The popularity of outdoor living is soaring – shown by the recent growth of outdoor room building. A 2018 landscaping survey by Houzz® reveals that half of homeowners spend more time entertaining outside after completing landscaping projects.
Adding a fire pit or outdoor fireplace is a great way to anchor your space to use it year-round, extend your outdoor season, or stay out later in the evening when temps cool down as you stay to connected to people – and the outdoors.
But which one is right for your outdoor living space? Here are five things to consider:
Most important, how do you plan to use it? Entertaining a larger group? Family time? Downtime from life’s busyness? Fire pits – or fire tables – are perfect for that more informal setting with more people. Think of a campfire-like setting for storytelling and catching up with friends. You could also use a gas fire pit to accent your space, such as on top of a retaining wall or around a fountain or waterfall. Fire pits can be permanent to add value to your home or something you can move around based on the wind or sun exposure.
Outdoor fireplaces are ideal for more intimate settings to relax with loved ones, cozy up with a good book or unwind from a hectic day. You can have quiet moments to relax in front of a fireplace vs. engaging in group settings and conversation around a firepit. A fireplace can also divide spaces such as a dining and living area. And, its walled structure can give you more privacy from neighbors, block the wind and provide shade from the sun.
Fire pits can be almost any size and shape, but what’s trending for outdoor living spaces is a fire table with a burner in the middle. Custom models offer you many finishing options (stone, tile, block, stucco) to coordinate with your home’s exterior. Typically, it’s table-height not to hinder conversations or outdoor views, but it can sit lower like a coffee table – or higher like a pub table. You’ll usually find fire pits in the middle of a space, but they can also be an eye-catching accent feature on the perimeter.
A fireplace is larger and taller than a fire pit. It gives you the options of a traditional or modern look, brick or stainless interior, glass media, log style, and stone or brick surrounding the fireplace. You can also choose a fireplace mantel to add your favorite decorative touches. The minimum height for a gas fireplace is around 3' while a wood fireplace requires 10' including the chimney.
Fire pits can be more budget-friendly than an outdoor fireplace. You can buy one from Heat & Glo® Outdoor Lifestyles ranging from a few hundred dollars to $6K, depending on your choice of features and finishing options.
An outdoor fireplace is more spendy than a firepit – from $3K to $24K – which includes a surround of tile, stone or brick and will add a stunning anchor to your outdoor space.
With the open flame of a fire pit, even the slightest breeze can move warmth out of the space. A fire pit also won’t hold the heat as long as a fireplace because the flame is not contained, but that can be good or bad depending on the season, your climate and how much heat you actually want. For wood fire pits, smoke can be a distraction if it’s breezy out.
You can position an outdoor fireplace to block a prevailing wind to reduce heat loss. And because the flame is contained, your logs and brick interior will radiate the heat better – keeping your space warmer. A wood-burning fireplace draws smoke up and out your chimney so it’s not as much a bother.
A wood fire pit deserves the most caution because it won’t contain the sparks. Most people use a screen cover to eliminate the risk. A gas fire pit can include a low-profile, clear wind shield for safety if children are around.
A fireplace contains the flame in the firebox. Doors, a steel grate and/or fire screen keep kids safe from the embers and sparks of a wood-burning fire. And, the framed mesh screen or doors of an outdoor gas fireplace provides extra protection.
LOOK TO HEAT & GLO
A fire pit or outdoor fireplace from our Outdoor Lifestyles collection will wow your family and friends as well as simplify your living. As the industry-leading brand, Heat & Glo has hearth experts who can guide you in creating the outdoor space of your dreams.
Our Courtyard gas fireplace and Castlewood fireplace will transform your patio or deck into a beautiful space. If you want that more conversational setting, our Plaza Fire Pit is a popular choice.
Check out our other blogs on The Fireplace That Will Change the Way You Live Outdoors and How To Maintain Your Outdoor Gas Fireplace. Find a dealer near you to learn more.