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Tips for Creating Your Best Outdoor Fireplace

Learn how to design the ultimate outdoor fireplace to be enjoyed year-round.

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It’s hard to beat the ambience of a hearth-encased blaze, whether in the dead of winter or chillier summer eves. Even better: Enjoying that same warm atmosphere and your love of the outdoors simultaneously. Take your fireplace outdoors with these design tips.

Use exterior-grade materials.

Outdoor fireplaces can easily mimic the same attractive look as an indoor fireplace, but any material used should be marked specifically for outdoor use — be it the stainless steel comprising your firebox or the stone you’re using to face your hearth. This will ensure that it can hold up against the elements and protect your fuel source, especially if you’re incorporating a gas-fueled hearth.

Size it appropriately.

Standard fireplace widths are 36, 42 or 48 inches. The best size for you will depend on how close you will be to the fireplace and what’s overhead. For example, if the fireplace is under a pergola or enclosed under a porch, as this fireplace is, you may not need a large fire to heat the surrounding area because the walls and ceiling will retain some heat. A stand-alone fireplace, however, may require a bigger hearth to store a more intense fire. Also note that, if placed within 10 feet of the home, the chimney will need to extend 3 feet out or above the roofline, and the vent will need to be 2 feet higher than anything within 10 feet horizontally.

Follow local codes.

Different areas may have specific regulations regarding what type of fuel you can use for your outdoor fireplace. Burn bans typically prohibit the use of wood-burning fires for air-quality purposes, but may still allow gas-fueled fireplaces because of lessened emission concerns. Homeowners’ associations may have similar restrictions against visible smoke fires, as well as design regulations that prohibit impeding another property’s sightlines with an attached or stand-alone fireplace.