Outdoor Fireplaces, Fire Pits, and Fire Bowls

By Joyanna Laughlin, Originally Published in Houseplans.com

This outdoor room includes an outdoor fireplace along with a barbecue. Plan 132-221

Outdoor fireplaces, fire pits and fire bowls are hot this summer! According to Portland, Oregon-based Architect Risa Boyer Leritz, an outdoor fireplace or fire bowl is one of the top five ways to add style to your outdoor room. And whatever your style, from traditional to modern, there are beautiful and affordable options available.

Outdoor Fireplaces and Fire Pits
There are numerous outdoor fireplace options available. Prefabricated fireplaces, made of reinforced concrete that burn propane or natural gas cost between $1,500 and $9,000. Modular fireplace kits that can be assembled cost between $2,000 and $7,000. Fire pit kits can range from around $300 to around $5,000. And a custom-built outdoor wood-burning fireplace can cost you between $8,000 and $20,000.

Fire Bowls, Fire Tables and Chimineas
When it comes to fire bowls and chimineas, there are also many choices. Fire bowls are made of copper, cast iron, steel, concrete or bronze and usually have legs and a mesh cover. Some are good for grilling and others aren’t. Fire tables, which are literally tables with a fire bowl in the center, are also an option. Costs range anywhere from around $100 to $200 for a very simple bowl to more than $11,000 for a multiple-bowl set, and fire tables can range from around $500 to $5,000. Chimineas, based on a Mexican design, are usually made of terra cotta or metal and cost between $100 and $500.

Fuel It Up
Outdoor fireplaces, fire pits and fire bowls are fueled by wood, natural gas, propane, or gel fuels. It’s important to consider which fuel you want to use because not all fireplaces or fire bowls are set up to burn all fuels. Plus, there is an environmental impact to creating a fire outdoors. Every type of flame emits particulates and gases, and these affect both the quality of the air and people’s health. Keep this in mind when making your decisions.

Outdoor Fire Dos and Don’ts
These 11 tips can help you and your family to enjoy outdoor fires safely this season.
1. Cities and states are developing regulations regarding the use of backyard fireplaces, fire pits and fire bowls and completely banning them in some areas. Make sure to comply with local regulations.
2. Disclosing an outdoor fireplace or fire bowl could be a requirement of your homeowner’s insurance policy. Find out the possible impact to your policy before you buy one.
3. Clear away any flammable brush or foliage from around your outdoor fire area. While clearing brush for 6 ft. in all directions is a general guideline, find out what the rules are in your area.
4. Check the wind direction before you light a fire, especially if you’re burning wood because flying sparks can easily start a fire you don’t want.5. Make sure that your fire bowl or fire pit is designed for this use. Some materials can shatter or explode when heated.
6. Once your fire is lit, place a fire screen over it to help keep sparks in. And don’t burn pressure-treated wood—it emits toxic chemicals.
7. Never leave your outdoor fire unattended, and keep appropriate firefighting tools, such as a bucket of sand, a garden hose or a fire extinguisher nearby.
8. Keep children and pets safe at all times when they are around the fire.
9. Don’t wear flammable clothing, loose-fitting clothing or loose, long hair around an outdoor fire.
10. Don’t use gasoline or lighter fluid to light or relight the fire. And don’t add gel fuel to an already burning fire bowl.
11. Dispose of ashes safely. Do not put fire ashes in a plastic trashcan in the garage. This can cause a house fire.
Now that you know the dos and don’ts, get ready to enjoy sitting next to a crackling fire with friends or toasting s’mores with the kids under the stars.

07/01/2014