Fire features can add functionality, beauty and resale value to your home’s outdoor living space. While most fire features intended for use outside can work for most backyards, choosing the ideal fire feature for your home may optimize the way that you, your family and your guests enjoy it.
In this blog, we compare three common outdoor fire feature options: fireplaces, fire pits and permanent grills.
Outdoor fireplaces look and function much like an indoor fireplace would. Typically, outdoor fireplaces have a chimney stack to allow for proper ventilation, but the design of the hearth and opening depend entirely on your preference. For example, you could have a traditional stone hearth or a sleek and modern gas log display.
When deciding on the design for your fireplace, you can choose between a freestanding or connected structure. A connected structure may stand against one of your home’s exterior walls, perhaps using the same chimney as an indoor fireplace, while a freestanding fireplace could go anywhere in your yard.
Outdoor fireplaces are one of the most traditional options used to incorporate the comfort and beauty of fire to a secondary living space. Fireplaces work beautifully as:
- Desirable features that can make your home look more appealing to prospective buyers
- Gathering points for when you entertain or spend time with your family
- Visual focal points around which to arrange other landscaping elements such as planters and patio furniture
Fireplaces primarily provide heat rather than a space for cooking. Outdoor fireplaces may be powered by wood, gas, electricity or, less commonly, fuel pellets.
Fireplaces typically require more visual and actual space than any other fire feature. For this reason, fireplaces may not work in small or oddly-shaped yards.
Because outdoor fireplaces, especially gas or electric ones, are larger and often more complex than other fire features, they may cost more to install than a fire pit or grill.
Like outdoor fireplaces, fire pits come in a variety of styles. However, fire pits are almost exclusively intended for wood or charcoal fires.
Fire pits can offer the beauty and warmth of a fireplace with the additional benefit of accessible open-flame cooking. Fire pits also offer the following advantages:
- Multiple size options that fit yards of almost any size
- Rustic and traditional ambiance only offered by wood-burning fire features
- Versatile design that can complement any architectural and landscaping style
Fire pits often cost less than fireplaces, but can offer a similar indoor-outdoor living feel.
While fire pits can be both useful and attractive, they may not be appropriate for all regions. Fire pits do nothing to control breezes, so they may not offer the same comfort as a fireplace that inherently creates a wind barrier.
Additionally, some building codes do not allow for wood burning fire features because the flames are not legally considered “controlled.” Fire pits may not be appropriate for households with small children because they have more potential injury risks.
Permanent or stationary grills can bring the joys of cooking to your outdoor living space. Grills can be used as part of a full outdoor kitchen or as the perfect tool for your home’s grill master.
If you primarily want an outdoor fire feature for food preparation, a grill may be your best option. Stationary grills come in just as many varieties as movable grills, so you can decide if you prefer a gas, electric or fuel tablet grill.
These grills provide:
- An integrated cooktop for your entertaining area
- More potential add-ons than portable grills, which can enhance the cooking experience
- The same luxury appeal as other fire features, but with more functionality
Permanent grills can also be paired with brick ovens to increase the range of potential meals prepared in the outdoor kitchen.
Built-in grills generally consist of all the components of a portable grill, but are enclosed within a stone or tile facade. It’s important to choose a high-quality grill because it can be difficult to perform repairs once these permanent grills are in place.
Use the information above to decide which fire feature best complements your lifestyle, needs and outdoor style aesthetic. Keep in mind that your yard may be able to accommodate more than one fire feature, like a grill near your patio door and a fire pit as the center of your outdoor furnishings.
If you have questions about how a particular fire feature will work in your climate, with your existing gas or electric lines or alongside your landscaping, discuss your concerns with a supplier.
Whether you think a fireplace, fire pit or grill is right for your home, you’ll find your perfect fire feature at Alpine Fireplaces. We offer several varieties of these fire features, including gas, wood and other fuel options.