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How to Select an Outdoor Fireplace for Your Backyard

Outdoor Fireplace
Finding the perfect outdoor fireplace is part science, part art, and part personal preference. If you want a fireplace for your backyard, follow these steps to find the right one for your space.

Step 1: Choose the Firebox Shape

Start by selecting the shape for your fireplace's firebox, which is where the fire itself is contained. Most people are accustomed to rectangular fireboxes because that's what most indoor fireplaces have. However, since outdoor fireplaces don't have to sit against a wall, you don't have to stay with the standard rectangle for your outdoor firebox shape.

While you can find lots of rectangular outdoor fireboxes, you can also find ones shaped like semi-circles, circles, ovals, and hexagons. This may be a good opportunity to branch out from the standard shape and select something a little more unique.

Step 2: Select the Chimney

Once you have a firebox shape in mind, you can select a chimney that matches. Chimneys come in different shapes and heights, and you're free to get whatever one you personally think looks best with the firebox shape already chosen.

Step 3: Pick a Material

While fireboxes and chimneys must be constructed from fireproof substances, a lot of different materials fall under this category. You'll find outdoor fireplaces made of:
  • Brick, which has a timeless appearance and is affordable
  • Stone, which has a natural look but can be expensive
  • Concrete, which has a modern feel and requires less time to install
  • Stucco, which comes in many colors and is very inexpensive
The fireplace will serve as an anchor for your outdoor entertaining area, so pick the material that best matches the atmosphere you're going for. If you want to feel like you're in nature, stone may be a great choice. If you want a cultivated garden nearby, the classic look of brick might be best.

Step 4: Determine the Size

How large your fireplace should be depends on how much room is in your backyard and how many people you plan on entertaining.

If your yard is small, limit yourself to a smaller fireplace that won't overpower the space or take up too much room. Even if you hope to host large parties, stick with a smaller unit so that people still have room to enjoy the fireplace. If space isn't limited, you're free to look at small, medium, and large fireplaces.

Assuming that you have enough space for any size fireplace, select whatever size will afford the right amount of room for people to sit around. This will be a smaller model if you expect to mostly have intimate gatherings with just a few people. If a whole gaggle of friends or relatives will be gathering, you'll need something larger that gives off more heat and goes with a larger patio.

Step 5: Consider the Fuel Source

The most suitable fuel source will be determined by the location of your fireplace and how much effort you want to put into making a fire. You can choose from three different fuel sources:
  • Natural Gas
  • Propane
  • Wood
A natural gas fireplace requires little effort, but it must be connected to a gas line. This usually requires keeping the fireplace close to your house.

Propane fireplaces also are easy to use, and they can be placed anywhere since propane can be delivered by truck. You'll have to install a propane tank nearby, though, and it can be challenging to hide the tank from view.

Wood fireplaces can be placed anywhere and are the most traditional choice. To use a wood fireplace, however, you'll need to build and maintain a fire.

For help finding the right fireplace for your backyard, check out the inventory of outdoor fireplaces that Midwest Fireplace offers.