A comfortable and attractive outdoor living space can make a huge improvement to your quality of life. But if you live in an area with long winters, you might not get as much use out of your deck or patio as you’d like.
Once the nights start to draw in and the air turns colder, it’s often time to pack away your outdoor furniture set and return to evenings spent indoors. If this sounds familiar, then an outdoor fire pit could be the answer. But don’t think that fire pits are only useful during the cold winter months.
The right fire pit could provide you with enjoyment of your backyard year-round. That’s because outdoor fire pits are not only great for outdoor heating and warmth, but they will also heighten your outdoor decor even during the summer months.
So what do you need to know when shopping for one? What do you look for when buying a fire pit.
Types of Fire Pit Fuel
The most straightforward fire pits are open metal bowls which use regular logs as fuel. These make an impressive patio centerpiece which warms the senses as well as the air. However, they can be difficult to light and keep aflame.
And if under-seasoned wood is used they can spit sparks, with potential risks to both people and surroundings. They also need cleaning the morning after, once the heat has fully died away.
A step up from a log fire pit in reliability is a charcoal-burning model. These are easier to control and provide a steady amount of heat over a longer period, with less attention needed to keep them alight. Charcoal fire pits put out hardly any sparks, increasing their safety. However, as with log burners, ashes and mess are an issue that needs dealing with the day after.
The final common fuel type is propane, which offers instant control, no sparking, no mess, and reliable heat. However, propane fire pits can sometimes lack some of the drama and beauty of pits using solid fuel, although higher-end models can look as good as any.
Common Fire Pit Shapes
The regular metal bowl fire pits are supported by three or more legs, making a stable burner that keeps the flames and heat well away from the flooring. These are typically freestanding fire pits and come in a variety of materials. Depending on their size and weight, these fire pits can be moved around your yard relatively easily, increasing their flexibility of use.
If you want to modernize your outdoor space, you could choose one of those sleek modern looking firepits. They come in a variety of shapes including square, round, rectangular, and can have looks of polished stone, oxidized steel or marble.
You can also use black lava rocks or colorful glass chips instead of traditional heat-resistant rocks to further add some splash.
Fire tables can add function as well as warmth and beauty to your outdoor space. These type of fire pits typically have the fire burning in the middle with a surrounding ledge where you can place plates, glasses, and utensils.
Some people opt for a permanently sited fire pit that’s either raised up and surrounded by brickwork or sunk into a stone floor. These can be custom built or built using fire pit kits with stone or other options. These types of pits offer excellent stability and safety, and can be an attractive feature to build a yard design around.
Fire Pits and Safety
While fire pits are beautiful to look at, there can be danger hidden behind the warming appeal.
Before you purchase a fire pit, you should be aware of the rules, regulations, and restrictions that are in place by your home owner’s association, local authorities and county.
Many people are rightly nervous about having open flames in their yard. However, with a few simple precautions fire pits can be safe.
- Never use a free-standing fire pit on a combustible surface such as a deck or porch
- Don’t use a fire pit where there are low-hanging branches overhead, or inside a covered structure like a pagoda
- If you are going to use wood, burn only real wood and do not use pressure-treated wood
- Don’t site a fire pit close to wooden fences, stairways, or other structures which could catch a spark
- Place a bucket of water or a fire extinguisher ready and within reach just in case you need it
Propane fire pits are the safest kind of all, as they send out no sparks and are easy to control. However, even these shouldn’t be used on a deck or other flammable surface, unless it’s an inbuilt model with no possibility of being accidentally knocked over.
There are a lot of good deals on fire pits if you know where to look. Whichever type of fire pit you choose, you can rely on it to give you years of enjoyment relaxing in the open air, no matter the kind of climate you live in.