Bringing features of indoor living out onto the patio is a hot design trend. And homeowners in our neck of the woods wonder whether or not a Northern Virginia deck can include an outdoor fireplace. Does a four-season climate make this deck design impossible or unwise? Find out how to create an outdoor living space that echoes the warmth and charm of your interior with the right support and features.
Specs of an Outdoor Fireplace
Fireplaces built for use outdoors differ in design from those used inside your home. While the models may look similar when finished, outdoor fireplaces must be built with durable materials and include features that withstand the rigors of the local Northern Virginia climate.
Good quality outdoor fireplaces come with an insulated firebox, designed to keep the interior of the unit hot and facilitate a clean burn. Gas logs sets are generally made from fiberglass, and outdoor fireplace sets tend to be more durable and larger, for easier set up inside the unit. Your gas burner should also be designed for use in all types of weather.
Of course, wood-burning fireplaces are also ideal for outdoor use. Simply build or purchase a woodburning firepit and create a stone mantle around it. This area will become a magnet for gatherings, although it will be difficult to incorporate into a wood deck. Think about installing a stone patio if this style suits your tastes.
Specs of a Northern Virginia Deck with Fireplace
You need to be sure your deck is designed to support an outdoor gas fireplace, both for safety and aesthetics. Add extra blocking under the fireplace unit to reduce the risk of sagging and think about incorporating stone decking in the immediate area to protect against damage from high heat. Good quality stone floor tiles can also be installed onto a plywood subfloor. Use attractive trim for transitions between the deck boards and tile.
Will you use the fireplace as a railing as well, or have it installed against the house? Some units float in the middle or work as a dual-sided fireplace, while others can be incorporated into the deck railing or mounted in the corner to finish off the outdoor room.
Keep the stairs away from the fireplace and ensure there is adequate room for furniture around the unit. Generally a 100 square foot space is required (10 foot x 10 foot), although a smaller space may work with a smaller fireplace.
Where is your gas valve located? Hide any conduit running from that shut off to the unit and place the outdoor fireplace close by to enhance efficiency. If your fireplace will run from a propane tank, consider building a storage unit to hide the tank. Many homeowners incorporate the tank storage into an end table or other patio furniture.
A Northern Virginia deck that includes an outdoor fireplace provides the ideal place for a cozy get together. Be sure that your deck builder has designed the structure to support a fireplace and incorporate all of the necessary safety features. Then look forward to long summer nights outdoors, enjoying the warmth and comfort of your new outdoor living space.