Let’s be honest, who hasn’t dreamt of owning a beautiful outside patio with a fire feature to gather family and friends on a cold night? Few hardscape elements are as elegant and unique as fireplaces or fire pits. But what are the main differences between them? What are the pros and cons of each one?
Each element is unique in its characteristics and design. We can say they safely fulfill the same purpose, but with slight differences between them. At the end of the day, deciding for one or the other is a matter of preference and utility.
The goal of this article is to help you decide whether you want an outdoor fireplace or a fire pit on your project according to your needs and tastes. We will first give you a quick rundown of each one and then move on to a pros and cons list.
So let’s get right to it.
Outdoor Fireplace vs Fire Pit: Differences
The main difference between fireplaces and fire pits is the setting.
Fireplaces need an ambience in which to be placed, they don’t work isolated. They are designed to be an element in a setting with tables, sofas, chairs. They are, essentially, a wall, so they need to be placed in the extremity of patios and rooms.
Fire pits, on the other hand, can exist on their on in a small patio. Be mindful that fire pits actually take up more space than fireplaces because of that. You need a dedicated area for fire pits on account of safety distances.
Fireplaces are recommended if your goal is to create a more intimate setting. It can basically work as the centerpiece of an outside room, with the structure serving as a privacy element.
On the other hand, fire pits bring a more “group” energy. The open space and circular structure it provides allow for the dispositions of different types of elements according to your needs, from simple chairs to elegant sofas.
Fireplace: Pros and Cons
Of all hardscape elements, perhaps the fireplace is the most elegant one. It adds a touch of refinement like no other when used in a dedicated setting.
Fireplaces are very well known for centuries. The idea of a fireplace outdoors is still the same as the one indoors: a dedicated place to create a fire with a chimney to redirect the smoke.
Fireplaces are designed for you to sit in front of and not much else. For that reason, they are considered to be a much less interactive element than fire pits.
However, fireplaces are much more sturdy and can be used wherever you want thanks to the chimney. As long as they are placed in a setting that is protected, you can use them during rainy, snowy or windy days. Weather is not a determinant factor when it comes to fireplaces.
Fireplaces, since they come with a whole structure, can also be adapted to store the wood (that needs to be chosen carefully both for fireplaces and fire pits). It can be done in a very elegant fashion, creating a “rustic-chic” look, and dispensing the need for a shed to store the wood.
All these elements come with a price, though. Creating an ideal setting for a fire pit can be quite expensive. Make no mistake about it, it is well worth the price. But we would be lying if we said it is not a determinant factor for many homeowners.
As for maintenance, fire related things are always complicated on account of the ashes. But fire pits are much more forgiving in that aspects, since the ashes are mainly hidden and don’t necessarily need to be cleaned right away.
Fire Pits: Pros and Cons
Fire pits are also very much beloved by people. They bring that campfire feeling, creating a sense of community and storytelling.
Unlike fireplaces, fire pits can be used to the classic s’more roasting practice, ideal for both kids and adults. Is much more versatile in that sense. People can simply dispose themselves around a fire pit as they see fit.
That does not make it impossible to still develop a certain setting, with chairs and sofas. Fire pits can be much more simple than fireplaces or just as bold and luxurious, it all comes down to the setting you create.
For those reasons, fire pits are much more interactive, being the perfect option for a casual family and/or friend gathering.
But fire pits have some disadvantages when compared to fireplaces. For starters, they are much dependent on the right weather to use it. That is the case because, since they don’t have chimney, they need to be used in the open field.
That leaves them exposed to weather effects and makes it impossible to use it on rainy and snowy days. Wind can also be a problem, as it can redirect the smoke to unwanted places.
Location is actually a big factor when it comes to the installation of fire pits, they can’t simply be place wherever you feel like it. A careful study must be conducted in order to find the ideal place.
First, since they are much less protected than fireplaces, they can’t be too close from structures and trees. Also, the smoke can become a problem if it ends up going inside the house. The kind of wood you’re going to use with fire pits need to be pristine precisely to avoid that problem.
The cost is much better when compared to fireplaces. A simple installation is simple and, in terms of materials, it can actually cost you none if you have some pavers lying around.
But maintenance is not as simple. Unlike fireplaces, fire pits need to be cleaned right away, as the ashes not only can be spread with a heavy wind, but can become aesthetically unpleasant real fast.
Final Verdict: Professional Opinion
There’s no right or wrong answer, no option is objectively better than the other, they are simply different.
We hope our article could give you a better idea of each element and help you reach a decision. Either way, we always recommend talking to a professional hardscape contractor before making any final decisions. Qualified professionals can understand your setting and help you make the best possible choice for it.
We here at S&S Pavers have helped countless homeowners around the Sarasota and Manatee counties over our 12 years of activity with their hardscape projects. When it comes to hardscape, things are never as simple as they look, so hiring a professional to help you is always the best course of action.
We highly recommend you get in contact with a professional in your area. And if you happen to be around our area of activity, the Sarasota and Manatee counties, in Florida, why not give us a call to help you?