Fire Pit or Fireplace?

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If you are planning a fire feature for your patio, you may ask yourself "Should we get a fire pit or fireplace?" Both are great additions to any outdoor space that create a friendly atmosphere that gives off both light and warmth.

While cost is typically a question (and can sometimes be the deciding factor) here are some other differences that you may not have thought of:

Entertaining and Mood

A fire pit is great for larger gatherings since folks can gather around it entirely. If you've ever been to a BBQ or get-together with an outdoor fire pit, it's usually more of a relaxed party atmosphere where everyone is telling stories and laughing.  These suburban campfires are popular for a reason.

While the new fire pit kits are sparking a lot of casual good times, the larger/grander outdoor fireplace has its merits as well. Namely, romance.

Contrary to the 360 fire pit seating, outdoor fireplaces are really better for a couple's private backyard retreat. Large crowds would look and feel silly crammed in front of a fireplace, but their intimate seating arrangement is perfect for just a few people. These tend to give the space more of an elegant indoor feel. However, they do make a great backdrop if you seating other than around the fireplace.

Property Lines

Do you have a large wide open space and need some privacy? Or a too-close property line with the neighbors? Because they are only about knee high, outdoor fire pits don't offer any privacy. To take advantage of the surround seating, they are typically built on an open space within the patio. However, if you're looking to make some new friends, this could be your answer. The fire pit kits draw them in like moths to the flame.

On that note, an outdoor fireplace serves to create somewhat of a barrier. Because they are taller and wider, they act as a partial wall. Outdoor fireplaces outdoor fireplace fire pitanchor the "room" and become the focal point.

Additionally, if your patio space is wide open, wind may be an issue. Fire pits can be more difficult to light and keep lite; and sparks may be a concern. On the other hand, a well-positioned outdoor fireplace can actually serve to block the wind.

Safety

Since outdoor fire pits are lower to the ground with exposed flames and sparks, you'll need to closely monitor children and pets that may get too close to them. Be careful when placing a fire pit within a heavily wooded landscape, as low hanging branches can be a potential risk.

Fireplaces pose less of a risk because their chimneys whisk both smoke and sparks up and away from guests. (Although sparks may still be an issue with lower tree branches)  

Both require a safety extinguishing plan to be in place.

Return on Investment

Both fire features will surely increase your home's value, if it should ever be on the market. A beautiful fire pit kit or fireplace on your patio will be something that prospects and agents alike will remember.

Since fireplaces are something an appraiser counts when calculating your home's value, a permanent outdoor fireplace will add more value to your home. This is largely due to the fact that they serve to create a truer outdoor living space, which potential buyers consider in the homes square footage.

As with any permanent installation, it's best to check with professionals before undertaking a do-it-yourself project. Many offer free estimates, so take advantage of them to get a feel for the cost, labor, and permits needed. Local pros will be able to steer you clear of any potential ordinances as well.

No matter which you decide works best for you, adding an outdoor fireplace or installing a fire pit kit, will most defiantly be a home improvement the whole family will enjoy for years to come.