Outdoor Fire Options + Their Costs
By Axis Fuksman-Kumpa • October 16, 2020
Our design team fields many questions about how to extend the life of your outdoor space into the chilly temps of the fall and winter. A great option that can also be used all year long is a fire pit! Whether you have a portable fire pit in the front driveway for neighbors to gather around or a formal entertaining oasis in the backyard, there are many different types with varying costs and things to consider. Below Tilly has outlined some of the different fire pit options, the price tag associated with them and how to think about the placement of your fire pit location.
Masonry Fire Pits
Classic Fire Pit
This is your classic square or round fire pit that sits above ground. This can be built out of many different materials and is often a focal point of an outdoor area. Budget Range: $200+
Sunken Fire Pit
We love sunken fire pits. Constructing one can be as simple as digging out 12-18” of soil and lining the rim with rocks or excavating further and building support walls and adding a more formal coping stone. Keep in mind you will need some kind of drainage. This can usually be accomplished with 6-12” of gravel to help the water percolate into the soil. However, if your property permits, install a 3-4” steel drain pipe at the bottom of the pit that will carry water away. Budget Range: $500-2,000
Boulder Fire Pit
This can be a DIY project with boulders from your yard for free or built by a professional so the costs can vary greatly! Budget Range: $0+
Outdoor Fire place
Just like the indoor fireplace, but… outdoors! These can also be wood or propane, but are not portable. Make sure to check your local codes for any regulations you need to follow. You also may need a permit in some towns. Budget Range: $1,000-$10,000
Movable Fire Pit
These are great for smaller patios and terraces where spaces need to be flexible to accommodate different kinds of events. However, that’s not the only time we like to specify stand alone fire pits. From a design perspective they can feel much more decorative and visually appealing than an above ground stone structure. These are also great seasonally if there is a better spot in the yard for your fire in the winter vs. summer. Budget Range: $150-$1,500
Chiminea’s resemble a fireplace with an opening in the front, a chimney like structure and then the smoke escaping through a hole in the top. This design allows heat to be maximized by the opening in the front and makes getting smoke in your eyes less likely! Chimineas are not a good option for winter and they should be stored in a garage at that time. Budget Range: $150+
This is a fire that is constructed in the middle of a table and can be visually appealing as well as very functional. They give off great heat and can set a nice mood for an evening. These are usually gas. While you can find them in many different styles, they are often modern or contemporary. Budget Range: $250+
Other Fire Pit Factors to Consider
Wood Burning, Natural Gas & Propane Fire Pits
Wood burning fire pits create a wonderful atmosphere, smell great, and are a nice throwback to camping. However, you’ll need to have wood on hand as well as a dry place to store it. You’ll also have to do ash clean up occasionally.
While natural gas is fairly inexpensive to run, having the line installed in your backyard is another matter. Depending on the location, it can be costly. They are also permanent, so you wouldn’t ever be able to move the fire pit, but it can be a beautiful highlight of your yard. A gas line would need to be run by a licensed plumber to the firepit location.
When it’s too cumbersome to run a gas line or a natural gas hookup just isn’t available you can power your heat source using propane. The trick to making a propane fire pit look great is a clever way to disguise the tank. A propane fire pit will be less messy than wood, but requires installation and the purchase of propane to keep them running.
Location of Your Fire Pit
When selecting a location remember to stay clear of overhangs, roofs, and low hanging branches. If you have a prevailing wind direction try to position so seating will be upwind of the fire pit.
The Size of Your Fire Pit
The size of the pit really depends on how much space you have and how big a fire you want! However 3-4’ is a good rule of thumb – big enough for a good size fire, but small enough for friends to gather.
Who Is Using Your Fire Pit
Think about your family and what makes sense. If you have small children running around then an in-ground fire pit may not be the most practical at this stage in your life.
You can check out other tips on how to winterize your patio in Tilly’s recent interview with 5280!
Photo Credit: Tilly Design
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