Outdoor Fireplace Plans — a beginner's guide
Outdoor fireplaces are steadily increasing in popularity. If you are planning for an outdoor fireplace, you are certainly not alone — but you do want your fireplace plans to suit your individual needs, your personal taste, and to ultimately complement your home.
The first step in your plan is to identify the perfect area in which to locate your outdoor fireplace. It is imperative that the placement of your fireplace does not represent a safety hazard to your home or that of your neighbors.
It should be located in an area that offers ease of use. This addition will provide significant enhancement to your outdoor living space, so plan accordingly. If you presently have a pool, pond, patio, or deck, the fireplace's relative proximity to these amenities is of major importance. It is always wise to consult local building codes to assure compliance as well as convenience is adhered to in your planning.
Once you have selected the perfect place for your new fireplace, the next step is to determine its size. Available space and budget will contribute largely to this decision. A fire pit, the most basic form of fireplace, will accommodate even the most limited of spaces and budgets. Essentially, all that’s required is to dig a hole, and build up the sides with stones to to contain the fire.
Plans for larger fireplaces, however, become much more complicated and involve masonry and steel. Large outdoor fireplaces become a focal point for the yard and therefore the planning for them should be approached with considerable deliberation and great care.
Building an outdoor fireplace can be expensive. And, obviously, the bigger the fireplace the bigger the price tag is a good rule of thumb to keep in mind. Masonry is not cheap, and neither is the labor often required to assemble it. Another key consideration before constructing a large masonry fireplace (a very permanent structure) is the tattoo principle: Be sure it’s exactly what you want before you get it, because getting it’s a lot easier than having it removed.
Once you have determined the exact space and approximate size for your outdoor fireplace it is time to select a shape Most outdoor fireplace are rectangular, but you can also plan for a square, round, or oval fireplace. Next, take precise measurements to determine the exact dimensions of the fireplace, which will allow you to determine the materials that will be required.
At this point fuel selection must be determined. This is another primary consideration in planning for your outdoor fireplace, and must be addressed to determine the precise materials that you will need.
A wood burning fireplace costs less to operate, but is also less convenient than a gas fired fireplace. A wood fireplace will require a chimney of sufficient dimensions to ensure a draft that allows the fire to burn properly. A gas outdoor fireplace, instead, requires venting. So your choice of fuel will impact the appearance of the final product – the chimney, or lack thereof, is important to your outdoor fireplace plans.
Now comes material selection. It is aesthetically important that what you choose is consistent with and well suited to your home’s decor. Outdoor living magazines and other product literature can be an excellent source of images to help you brainstorm this part of the process.
Most outdoor fireplaces are constructed with masonry brick or stone and also contain cast iron or an aluminum alloy in the interior. It is often useful to visit a local masonry store to gain a better idea of what materials are available.
Today there are also outdoor fireplace kits that allow for the simple assembly of prefabricated masonry fireplaces that are every bit as classic and elegant as their scratch built counterparts — for a fraction of the cost.
Once you've done your homework, all that is left to do is to put your well formulated plan into action. Consult with a knowledgeable fireplace professional, present your plan, and soon you will be enjoying the benefits of a beautiful outdoor fireplace. The reward for all of your careful planning will be a fireplace that will improve your outdoor living space, increase your home’s value, and most of all, provide hours of enjoyment for your family and friends.