Fireplaces & Firepits

Outdoor Fireplaces & Fire Pits

Sitting next to the fire pit is warm and cozy. It is a place where you can hang out with your family and friends. It is a place to make marshmallows and tell scary stories. Transblue can build a customized fire pit or fireplace for your home, so you can enjoy the fire and its warmness.

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Outdoor space should be inviting for people and there are many ways to achieve that. One of the ways to add some… fire! Outdoor fireplaces and firepits are great examples of the features that can provide inviting place to spend evenings, even in colder seasons. According to the American Society of Landscape Architects, fire pits, or outdoor fireplaces, are the No. 1 requested design feature today and this is understandable. Firstly, let’s talk about fireplaces

Outdoor Fireplaces

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Adding a fireplace to your backyard is a project that requires a lot of planning for successful results.

Location – is very important. The fireplace should be easily accessible from the house, patio or a swimming pool. Family and guests will automatically gravitate to the fireplace for warmth after an evening swim or cold drinks.

Function - an outdoor fireplace will immediately become a focal point in your outdoor space, so you should think about fireplace surrounding. Do you want to have a table next to it, so during the late-night dinners it won’t be cold and you will have some light (you can add pizza oven to it!)? Or maybe you want so spend time around fireplace itself, so then you need some comfortable sittings around, so you can lay back, look at the fire and just talk.

Design – outdoor fireplace is typically always a permanent structure with firebox and chimney. Share, size and materials vary widely. However, some standards need to be met. For example, firebox must be made from fireproof materials. Firebox opening must be big enough to put the wood inside safely. The exterior is normally covered in brick, concrete or stone. For decorative purposes you can add features like mantle, decorative tiles, wrought iron, etc. You even can add a TV!

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Size – depending on your family size (or how many people normally visit your place), you should decide on the size of the fireplace. For the small group of people (up to 3), you can build a small fireplace, about 3-feet wide, 2-feet deep and 4-feet tall. However, if you need a fireplace for 4-6 people, you should think about larger fireplace, with extended hearth. This type of fireplace can get up to 15-feet wide, 4-feet deep and 15-feet tall.

Outdoor fireplace materials – fireplace can be made with many different types of materials, like brick, stacked stone, river rock, flagstone, fieldstone, limestone, stucco and concrete. What are the differences?

  • Brick gives a traditional look and timeless appeal. Brick veneer is affordable and easy to work with. There are different colors and textures that you can get with this material.
  • Stone looks great, but is more expensive. Stone cladding looks and feel like real stone, but it is not as expensive as real stone, so it is a good alternative.
  • River rock and flagstone gives a choice of interesting color variation and texture.
  • Concrete offers a modern look that can blend with natural landscape. It is cheaper and faster to build than stone fireplace.
  • Stucco is the least expensive material with comes with variety colors and textures. It is great for a classic southwestern look.

Fuel options – fireplace can be wood burning, gas or propane-fueled. Wood burning and propane-fueled fireplaces are typically free-standing and don’t require utility connections. A wood burning fireplace is cheaper to operate then a gas fireplace and puts out more heat. However, wood burning fireplace requires a chimney that is large enough to provide a good draft to let fire burn correctly. A gas outdoor fireplace only requires proper venting. Since a gas outdoor fireplace does not require a chimney it will cut down some of the expenses. A gas fireplace needs a gas line, so it is a wise choice to build it close to the house. If gas fireplace will be too far from the house, you might need to check with a local gas provider to check the location and make sure there is no problems and/or restrictions with a new gas line.

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Safety – to be safe, your fireplace must have a proper ventilation and protection from fire sparks, so nothing around can catch in fire. It is a good idea to have fire extinguisher around. You should never build your fireplace under a wall or roof line, which can block airways. If you want your fireplace to be attached to the house, you need to make sure that it is properly vented, so smoke won’t enter the house.

Storage and drainage – your outdoor fireplace should have some storage for wood or propane. It can be built-in or located nearby. If you are planning to use your outdoor fireplace to cook, you need to think about cooking area and cleaning supplies storage. Proper drainage is essential, so water can drain out and this will prevent fireplace from a damage. If you live in the state with cold and snowy winter, you need to make sure that your fireplace is protected from snow or ice damage.

Building and regulations – wood burning fireplaces create a lot of smoke, thus building codes require that the chimney height must be two feet taller than adjacent structures (house, patio, garage, etc.). Flue and chimney’s size has to be calculated to make sure the smoke vents properly upward the chimney and downdraft does not occur. Gas fireplace do not require a chimney, but they require a vent pipe and a gas line, which has to be trenched and piped.

Before building anything on your property you always need to check fire codes and see if you need a permit. There are always might be some restriction specific to your state.

Fire pits

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Fire pit might be more convenient to build and sit around, than outdoor fireplaces. You don’t need chimney, so it is a much smaller construction. Fire pits can be in different shapes, sizes and materials. Depending on these factors, price varies a lot. Fire pit can be as cheap as $150, if you will make it on your own or buy small portable fire pit. However, with fancier materials, shape and sittings added price can jump to a few thousands.

Here are few things you should think about, if you plan to get a fire pit:

Permanent or Portable?

If you have a big yard and want to create a focal point, with patio and sittings, you probably need a sturdy, built in firepit. They usually built from stone. However, if you are planning to move your firepit around, and/or you have a very small backyard, portable fire pit is your best choice. They can offer many different and beautiful options to choose from. Regardless of the fire pit type, you always want to pick good quality materials, which will last with fire heat going on and off.

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Where is the right location?

Most likely you don’t want your fire pit to be too far from the house, however you need to check city and community regulations first. It is common rule to have your fire pit at least 10 feet away from your house and/or neighbor’s yard. Some fire pits don’t require permits, if they satisfy this requirement, but some might require inspection and permit anyway. Communities in very dry and hot places, like Denver, ban open fires altogether.

Next thing to consider is what your firepit will be set on. It is the best to put your portable fire pit on a natural surface, like stone, gravel, concrete or brick. Don’t forget that burning wood is a messy business, because ashes and black murky sludge can seep through the drainage holes during the rain. It is a good idea to create a bed of sand or gravel beneath your fire pit, so the water can drain freely.

Fuel Options

There are few options for the fuel: wood, gas and even gel. Real wood will give you feel, sound and smell of the nature, which is very pleasant. However, it can be messy, and requires steady supply of wood for your fire pit. You also need to make sure that fire has no chance of spreading, so patio or weed-free gravel around wood-burning fire pit is recommended.

Gas fire pits don’t provide as much heat, but are more convenient, clean and some of them can be even powered with a remote control. They also can be installed on the porches with roofs, but gas-burning fire pit is more expensive to install.

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Style

Fire pit is a focal point of your yard, so you need to make sure that the design of it blends well with your landscape style. In general, there are thousands of different options to choose from: modern, rustic, stone, metal, with or without lids.

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