Sitting around a roaring fire sipping cider and roasting marshmallows is one of the joys of autumn. But you don’t have to be camping to do it. Most homes today can easily incorporate a fire pit or outdoor fireplace. And with the wide range of options available, you can be making s’mores by the time the sun goes down.
Custom fireplaces and fire pits: If you’ve got the tools, the room and the time, a custom fire pit or fireplace makes a nice addition to any back yard, and creates a cozy gathering place. Make sure you choose a spot that’s ideally 25 or more feet from the house and well away from vegetation. You can build a small fire pit in a few hours using inexpensive materials, such as stacking concrete stones. A fire pit with seating or a fireplace could take a weekend or more and be much more expensive.
Wood vs. gas: Another consideration is whether you want a real wood fireplace or fire pit, or if you prefer gas. There are a number of models to choose from in both varieties, and both gas fire pits and fireplaces offer options for liquid propane or natural gas. Typically, the simpler wood-burning fireplaces and fire pits are less expensive, easier to connect and fastest to install.
Prefabricated units: Putting together a prefabricated unit is quick, and depending on the option you choose, may cost roughly the same as a custom fireplace or fire pit. The savings is in time. When all you have to do is assemble the parts, you can create a great-looking fireplace or fire pit in an afternoon. Home centers usually carry prefabricated fire pits, but fireplaces may have to be ordered.
Fire pit kits that burn wood are available online and cost between $250 and $499 ( Homedepot.com) and include the stones for stacking, a metal liner and capstones to finish the top of the pit. Some kits also include a cooking grate.
If you want a fireplace in the back yard, prefabricated ones match almost any style of home. Prices start at $1,500. A nice-sized unit will cost around $2,000 ( Woodlanddirect.com), and offer options such as a gas line hook up, charcoal- or wood-burning, and come with a five-year warranty.
Kit fireplaces are also available online and at home centers. However, if you’re in a hurry simple bowl fire pits, and even simpler chimneas ( lowes.com), are available for less than $100 – and best of all, they’re portable.