Choosing the Right Material for a Built-In Outdoor Fireplace

Once the decision to install an outdoor fireplace has been made, the first question is always whether it should be a portable model or a built-in one. Naturally, built-in fireplaces require a significantly larger investment, but on the other hand, they offer far more freedom in choosing between different styles and designs. If you decide to go with a built-in fireplace, the next question is determining the right choice of building material.

Nearly all custom-built outdoor fireplaces are made of stone. Basically, there are three different types of stones available, each with its own advantages and disadvantages: simple natural stones like very coarse gravel, high-end natural stones like granite and marble, or cultured stone. You can also customize outdoor fireplaces with bricks, concrete and stucco finishes as well.

Simple natural stones mostly have an oval or slightly flat shape and are made up out of a mixture of stone types with large differences in color and texture. As the options for cutting them into specific shapes are limited, and they do not fit well into one another, any gaps between them must be filled with mortar, which usually requires the help of an experienced bricklayer.

Granite, marble or, for example, limestone offer a wide variety of colors and textures, as do travertine tiles. These stones can be cut into shape as desired in order to fit closely with each other. Naturally, they are very resistant to all kinds of weather and are very low maintenance. Of course, they are far more expensive than any other option, and their assembly requires some experience or the help of a professional. But the finished look of an outdoor fireplace made with some of these materials is unmatched.

The third option for outdoor fireplace construction is cultured stone. These are not actually real stones, but are cast from resin and are treated and finished to look like natural stone. Therefore, they can be made exactly according to your ideal of an outdoor fireplace – and they can even be made to look unlike any stones that exist in nature. Their low weight and specific features for easy assembly allow even inexperienced builders to construct a fireplace on their own.

When it comes to outdoor stone fireplaces, or any other type of custom built-in fireplace, there are many decisions to be made. Material choice is only one part of the equation, and you also have to decide about size, shape, and other details such as whether there will be a hearth, mantle, or log rack or what type of fireplace grates you will use, among other things. In order to find out which material option would be right for your individual fireplace needs and desires, the best idea is to actually go and see sample fireplaces made out of each of these types of stones before reaching a decision. You can also find numerous outdoor fireplace photos by searching online or looking through magazines or in books at home improvement stores.

No matter what type of material you choose for your outdoor fireplace, especially if you opt for a beautiful and upscale looking stone fireplace, you will be able to enjoy the luxury and warmth that this accessory can bring to your outdoor space and garden decor.

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