5 Ways To Choose Between a Fire Pit or Fireplace

“Should I get a fire pit or fireplace?”

… That’s a question we hear a lot.  Which would you prefer to gather around with your friends? Each has its pros and cons.  Consider the following 5 things when choosing what’s best for your family:

1. Seating

Many people choose a circular fire pit because they feel it offers more space for guests to pull chairs around than a fireplace.  We build fire pits so that the top is just at the right height to allow many people to put their feet up while enjoying a glass of wine and good conversation.  For a fireplace, we usually build a raised hearth also to give people a place to sit next to the fire and also to put their feet up and relax.

2. Garden Focal Point

Having a beautifully crafted fireplace as the focal point of your outdoor living area will add a lot to how your space feels.  After all, the fireplace is the iconic symbol of “home.” It suggests a central anchor for family and friends. Even when viewed from inside the house while washing dishes at the kitchen sink, the fireplace will evoke memories of family events with the laughter and warmth of the times spent in front of it.  So the picturesque quality of a nice stone fireplace can give you a feeling of warmth even when it’s not in use.

Gas Firepit with seating for the whole family in Wellesley, MA       

Wood burning fireplace in Needham, MA

3. Smoke

Both fire pits and fireplaces can be wood burning or gas burning. Do you want the romance of crackling wood and the aroma of wafting smoke bringing you back to campfires as a kid?  Some folks say that they absolutely love the old-time ambiance of a wood fire on a crisp evening. Others don’t like their clothes and hair smelling like smoke or the added annoyance of having to move their chairs around to get out of the way of blowing smoke.

Also keep in mind that a wood burning fireplace will smell of ashes if it is not cleaned out or covered from the rain. Gas units burn clean and there is no smell. The heat produced is the same for both.

There is a new product we love called a “nearly smokeless fire pit” from Breeo (and our clients love it too).  The unit pulls smoke down under the edges of the fire pit where it is heated and re-burned, producing a nearly smokeless fire pit. It’s relatively inexpensive and is a great new technology we recommend you consider if you want the romance of a fire pit without all the smoke.

4. Cost

Fireplaces, while gorgeous, are roughly two to three times more expensive than fire pits. Gas inserts for either fire feature type will add roughly $2,000 to $4,000 depending on the style you choose. Running gas lines from the house will add roughly $3,000 to $5,000.

5. Materials

Natural stone from producers such as Delgado Stone and Stoneyard is the optimal choice for fire pits and fireplaces; however, the cost is much higher than the alternative material – concrete block.  While the phrase may not sound appealing, concrete block products from Unilock, Techo-Bloc and Cambridge Pavers do look very good. If you find the right style, texture and color, you can save a lot of budget on the installation and material cost.

Let the experts at Land Design Associates help you choose the right fire feature for your outdoor living space.  With more than 20 years experience, we have the knowledge and skill to advise you and install the type you choose.  Browse our portfolio here. Or, if you’d like to get started, contact us here.

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