Outdoor Fireplaces and Fire Pits-How to Choose the Right One

Editor’s Review:

This informative video gives us some pointers on how to choose between outdoor fireplaces and fire pits based on entertaining needs, size, location & budget. The concepts presented apply to custom built as well as portable prefabricated units as well.

Video Transcript:

Hi, I’m Scott Cohen from the Green Scene here for ConcreteNetwork.com.

You know in choosing between a fire pit versus a fireplace you want to take into consideration
whether it’s something you want people to be able to sit around completely, or they’re using it to
anchor space.

Now for this particular project I chose an outdoor fireplace versus a fire pit because I wanted to
anchor the space of this outdoor dining area patio.

This is unique in this particular instance because we chose a pass-through fireplace so it could
also anchor the upper patio area that serves as an outdoor living area, with a seat wall and
cushions so they can enjoy the views from this magnificent property.

You know, the outdoor fireplace here is constructed out of cast concrete, cinder block. It has a
cast concrete mantle. These are precast concrete corbels that goes up to the chimney and the
smoke arrester at the very top.

The interior of this is veneered with firebrick that helps protect the structure from overheating.
Now when you do a pass-through fireplace outdoors you’ll want to use gas logs rather than
actual wood logs.

It’s very difficult to control smoke on a pass-through fireplace outdoors when you can’t control
the breeze or wind. Even the slightest air movement and you’ll be blowing smoke backward and

There are many different types of outdoor fireplaces. It can be as simple as a precast concrete
outdoor fireplace or something that we assemble using a construction kit where the firebox is
preassembled for us, or something more where we’re doing custom construction following
structural engineering and then building a custom Rumford style smokebox which makes it a lot
more complex.

In any case, you can veneer ’em with stone and cast concrete and make just about any project
look custom as this one does.

In this cozy little courtyard I chose a fire pit over a fireplace because I wanted to create a
gathering spot next to this fountain here. Had we chosen a fireplace, we would have had to sit
facing the fireplace. That doesn’t work as well for conversation, especially when we have our
views in this direction.

Choosing between a fire pit and an outdoor fireplace can sometimes be a battle of the sexes
issue. I’m caught in between these many times between husband and wife where the lady of the
house wants and outdoor fireplace and she pictures herself sipping some Chardonnay, planning
her next vacation with her husband, sitting with these romantic nights by the fire. While the
husband is thinking about this fire pit, drinking scotch with his buddies and talking about the
game. So we need to find a place in the middle or make sure that both agree.

On this particular property you can see perhaps the lady of house went out and there’s a romantic
ambiance created by this outdoor fireplace. And you know, even when that fireplace isn’t on, it’s
still a nice place to hang out and relax and read a book.

Here’s another example of a fire feature. Now it’s not quite a fire pit and it’s not a fireplace, but
it’s a fire and water combination. Now this is 8 feet wide and this is all fire with water behind it.
We’ve got two gas lines that are looped to carry the flame up through this crushed glass. This is
all black crushed glass. And behind it is a waterfall of stacked stone. This is what we call a “fill
and spill”. The water fills behind and then gently spills over the stone, and that stone is set at an
angle so that the water cascades all the way down. It’s a great way to deal with a small side yard
or what we call a “bistro patio” to give us an accent with a great view from the house.

When choosing between a fire pit or a fireplace, take into consideration the size of the yard, the
location you’re placing it in, and your budget for the project.

I’m Scott Cohen. Thanks for watching.