What’s better than going out with your family on a warm summer evening with graham crackers, marshmallows and a chocolate bar in hand to make a tasty dessert and create lifelong memories?
The addition of a water feature, of course! You can do just that with the fire and water table. I designed this table approximately 12 years ago with no specific project in mind. The table was initially designed to be a functioning outdoor dining table and water feature combination. I was waiting for the right opportunity for this project to come to fruition. About three years later, we started doing custom fire pit installations with a company called Flame Designz based in Denver, Colorado. In a meeting about a custom fire pit, I asked James Dimasi if you could mix a fire element into a water feature. As he described the process, the fire and water table immediately came to mind. James and I then stated collaborating to come up with concepts for this one-of-a-kind water feature.
We were called in mid-project to come up with a solution. We contacted our metal fabricator to create a custom, stainless steel water basin that would house the fire element and pump system, while at the same time allowing for the gas line to enter the feature and create a watertight seal to ensure no leaks. We also had to run the water line from the pump up to a custom weir that would create a water-wall effect. The structure for the feature had already been built without plumbing, so we had to drill into the wall and snake our pipework through it to make the connection from the pump to the custom weir.
This ended up being a beautiful, one-of-a-kind feature that made for an amazing entry piece to the home. After building this project, we had a much better understanding of the difficulties and challenges we would encounter building the fire and water table.
Fire & Water Come Together
Then we came across the perfect project for the fire and water table. A homeowner was looking for a new patio and a standout water feature. I showed the homeowner concepts for the fire water table, and they immediately fell in love with the idea. The original design was to create the table with a granite or poured-concrete top. The homeowner’s style was more rustic, so we found some 100-year-old reclaimed barn wood that fit the bill.
The first challenge was how to create the water basin underneath the patio so that there would be only one basin to collect water from both sides of the table, allowing us to only use one pump to supply water to the table. We also wanted to create a seamless look. We knew that the homeowner wanted Pennsylvania blue flagstone for the patio, so we had to create a trough thin enough so that the flagstone would span the basin. Plus, we had to create a basin strong enough to support the weight of the flagstone for the patio. We did this by digging a trough deep enough for two Eco-Blox to stack on top of each other and set just underneath the flagstone for support, while also holding the underlayment and liner in place. Then our pump vault went directly underneath the spillways from the table. Next, we had to run our gas line for the burner, our low voltage wire for our underwater lights, and the electrical wire for the self-igniter underneath the patio.
The next challenge that we faced was how to create the entry point for the water to flow from the table into the basin through the patio. We did this by cutting a hole in the patio just above the pump vault and inserting a stainless steel ring that was deep enough to keep the road base and prevent any sand from the patio from entering the basin. Then we mortared the ring into place and filled in both rings with black Hawaiian cobblestones to give a contrast from the patio. This created a visual contrast from the patio to reduce a tripping hazard. Then we leveled the table to create an even flow from both ends of the table.
Now we were ready for a test run. Two things that we did not count on were the amount of splash from the table that would get onto the patio, and the fact that the flames would flow along with the water past our metal fireguard, thus singeing the table. We remedied this by extending the metal fireguards down the entire length of the table and reducing the splash by adding splash rings where the water was falling into the basin.
Now the project was complete, and it ran the way we wanted to. We gave the homeowner not only a great water feature but also a focal point for the entire backyard. The family says they eat almost every meal during the summer surrounded by their new outdoor oasis. They have had guests over on multiple occasions, and they never want to leave, because the yard is so relaxing and inviting. Something that the homeowner did not expect was that the table would become their three dogs’ new favorite watering hole.
How Does it Work?
The homeowners say the question that they get asked the most is, where does the flame come from? And how does it work? There is an igniter that sits just above the water surface to ignite the gas bubbles. Just below the water’s surface, there are five ceramic fingers that disperse the gas evenly into bubbles. Then, as the gas bubbles reach the surface, they are ignited into flames. The family says that they get more enjoyment out of the table than they ever could have imagined. Not only does it give them a great outdoor dining experience, but it also brings the family closer together, which is really what living the pond life is all about.
So when you go to create your own fire and water feature, just remember that the only limitation is your imagination. Features that have fire and water elements can range from large custom features to simple spillway bowls with fire incorporated. Art of The Yard is in the process of designing multiple features that incorporate both fire and water elements, from cored spillway rocks as a freestanding feature, to new additions to an existing water feature, to a fire and water table that would allow you to grow your own herbs for dinner right on the table through hydroponics. Art of the Yard’s experience shows that customers are looking more and more for contemporary, one-of-a-kind water features. This can be a great way to expand your business and show off your skills. By being a one-of-a-kind piece of art, pricing and profit margins will increase. So, be creative and allow your water features to come to life.