How Much Does an Outdoor Fireplace Cost?
Enjoy your outdoor living space throughout the year by installing an outdoor fireplace to keep you warm and cozy. A typical outdoor fireplace cost is $3,000, but it could range between $1,500 and $20,000.
- Typical Range: $1,500 to $20,000
- National Average: $3,000
There must be some ancient gene that causes humans to enjoy gathering around a roaring fire. Perhaps that’s why many homeowners choose to have an outdoor fireplace installed on their patios. It’s a great way to enjoy more time in their outdoor living space during cooler months—not to mention the possibilities of year-round s’mores. Fortunately, outdoor fireplace costs don’t have to be exorbitant, although they certainly can be.
On average, expect to pay between $1,500 to $20,000 (or a national average of $3,000) for an outdoor fireplace. This price ranges widely since there are so many customization options and sizes to choose from. There are also labor costs to consider. But many nights spent enjoying a fireplace on your patio can balance out the cost of an outdoor fireplace. Read on to learn more about outdoor fireplace costs and other considerations.
Factors in Calculating Outdoor Fireplace Cost
There is a big difference between an outdoor firepit and an outdoor fireplace that’s built to be an eye-catching focal point on the patio. Outdoor fireplace installation costs depend on the size and type of fireplace, the materials used, and labor fees. Here are the key factors to help answer the question, “How much does it cost to build an outdoor fireplace?”
Many outdoor fireplaces are custom built, which gives homeowners more flexible options for where to put the fireplace and how large to make it. However, several prefabricated styles are available as well. They come in several shapes, sizes, and colors. As with most projects, the larger the outdoor fireplace, the higher the cost. And if you’re looking at a large prefab outdoor fireplace, then you might need to account for an increased shipping cost, too.
To save on costs, some homeowners make the mistake of building a firebox that’s too small. The result is a fireplace that puts out less heat and requires the wood to be chopped smaller than usual. Homeowners will likely benefit from consulting a fireplace professional to determine what size fireplace will meet their needs and budget.
Type of Fireplace
Outdoor fireplaces use wood, gas, or propane as fuel sources, and both gas and propane will require utility lines to be run to the fireplace. This always increases the cost since a licensed professional is the only one who can install those pipes. Some prefab fireplaces might use electricity, requiring a pro to complete the wiring.
Prefab or DIY outdoor fireplace kits are a popular choice and often easier on the budget if you choose a simple design. Prefabs range widely from $200 to $9,000. Another popular choice is having a contractor build a fireplace entirely on-site to suit the homeowner’s design choice. These are also the most costly, with an average price of $8,000 to $20,000. However, the sky’s the limit here, so with a lot of customization and high-end materials, the cost could go well beyond $20,000.
An in-between option is a contractor kit, which is like a prefab kit but comes without the veneer finish applied. Homeowners can choose how to finish it so it will match their patio and house. This kit usually costs $1,500 to $3,000, but the finish can cost an additional $11.50 to $23.50 per square foot. The most inexpensive option is a chiminea, which is a small, portable fireplace with a vertical chimney tower. These cost an average of $100 to $500.
Once the fuel source is determined, the rest of the cost to build an outdoor fireplace depends on the materials. Most people envision a traditional brick or stone outdoor fireplace, but fireplaces can also come in metal or clay. It’s entirely possible to successfully mix and match materials for a unique look to complement the patio’s existing style.
If a custom stone fireplace cost is beyond your budget, you might be surprised to find that you can order a prefab kit made of natural or faux stone or brick cladding. This is why it’s helpful to speak with a fireplace contractor who can share all the options available. Premade metal fireplaces like chimineas are usually $100 to $500, but a custom-built metal fireplace would cost about the same as a custom brick fireplace. Custom metal fireplaces will also require the skills of a professional metalworker.
Labor and Permits
The national average cost of $3,000 for an outdoor fireplace includes the cost of labor. Depending on the materials and type of fireplace you plan to install, labor rates could cost between $70 and $150 an hour. Some projects might need more than one laborer, and it can take anywhere from a few hours to a few weeks to complete an outdoor fireplace installation. This longer time frame usually happens with custom builds that involve complex masonry.
Permits aren’t always required when building an outdoor fireplace. For example, you won’t need one when buying a chiminea since it’s a portable object (though it may be against local fire codes to put a wood-burning fireplace on a wooden deck). However, installing a gas fireplace likely will require a permit to install the gas lines. Check with your contractor about whether any permits are required or if there are limitations on the height of a fireplace and its position near the house.
Additional Costs and Considerations
How much is an outdoor fireplace? To get a complete picture, it’s essential to consider these other cost factors. Accessories or additional electrical or landscaping work might be necessary or preferred, so don’t forget to calculate these into your budget if they apply.
Customization and Accessories
It’s one thing to simply build a firebox and add the cladding, but it’s another to build an attractive focal point for your backyard. If your budget allows, you could expand a stone or brick fireplace to include countertops and storage for firewood. Some homeowners also opt to have an entire outdoor kitchen built simultaneously to save on costs and ensure a uniform look. You might also need to purchase additional accessories like a fireplace rack, a poker, and a brush to sweep out the ashes if you opt for a wood-burning fireplace.
Some fireplaces operate with electricity. If there isn’t already enough power being run to the location you intend to build the fireplace, then you’ll need an electrician to install the wiring and update the circuitry. However, even if the new fireplace is fueled by gas, perhaps you’d like to add some additional lighting, a TV, fans, or speakers. It’s easy to get everything done at once if you already have a contractor scheduled to do other work.
Adding an aesthetically appealing outdoor fireplace is part of your overall property landscaping. Sometimes it can be challenging to decide exactly what type of fireplace would work best on your patio and where to put it. For this reason you could work with a professional landscaper who can help make sure the design flows with your house and yard. They can even help plan additional landscaping around your outdoor living space if you’re doing a significant amount of work.
Types of Outdoor Fireplaces
Some construction projects have numerous options to choose from, which can become overwhelming. Thankfully, there are only a few types of outdoor fireplaces to choose from, so once you know the look you prefer, you can choose from one of four types of fireplaces.
Prefab Outdoor Fireplace
Prefabricated fireplace kits are a handy and budget-friendly way to install an outdoor fireplace quickly. It’s possible to find a small, basic prefab kit for as low as $200. You could also spend up to $9,000 if you’re opting for a large unit with a high-end finish that needs a gas line. Some kits can even be found at a local home improvement store.
Custom Outdoor Fireplace
A custom outdoor fireplace might be the best option for homeowners who prioritize a cohesive design aesthetic. It’s also the best option if you’re working on a complete outdoor kitchen project as well. With custom outdoor fireplaces, homeowners can add extra customization or accessories from lighting to storage. In most cases, these fireplaces will be built by a local masonry company since they’re usually made of brick, stone, or tile. Custom outdoor fireplace costs typically start at $8,000 but can cost more than $20,000.
Contractor kits are an excellent solution for the homeowner looking for the sweet spot between prefab costs and custom designs. These come as a partially prefabricated kit of a specific size or shape, which is why they’re a little cheaper. But what’s unique is that a homeowner or their contractor can then add their own finish to the exterior to better match the house. This offers more flexibility than most prefab kits have in terms of design, so it’s a popular middle-ground choice.
Chimineas are a low-key, low-cost option that sometimes meets homeowners’ preferred style and budget. These have a vintage feel since they look like a rounded oven with a straight, narrow chimney. One advantage to this style is that they don’t require permanent installation, so they are considered portable. Chimineas are made of either clay or metal and do an excellent job heating the area using wood for fuel. They’re an ideal option for smaller patios since they don’t take up much space.
Benefits of Building an Outdoor Fireplace
Outdoor fireplaces can be overlooked as an option when homeowners are adding or expanding an outdoor living space since many people aren’t familiar with the many benefits. From year-round use to aesthetics to boosting your home’s value, here are some of the best reasons to add an outdoor fireplace to your backyard.
Year-Round Use of Outdoor Space
The changing seasons affect every region of the country to some degree. Whether your area experiences dips to freezing or mild temperatures during the winter, you can stay warm while enjoying the crisp evening air on the patio thanks to the heat from a fireplace. That means your investment in your outdoor space gives back even more throughout the year. And cozying up to a loved one by the light of a fireplace—s’mores in hand, of course—makes for a romantic evening.
Opportunity to Entertain
Once you’ve invested in your outdoor living space, you’ll likely find yourself entertaining guests more often since you have a comfortable place for them to enjoy. Even if your outdoor fireplace isn’t a massive centerpiece, it’s still a unique feature that guests will appreciate as the evenings turn chilly during tailgating season.
Aesthetic and Ambience
There’s no doubt that a good-looking fireplace instantly boosts your patio’s overall aesthetic. A striking brick or stone fireplace will appeal to you, your guests, and future home buyers. But even a chiminea can dress up a patio with its warm glow. And adding some comfortable seating around a fireplace makes the space feel homey and inviting.
While it’s easy to roast marshmallows over a firepit, it’s a little harder to cook a pizza. To solve this problem, build an outdoor fireplace with a pizza oven. It’s a perfect way to enjoy your outdoor space even more while reaping some delicious benefits. You can even ask your contractor which types of outdoor fireplaces will let you grill or cook food easily if you’re a big fan of multitasking.
Most of us know about burning citronella candles or torches to keep mosquitoes away, but they don’t always work—and the smell can get overwhelming. Another alternative is burning wood. The smoke from a wood-burning fireplace often acts as a deterrent for mosquitoes and other flying insects. While this won’t work with a gas fireplace, a wood fireplace might just help you enjoy your evening even more without pesky bugs hanging around.
Return on Investment
Homeowners often evaluate the cost of a project in terms of how much value it will add back to their house. Fortunately, outdoor fireplace costs are a great investment that will provide homeowners with a good return on their investment. A great-looking outdoor fireplace in an outdoor living space that feels inviting can really attract the attention of home buyers who see it as a considerable value.
