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August 3, 2018

Fire Pits Vs. Fireplaces: The Differences Between Cost And Materials

The summer months. This is typically the time when you realize you want to spend more hours outdoors. The nights are warm, the stars and fireflies are out. But just as you fully immerse yourself in summer, the nights begin to cool. This is the perfect time of year to invest in a fireplace or fire pit to extend your time outdoors. Fire adds a warmth and a glow that can’t be beat.

Deciding between fire pits vs fireplaces is an important decision when creating the perfect outdoor room that extends your summer days and nights with light and relaxation. But these two types of fire features have clear and vital differences to consider when planning your exterior spaces.

First Thing’s First: What Are Your Entertainment Goals?

A fire pit provides a 360-degree view of fire and that cozy feeling of warmth and enjoyment for five or more people. It produces a campfire-like environment. Think storytelling, laughter and s’mores.


And since it’s low to the ground, a fire pit won’t draw away from a spectacular view. But if you’re in a windy spot, it could be more difficult to light and enjoy. A fireplace, on the other hand, creates a cozy, romantic feeling of warmth for an intimate group of one to four people. Its height and mass becomes an amazing focal point in your backyard with the opportunity for decorative elements. Since a fireplace is enclosed, it can be enjoyed in windy conditions, even serving as a windbreak to protect guests.

Important Considerations: Materials And Portability


If you’re looking for design flexibility, a fire pit may be the way to go. It can be as simple as a circular, steel ring that is sunk into the ground or a sunken hole with a small wall built around it, surrounded by gravel or a patio. The end result all depend on how rustic you want your fire pit to look. There’s more versatility and flexibility with a fire pit—you can have a super informal setting or one that has more structure with built-in seating on a stone wall.

A fire pit can be placed almost anywhere in a yard of any size without a lot of additional planning. Usually, families with children, especially teenage children, love to incorporate fire pits into their landscapes. For homeowners who are more attached to their outdoor design, a fireplace might better fill the bill. A fireplace is typically designed so that it meshes with your overall home and landscape. So the materials used can range from brick to stone to marble to tile—whatever works best in your particular setting and for your particular needs.

A fireplace is certainly more permanent in that it is a large structure in the landscape. Installation time on a fire pit can be a couple of hours or less than a day—maybe one to two days if there is a wall or seating built around it. A fireplace, on the other hand, will take at least one week to install in most cases. Usually, when installing fireplaces, we’re installing something else to go with it, whether that’s a stone patio, additional stone seating or other accessories.

When someone adds a fireplace to his or her landscape, it becomes part of an outdoor room—a true extension of the home that the family members can use more throughout the year. Fireplaces tend to be more formal and considered adult entertainment spaces. Think dinner and then cocktails by the fireplace.

The Ultimate Cost Differences

A fire pit offers that party outdoors feel that is simple to install and incorporate into any yard. It can cost as little as a couple hundred dollars for a basic model to upwards of $5,500 to $9,500 with a nice stone wall. Fireplaces have become that iconic symbol that means home to many people.

A working fireplace can change a party’s atmosphere to something more intimate or formal. But because of the stone and other accessories, such as seating, walls and patios, that could be involved, as well as installation time, a fireplace can cost roughly $5,500 to $10,000.

The Burning Question For Both Fire Pits And Fireplaces: Gas Versus Wood?

When it comes to how you heat your fire pit or fireplace, your choices are gas versus wood. Wood burning fire features are cheaper and take less planning in the design and installation process. Gas does add some cost to the equation because instead of an open pit with a grate, we have to run a gas line and install a burner, as well as make sure its venting properly so the smoke and fumes are exiting properly.

Though the added labor is minimal, gas does add some cost. We usually have a licensed gas contractor run a gas line from the meter to the fire pit or fireplace if it is hard plumbed. This can cost an additional $900 to $1,800, depending on the size and length of the run.

Adding A Little Fire To Your Outdoor Space


Fire pits and fireplaces offer a bevy of great benefits for your outdoor spaces—from added outdoor light and warmth in the evening hours to wonderful outdoor structure and adornment to great gathering places for outdoor entertainment.

Having a hard time deciding on which fire feature you want in your yard?

Families with teenagers who like to entertain and have the space have even installed fireplaces in their outdoor rooms for intimate adult gatherings and then fire pits in other locations of the yards for the teenagers to enjoy. Whatever your choice, Seasonal Concepts can help you create a versatile, functional and aesthetically pleasing fire feature design to fit your specific space.

Contact our design experts at 630-302-1009 or fill out the contact form to set up a no-obligation meeting with one of our team members.


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