How to Make a Fire Pit Cover with a River Rock Garden Insert

Get rid of the ugly tarp covering your fire pit and make this chic fire pit topper with a river rock garden insert.
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A backyard fire pit brings a warm, cozy glow to chilly evenings, making it the perfect gathering spot for family and friends. Though, when your fire pit's not in use, it's usually covered by a piece of canvas, which can be a real eyesore on your patio or porch. We at Bigger Than The Three of Us created a chic alternative using just a few basic tools and plywood. This fire pit topper, with a faux concrete finish and a succulent rock garden, also doubles as a stunning outdoor coffee table!

Measure the fire pit diameter. Then add 2 to 3 inches to that diameter measurement so that the completed tabletop will hang over the edge of the fire pit.

Attach the circle jig to the router. Find the center of the plywood and set the jig to the diameter of what the completed tabletop will be (the diameter plus 2 to 3 inches for overhang).

Cut the tabletop using the router and jig.

Using a level as a straight-edge and a laser level, draw a line down the center of the tabletop.

On either side of the center line (that was just drawn), use a straight-edge to draw two new lines that run parallel to the center line. Each line should be 2 1/2 inches from the center line.

Decide how big you want your river rock garden to be in center of the tabletop. Connect the two outer parallel lines to create a rectangle the size that you want to make your river rock garden.

Set your router to the thickness of the tabletop and cut the rectangle out.

Grab scrap wood or a piece of plywood (preferably under 1/4-inch thick), and cut it into a rectangle larger than the dimensions of your hollow. This rectangle will attach to the underside of the tabletop to create the insert for your river rock garden. Attach the scrap piece to your tabletop with wood glue.

Also, drive wood screws into the scrap piece with a drill. This will make it extra sturdy.

Flip your tabletop over and make sure that the scrap piece is firmly attached on the underside. Lightly sand around all edges.

Mix your underlayment according to the directions on the package.

Spread the underlayment mixture over the tabletop, including the river rock garden rectangle, with a trowel. Try to get an even amount over the whole tabletop.

Use your finger to spread the underlayment mixture around the edges of the tabletop. Once the edges have been smoothed, come back over the top side of the edges and pat any excess down.

After the underlayment has dried, use a medium grit paper on an orbital sander and sand until the top is smooth.

Then, use a regular painting brush to brush on the sealer over the whole tabletop. Let dry. Reapply another coat after the first coat is dry.

Fill the rectangle in the tabletop with construction adhesive.

Place rocks on top of the glue. Then push gently on the rocks to help secure them to the glue.

Apply construction adhesive to the ends of each succulent and arrange them in the river rock bed.

Let the glue dry and enjoy your new fire pit topper.

About the Author

Ashley Mayes is a blogger and home renovator at Bigger Than The Three Of Us. Her projects have been featured on Good Housekeeping and Apartment Therapy. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in business from Missouri State University.