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Outdoor Fireplaces, Fire Pits

Harnessing the power of flame for cooking outside satisfies a primal impulse within us. Increasingly, in today’s back yard, this fact is being manifested in the installation of either outdoor fireplaces or fire pits. Whichever your preference, you’ll first have to make some decisions regarding:
Building materials, such as natural stone
Fuel options
How elaborate you wish your outdoor fire pit or fireplace to be.

In the interview that follows with David Gatti, Co-owner / CEO of P.O.P.S. Landscaping, we help you make those decisions and offer additional information about building outdoor fireplaces and fire pits.

Q. What options for building materials are available for those wishing to install outdoor fireplaces or outdoor fire pits?

A. Outdoor fireplaces and outdoor fire pits can be built with many types of rustic (think natural stone) and man-made materials. Once you have created the structure with fireproof materials, you can finish the outside with almost any material that would be heat-resistant and to your liking. Many people choose natural stone, be it fieldstone, flagstone, river rock or sandstone; others select man-made faux stone. These materials come in many colors, and can be installed to match the surroundings in either a more natural-type installation or in a cut-stone, more polished type installation.

Q. What fuels can people burn in their outdoor fireplaces or outdoor fire pits?

A. People can choose natural wood with no gas, or use a gas or propane starter with natural wood. You can also use faux logs with gas or propane.

Q. Give us some idea of our choices in outdoor fireplaces, in terms of low-end vs. high-end.

A. We recommend starting with your budget and making sure all of your needs have been met in the entire project before dedicating an exorbitant amount to the installation. Outdoor fireplaces can be done fairly economically to fit most reasonable budgets. After you’ve outlined all of your “wants” for the project, prioritize them all, and set up an overall budget (one for each item). That will largely dictate the style that your feature will take on.

We like natural products such as natural stone because they are made to withstand nature, and they will require the least long-term maintenance. You can customize your look and get exactly what you want. That is a more expensive alternative. If you are on a smaller budget, you can purchase a ready-made unit and have it installed. These are less attractive but serve the intended purpose.

Q. OK, paint us another picture, this time of the outdoor fire pit spectrum, in terms of how simple you can stay vs. how fancy you can get.

A. They're the best of both worlds, being more economical and customizable. An outdoor fire pit can be as simple as a “campground-like” ring of natural stones with a gravel bottom and natural wood, and as upscale as a mortared, veneered base with built-in seating and natural gas fuel and faux logs. Pre-made outdoor fire pits can be purchased at retail centers that can act as a cooler or table. Outdoor fire pits range in price from $350 to $15,000. We obviously prefer the custom style because they are customized to suit your exact location and taste.

Q. Briefly make the argument for outdoor fireplaces and outdoor fire pits. What do they offer consumers?

A.

They offer homeowners unique selling points.
They extend the living space, adding value to the home.

Outdoor fireplaces are oftentimes perceived as a more upscale feature than outdoor fire pits. They can anchor a very attractive outdoor room to a property. They are great for resale value, and the space around them can be decorated to create a living-room type appearance. An outdoor fire pit is a more flexible option, because you can use it as a centerpiece for entertainment that can radiate more heat, and you can accommodate more people around it than an outdoor fireplace. It produces a very “cozy” atmosphere that may bring back memories of camping as a child. Best of all, it takes less time to build and can be considerably cheaper. Pretty much anyone can afford one in some shape or fashion. They can be constructed to look very upscale if that is the goal.


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