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Nothing provides backyard ambience quite like an outdoor fireplace. With a huge variety of styles ranging from rustic to contemporary, outdoor fireplaces can amp up the style of your patio or outdoor entertaining area. Whatever style most appeals to you, here are a few tips for picking out the perfect outside fireplace.

Are outdoor fireplace kits my best option?

A kit allows you to go all out with your outdoor fireplace design. With a finished kit you’ll have all the pieces you need to construct a majestic hearth, chimney, firebox and every other essential part of and outside fireplace. Be sure to set aside up to 4 to 5 hours to complete assembly, and have a friend or relative assist you.

You can also find unfinished kits, which are less common but allow you even more customization through the addition of stucco, brick, stone, tile and more.

Are there any other options beside an outdoor gas fireplace?

Of course! You can choose wood, gel, propane or natural gas to fuel your outdoor fireplace. Here’s a short and sweet list of the pros and cons of each:
• Wood: If you’re aiming for traditional appeal, the crackling and popping of logs burning is the way to go. While it’s an appealing fuel source, wood also requires regular cleanup and can be expensive.
• Gel: Gel is typically sold in cans, which provide about 2 to 3 hours of fuel apiece. Though it’s typically used in indoor fireplaces, its clean burning qualities and hassle-free approach can make it appealing for an outdoor fire, too. It does fall on the more costly end of the spectrum, though.
• Propane: This is an affordable option that burns fairly clean. It comes in a small tank that can typically be refueled or swapped out at a local gas station or store. It is, however, less clean and more expensive than natural gas.
• Natural gas: Natural gas claims the title of most affordable. It also burns fairly cleanly, but you’ll need access to a gas line in order to use it.

How can I keep my family safe around outdoor fireplaces?

The first step in ensuring your outdoor fireplace is safe for all to gather around is to follow any safety precautions and instructions that come with it and the fuel you’re burning. Still, accidents may happen, so be sure to have a fire extinguisher close by. Your outside fireplace should be positioned away from your lawn or any wooden structures like a deck or porch, as well.

Before installing your new outdoor fireplace, check with your homeowner’s association and city to ensure it complies with any regulations. You may also need to obtain a permit to install it in your backyard, so make sure you have that on hand before you get to work.