Tips for Creating an Outdoor Fireplace

One of the best ways to improve the value and comfort of your backyard is to build an outdoor fireplace, a space where family and friends can gather all seasons of the year. Before upgrading your home with this great addition, there are many things to consider. Read on for the most important tips for creating an outdoor fireplace. 

Location of Your Outdoor Fireplace 

The successful implementation of any new home improvement requires thorough planning. In this case, the first thing to consider is the location of where you intend to put your outdoor fireplace. Think about where would be the most practical, such as near the kitchen if you intend to double the fireplace as a BBQ, and where you’ll have the best view. The size of the space you decide to locate the fireplace will directly influence the size of the fireplace itself, as well as any sitting space, so plan carefully before you begin! 

At The Rock Garden of Fort Collins, we recommend taking measurements in advance and even marking out a circle where the fireplace would be with string to get some initial visual clarity. 

DIY vs. Pre-Made Stone Fireplace

Planning continues regarding whether you would prefer to purchase a pre-made fireplace kit or build one of your very own. 

Store-bought, pre-made fireplace kits are often quick and easy to install, which is convenient if you want to get the job done right away. The downside is that these kits usually lack complete customization if you were to do it all by yourself, potentially creating aesthetic and sizing difficulties. 

DIY stone fireplaces are, of course, completely customizable to your every wish from size to color and to type of materials used. This route will require more time than a pre-made fireplace and is more challenging, especially if you don’t have the experience or know where to start. 

To get some inspiration, check out our Photo Gallery or take a look at our Fire Features page.

Local Codes, Permits, and Restrictions 

It is of the utmost importance to check with your local permitting office to discuss any codes and restrictions for creating an outdoor fireplace. We recommend you do this before buying any materials or starting any work. You may find that you need a building permit, that air quality and fire danger control prevent wood-burning fires, or that certain areas of your backyard are not suitable for digging. 

Do note that it is required by law to call 811 (or visit before digging or excavating your property. The local utility company will visit your home and will mark any underground piping or wiring so that you won’t damage them when building the fireplace. 

Safety and Precautions

In relation to the above, it is smart to be aware of safety precautions when building and using an outdoor fireplace. 

  • Building a stone fireplace can be dangerous if digging before contacting 811. Striking a wire is hazardous towards electrocution and starting unintended fires. Furthermore, using heavy stone in the construction of the fireplace can be dangerous due to the weight – it’s smart not to build it alone and you may consider hiring a professional hand. 
  • Fire from your fireplace is obviously hazardous as well. Keep children and pets away from the fireplace and keep a hose or bucket of water nearby just in case the fire escapes to places it shouldn’t be. 
  • When starting a fire, avoid using flammable liquids as they are dangerous and hard to control accurately, and ensure that the surrounding area is clear of flammable materials. 

Wood vs. Gas Fireplace

Outdoor stone fireplaces work great for both wood and gas-burning fires. 

An outdoor gas fireplace is convenient as it allows one to start a fire at the push of a button or twist of a knob. On the other hand, the farther away your fireplace is from your home, the longer the gas line required, which adds to the cost. Gas can also be dangerous if there ever is a gas leak. 

Wood-burning fireplaces are the least expensive option compared to gas-supplied alternatives and provide a classic, rustic feel and smell. They are harder to start and require dry wood and tinder to work properly; but humans have been making them for thousands of years, so don’t be too intimidated! 

Contact the Experts

Thinking of a beautiful new stone fireplace for your backyard but don’t know where to start? Looking for high-quality, natural stone and stone veneer to use for your outdoor fireplace? Contact the experts at the Rock Garden today to get all of your questions answered! 

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