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Outdoor Living: Fireplace Q&A with Hearth and Home

By Berit Griffin, Marvin Windows May 29, 2015

A roaring fire isn’t just for cozy winter nights…it can get cool when the sun goes down in summer! We got the scoop on outdoor heating trends from Hearth & Home Technologies‘ Cari Rosendahl, product manager for Hearth and Home’s Heat & Glo brand.

Obviously there is a huge trend right now towards indoor/outdoor living, and with that, we imagine that there would be an increased demand for outdoor fireplaces. What are some of the trends you are seeing, with homeowners wanting to expand their living spaces outdoors?

The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) recommends that homeowners spend 5-10% of their home’s value on their outdoors spaces, which is a great return on investment because spending even 5% of your home’s value on landscaping and outdoor living adds 15% to its resale value. We know people are spending more time outdoors– in fact, according to the American Institute of Architects, outdoor living areas and rooms are the most requested special-function room – and they want their outdoor space be a continuation of their indoor living. This trend is reflected in things like the outdoor kitchen, or an outdoor dining area that is partially covered. Fireplaces are a natural extension of this trend, since they’re a great way to provide warmth, light, and ambiance so people can enjoy these outdoor living spaces even on cool days and nights.

Wood. Gas. Alternative fuels? What are the benefits of each and how do you chose what is right for you?

– Wood – there’s just something about building a wood fire, isn’t there? Many new construction homes are built to be much more efficient than in the past, and as a result they typically have a gas fireplace indoors, so having a wood fireplace outside is a nice alternative. There are a few things to keep in mind with wood fireplaces, though –some do require a chimney construction, which can increase your project cost, and outdoor wood fires are regulated in some areas, so be sure to check out your local outdoor burn restrictions.

– Gas – We see the most growth in outdoor gas fireplaces. One of the biggest benefits is that they can still provide the warmth and ambiance of a wood-burning fire, but with the convenience of a wall switch or remote control. They’re also much cleaner for the environment, and you don’t have the maintenance of hauling wood. There may be a bit more upfront cost in running a gas and/or electricity to the fireplace, but you likely don’t have to build a chimney, as most outdoor gas fireplaces don’t require them.

When it comes to materials, we typically think of an outdoor fireplace as being more traditional or rustic in design. But are there outdoor fireplace options available that fit a more modern design aesthetic?

Yes – we’re seeing a lot of growth in modern styling. For gas fireplaces, that means products that have flames rising out of crushed glass instead of logs. This crushed glass is typically available in a variety of colors, so homeowners can have fun with their outdoor spaces. We actually have a new modern outdoor fireplace coming out later this year. Stay tuned!

What are some things you should consider when designing an outdoor living space and are thinking about adding an outdoor fireplace?

We have a few tips we offer homeowners:
– Select the fuel based on the experience you’re looking for, the maintenance, and any local codes.
– Position the fireplace in a place that can be enjoyed from multiple vantage points, so you can maximize it as a focal feature. We like positioning the fireplace in a seating area.
– Finish the fireplace off with whatever material matches your taste – stone, stucco, and even tile.
– Select a fireplace made of high-quality stainless steel if you live in an area that is exposed to harsh outdoor elements, like salt water coastal regions, so it resists rusting.

Thanks to Hearth and Home for this advice! To see Heat & Glo’s Carolina Gas Fireplace in action, take a look: