Fire Pit vs. Fireplace: Which Is Best For Your Backyard?

fire pitImagine warming up by an outdoor fire feature after a long day or maybe roasting marshmallows with your friends and family over the crackling flames. Sounds pretty perfect, especially now that temps are starting to drop, right?

Adding a cozy feature like a fire pit or outdoor fireplace can extend your backyard’s use throughout the fall and winter and liven up your outdoor space. It will become the place your family and friends will want to be year round.

But which type of fire feature is best for you?

It really comes down your backyard space, how you plan to use the feature and your budget. See which one of these options best meets your needs by asking yourself these questions.

outdoor fire placeDo I Have a Small or Large Outdoor Space?

One major difference between fire pits and fireplaces is their size. Fire pits are typically about 12 to 14 inches high (perfect for resting your feet on them) and can range in diameter from 3 to 6 feet wide. Fireplaces are much larger and can be anywhere from 4 to 20 feet tall and several feet wide, depending on your design.

If you have a smaller patio space or outdoor area, a fire pit might make the most sense. However, if you have a larger home and outdoor features — like mature trees, a shade structure or outdoor kitchen — a fireplace could fit in better.

You can get creative with the size of both fire features, but for the most part, fireplaces are going to take up more space in your backyard, so see what makes the most sense for your space.

How Will I Use the Feature?

You’re obviously interested in enjoying the flames and warmth of a fire feature. That’s a given. But you need to think about your use beyond the crackling light to see which one will best meet your needs.

For example, do you want to gather around the feature with a large group of friends and family? You’ll get more of that campfire feel with a fire pit. You could pair it with a circular sitting wall to make sure everyone has a place to sit, too.

And since it’s not enclosed like with a fireplace, a fire pit will give everyone around the circle heat. However, that also means it will be more affected by wind. So you might have to limit your use on a really breezy night.

Fire pits also have a less permanent design compared to fireplaces, since they can pretty much be placed anywhere on your landscape. Fireplaces seem more permanent because they are a larger structure and require a little more design thought about where they should be installed.

If you’re looking to make a statement with a stunning focal point, a fireplace is probably going to be the best option. Fire pits are lower to the ground and aren’t going to catch your attention like a fireplace will.

While fire pits can be affected by the wind, fireplaces aren’t going to have as many problems since they are enclosed. They can even create a windbreak for you and your guests.

Fireplaces are also a bit more formal than fire pits — although there are several design options. So, they make for a great adult entertainment area. Add in a patio, some colorful outdoor furniture and landscape lighting, and you’ve got the perfect space to enjoy year round.

Basically, you can have a more rustic feel with a fire pit or a more elegant design with a fireplace. It just depends on your personal style and how you want to use it.

What’s My Budget?

This is probably the question you’ve focused on the most: What’s the price difference for a fire pit and fireplace? And does my budget work with that?

Like any outdoor project, the cost of a fire pit or fireplace depends on the materials, size/scope and any add-on features you want included (patio, sitting wall, lighting, etc.). There’s also the price difference between choosing one that’s wood-burning or gas-powered, gas being the higher of the two.

All of those factor into the cost, so there’s no one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to pricing. It all depends on how little or how much you want included.

Fire pits can run from a few hundred to a few thousand. For a fireplace, you’re probably looking at a few thousand. That’s why it’s important to work with a professional who understands your budget and can show you your options.

Plus, hiring someone with experience from the start to install the feature will save you money (and headaches). And you can get an estimate for free, so that definitely won’t break the bank.

Install your dream fire pit or fireplace

Fall is the perfect time to heat up your backyard. A fire pit or fireplace could be the perfect option to do just that.

Need help figuring out which fire feature would work best in your backyard? Our trusted team at Landscape Professionals can work with you to compare options, design the space and install your fire pit or fireplace. We help take the guesswork and stress out of your outdoor projects.

Our team offers landscaping services including custom fire features, hardscapes, design/build, water features, landscape maintenance, erosion control and land clearing. We can transform any landscape throughout the Birmingham area, and we’d love to talk with you about your project ideas.