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Most of us will agree: few things are better at bringing people together than a roaring fire. With a fire pit, you can get a nice blaze going easily, wherever you are… and, unlike traditional bonfires, you can enjoy this one without worrying about errant sparks. How? With a fire pit spark screen!
Fire Up, Sparks Down
It’s a familiar sight for most of us: the blaze surges up, and throws a tempest of sparks in every direction. It may be pretty, but it also carries a degree of risk—and not just for your clothes or knickknacks: on dry season, for example, an ember landing on a shrub (either in your backyard or a campground) could very well turn into an all-out conflagration.
Does a spark screen interfere with the fire itself? Not at all: even after you put it in place, your fire will breathe without difficulty, and will also rise through the mesh as high as it feels like—but the burning matter, however small, will remain securely contained.
The Right Fit for your Fire Pit Spark Screen
Fire pits can vary wildly, and the same can be said about spark screens. The first thing to keep in mind when shopping around is size—and in this case, bigger is not always better. At a bare minimum, it is usually recommended to go for a spark screen whose diameter is 1″ above your fire pit’s inner diameter (any smaller and the screen will fall into the pit). If you want to go as big as possible, take the outer diameter as reference.
Height is another detail worthy of consideration, though it is not as critical as the diameter. Important to note, the two will not always correlate: you can find sparks that are of the same diameter but of varying heights. A taller one will allow you to pile more wood into your pit, but it will be overall heavier than a shorter one.
But, are all fire pits circular? No, and neither are spark screens; in case you favor a rectangular or square pit, then your choice of screen will have to reflect this. When measuring the edge, remember: 1″ above inner diameter, or exact outer diameter.
Keeping It In Shape
Your spark screen will be exposed to extremely high temperatures while on the job, and to the elements when not in use. This can lead to rusting in some cases, which might affect its looks (though that will largely depend on personal taste), and could also compromise its integrity down the road. For best results, you should prefer a screen made in stainless steel; failing that, it should at least come with a weatherproof coating. It will help if you happen to have some sort of cover to protect it while it’s in storage—if your fire pit has one and the screen fits inside, for example.
There are certain things that a spark screen may or may not have, and which do not impact its reliability. Some screens, for example, come with ornamental accents that enhance its view and give the flames within a nice dancing effect. A great many will include some sort of tool to lift the screen with (as you may have guessed, it will get very hot while the fire is going); you can always use your poker for this task, too. For additional convenience, some will incorporate a hinged design that allows you to slide part of the screen upwards to give your poker easy access to the logs.
Our Fire Pit Screen Selection
Below is a list of options we have compiled to help you on your search.
1. Solo Stove Stainless Steel Yukon Fire Pit Spark Screen
While made for a specific fire pit by this manufacturer, it is still a good option if yours happens to be 27″ in diameter, and it does provide decent value: made entirely in 304 stainless steel, this one is somewhat unique in that you can lift only the top of the screen in order to poke the logs around, and to this end it comes with two guild sticks so this task is performed without any risk. Furthermore, the grooves at the top provide a resting place for your roasting sticks or your poker itself, so you have such tools at easy reach whenever you feel like using them.
- Top easy to lift entirely, for simpler maintenance of the fire.
- Tools provided make it easier and safer to maneuver the lid out of place and back.
- Dedicated location for guild sticks, poker or roasting sticks to be placed while they are not in use.
- Extremely low clearance, which might make it less suited for larger loads of firewood.
2. Sunnydaze Easy-Opening Fire Pit Spark Screen Cover Accessory
This one is hinged, which provides the convenience of easily gaining access to your firewood, but it also requires additional care when taking measurements, as the diameter on one side (the one that slides open) is 1″ shorter than the other, which should be taken into account so the screen won’t be repeatedly slipping into the pit. For convenience, this one provides 2 handles: one on the side, to move the sliding side up and down, and one at the very top, for lifting the entire screen when the gathering has come to an end. The mesh is 0.7mm steel, with a high-temperature finish.
- Backed by a 1-year warranty straight from manufacturer.
- Generally hailed for being relatively easy to put together.
- Certain areas of the pit are reportedly jagged; caution might be necessary in order to avoid small injuries.
- Requires handling with certain care, as the mesh can bend easily if pressure is applied.
3. Good Directions, Inc. FP-2S Heavy Duty Spark Screen
Available in 3 diameters (24, 37 and 40″), this one is made in 20 gauge alloy steel—which is just shy of 1mm thick—with welded edging, and it is finished with black heat-resistant paint for additional protection. A metal stick is included, for lifting the screen when necessary by the handle at the top. Said handle can be laid flat upon the screen, though this should only be done when the unit is in storage.
Being one of the more affordable options out there, it is still generally met with positive reviews by customers who state that the cover has remained solid and provided reliable service beyond what could be expected for the price.
- A viable alternative for providing cover from sparks when budget is not at its most high.
- Decent range of sizes available.
- Handling it can become complicated if the handle happens to tilt down from vertical position.
- Some issues reported of manufacturer not honoring policy for returns initiated within the specified window.
4. Sunnydaze Fire Pit Spark Screen Cover
As we’ve said it before, not all fire pits are created equal, and if yours happens to be a square type (which enjoys its own popularity), then this option might be the one you need. The design is fairly simple: two beams run between opposite corners to make the screen firmer, and a ring at the top (which does not tilt down) provides grip for lifting the cover; for this, you might need a stick or poker of your own, as there is no tool included with this one. For additional peace of mind, the screen comes with a 1-year warranty issued by the manufacturer.
- Reportedly fits various square fire pits without issue.
- Per manufacturer, unit cannot be used over particularly hot fires, as it could easily warp; this may limit its usability.
- Very low clearance, which might make this a poor alternative for those in the market for something with more height.
5. Good Directions 20″ Small Spark Screen
If you are set on a hinged spark screen, and your fire pit is on the smaller side, then this might be where your search ends: aside from being quite affordable (more than some that are not even hinged, in fact), it is made with some attention to durability, from its alloy steel body to its powder coated finish—which is nothing if not known for its high tolerance to extreme temperatures. As it is hinged, one should keep in mind that the side that can be lifted will be 1″ shorter in diameter than the other side.
In case your fire pit is not the right size, you can still get this spark screen in 25, 30, 37 and 40″ sizes.
- The variety of sizes it offers might simplify acquiring a hinged screen for just about any fire pit, with the convenience this represents.
- Includes tool for safely lifting the screen when using the hinge is not practical.
- Price may skyrocket from one size to another; those with larger fire pits might have to budget extra, or look elsewhere.
For Sparks That Don’t Fly – Our Top Choice Is: Good Directions, Inc. FP-2S Heavy Duty Spark Screen
It may not be fancy, but it is still cost effective: overall consumer impressions point to an item that gets the job done, doesn’t buckle as fast as others might, and does not require the buyer to break bank. For a fairly accessible price, its package includes a tool for safely handling the screen, something that more expensive models won’t always bother with. True, the mobility on the top handle can become an annoyance from time to time, but overall it doesn’t have to be a demerit.