Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Finding Your Fire Pit

As the weather turns colder, the wanting to be outside inevitably diminishes. The grill goes into the garage, the tarp goes over the pool, and the jackets, mittens and hats come out. Still, for some the winter changes very little and if the Polar Bear Club isn’t exactly your speed (I am a proud member), a fire pit is one of the more relaxing and simple outdoor projects you can undertake to still enjoy the outdoors in the wintertime. Some people just like having a simple unit to sit around while others prefer to devote an entire section of their yard to create a solid mood for the activity. Here are some choices for everyone.

  • ·         Copper: This is the most popular option, as copper’s melting point is quite high and the orange hue of the copper is eye grabbing. Copper fire pits also blend in nicely with a good, well-designed backyard garden. The problem is that the material is far more expensive than other options and to be honest, the design of most copper fire pits is a bit boring.  

  • ·         Cast Iron: If copper will put a hurt on your wallet, cast iron is a good, cheap second option. They tend to come in black, which is dull but blends with nearly any backyard design or configuration. They also come in more varied designs. But with the noticeable difference in price comes a negligible difference in quality, as cast iron has a far lower melting point and therefore cast iron units wear out a lot quicker than Copper. So, if you’re looking to remodel your backyard and you have no plans to sell your home, it might be worth it to save and go with copper.

  • ·         Chimenea: Now, here’s an interesting choice. The form of the unit is like a small chimney with a tiny hearth at the bottom and it looks absolutely beautiful. They’re also conducive to smaller areas, if you don’t have a big backyard. On top of this, the chimenea can be made not only out of copper or cast iron but can also be made out of terra corra, a clay-based ceramic. The only bad news is that for those who like to look at the fire, it is near impossible due to the design of the chimenea. It’s a matter of taste but I’m fond of this because of its beauty and longevity.

  • ·         Gas-Powered: Full disclosure: I’m not fond of this choice. If you’re going to have a fire pit, I think part of the fun of it is building a fire and having the smell of wood. That being said, some areas restrict wood burning because of said smell and suddenly Gas looks like a good option. The good news is that they are easier to clean than wood-burning pits. If you are considering this option, talk to a plumber, handyman or home improvement specialist about connecting a propane tank or any natural gas connections to the pit. Be sure to notify your utility company about your pit installation as well.

  • ·         Stone: Stone fire pits are the most aesthetically pleasing but they are also a bit more of a project and are better suited for bigger spaces. Still, it is wise for you to hire a contractor or call up a buddy to help you to put one together. Palletized stone is preferred but you can get pretty creative here. There is also the matter of need for regular cleaning but at the end of the day, stone fire pits convey an aged, naturalistic feel to the surrounding area. The price will run you around what a copper pit would cost you but, I think you will find that it is worth it, in my opinion.

The portable option is also up there but that can be handled largely by browsing through your local home improvement warehouse, though, in that case, I would still recommend the chimenea above anything else. Chimeneas and stone fire pits are my personal favorites, as I’m sure you’ve picked up by now, largely do to their classic yet unique designs.  But if it’s a matter of having a good reason to go outside and enjoy your back yard even in the winter, there is no such thing as a bad choice.