Outdoor fireplaces: What you need to know to get started

July 10, 2021

Outdoor patio with fireplace, chairs and barbeque grill

The warm glow of an outdoor fireplace creates a cozy atmosphere and can give off enough heat to take the bite out of cool evening air.  Today, there is so much variety that it is easy to find the right one to complete your backyard. However, before making any purchases you should check to see what outdoor fireplaces are allowed in your municipality.  For example, in Toronto, there are strict rules on the type of fireplace and the fuel it uses.  You should also contact your home insurance company to see if there are other factors for you to take into consideration.  When undertaking any construction project where you will disturb the ground, we recommend reaching out to your utilities company to find out if or where any buried lines may be located.

Outdoor fireplaces can be made of a variety of materials such as stainless steel or stone but when it comes to fuel, the common choice for city dwellers is propane or natural gas.  They are clean and efficient.  Wood is usually only an option in more rural or recreational regions.

The cost of an outdoor fireplace can vary greatly.  The starting price for wood burning options is easy on your wallet and there are even DYI projects you can find online.  Propane or natural gas options will cost more and you can expect to pay $1,000 and up for a standard model plus any cost of labor for installation. In fact, the cost of labor will vary by model type and if you require installation, you should inquire about the labor costs before making your purchase.  You may find two comparable options with a similar price have very different labor costs which could impact your decision. There seems to be no end to the variety and creativity of luxury models and custom-builds found online.  However, when it comes to custom-builds, costs could run up to $25,000 or more.  If it is something you know you will enjoy and it adds to the value of your home, it may be the right decision for you.

Safety should be top of mind when deciding the location.  Is it far from fences and walls?  Are there trees close by?  Will there be ample room around the unit for people to pass each other without getting close to the fireplace?  Location is also about functionality.  If you are entertaining and need more space for dining, will the outdoor fireplace be in your way?

While there is a lot to think about when planning an outdoor fireplace, for those looking to create a warm atmosphere and add visual drama to their backyard, the reward is there.