DIY Outdoor Fireplaces

Browse your options for DIY outdoor fireplaces, and prepare to install an attractive and economical outdoor fireplace on your own.

Brick Fireplace in Outdoor Seating Area

Brick Fireplace in Outdoor Seating Area

By: Sean McEvoy

If you're looking to improve your backyard, deck or patio by installing an outdoor fireplace, but you're not thrilled at the idea of paying a stone mason or contractor to build you a custom unit, you may want to explore the many DIY outdoor fireplace options out there. From building an outdoor fireplace unit from scratch to investing in one of the many prefabricated outdoor fireplace kits available, you're sure to find the DIY approach that's right for your budget and your skillset.

While it's the case that installing a custom-built outdoor fireplace will almost certainly require you to hire a stone-mason (unless you've got stone cutting chops yourself, of course) and likely demand a large budget, DIY outdoor fireplace kits are available for purchase from just about any local or national hardware retailer, both online and in-store. In general, DIY kits will cost anywhere from $500 to $2,500 for the low- to mid-range units at least. Higher-end DIY outdoor fireplace kits are available with various extra features, including fancy amenities like pizza ovens, ambient lighting and higher-quality stone.

In general, most outdoor fireplace kits have an appearance similar to that of an indoor fireplace—they feature a base, a fireplace and a chimney—but in contrast to in-home fireplaces, in which the chimney rises all the way through the roof, DIY outdoor fireplace kits generally feature a chimney that's a bit snub-nosed in comparison, only rising a few feet above the fireplace. This contributes to greater maneuverability and also keeps the chimney away from any low-hanging branches or bushes.

When you're ready to choose materials for your DIY outdoor fireplace kit, you'll have many options, with a single shared limitation: for the most part, DIY outdoor fireplaces feature a stone "veneer" or façade finish over their base. This simply means that a thin layer of stone has been attached to the face of the fireplace, as opposed to the entire fixture being carved from stone or created wholesale from brick, for example. While this is often the case for indoor or fixed-in-place outdoor fireplaces, DIY outdoor fireplace kits often need to be portable, and the use of less stone in their design allows them to be moved more easily (and it reduces their overall cost significantly). You may choose to match the façade finish of your DIY outdoor fireplace to your overall outdoor living space, deck or patio design, or you may look for something that's a departure from the core style and offer some visual interest. You'll have many design choices in terms of the finish, from stone, stucco and granite to ceramic and even metal.

There are three main functionality categories for DIY outdoor fireplaces: wood-burning, gas or propane-fired. Wood-burning fireplaces need nothing more than a safe location (away from any tree branches or bushes) and a steady supply of dry firewood. A DIY gas fireplace can be a great choice if you want to avoid having to buy wood and have gas heat and/or easy access to a gas line. Finally, a propane outdoor fireplace requires that you hook up to a gas line that runs to a propane tank—but note that you'll need to keep the tank full.

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