The Heat Is On

By: Jeff Skierka

Ever since caveman days, humans have been fascinated by fire.

While we no longer need fire for survival, the desire to enjoy its warmth and ambience remains as strong as ever.
If the element of fire is something you would like to incorporate into your outside living area, you’ll want to consider the following issues.


Cost. The price of a constructed fire pit can range from $750 up to $6,000, depending on the size, how it is finished, the type of rock used inside, and whether it is going to be gas or wood burning.

Design. A fire pit up to 16 inches tall can serve as a place to sit when it is not in use. If you plan to install an aboveground fire pit, picking a facing that matches materials already on the existing home will give it a look of connection. You can also decide if you want to use material such as lava rock, glass rock, or synthetic logs.

Gas or wood. While a gas fire pit is going to be more expensive than a wood-burning fire pit, not having to worry about things like ashes, burn bans, and smoke makes this a popular option. In my experience, people who have the gas option use it virtually all of the time and the wood option is rarely used at all.


If you are looking for something on a grand scale, an outdoor fireplace may be the answer. The fireplace has always been the centerpiece inside the home, and this holds true for outdoors as well.

Consider the following factors if you are considering this option.

Cost. Outdoor fireplaces can cost $6,000 to $20,000 or more.

Location. Install your fireplace so it is a centerpiece, but don’t allow it to block views to the rest of the yard. However, you might want to site the structure to provide screening from unwanted views.

Design. Think about what you want in regard to size, facing material, hearth, and mantels, and doors.

Gas or wood. As with fire pits, gas tends to be the more convenient option.

Homeowners derive great pleasure from an outdoor fire feature and often use it even more often than their indoor fireplace. I have never met anyone who regretted installing a fire pit or outdoor fireplace.
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