Outdoor fireplace choices and considerations

At The Porch Company, many of our customers want an outdoor fireplace with their new porch. A fireplace can be a beautiful focal point and add tremendous ambiance to a porch. Whether it’s a screened porch, open porch or even a patio fireplace, there are several choices to make:

1. Masonry or metal insert?

2. Gas burning or wood burning?

3. Exterior Finish

Masonry vs. metal insert Fireplace

The first choice to make is between a true masonry fireplace or a metal insert fireplace. Masonry fireplaces have been built for thousands of years. Many people are not aware that today however, a fireplace does not need to be built by a mason to have that classic, beautiful look while remaining functional. Both masonry and metal insert fireplaces have their benefits. A masonry fireplace is typically built with cement and firebrick, it has a functional chimney and flue, and the options for the size and shape of the firebox are much more flexible. A metal insert fireplace, on the other hand, is essentially a rectangular box that is available in an unlimited number of sizes.

This photograph below shows a masonry fireplace with a unique, arched shape.

outdoor masonry fireplace Porch Co Nashville

The inexperienced eye may not be able to discern a masonry fireplace from one with a metal insert firebox, yet there is a substantial price difference. A true masonry fireplace may cost $2,000 – $5,000 more than a metal insert. See the close-up image below of a fireplace with a metal insert. Although it does not have a unique shape like the masonry fireplace above, it certainly does not sacrifice looks for function.

Porch fireplace with a metal insert and stone veneer

Regardless of whether the fireplace is a true masonry fireplace or includes a metal insert, the size, shape, color and placement of the surrounding materials can create a beautiful, custom look.

Gas burning vs. wood burning Fireplace

The next consideration for your outdoor porch fireplace is whether it will burn gas or wood. Thankfully, masonry and metal insert fireplaces can accommodate both.

If you choose a metal insert firebox, there are two choices: gas ventless or gas vented. Regardless of whether ventless or vented, these are self-contained, have no flue and therefore don’t need a chimney. With a vented fireplace, the heat from the fireplace is typically vented out the back. With gas ventless, all that heat comes out the front opening. A gas ventless fireplace inside your house emits too much heat, but for a porch–it’s perfect. You can never put out too much heat for a porch!

Gas has the advantages of costing less, having a remote control or easy on/off switch, and you don’t have to deal with the obvious labor and time spent gathering wood and allowing the wood to cool at the end of the evening. The advantage of wood, however, is authenticity. If you want that nostalgic, campfire smell, you’ll only get this from a wood burning fireplace.

Fireplace exterior finish (veneer)

The exterior finish or veneer is the outer, cosmetic material (typically stone) that surrounds your fireplace structure. The options for veneering your porch fireplace are limited only by your imagination. Because there are so many choices, we will be delving into this in a future blog. Until then, take a look at the difference between these two fireplace veneers.

Porch fireplace with drystack cultured stone veneer

Porch fireplace with mortar set cultured stone veneer
Porch fireplace with mortar set cultured stone veneer

As you have likely noticed, fireboxes, functionality and veneer are not the only components that help determine the look and feel of your fireplace. Look for our upcoming blog with more information on veneers, mantels and hearths. If you’ve decided you’re ready for a new Nashville area porch with a fireplace, we want to help you weigh these decisions and make the best choice for you and your home!

Give us a call for a free consultation at 615.662.2886.

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