Winter has scarcely started and before you know it, it’s officially Spring. But not to worry, the weather can be more settled by the end of April, so there’s still plenty of time to upgrade your outdoor entertainment area with an outside fireplace.
Of course, it helps if you have a beautiful alfresco setting but even if it’s just a regular patio or deck everyone will love an outdoor fire to extend the time you can use the outside space – and the BBQ!
The number of people installing an outdoor fireplace has grown quickly over the past three years. But what to choose? Fireplace, firetable, firepit or firebowl?
The choice will usually be made based on personal taste, perhaps tempered by the setting itself. You can sit around a firetable, firepit or firebowl, but you may get a little more useful heat from a fireplace, such as this bespoke model below.
How you install your outdoor fire can be a major consideration. Modern fires do stand alone – but they are more and more often part of an outdoor kitchen set-up. Or they may be integrated with your deck and outdoor seating as in the image above.
Popular fireplace options include plastered concrete surrounds, rendered concrete blocks or maybe faced with stone or tiles. But it’s the gas burner that counts. Giving at least 15kW of heat (the equivalent of seven electric fan heaters) your choice will be from a range of faux ‘fuel’ – ceramic pebbles or logs, for example – or just a really minimalist flame.
Fireplaces come in standard sizes, like this Escea EF5000 below, or they can be made to measure – up to 3m wide in some cases – and can be modern or traditional in style.
Of course, the fire is probably just one part of your outdoor living area, which will include some furniture, probably a BBQ and often an awning or pavilion-style area that can provide protection from the rain. There are even motorised louvred roofs.
You shouldn’t need to worry too much about the fire in bad weather, good ones are designed to withstand the UK climate and usually come with a weathershield or weathercover that fit over the fire when it is not in use.
And what fuel to burn? The choice will be from mains gas from the house (NG), cylinder gas (LPG Propane), wood or perhaps liquid bioethanol, if the others are not an option for any reason.
Propane cylinders are usually delivered by your local LPG supplier.
If you have a plentiful supply of wood, this might drive your decision but think about the possibility of smoke annoying the neighbours and the inevitable clearing up of the ashes. If burning wood, you may have the option of using the fireplaces as a BBQ like this Escea EW5000 woodburning cooking fireplace below.
Whatever you choose, a few a few tips won’t go amiss. Find an experienced supplier whom can give you all the necessary technical advice and maybe provide a registered engineer to do your installation. Make sure you can get your fuel choice delivered promptly.
For the maximum convenience, choose a gas outside fire wherever possible. Make sure the installation offers the correct drainage and ventilation to protect your investment – most good outside fireplaces these days are full of electronics for ignition, safety and control of the flame. Some can even be connected to home automation.
If your project is part of a larger landscaping scheme, new build or a major renovation, find a supplier that will work closely with your on-site professionals.
Once it’s all done, you’ll wonder how you ever did without one!
You’ll find information on many of the products mentioned here at the Sky House Design Centre – a one-stop shop for kitchens, bathrooms, home automation, decking, glass products, fireplaces of all kinds, modern furniture, doors and windows – all things contemporary.