Outdoor Fireplaces & Fire Pits
Why purchase a backyard fireplace or fire pit?
- To improve your home in anticipation of a resale
- To keep yourself & guests warm during chilly & cold weather
- To create an outdoor room in your garden or on your patio or porch
- To add another space to entertain visitors & guests or relax by a roaring fire
- To build a backyard you love - nothing compares to the elegance of a fireplace
- To enhance your outdoor area with a design element that will astonish friends & neighbors
A Definition of Fireplaces & Fire Pits
A fireplace is a chimney with a framed opening, placed either indoors or outdoors, to hold an open fire and funnel smoke upwards. A fire pit is a hollow, typically circular, pit either dug into the ground or placed above ground for the purpose of protecting an open fire from the wind. Both are made from brick, stone, tile, metal or some other fire-proof material. Adding a beautiful architectural element such as a fireplace or fire pit can transform any outdoor area into an outdoor room that will strike awe in family, friends, neighbors and guests. A fireplace can contain many parts and pieces, such as a firebox and chimney, illustrated in the diagram found to the left. When it comes to outdoor fireplaces and fire pits the choices are numerous. When deciding between a fireplace versus a fire pit one should consider the placement and location and if smoke will be a concern. If you wish to relax without smoke occasionally blowing in your face, then a fireplace is the best option. If the goal is an eye-catching centerpiece for an outdoor room that offers the warmth and the calming nature of a flame, then a liquid propane or natural gas fire pit is the solution.
Types & Components
Fireplaces – Fireplaces placed in a backyard under a pergola or on a patio extend your home into your outdoor area, creating another space to relax and entertain guests. Outdoor fireplaces come in a variety of materials including brick, stone and tile.
Portable Fire Pits – A portable fire pit is an economic solution to add fire to your outdoor area. If you plan on moving the fire pit consider the weight before you make a purchase. Portable fire pits are offered in steel, copper, cast iron and other materials.
Custom Fire Pits – More elegant than a portable fire pit, this option creates a centerpiece on a porch, patio or deck that easily lights with a turn of a knob. Easy to use with low maintenance, custom fire pits offer liquid propane or natural gas options.
Fire Glass – Place fire glass inside a custom fire pit or fireplace to create a wonderful glow as the flames flicker. Reflective fire glass adds extra sparkle, while Eco Glass and Fire Beads grants the ability to go green or create a polished look.
A Quick Note on Fireplace Mortar
If the mortar in your chimney is crumbling a repair may be in order. Repairing damaged mortar is called tuckpointing. Damage can be caused by water seeping into cracks and then freezing, the expansion of the ice causing the mortar to crack. You might consider consulting a brick mason, but you could do the repairs yourself. If the mortar inside the firebox is damaged and you're considering doing the repairs yourself, you must use refractory mortar, which can withstand the high temperatures found in a typical fire.
Follow These Steps To Build a Fire:
- Gather tinder (small bits of leaves or bark), kindling (twigs and small branches) and larger fuel, such as logs
- Place the tinder under a small amount of kindling and light with a match or lighter
- Place the logs around the burning kindling in the shape of a log cabin, tepee or pyramid
- Keep adding fuel until the fire has reached your desired size - sit back, relax and enjoy
The History of Fireplaces & Fire Pits
Fire separated early humans from their animal counterparts, and evidence exists across the globe of man-made fires throughout prehistoric times. The first sources of fire were undoubtedly used for cooking and warmth, and many historians theorize this occurred with fire pits built into caves, the Earth or in the center of a dwelling, such as a hut.
The obvious issue with fire pits is the smoke they create, and the need to filter this smoke into areas outside of a cave or dwelling created the need for the chimney. Simple designs for chimneys existed for thousands of years but proved mostly inefficient and sometimes dangerous. In the late 1600’s Prince Rupert, a European noble, lifted the grate in the firebox, thus improving airflow and the efficiency at which wood burned.
The 1700’s witnessed several advances in the design of fire places and chimneys, with Ben Franklin developing a convection chamber for fireplaces that became known as the Franklin Stove. By the late 1700’s Count Rumford, another innovative European noble, had changed the design of fireplaces to offer a taller firebox that allowed a more efficient drawing of the smoke and air up through the chimney, while also producing more radiant heat inside of the building. Rumford’s concept has been filtered into virtually every fireplace design, including our modern outdoor fireplaces.
Types of Fire Glass
Fire Glass - 10 lb Bag - The perfect amount for a small fire pit or add two different colors to a large fire pit for a custom look
Fire Glass - 20 lb Bag - Appropriate for larger fire pits, add a bright fire glass color for enhanced sparkle and shine
Eco Glass - 10 lb Bag - Glass pebbles made from recycled industrial glass so you can go green in your fire pit
Fire Beads - 10 lb Bag - Rounded and smooth, fire beads are the ideal choice if children are present in the home
Questions To Ask Before Purchasing a Fire Pit:
- Do you need a custom fire pit or portable fire pit?
- Did you know some cast iron fire pits can stain your patio after several rains?
- Have you considered how often a portable fire pit will need to be moved and the weight?
- Have you compared the negatives and benefits of natural gas versus liquid propane custom fire pits?
- Have you considered the fire pit material? Aim for durable materials for a longer lasting fire pit that will not easily rust or fade outside in the elements.
Did You Know?Never burn treated wood taken from broken down structures found on your property; the wood has been treated with chemicals that can be damaging to your health if burned. And for a special experience add exotic woods, such as apple wood, cedar or even pine cones, for wonderful aromas.
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