It’s a classic image: a family gathers around a rustic stone fireplace, the flames brightening their faces. Usually it’s a winter scene, with snowflakes drifting down outside as the family huddles together at the hearth. But what if you could move this scene outdoors—and enjoy it year round?
The outdoor stone fireplace is one of a number of “outdoor living” trends taking the home design world by storm, and with good reason. Not only does it offer affordable, natural heating to your outdoor space and an ideal atmosphere for alfresco entertaining, but it also increases the aesthetic and monetary value of your home.
From classic, old-world limestone to sleek and timeless marble, natural stone offers innumerable options for your new custom stone outdoor fireplace. Add in a fireplace hearth stone for a pop of contrasting color or to protect the immediate area. In this post we’ll share some tried-and-true tips for adding this essential element to your backyard oasis.
Fire Pit vs. Fireplace
It’s hard to beat the comfort of warming up beside a campfire after a day of hiking in the woods or swimming at the beach, especially when it includes roasting marshmallows for s’mores. You may even have a fire pit in your yard that you use for this purpose during the summer months. Yet there is one major downside to fire pits: the smoke. All it takes is a stiff breeze to send that smoke directly into your face, instantly causing a coughing fit. Afterward the surrounding area is littered with ash, and your clothes and hair smell strongly of smoke.
An outdoor fireplace mitigates these issues by directing the smoke away from you and your guests and up through a chimney. Additionally, while a fire pit must be kept at a significant distance from your home, a stone fireplace can be positioned almost anywhere in your yard, including as part of an attached patio or pavilion.
Positioning Your Fireplace
The best location for your outdoor stone fireplace depends on a number of factors, including your home’s architectural design, the size and shape of your yard, and your own personal aesthetics. When considering where to position your outdoor stone fireplace, ask yourself a few questions.
Do you envision the fireplace as being an extension of your home or an entirely separate entity? Do you want the fireplace to perform a specific function, such as creating a focal point, blocking wind, or enhancing privacy? While the large size of an outdoor fireplace can be helpful in these ways, it can also become a problem if it obstructs your view of the surrounding natural landscape, so take that into account when positioning your fireplace.
Materials and Design
Designing your own outdoor fireplace can come with a lot of questions. We have answers to many of the most popular questions.
Do you want cast stone or natural stone? You can read our full article on the differences but to keep it simple, we prefer natural stone for its natural beauty - that has never been successfully mimicked by cast stone and the fact that it will last forever - like millenia in some cases.
If you go with natural stone, which variety is best? Obviously all our stone types have already been preselected for their ability to be used in a fireplace application so it really comes down to look and feel. You can never go wrong with a marble fireplace surround. It's literally a timeless look. Specifically - black marble fireplace styles are by far our best sellers followed closely by limestone. The limestone fireplaces provide a really beautiful option in lighter colors and browns and are more affordable than some other stone types. Arguably the most coveted natural stone in the world is Danby marble, so if you're looking for an absolute showstopper consider a Danby fireplace.
How can you protect your stone against all kinds of weather? The short answer is it depend but when you order, let us know it's for an outdoor application and we'll help you choose the right method. Typically, you'll want some sort of dry treat. It's not very expensive and easy to use but helps a ton with more porous stone types.
What is the right mantel size for your fireplace? At Custom Fireplaces, we simplify your project by narrowing it down to the basic elements: selecting your design, customizing your dimensions, and choosing your material. Whether you desire a modest, modern look or a more traditional statement piece, we have everything you need to make it a reality.
What’s the Best Fuel Type?
When it comes to fueling your outdoor fireplace, you have a few different options. Wood is a classic choice, offering a natural look and feel; however, it requires keeping logs on hand and feeding the fire periodically. There is also some additional cleanup involved, such as ash disposal. Natural gas and propane are popular alternatives, though each comes with its own pros and cons. While natural gas is a very affordable option, it does require the installation of a gas line. And while it burns cleaner than propane, it does not get as hot. Propane burns hotter and comes in a tank that’s easy to install and refill, but it does not burn as cleanly as natural gas.
A Note on Local Ordinances
As outdoor fire features have grown in popularity, many local governments have begun to adopt ordinances that restrict the use of backyard recreational fires. So before you invest in a new stone fireplace, be sure to check with your local authorities on what’s safe and legal in your area.
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