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Outdoor Fireplaces

Updated on March 29, 2010

When you install an outdoor fireplace there are a few important things you need to remember. Outdoor fireplaces can be fun for families to gather around on a summer evening or even on a pleasant fall day, but there are things to consider for the best outdoor fireplaces experiences. There are different kinds of outdoor fireplaces to choose from as well as a few wood burning fireplace accessories that you need to purchase, safety considerations, and wood choices to make. Outdoor fireplaces are a great addition to any landscaping plan. Your backyard or patio can be a wonderful gathering place in every season with the installation of an outdoor fireplace. If you want to be able to enjoy the outdoors year round then wood burning outdoor fireplaces and gas outdoor fireplaces are good choices.

The first thing you need to keep in mind when making your outdoor fireplaces plans is space. It is recommended that you have your outdoor fireplaces at least ten feet away from anything else. Ten feet is really a minimum, your portable outdoor fireplaces should be set up as far away from your home as possible so that a strong wind would not be able to carry any embers or flames to your home and start a fire there. The safest option is to clear away anything that will burn easily from your outdoor fireplace including grass, bushes and trees. Cut back the branches so that they are not too close and cut the grass immediately around your outdoor fireplace designs. You can lay a layer of sand around the outdoor stone fireplace so that there is no chance of a stray ember starting a fire. Remember to look up when you are clearing your ten-foot radius. You do not want any power cords, tree branches or awnings above your outdoor fireplace where they might get too hot or burned. One exception to this rule are portable fireplaces that are meant to be wall mounted like a Dimplex electric fireplace insert.

Sometimes with outdoor patio fireplaces, it is not possible to avoid having things closer than ten feet. If this is the case, it is imperative that you have fireplace screens and doors. A screen or set of fireplace doors with blower will keep embers and sparks from flying out of the hearth and onto surrounding furniture or guests. You should probably use screens even if your outdoor fireplaces designs allow for a lot of space around the outdoor fireplace. The screen can still protect the people enjoying the fire from being hit with sparks. Many times outdoor fireplaces kits come with a screen. If not, wood burning fireplace tools and accessories are easy to find. No matter how safety conscious you are, accidents can still happen, so it is important to be prepared. Make sure you have a fire extinguisher or a garden hose handy to put out the fire if necessary.

If you are going to have a large outdoor fireplace, then brick outdoor fireplaces are the most common type but stone fireplace construction is also popular. Another stylish choice a combination of material such as stone and tile fireplace surrounds. Make sure that you check with your local municipality or zoning laws to see what kind of brick is permissible. This should always be a first step because you do not want to get your heart set on a certain style for your outdoor fireplace and fireplace mantel and then find out that it is not allowed. There are many resources out there to help you with both the planning of your outdoor fireplace and the actual construction. Outdoor brick and stone fireplaces can be a lovely addition to your backyard. If they are made correctly, they will last for a very long time. Another thing to keep in mind when you are building your fireplace is that you are going to be responsible to the maintenance and upkeep. Do not take on a project that is too big for you to maintain for long. A brick or stone fireplace should be power washed occasionaly to remoce any soot and stains that appear over time.  You can usually find a company who can do power washing for you if you do not have your own machine, like your gutter cleaning service.  The fireplace pictured above is far too large for most homes and is actually maintained by a park association.

One of the last things you will need to think about is what kind of wood you will burn in your outdoor fireplace. Because the fireplace is outdoors, you do not need to be as concerned about smoke as you would be inside, but it is still something to think about. Nobody wants to be choking on fire smoke when they are trying to relax beside their outdoor fireplace. Remember to burn dry wood if possible. If you try to fill your outdoor fireplace with wet wood, you will get a very smoky and unpleasant fire. Try to store your firewood in a dry place to avoid this problem. Some woods are naturally dryer than others are so if you are particularly concerned about smoke you should try burning oak or hickory. Both of these woods are good choices for your outdoor fireplace because they are dry. If you would prefer not to burn wood at all then you can always choose a ventless gas fireplace.


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      Thiago 4 years ago

      We received this item just in time for Thanksgiving. It looks etaxcly as pictured, modern, sleek and actually looks great with our décor. It can heat a room very quickly and that is when it is set on the lower temperature. Our lower level is cold but the Dimplex heater makes our room nice and cozy. Everyone who sees it really likes it including those who had purchased more expensive heaters. My husband and I made a great choice and are very pleased with the results.

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      Ashley 4 years ago

      We have a fireplace that is toltlay surrounded by a rock wall, floor to ceiling and patio door to bedroom wall. It's great as the entire wall heats up after a few hours of using the fireplace and act as a heat radiator for the living room. The rock is native Texas limestone, same as the exterior of the house.References : Texan.

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      Joash 4 years ago

      Dear Susan, I too am a lover of quilts, both old and new. But I think my fariovtes are the antique ones. I have a half wall at the top of my stairs where I place the folded quilts over the wall so they hang down the stairwell. Some I place on top of another so some of each will show. I also fold and place several on a bench in my living room, which is quite appropriate as the bench is made from an antique bed that my daughter used as a child. I love discovering new ways to display & use my quilts. Thanks for the pictures of your quilts. I never tired of seeing quilts!Linda

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      Dan Heston 5 years ago from Tucson, Arizona

      Good hub. Your readers will get a lot from it. You mentioned fireplace construction plans as well. Check us out at for very comprehensive plans. Thanks.

    • lawahe profile image

      lawahe 5 years ago from United States of America

      Well written. I'm linking it to one of my hubs. Hope it brings you some traffic.

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      ElectricFireplace 7 years ago from Florence, AL

      Thanks for the very informative hub on outdoor fireplaces. The great thing about outdoor fireplaces is that they can be used in cooler weather as well as warmer weather. They are definitely a great way to be able to spend more time relaxing in your own yard.