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An outdoor fire pit or an outdoor fireplace is the perfect way to extend your living space outdoors. Enjoying a cozy fire under the stars will quickly become one of your favorite backyard activities. This comprehensive guide will walk you through everything you need to know about purchasing and installing a fire feature.

Why add an outdoor fire pit or fireplace?

There are many great reasons to add a fire pit or fireplace to your patio, deck, or backyard:

  • Extend outdoor living seasons. An outdoor fire allows you to enjoy your yard comfortably well into the fall and start using it again early in the spring. The warmth takes the chill out of cooler evenings.
  • Create an outdoor gathering spot. A fire pit or fireplace becomes a natural focal point for entertaining and spending time with family and friends. Relax around the fire and enjoy easy conversation.
  • Enhance your backyard ambiance. The crackling sounds and flickering glow of an outdoor fire create a relaxing and inviting atmosphere. It can make your backyard feel like an escape.
  • Cook over an open fire. Many fire pits allow for grilling or cooking over an open wood fire or gas flame. This adds a new dimension to backyard cooking.
  • Add style and visual interest. The options for styles and materials allow you to add an attractive new design feature to your yard that expresses your personality.

Key Considerations for an Outdoor Fire Feature

If a fire pit or fireplace sounds appealing, consider these key factors as you choose the right option:

Fuel Type: Wood, Gas, or Propane?

The fuel type determines what you’ll need in terms of utilities, maintenance, and safety considerations.

  • Wood-burning fireplace: traditional ambiance but more work. Requires a steady supply of firewood.
  • Gas: convenient but needs a natural gas line. It emits heat and flame like a wood fire.
  • Propane: Portable tanks allow flexibility in placement. Adjustable flame height.

Permanent or portable design?

A fixed or movable installation depends on your preferences.

  • Permanent fireplaces are masonry or prefabricated designs built into a patio. Provide stability.
  • Portable fire pits: many freestanding bowls, chimineas, and tabletop styles Flexible placement.

Size and Heating Output

Choose a size and BTU output to accommodate your space and heating needs.

  • Small: tabletops, fire bowls. Up to 50,000 BTUs. For limited space.
  • Medium-large freestanding bowls, chimineas 50-100k BTUs. Warm 4-6 people.
  • Large built-in fireplaces and substantial pits 100k+ BTUs. Heat bigger gatherings.

15 Must-Have Features in an Outdoor Fireplace or Pit

When selecting your fire feature, look for these convenient and useful options:

  1. Steel or cast iron construction: Durable materials withstand weather.
  2. 360-degree design: view the fire from all angles.
  3. Mesh spark screen: contain sparks for safety.
  4. Grate: Allows airflow and lifts wood for better burning.
  5. Log storage keeps wood neat yet handy.
  6. Tabletop design: doubles as a fire table when not lit.
  7. Wheels for mobility: rotate to block wind.
  8. Adjustable flame valve: customize the gas flame height.
  9. Natural gas conversion: switch a propane pit to natural gas.
  10. Ignition switch: starts the gas flame easily.
  11. Fire poker: tend and stoke the fire.
  12. Weatherproof cover: protects the pit when not in use.
  13. Cooking grate: for grilling food over the fire.
  14. Heat-resistant paint or powder coating prevents rusting.
  15. Fire pit accessories: Add glass fire beads, stones, log sets, or grates.
  16. Patio heaters provide warmth for outdoor spaces, extending the comfort of outdoor gatherings during cooler months.

5 Steps to Design and Build the Perfect Fire Feature

Follow this process to create your ideal backyard fire pit or fireplace:

1. Set a budget

Fire features range widely in price. Simple portable fire pits start at under $100. More permanent fireplaces with chimneys can cost over $5,000. Set realistic expectations based on your budget.

2. Explore styles and materials

Browse the many design options to find your perfect fit. Consider materials like brick, natural stone, metal, cast iron, or ceramic. Decide if you want a modern, rustic, or traditional look.

3. Choose the fuel source

Compare the pros and cons of natural gas, propane tanks, or wood-burning fuel. Pick what’s readily available and permitted in your area.

4. Select an Ideal Location

Choose a level spot at least 10 feet from structures, trees, and fences. Check if permits or inspections are required.

5. Install safely

Follow all building codes and manufacturer instructions. Use non-combustible materials under and around the pit. Keep fire extinguishers on hand.

10 Fun Ways to Use Your New Fire Pit or Fireplace

Once your fire feature is installed, enjoy it in these ways:

  • Roast marshmallows or make s’mores over an open wood fire.
  • Cook hotdogs, burgers, and other barbecue favorites while grilling out.
  • Keep warm while spending hours outdoors around the fire pit.
  • Host bonfires and keep the party going outside long into the night.
  • Set a romantic mood for an evening spent stargazing with someone special.
  • Tell scary stories or share childhood memories around the glowing flames.
  • Enjoy your morning coffee outdoors next to a crackling fire.
  • Burn small pieces of wood or use fire-rated logs made for shorter burn times.
  • Display twinkling flames in glass bowls or pots with decorative fire beads.
  • Use a portable fire pit on camping trips, at the beach, or while tailgating.


Adding a fire pit or fireplace is one of the best ways to extend your living space outside while adding comfort, mood, and joy to your backyard experience. With so many styles to choose from, it’s easy to find an option that expresses your design sensibilities. Just be sure to install it properly, following safety codes and recommendations. Then get ready to enjoy the magical glow of a fire for years to come.

The warmth and mesmerizing beauty of a fire will quickly make your new fire pit or fireplace a favorite gathering spot to spend unforgettable moments with the special people in your life.

Key Takeaways:

  • Outdoor fire features extend outdoor living seasons and create a relaxing ambiance.
  • Choose between outdoor wood-burning, propane, or natural gas fuel options.
  • Portable fire pits offer flexibility, while permanent fireplaces provide stability.
  • Look for durable, high-heat materials and options like cooking grates or ignition switches.
  • Proper planning, permits, and installation ensure your fire feature is safe.
  • A fire pit or fireplace becomes a wonderful spot for entertaining or quiet nights under the stars.

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