Firepits Versus Fireplaces: The Burning Question

outdoor firepits versus fireplaces

There’s nothing quite like sitting around a fire, which is why people have been doing it for thousands of years. We may have a lot more conveniences than our ancestors, but we still appreciate the comfort that a crackling fire brings. Traditional campfires have received a notable upgrade in recent decades as outdoor fireplaces and firepits have gained in popularity. Both options extend the usability of your outdoor living space into the cooler months, help create ambiance, and can enhance both your property value and your lifestyle. 

In other words, outdoor fire features are fun! 

There are some significant differences between fireplaces and firepits in terms of construction, cost, and the type of experience they provide. Wondering which one is right for you? We’ll help you break it down. 

Firepits 

Outdoor firepits come in both portable and permanent options. By the nature of their design – a central pit surrounded by various styles of seating – they more closely mimic the experience of sitting around a campfire. This helps create a sense of gathering, making them an excellent hangout spot for outdoor entertaining. Firepits have a low profile, meaning they won’t detract from the view. This makes them the perfect option for lakeshores, mountainsides, rolling pastures, or any property with a scenic setting. Firepits are relatively easy to install and are available in many styles. If you’re looking to create a more casual outdoor area that’s conducive to making s’mores, telling stories, or spending time with friends and neighbors on crisp fall evenings, a firepit could be right for you. 

Firepits Versus Fireplaces: Firepits Materials and Design 

Firepits are constructed with two parts: an inner wall made from fireproof material such as firebrick, and an outer wall that’s heat-resistant. The outer wall allows for a variety of material options to suit your lifestyle and landscape design. Natural stone, brick, concrete and stucco are all popular choices. From the homey and natural to clean and modern, there’s a firepit material to fit most aesthetics.  

Additionally, modern firepits can accommodate decorative choices like fire glass, fire beads, and ceramic fire balls to create an even more individualized look. Made to withstand harsh weather conditions and extreme heat without suffering discoloration, these unique and colorful firepit additions add ambiance without emitting any harmful chemicals or smoke, or creating soot or ash. 

Firepits also don’t have to be round. They can be square, rectangular, or even triangular in shape. The custom nature of their construction means that they can be designed to fit your property, hardscape theme and needs. You also don’t need to worry about covers with a professionally installed firepit, as they’re built with a drain to prevent rainwater buildup. 

Things to Consider: 

Permanent firepits with both wood storage and seating can take up a large amount of room, which is something to consider if your outdoor space is limited. Another potential downside to wood-burning firepits is much the same as their camping cousin: you can’t control which way the smoke will blow. However, if wood storage and smoke are concerns, there are several other options, including natural gas. 

Fireplaces

Fireplaces tend to be the focal point of any space, whether indoors or out. Even when a fire isn’t lit, the visual appeal of the structure creates a cozy gathering space that’s perfect for both quiet contemplation with a glass of wine, or hosting a group of family or friends. An outdoor fireplace acts as a visual anchor, lending a touch of elegance to your hardscape. When constructed as part of a pavilion or covered porch, an outdoor fireplace can even be used in inclement weather, expanding your entertaining options. Who wouldn’t love a crackling fire and the sound of falling rain for an intimate gathering? A fireplace also adds value to your home – a benefit if you’re considering selling.  

Firepits Versus Fireplaces: Fireplaces Materials and Design 

Similar to a firepit, fireplaces consist of a two-part structure. The inner walls of the firebox are built using firebricks that can withstand extreme temperatures without cracking. The outer walls of the firebox and chimney can be constructed from a number of materials, including brick, stone, pavers, stucco – or even a combination. The design choices are almost limitless, from elegant herringbone brick to woodsy river rock to the modern-rustic ambiance of stucco. Whatever your style, there is a fireplace design to fit your aesthetic. 

A fireplace can also help create privacy for your patio or hardscaped area. The combination of firebox and chimney acts as a visual wall. If you live in an area where the houses are close together, a fireplace can help block your outdoor living space from the view of neighbors. Unless, of course, you invite them to join you! In that case, the seating area around a fireplace is the perfect spot for cozy conversation. 

Traditional wood fireplaces are always an option, and wood storage can even be built into your fireplace design. If smoke or upkeep is a concern, natural gas and ceramic logs provide an environmentally-friendly alternative. Even if you do choose wood, it’s advisable to install a gas fire starter. They’re a convenient and safe way to get your fire going. 

Things to Consider: 

The main drawbacks to an outdoor fireplace are the matters of cost and construction. There’s a lot more involved in building a fireplace, from design to materials to labor. Like their interior counterparts, outdoor wood-burning fireplaces require a properly designed and functioning chimney to direct the smoke in the right direction. All of these considerations add up to more required skill, more time, and more money than building a firepit. 

Firepits Versus Fireplaces

Whichever you prefer, you can’t go wrong by adding an outdoor fire feature. Both firepits and fireplaces help create a warm and inviting outdoor living space that extends the usability of your yard well into the colder months. If you have more questions regarding firepits versus fireplaces, or think one might be right for your property, call Oasis Landscapes & Irrigation to schedule a consultation.  

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