Outdoor Fireplace Building: DIY vs. Hiring a Professional
If how much to build an outdoor fireplace will cost is weighing on your mind, you’re probably tempted to try the DIY route. Fortunately, there are DIY prefab kits available that homeowners can install themselves. One caveat: Homeowners cannot install their own utility lines if gas or propane is needed to fuel the fireplace, so they’ll have to call a pro. There are also limitations to the design and size.
To get a fireplace that truly blends in with the other backyard design and landscaping, opt to let a professional installer handle the project. These pros can work with you to help you get the look you want without breaking the bank. Working with a pro is the best option for maximizing your ROI, too, especially since they’ll be familiar with any building codes or permits you might need.
How to Save Money on an Outdoor Fireplace
Don’t let the costs of an outdoor fireplace deter you from adding one, preventing you from enjoying your patio throughout the year. There are a few ways you can save money on outdoor fireplace costs, so we’ve put together several helpful suggestions.
- Consider a chiminea when the budget is limited.
- Opt for a prefab kit if you’re looking for a nice design that won’t break the bank.
- Ask a pro about a contractor kit and how much the finish would cost to install yourself.
- Avoid building a firebox that’s too small for your space and will end up being a waste.
- Skip the DIY cinder-block fireplace; it won’t retain or direct heat well.
- Ask about any military, senior, or other types of discounts.
- Combine the project with any other masonry projects you’re considering to save on materials.
- Consider the long-term fuel costs and decide which one is more affordable for your area.
Questions to Ask About Outdoor Fireplace Installation
Don’t let confusion prevent you from moving forward with your outdoor fireplace installation. Use any of the following questions to help you find the right pro and understand the project’s scope.
- Are you licensed and insured?
- How long have you been in business?
- Can I speak to references and review a portfolio of your work?
- What type of fireplace should I install?
- What kind of fireplace can I install with my budget?
- Which type of fireplace is best if I want to use it for cooking or grilling?
- Is gas or wood-burning better?
- Will I need a permit?
- How can I get a stone fireplace at a lower cost?
- Will you have to subcontract a plumber to install gas lines?
- Who will do the masonry work? Will they be supervised?
- Do you have any leftover materials from another project available for a discount?
- How much will this fireplace cost?
- How long will it take to install?
- How much would it cost to add a small pizza oven?
- What kind of customization and accessories do you recommend?
- Are there any warranties or guarantees?
We’ve included a lot of information to answer the question, “How much does an outdoor fireplace cost?” but here are a few more questions and answers that can help clear up any remaining confusion.
Q. How do people use outdoor fireplaces?
Fireplaces are natural gathering places. Add a fireplace and some comfortable seating, and you’ll find yourself (and guests) spending time together around a crackling fire. They’re also a great way to bond over roasted marshmallows and hot dogs throughout the year. That extra warmth means you can enjoy your outdoor space even in the winter, which extends your investment in an outdoor fireplace.
Q. Do outdoor fireplaces give off heat?
Definitely. In fact, you might find that your fireplace does a better job at warming a space than an open firepit. Since heat naturally rises, an open firepit only pushes heat upward, but fireplaces often push more heat outward.
Q. How much does it cost to install an indoor vs. outdoor fireplace?
You’ll pay an average of $1,050 to $3,780 for an indoor fireplace, and it depends on if you have an electric, gas, or wood fireplace made of stone, brick, or glass. Outdoor fireplaces have a much broader price range since there’s so much customization available. A typical range is $1,500 to $20,000, with an average price of around $3,000.
Q. How far does an outdoor fireplace need to be from the house?
This depends on any local building codes and even HOA rules. A minimum distance should be at least 10 feet from other flammable surfaces, including trees. It should also have proper ventilation.
Q. Is gas or wood better for an outdoor fireplace?
It’s hard to say that one is better than another since both have pros and cons, but many homeowners feel that gas fireplaces are more advantageous.
For instance, gas fireplaces are cleaner, start quickly, don’t require a large chimney, and are less expensive to operate in many areas. But they do need a gas line to be installed, and they don’t have the same ambience as a traditional fireplace. And if there’s an issue with the gas supply, then there’s no way to use the fireplace.
On the other hand, wood-burning fireplaces have the ultimate ambience, work reliably with adequate fuel, and give a better flavor to grilled or cooked food. However, they are messier, less environmentally friendly, and often cost more to keep wood in full supply.
Q. Can I cook with an outdoor fireplace?
Of course! Many people enjoy an outdoor fireplace since it offers a way to go camping in their own backyard. However, if you install a fireplace with a glass front or have an electric fireplace, you won’t be able to cook with it. Otherwise, be mindful of the fuel you use, but in general, it’s as safe to cook over a fire as over a grill.
Sources: HomeAdvisor, Angi, Home Improvement Cents, Lawn and Leisure, HomeGuide, InstallItDirect