How to Choose the Right Type of Outdoor Fireplace for Your Home

June 28, 2024 6:08 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

An outdoor fireplace can transform your backyard into a cozy retreat, extending your living space and providing warmth and ambiance for gatherings with family and friends. Whether you’re considering a traditional wood-burning fireplace or a modern gas-powered one, selecting the right type involves considering various factors to ensure it complements your home’s style and meets your functional needs. This guide will walk you through the key considerations when choosing an outdoor fireplace.

Factors to Consider

1. Fuel Type

The first decision you’ll need to make is the type of fuel you prefer for your outdoor fireplace. The two primary options are:

  • Wood-Burning Fireplaces: These offer a classic, rustic feel with crackling sounds and the aroma of burning wood. They require a steady supply of firewood and regular cleaning of ashes.
  • Gas-Powered Fireplaces: These are convenient and easy to use, typically ignited with a switch or remote control. They provide instant heat and flame control but require a gas line connection and occasional maintenance.

Your choice between these will depend on your preference for ambiance, convenience, and the availability of utilities in your outdoor space.

2. Design and Style

Outdoor fireplaces come in various designs, ranging from traditional to contemporary. Consider the architectural style of your home and outdoor space when choosing the design:

  • Traditional: Featuring stone or brick construction, often with a chimney, these fireplaces blend well with classic and rustic home styles.
  • Modern: Sleek and minimalist, these fireplaces often use materials like stainless steel, concrete, or ceramic, complementing contemporary architecture.
  • Portable or Fire Pit: If flexibility is important, portable fire pits or chimineas can be moved around the patio or backyard as needed.

Select a design that enhances your outdoor aesthetics while fitting seamlessly with your home’s overall look.

3. Size and Placement

Determine the optimal size of the fireplace based on your outdoor space and seating arrangements. Consider the following:

  • Large Gathering Areas: A bigger fireplace or fire pit may be suitable for larger gatherings, providing ample warmth and a focal point.
  • Small Patios: Opt for a smaller, compact fireplace that doesn’t overwhelm the space but still offers warmth and ambiance.

Additionally, think about the placement of the fireplace in your outdoor area. It should be positioned to maximize heat distribution and ensure safety from sparks.

4. Heat Output and Efficiency

Depending on your climate and intended use, consider the heat output and efficiency of the fireplace:

  • Heat Output: Wood-burning fireplaces generally provide more radiant heat, whereas gas fireplaces offer consistent heat output.
  • Efficiency: Gas fireplaces are often more efficient in terms of heat production and fuel use compared to wood-burning ones.

Factor in how often you’ll use the fireplace and the desired level of heat when making your decision.

5. Local Regulations and Safety

Before installing an outdoor fireplace, check local regulations and obtain any necessary permits. Safety should always be a priority:

  • Clearance: Ensure proper clearance from structures, trees, and combustible materials.
  • Ventilation: Adequate ventilation is crucial, especially for wood-burning fireplaces, to prevent smoke accumulation.

Follow manufacturer guidelines and local codes to ensure safe installation and operation of your outdoor fireplace.

6. Maintenance Requirements

Consider the maintenance tasks associated with the type of fireplace you choose:

  • Wood-Burning: Requires regular cleaning of ashes and chimney inspections.
  • Gas-Powered: Periodic checks for gas leaks and ensuring the ignition system is in good condition.

Factor in the time and effort you’re willing to invest in maintaining your outdoor fireplace.


Choosing the right outdoor fireplace involves balancing aesthetic preferences, functional needs, and practical considerations like fuel type and maintenance requirements. Whether you opt for the rustic charm of a wood-burning fireplace or the convenience of a gas-powered model, your decision should enhance your outdoor living space while providing warmth and ambiance for memorable gatherings.

Need Fireplace Professionals in Wausau, WI?

Since 1949, we have been building, repairing, and renovating fireplaces all across Wisconsin for both commercial and residential locations. Our showroom offers a wide variety of fireplaces including accessories, fire pits, fire tables, and pellet style stoves. We even do stonework, chimneys, and mantles! With our full-service chimney sweep service, we can keep your fireplace prepared and safe. Marcell’s Specialties Inc. is available for either indoor or outdoor work, with the best equipment available. Give us a call or visit our showroom to have a member of our staff help you pick out the perfect piece for your home! We can even create a custom design based on your specifications!

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