description here


If you want to install a (wood) fire pit in an enclosed, semi-outdoor space, you will need to add a vent hood in your design, to make it safe.

vent hood

  • Also your local code inspector might not like it, and neither might your insurance company. I mean, they will absolutely like that you put a hood above it, but they might still tell you "yes but no".
    – sleblanc
    Aug 30, 2019 at 3:29

I’ll take the other side of this discussion.

I think a small fire (in a fire pit) in that location would be fine if you painted the ceiling, roof beams, etc. with intumescent paint.


  • I've been having small, monitored fires with the fire pit just off the edge of the patio, with a water hose on hand since I originally posted this. No issues whatsoever. Jun 3, 2019 at 20:42

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