Outdoor Fireplaces and Fire Pits: A Buying Guide
What could be cozier than sitting around a fire on a cool evening? With an outdoor fireplace or fire pit, you can create a living space in your backyard that feels warm and welcoming. This is one DIY project that’s also fairly easy to tackle, so it’s a great project for homeowners who are looking to give their landscaping an upgrade. Learn more about the types of fire pits and fireplaces and all the info you need for a successful and speedy installation.
Types of Outdoor Fireplaces and Fire Pits
Fireplaces and fire pits for the yard come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and styles. It’s important to check out all your options so you can select the one that fits your needs and your budget the best. Here are the most popular types of outdoor fireplaces and fire pits from which to choose.
- Chimeneas: These are freestanding fire pits that include a smoke stack and an opening in the front; the visual effect is similar to that of a wood-burning stove. Chimeneas are very heavy and aren’t meant to be moved from place to place. However, the stack on top helps to keep smoke out of guests’ eyes as they sit around the fire.
- Portable fire pits: These fire pits typically feature a bowl-like shape that is held up by a stand or legs. Many models also include a lid that can be placed on top. Some larger portable fire pits are designed to be used for cooking food, if desired. While fire bowls are portable, affordable, and easy to use, smoke can get in your eyes depending on wind direction.
- Built-in fire pit: You can also create your own fire pit by building a base out of stone or brick. Designs can be built into the ground or raised up on the sides. In either case, wood is placed inside to build a fire around which guests can gather.
- Outdoor fireplace: An outdoor fireplace is typically a permanent structure resembling an indoor fireplace. Typically made from stone or brick, it often features a front ledge on the bottom and a mantle over the top. If you want a larger outdoor fireplace, you may want to hire professionals instead of attempting a DIY project.
Now that you’ve selected a type of outdoor fire pit or fireplace that you’d like, it’s time to think about which material you’d like it to be made with. The following are some of the most popular options for outdoor fireplaces and fire pits, including some pros and cons to consider:
You can use paver stones to create a fire pit from scratch. The stones are durable and can be arranged in any way you like, so it’s easy to customize the look. In addition, this is a very budget-friendly fire pit and outdoor fireplace material.
Stainless steel is stain- and corrosion-resistant material that holds up well even in harsh climates. It’s also easy to clean. It’s rather heavy, however, so it may not be the best option if you want something portable.
Cast iron is one of the most corrosion-resistant option for a fire pit. It also conducts and radiates heat, so it makes it easy to enjoy your outdoor fire pit even when it’s cold outside. It’s also quite heavy, so plan to keep it in one place most of the time.
This is a low-maintenance material for an outdoor fire pit and one of the more affordable materials available. It doesn’t rust and is rather lightweight, so it’s great for portable models.
Ceramic is a popular material for chimeneas. While somewhat fragile, it weathers well. It’s also heat-resistant, so it doesn’t radiate heat as well as other materials. Ceramic doesn’t get as hot to the touch, which is often a concern for families with kids.
Copper is a great heat conductor, so it really makes for a warm fire with little effort. It’s very durable, resistant to corrosion, and the natural patina that develops makes it uniquely attractive. It requires a bit more upkeep, however, and is among the more expensive fire pit materials available.
There are four main fuel types for outdoor fireplaces and fire pits:
Wood-burning fire pits and fireplaces are easy to use. Wood is affordable and provides the traditional wood smell and smoke of a campfire. You’ll need a place to store wood, however, and you must be very careful about extinguishing the fire properly.
Propane fire pits are easy to operate, but they aren’t portable. You’ll have to purchase the propane, but the cost isn’t too high.
These fire pits are not portable and require a natural gas line to be installed. Once set up, you’ll never run out of fuel.
Gel-fueled fires won’t produce smoke or smells. The clean burn is also easy to control. It doesn’t produce as much heat, however, and the gel is more expensive than other fuel types.
It’s easiest to use an existing patio or deck if you’ll be using a chimenea or building an outdoor fireplace. Portable fire pits and DIY stone fire pits, however, can also be used in the yard. This has more of a rustic feel and creates a camping atmosphere — without actually having to sleep in a tent, of course.
Don’t forget to consider safety issues when choosing the location. Those who want to place their outdoor fireplace or fire pit on wood or grass should get a fireproof mat to place underneath. In addition, you may want to consider getting a spark screen to prevent accidental burns. Many portable fire pits come with a spark screen lid, but you can also buy these separately.
Finally, be sure to place your fire pit or fireplace at a safe distance from trees. You should also avoid building a fire too close to your home or directly under a roof overhang.
Use these tips to create an inviting outdoor space that feels just as cozy as your living room thanks to the warmth from your fire pit or outdoor fireplace.