Outdoor Fire Pits And Fireplaces

Nothing adds a touch of luxury and warmth to a backyard like a fire pit!  Whether propane or wood burning, these additions offer a focal point for gathering and provide heat on cold nights, making your backyard usable through more of the year.  I always love going to friends parties and seeing that they have a fire pit of some sort set up.  It seems to give everyone a cue to gather round and talk, and as someone who gets cold easily it really helps prevent that!

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There are a number of options to choose from when deciding on a fire pit for your home.  Whether permanent or portable, gas or wood, in-ground or above ground, it can seem like a big decision.  The deciding factors also might be practical, such as how big your budget is and whether or not you want to build a permanent fixture into your backyard.

The History Of The Fire Pit

Apart from warming during nights and cold days, early fireplaces were commonly used within the home as a gathering place and for food preparation.  Nowadays, these structures are more of a luxury than a necessity.  They have improved in design and have become even more customizable to the need of the user.  Some of them are portable and can be used as a focal point for an outdoor living area, entertainment purposes, and barbecue night parties.

Since outdoor fire pits have become very common, this article focuses on their different types, uses, and materials used to make such structures.

Types of Outdoor Fire Pits

Modern fire pits come in many different varieties of sizes, shapes, and types.  These are the most common varieties that you will come across:

Wood Burning Fire Pits

Wood burning fire pits are the most “natural” of all the fire pits, creating a nice smoky smell (sometimes a negative) and giving the most heat.  The crackling sound of burning wood is also very relaxing in and of itself.  Some people enjoy the fact that you have to tend the fire to keep it burning, however this could be a negative to some people.  Unless you have good, dry wood it can become a smoky mess and sometimes even getting the fire started in the first place is difficult.  Wood is also expensive and the cost can add up if you don’t have access to free wood.

Gas Fire Pits

Propane and natural gas fire pits burn propane gas in order to produce the flame.  The benefit of this is that there is relatively little smoke if any, and the fire can be turned on and off at will.  Unfortunately propane doesn’t burn very hot, unless you want to burn a lot of propane, which can get expensive.  However, the ease of use and easy maintenance of propane fire pits makes them more likely to be used and more popular in terms of homeowners.  You also don’t have to deal with awful smoke in case your wood is a little damp.

Gas fire pits also have the added variety of having the fire come out of glass stones, rocks, or faux wood.

Gel Fuel Fire Pits

Gel fuel fire pits are a little less common, but they share the same pros as gas fire pits in that they burn cleanly without much odor or smoke.  The only inconvenience is replacing the gel canisters once in a while.

Fire Pit Construction Types


Permanent fire pits are those that are built into the surrounding landscape and cannot be moved.  They range from simple in-ground stone pits to elaborate patios complete with fire pit, seating, and ornaments.  Depending on your budget, permanent fire pits can be a good DIY project or can be constructed by contractors.  They are typically more expensive to set up than portable fire pits–but not always!

Portable Fire Pits

Ranging from simple metal bowls to hold wood to fancy gas tables, portable fire pits have the advantage of being movable in case you want to restructure your backyard or you are a renter and can’t make anything permanent.  These can range from extremely cheap for simple metal bowls to very expensive for elaborate and large propane and gas fire tables.

Uses of Outdoor Fire Pits

The use of an outdoor fire pit should be obvious!  Gather round with a nice beverage, get warm, and tell stories!

An outdoor fire pit can provide warmth during colder nights and expand the usage of your backyard to nighttime activities.  When it’s normally too cold you can still go in the backyard and hang out!  Fire pits are awesome for parties in this way, enabling people to leave the house and sit outside if they want.

A lot of people love using fire pits to roast marshmallows or toast hotdogs.  Mostly, fire pits are simply used as a relaxing area to gather and have conversation, drink a glass of wine, or read a book.

Where to Put your Outdoor Fire Pit

This is entirely up to you!  However there are a few important thing to bear in mind.  First of all if you use a wood burning fire pit you’ll want to ensure that it’s not super close to any trees or dry brush, as sparks can fly and light fires.  Ensure it’s far enough from the house and any overhangs so as not to cause heat damage.

Gas fire pits should follow the same rules, although the lack of burning embers makes them a little less of a fire hazard.  Just ensure that there are no low umbrellas or branches close enough to start a fire.

Creating a DIY Outdoor Fire Place

Creating your own DIY fire pit is a great idea!  You can make them from all types of materials, from cinder blocks to bricks to stone mason work.  You can make them in-ground or above ground.  Creating a DIY fire pit is much less expensive than buying one in general, and can be a fun project.  All you’ll need is a bit of time and planning!

To construct your own, you’ll need materials such as sand, gravel, a metal grate, pit ring with tabs, and blocks.

In conclusion, outdoor fireplaces are very common across the world, and having your own can be one of the greatest things you can use to improve your backyard experience.