If you want to update the outdoor area of your home, an outdoor fireplace can be a great starting point for creating an inviting space that allows you to enjoy your home and yard in a whole new way. Having an outdoor fireplace and a furnished patio help make your home feel bigger. Adding a functional living space outside essentially gives you more usable square footage and more enjoyable living space.
Outdoor fireplaces provide a great atmosphere for a romantic evening or for entertaining family and friends. They also help extend the season and the time you can enjoy and fully use your outdoor area by creating a cozy, warm glow on those evenings that would otherwise be a little too chilly to gather outdoors.
Fire pits, fireplaces and chimineas have become more popular in recent years so there are a wide variety of styles available, enough so that it can get confusing. But with a little thought and understanding of them you can easily find just the right one for your needs whether you’re looking for a simple, movable free-standing fire pit or a custom designed stone outdoor fireplace.
Before you get too excited and start researching custom outdoor fireplaces you need to make sure they are allowed in your area. Many condos and townhouses don’t allow them. If you have a neighborhood association be sure to check the covenants to make sure they aren’t any regulations against them before you start planning a new design for your patio. Also check with local municipalities to see what the rules and regulations apply in your city.
Once you’ve verified outdoor fireplaces are allowed in your area there are a few things you want to consider before making your purchase. Do you want one that’s mostly enclosed, or do you want more of an open outdoor fire pit? The proximity of your neighbors is another thing to consider when making this decision. An open fire pit may create drifting smoke for those sitting around it, and for your neighbors, while a chiminea is enclosed and has a shape that directs the smoke up into the air, keeping it away from guests.
Another important decision is whether or not it will be a permanent fixture. Are you more interested in fixed brick fireplaces or would you prefer something that is portable? You may want something that is sturdy and anchored on your patio to help create the patio layout and design like a stone fireplace. Or you may want something that you can move around the patio, like a portable patio fire pit. It all depends on what you prefer, the size of your yard and what is allowed in your area.
If you decide you want one that is fixed, you may want to consider looking at outdoor fireplace kits. An outdoor fireplace kit can make it easier for you, or someone you hire, to install this central design feature. Once set up it can be decorated with brick or stone. The other option is to hire a professional to sketch some outdoor fireplace designs according to your specifications and build a custom fireplace.
You’ll also want to consider the type of fuel you want to use. Some cities have wood burning restrictions so your city regulations may help you decide this. You can find outdoor fireplaces that use wood, gas, electricity or gel fuel. Many people like gas fireplaces because they burn cleaner than wood, but you don’t get the crackle and rustic feel with this option.
Anytime you are dealing with fire be sure to follow basic fire safety. Sometimes people don’t think about this enough when they are outdoors, but there are a variety of things to consider like the wind as well as dry branches, grasses and other debris that can unexpectedly catch on fire. This can be a very dangerous mixture in a residential area.
Materials Used In Outdoor Fireplaces
One other important thing to consider is the material used in the construction of the outdoor fireplace. Some materials are more durable and easy to maintain than others.
Outdoor stone fireplaces are very attractive and they provide that earthy feel that fits well outside. A Stone fireplace is a permanent fixture so if you want something portable you’ll want to look at other options. But if this is what you’re looking for you want use a stone that can stand up to heat, something like limestone or granite; avoid soft stones for this use. Work with a professional to make sure the firebox is made from materials that will last and to construct the fireplace properly.
Cast Aluminum fireplaces are low maintenance and they typically have a long life span. This material shouldn’t crack, warp or rust and it’s also light so it is easy to move.
Cast Iron fireplaces are very durable but they are also very heavy so it won’t be easy to move. Cast iron can rust so you may want to occasionally paint it with a specialized paint that’s made to withstand high temperatures. This will help avoid rusting.
Clay chimineas are very attractive, especially if you’re going for the Southwest look. Clay is often used in chimineas but unfortunately it isn’t very durable. You will need to be more careful with clay outdoor fireplaces, but even then they likely won’t last as long as those made with other materials.
Copper outdoor fireplaces have become popular because copper is also a durable material that should last a while if you keep it protected from the rain and elements. But keep in mind it won’t keep that shinny appearance after using it.
Sheet aluminum outdoor fireplaces have become more popular because they are cheaper than copper, but some people have had problems with the assembly parts on these types of outdoor fire pits.
Sheet Metal outdoor fireplaces are common at outlet stores because they are cheap to produce. Unfortunately this type isn’t long lasting; it has a tendency to warp, melt or rust making it a short term option.
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Outdoor fireplaces and fire pits come in a fun variety of designs allowing you to match your current decor or add a little flair to your outdoor living area. When you find just the right one, it can make a great addition to your home, making it feel more cozy and usable. Beauty and function, what a great combination.