Magazine article Sunset

A Hearth on the Patio

Magazine article Sunset

A Hearth on the Patio

Article excerpt

Design ideas, installation tips, and new products

An outdoor fireplace makes a great gathering spot. It creates a feeling of intimacy while letting you stay outside to take advantage of long summer evenings. You can install one in a sheltered entry courtyard, along the rear wall of a home, or at the boundary between paved and planted areas. On the following pages, you'll find inspiration for your own setting and help in choosing the right fireplace unit.

Low-commitment choices

Traditional masonry models-with footing, a firebrick-lined firebox, and a brick-lined or stone chimney-are heavy and costly. Here are lighter, less expensive options.

Zero-clearance units. These are designed so they can be installed in contact with combustible framing material. Many builders start with a prefabricated metal shell. They add a metal chimney, frame the unit with studs (wood or metal), encase it in plywood or backerboard, and finish it with stucco, stone, or tile. Stainless steel shells are available from Lennox (from $1,800; www.lennoxhearthproducts.com or 800/854-0257) and Vermont Castings (from $1,612; www.vermontcastings.com or 800/227-8683). Heat-N-Glo makes a gas-fueled stainless steel model called the Dakota, which arrives complete with a gas-log set and glass doors. It doesn't need a chimney, since the exhaust is released through slots in the decorative face frame ($2,499; www.heatnglo.com or 888/743-2887).

Modular units. Precast modules (often made of pumice stone) stack together to make the firebox, fireplace, and chimney. Installing these lighter-weight sections is easier than dealing with heavy solid units. Isokern Fireplace Systems makes a 36-inch-wide patio fireplace with options including a firebrick interior and stone, tile, or stucco finish on the exterior. $1,200-$1, 700 plus shipping. www.azisokern.com or (866) 476-5376.

Another modular fireplace, the Manor House from Nexo (imported by Hearthlink International), comes prefinished with a stone veneer. $1,999 plus shipping. www.outdoorfireplaces.com or (877) 337-8414.

Chimeneas. Originally made of clay, these freestanding portable units have been updated with more options in recent years. Hearthlink International offers several versions made of cast aluminum. At a relatively light 90 pounds, they're easier to move than the traditional kind. …

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