Outdoor Fireplaces, Chimineas, Fire Bowls, and Fire Pits
Multiple Ways to Cozy Up In the Cold
Outdoor living areas are increasingly the most occupied spaces in a home during the warmer months of the year. Whether you spend mornings alone by the pool with a good book or evenings on the patio dining with friends and family, spending as much time as possible outside in the fresh air is a priority for many home owners. When the weather turns too cool for lingering outside, though, it’s often with reluctance that home owners retreat from comfortable backyard living spaces into the home for the long winter. Luckily, the season for enjoying those exterior living areas can be extended significantly with the use of an outdoor fireplace. Outdoor fireplaces come in a variety of types, including the traditional outdoor fireplace, chimineas, fire pits, and fire bowls. Making the best choice can sometimes feel daunting, though, but knowing more about each option can help in your decision.
For the most part, the traditional outdoor fireplace looks similar to a fireplace you might see on the inside of a home. Many traditional outdoor fireplaces are rectangular in shape and feature a mesh metal door which swings open to allow easy access, and swings closed to keep sparks from flying out of the fire. Traditional outdoor fireplaces are not boring in design, though. Whether your preferred style is one of clean lines or of romantically ornate decor, there is an outdoor fireplace to match that preference. In addition, most outdoor fireplaces provide you with 360 degree warmth, which creates an inviting space large enough to entertain multiple guests on chilly evenings.
A more utilitarian style of traditional outdoor fireplace is available, too, which suits many families’ needs while at home or while on camping or other outdoor vacations. These fireplaces boast a round body and sturdy, often tubular metal legs. Some models of this kind of outdoor fireplace have two wheels which allow the units to be moved easily to different locations. This more utilitarian of fireplaces offers the essential features without the fussiness of decorative elements.
Chimineas are a different kind of outdoor fireplace. Chimineas were originally developed in Mexico as a means for heating the home and cooking food. The design of chimineas, which is reminiscent of the pot belly stove with a round, mostly enclosed firebox and tall stack, allows fires to light quickly and burn longer than in a traditional outdoor fireplace, which has an open firebox. Additionally, the design of chimineas prevents rain from extinguishing the fire. Chimineas were traditionally constructed of clay or terra cotta and worked well in warmer, drier Mexican climates, but for superior durability and performance in colder climates, the preferred material for backyard chimineas is heavy duty metal, such as cast iron or cast aluminum. In cold temperatures and harsh weather conditions, clay or terra cotta chimineas tend to flake, crack, or crumble. Metal chimineas are beautifully designed and easily become the decorative focal point in any elegant outdoor living space. Chimineas are outdoor fireplaces with real character and style.
Fire bowls and fire pits are yet another type of outdoor fireplace available. Fire bowls and fire pits are usually smaller than traditional outdoor fireplaces, and the depth of the bowl or pit varies greatly. Larger capacity fire bowls or fire pits will hold more firewood and provide more warmth for those surrounding them. Fire bowls and fire pits can also be found in a wider variety of styles than traditional outdoor fireplaces. For example, materials used to construct fire bowls and fire pits range from sturdy and attractive metals like aged bronze, copper, or stainless steel to stone such as slate, marble, or granite. Additionally, some fire bowls and fire pits are adorned with tastefully decorative elements like ceramic tile, metal scroll work, or outdoor motifs. Fire bowls and fire pits are versatile, too. Some fire bowls and fire pits can double as a grill for cooking out, and some can be found at the center of a backyard dining table or patio table, making cozy dinners and quiet conversations all the more inviting. Many fire bowls and fire pits come with a mesh spark arrestor to help prevent embers from jumping out of the flames.
Choosing an outdoor fireplace to fit your personal style and needs may be the most challenging task, but it is important to know that outdoor fireplaces are not appropriate for every exterior living space. Before selecting from the many traditional fireplaces, chimineas, fire bowls, or fire pits, be sure that one can be used safely in your home’s exterior living area. For example, many outdoor fireplaces cannot be used on or near wood decks or other wooden structures. While some of the portable fireplaces can be taken into grassy areas and campgrounds, an ideal location for most of the outdoor fireplaces discussed in this article would be a stone, brick, dirt, or concrete surface.