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Things to Considerations when Building a Fire Feature in your Outdoor Space
One of the most common add-ons for decks and patios is a fire feature. Whether it’s for the ambiance, the look, the functionality, or some combination thereof, backyard fire pits are extremely popular outdoor living space accessories in Maryland, Virginia, and the District. While there's no universal standard to what makes the most effective fire pit design, there are some guidelines you can discuss with your local deck contractor about pitfalls to avoid and possible issues to consider.
- Type of Fire Feature
Perhaps the first thing to decide about your fire pit is what type you want. There are three types of fire pits:
1. Bioethanol fire pits which, like EcoSmart fireboxes, burn sustainable biofuel containers for fuel
2. Wood-burning fire pits that utilize standard hardwood like traditional outdoor fireplace designs
3. Natural gas fireplaces that connect to a property's gas line
You’ll want to take into consideration ease of starting and maintaining the fire, cost of operation, and a laundry list of other factors. Once you’ve decided this, you can move forward with other design considerations.
It’s important to thoroughly consider where you want the fire pit to be placed on your property. If it’s not in a readily accessible place, it’s very likely you’re not going to use it as often as you might like. If, for example, it’s on the other end of the property or if you have to trek through another area to get to it, you’re simply less likely to utilize the space fully.
- Patio Placement
If you decide to place the fire pit on or near the patio (for proximity and ease of use), there are issues to consider with this placement as well.
Many people immediately think of placing the fire pit right in the middle of the patio. It seems a natural place for it, but you have to give some serious thought to how that’s going to affect the patio’s functionality.
Say your patio is three hundred square feet with a radius of about ten feet. A fire pit is going to be about three to four feet wide. That only leaves a seven-foot perimeter with just enough room to accommodate a couple of patio chairs.
If you want a dual-purpose patio, consider placing that fire pit to the side or even to the grass edge. If you put it there, you can add natural boulders to act as seating or get creative in other ways to make that layout work for your situation.
- Double Duty
One way to prevent a designer fire pit from monopolizing the entire space is by making it serve multiple functions. To accomplish this, some people place a table on top of the fire pit.
Since a premium fire pit is probably going to be used less than the patio in general, you want to ensure you have worked flexibility into the deck design ideas, and maximizing space is one way to go about that.
Safety is always paramount when it comes to custom fire pits in the DMV. Whether you’re using a natural-burning, gas, or bioethanol fire pit design, make sure no trees, shrubs, or other structures are too nearby. Obviously, the last thing you want is a forest fire or damage to your home or surroundings grounds, so working around this is an issue to discuss with your design and build team.
These porch accessories should never be put on top of a deck unless you inlay stone on top of that deck first. If you want a fire pit on a deck, it needs to be a bioethanol or natural gas fire pit specifically, and you need to walk through the logistics of this with your licensed deck builder.
Keep in mind, if there’s a chimney involved in the design, this must be ten feet away from any window and two feet above any roof structure.
- Design Options
One of the best things about fire pits from a design perspective is the variety. Gas units can essentially be done in any color, finish, height, or style. While gas is typically more contemporary looking, there are also traditional styles if you want that look but desire the ease.
While square, rectangular, or circular fire pits are most common, a specialty shape could be possible. Again, discuss this with your certfieid screen room contractor, whether you’re adding a fire pit to an existing area or building from scratch.
For more information about what makes an effective outdoor fire pit design or what factors you need to take into consideration when designing, please feel free to contact a representative of Design Builders, Inc.