Firepit vs. Fireplace: Which Is Right for You?

How to choose the one that’s right for your outdoor space

It’s not just moths who are drawn to a flame. People have been gathering around fire for centuries — communing with others for safety and warmth while sharing a meal and swapping stories. And if you’re lucky, someone will whip out their guitar for an impromptu sing-a-long.

To capture that “campfire vibe” at home, more and more people are thinking about adding a fire feature to their backyards — but should you choose a firepit or a fireplace?

Each one has unique characteristics that will shape the kind of “experience” you get, so it really comes down to what you’re looking for. Here are some of those features — so you can decide which one is best for you.

Firepits: Small and informal gathering places

When you think of your fire feature, do you imagine gathering around an open flame, toasting marshmallows and s’mores with your family and friends?

A firepit is perfect if you’re looking to host casual, informal gatherings — they’re interactive, inviting and come in a variety of shapes and sizes, so you’re bound to find one that matches your taste and decor.

A firepit might be right for you if:

  • You need space for other features — Adding a firepit to your backyard is a great way to include a fire feature without sacrificing too much space. Because firepits are so versatile, they can be incorporated into any design, complementing features such as patios and walkways, extensive gardens and other design features.

  • You want a budget-friendly option — Firepits are smaller than fireplaces, so you don’t need as many materials to build one. And depending on the type of fuel source you choose — wood, propane, gel or natural gas — they are less complicated to install.

  • You want to create the “campfire” experience — When you add a firepit to your backyard, you don’t have to travel to the nearest campgrounds to enjoy fireside tales and toasty marshmallows. A firepit allows you to relax and relive fond memories of your youth while creating new memories with your children or grandchildren.

Firepits can made from a variety of materials such as concrete, metal, brick and stone.

Fireplaces: intimate and formal 

Fireplaces are more than fire features — they’re structural design elements that are often the focal point of your landscape.

A fireplace might be right for you if:

  • You want to create an outdoor “room” — because the flame is surrounded by a solid brick or stone structure (and exposed  on one side only) you can build around the open hearth — making it look and feel like a warm and cozy “room.” Some of our clients opt to add a roof, arbour or pergola to make it even more intimate. And, depending on the layout of your home, the fireplace could even be attached to an existing chimney or smokestack on the terrace right outside your back door.

  • You want to enjoy it year-round — if you have your fireplace in a sheltered area, you can enjoy it no matter what the weather, since the flame is protected from the elements. The heat is concentrated on one side only, so you’ll stay warm even on the chilliest evenings.

  • You want to cook more than marshmallows — There are a number of enhancements you can get to turn your fireplace into the perfect tool for an outdoor cookout. You can add a rotisserie to roast skewered meat and vegetables, add a hook and chain to hang a pot over the flame to cook soups and stews or put a grate over the glowing embers for an instant barbeque. You can also build a pizza oven into the fireplace design!

Outdoor fireplaces are typically made from brick, stone, stucco, concrete and other materials that are durable and will hold up to the concentrated heat a fireplace produces.

Other considerations…

When planning a fire feature for your home, there are other factors you need to consider:

  • Check the fire regulations in your area, since fire regulations can vary depending on your location.

  • Consider the environment when choosing the type of fuel you’ll use for your firepit or fireplace. Fuel options include wood, natural gas, gel and propane.

  • Never burn “green” wood, construction waste, plastic, garbage, or yard waste. They create more smoke and release toxic fumes into the environment.

  • Check the local ordinances to see if there are any building restrictions or permits needed. Most communities have local ordinances that restrict how close fires may be to homes, structures and trees. If you choose to build your fire feature with The Landmark Group will do this for you.

Ready to add a fire feature to your home?

Whichever you choose — firepit or fireplace — both are a great way to connect with others, extend your outdoor season and stay out late — long after the sun goes down and the air turns cool.

Our design professionals will work with you to help you choose which style is right for you —one that fits with your space and lifestyle and gives you years of happy, marshmallow-fueled memories.

To get started, reach out to our team by phone, email or fill out our online form.