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Fire Pit or Fireplace: 4 Questions to Ask When Making a Decision

Fire Pit or Fireplace: 4 Questions to Ask When Making a Decision

Nov 02 2015

Fire pits and fireplaces are great backyard amenities that allow you to enjoy your outdoor space long into the fall season. Each of these fixtures will enhance your backyard area, but which one will go best with your home? Before you decide between a fire pit and outdoor fireplace, make sure you ask yourself a few important questions:

1. Is your property windy?
When you're sitting around a fire, it seems like the wind always chooses one person to blow smoke at the whole night. A little bit of smokiness is nothing to worry about  - it actually enhances the setting and generates those warm woody scents. So, if you like a fully open, crackling fire on a cool night, and you don't live in a blustery region, consider a fire pit. However, if you live in an area that is particularly windy, a strong gust could whip embers out of your pit and onto flammable objects.

"Fire pits are better for large gatherings."

An outdoor fireplace is better for these breezy settings because the fire is more contained. The walls of the structure will protect embers and ash from probing winds while you enjoy the warmth emanating from the hearth.

2. How many guests do you want to accommodate?
Outdoor fire pits and fireplaces are wonderful heat sources during cold fall evenings. However, you can comfortably fit more people around a fire pit than you can a fireplace.

Hearths are great for creating cozy outdoor living room spaces, but they limit the gathering area to one side of the fireplace. This means you can comfortably have five or so guests around the fire. If you like having close friends over in an intimate setting, a fireplace is your best option.

Fire pits are more suitable for large gatherings of people. Since these structures are flat on top, guests can surround the fixture on all sides, which makes it easier to get close to the fire for warmth. If you enjoy hosting events at your place, the fire pit might be a better option for you.

3. What mood do you want to create?
Outdoor structures are all about the atmosphere and setting. If you're interested in creating a specific ambiance in your backyard space, you need to choose an amenity that will match that mood. A fireplace gives the impression of intimacy because it accommodates fewer people and tends to create an outdoor living room feel. This cozy space is perfect for a quiet night drinking cocoa with a friend or snuggling up with your partner on a cool evening.

A fire pit produces a more open environment that's lively and inviting. If you like the camaraderie of a campfire, you'll love a fire pit. Invite people over for a fun night of roasting marshmallows and sharing stories around this charming fixture.

4. What are you allowed to install?
Some locations require homeowners to obtain a permit before installing a fire pit or fireplace. This is mostly for safety reasons, and an inspector will come to your property to make sure you have enough space for the amenity. Property lines are another aspect of construction an inspector will need to look over. You wouldn't want to accidentally start building your structure and then realize you needed to start 5 more feet to the left. Getting an inspection and following local laws is a necessary precaution that will save you a lot of time and trouble in the future. 

Once the inspection is all figured out and you've answered all of the questions above, you'll be ready to set up your new fire pit or fireplace!

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