Tips on building an outdoor fireplace or fire pit, including the benefits and cooking capabilities, and advice on where to locate them.
Few features—indoor or outdoor—are as inviting as an open fire. Both traditional fireplaces and fire pits create an intimate gathering area for after-dinner conversation or simply gazing at the stars. They can also have a practical side when they are outfitted with spits, grates, rotisseries, and other equipment for the serious cook. And while cooking may not be as easy as using a grill, the campfire-like experience is enjoyable to many.
Outdoor fireplaces and hearths are constructed just like indoor ones, with the exception that the chimney need not be as prominent. Still, it must be tall enough to have a strong draw. Achieving this can be tricky and is often better left to a professional. Alternatively, kits are available that can be assembled by any competent DIYer.
Fire pits are essentially large holes in the ground that are then surrounded by stone or brick. Constructing one is a simple weekend project (see How to Build an Outdoor Fire Pit & Bench). For ease of use, you can run a gas line to the pit, though—obviously—this is more involved.
Also available are portable fire pits made out of metal. The only major consideration with these is that they must be placed on a surface that is non-flammable, away from any overhangs, trees, or other combustibles.
If you need help installing an outdoor fireplace, please see this free service for finding qualified contractors in your area: Find a Local Brick or Stone Fireplace Installation Contractor.