A Guide to Outdoor Fire Hearths
Backyards have become an extension of indoor living spaces. In the West, homeowners can be somewhat limited by cold months and even cold evenings, though. So many of them find ways to warm up the outdoors to make them cozy.
A fire hearth is a relatively novel installation, and these fire features can add significantly to your outdoor enjoyment. Read on to see if a fire hearth might be an ideal addition to your backyard.
Outdoor Fire Hearth Basics
An outdoor fire hearth incorporates elements of fireplaces and fire pits with a little retaining wall thrown in. Essentially, a fire hearth is a seating wall. If you have a sloped yard, the wall portion can serve as a retaining wall. Otherwise, you can use the back wall as you’d like. In the center of the bench seating is the warming element.
Typically, the heating element is similar to that found with a fire pit. It has a metal liner or fire bricks in the center of the seating with capstone all around. You can stack firewood into the fire liner, but most homeowners choose gas, either natural or propane, as the fuel source. In that case, the contractor installs a pilot attached to a fire ring. Glass rocks or faux logs cover the ring.
Outdoor Fire Hearth Materials
The same materials go into the construction of a fire hearth that go into the construction of a fireplace. The foundation of the fire hearth is usually a concrete core. The contractors will usually use cinder blocks and, perhaps, standard bricks to create the basic shape of the fire hearth. If the wall portion is meant to be a retaining wall, they may need to reinforce it with rebar and gravel.
You can choose any finish you want for the exterior of the fire hearth. Homeowners commonly choose a veneer, either stone or brick. With veneers, the fabricators create thin slices of the material. The contractors install the veneer by spreading mortar into the foundation surface and slotting in the stones or bricks so they look stacked. They may also grout between the stones.
Your other main options are concrete and adobe. With either finish, the contractors will apply the material and let it set accordingly. Both tend to look more minimalistic, with concrete appearing especially modern.
Outdoor Fire Hearth Design
Your imagination is your limit when it comes to the design of an outdoor fire hearth. Essentially, any seating wall or fireplace design can be modified into a fire hearth.
A good plan to design your fire hearth is to consider the style of your house and yard. You should plan to incorporate materials used in your house and hardscaping into your fire hearth. Likewise, repeat shapes from your house or hardscaping in the fire hearth. For example, if you have any arches in your house, you might add an arch the top of the fire hearth or the fire pit.
Outdoor Fire Hearth Uses
As noted, a fire hearth can also serve as a retaining wall. So, behind the wall, you’ll have an elevated area of land that you can use for any purpose. Landscaping would be ideal. Consider adding plants that will smell pleasant while you enjoy the fire element.
If you don’t need a retaining wall, the wall portion of the fire hearth can be for privacy. You can keep neighbors’ eyes away from your outdoor activities. Conversely, you can use it as a shield for a hot tub behind the wall. You could even put a bench on the back of the wall for the hot tub area.
Fire hearths are typically for more intimate gatherings because you can’t have guests sit all around them as you can with a fire pit. You can instead use it as the centerpiece of an outdoor lounge. If you want to expand its benefits, you could also place additional seating or a dining table nearby.
Talk to Alpine Fireplaces about a custom fire hearth for your backyard.