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How to Select an Outdoor Fireplace, Fire Pit, or Fire Bowl


More and more people are entertaining in their back yards, gathering friends and family around a fire pit, and outdoor fireplace, or a fire bowl.  While these are all great additions to your patio or yard, choosing the right one requires some thought.  Below are five guidelines for choosing an outdoor fire feature. 


Be clear in your goals.  Do you plan to cook on the fire feature?  Do you want it to provide warmth so you can extend outdoor living into cooler weather?  Or, do you see people sitting around it to socialize?


 Take height into consideration.  If you want a campfire feel, choose a fire pit that is in the ground, or at ground level.  Make sure the fire pit or fire bowl is not so high that its flames interfere with conversation with people on its other side.   


There will be smoke.  You can position your fire pit or fire bowl so that prevailing winds carry the smoke in the direction you choose.  However, wind direction can change.  If you think smoke will ruin your fun, consider a natural gas or LP gas fire pit, OR choose a fire feature with a chimney, like a chiminea or a traditional outdoor fireplace. 


Anything made of iron or regular steel will rust.  Powder coat finishes resist rust unless they are scratched or abraded.  Stainless steel will not rust through, but may develop a brown patina of oxidation.  Copper will gradually darken, and then develop the gray-green patina called verdigris.  The grate you install in your fire pit will rust out eventually, so select a grate made with thick steel bars, at least 5/8” by 5/8”.  You can touch up painted surfaces with spray paint rated for rust prevention and high temperature use.  If you plan to use a fireplace screen, try to store it indoors when not in use.


 You can take it with you—if you choose a fire pit or fire bowl designed to be portable.  Some are made to be easily moved when you want to warm up a beach party, have a campfire in the mountains, or add atmosphere to a tailgate party.  Some even have folding legs or carrying cases.

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