A Backyard Pavilion with a Fireplace Serves As a Multi-Purpose Outdoor Living Space
One thing I love about pavilions is their flexibility. You can start out simple, with just a platform and a roof. Or you can go complex and add electricity to provide lighting, run ceiling fans, or even add an outdoor range. With a few simple tweaks, a pavilion can become an outdoor living space that you can enjoy year-round. At least that’s what I was thinking when I added a fireplace to mine.
A backyard pavilion with a fireplace is becoming a more and more common sight, especially in the cool climate where I live. Some people add them for their rustic look, while others are looking for a cheap and attractive heating or cooking option. Fireplaces do all these things well, and can take your pavilion from a simple structure to an extension of your home that you can enjoy in any season.
Types of Fireplaces for Your Pavilion
Adding a fireplace to your pavilion isn’t a simple as just digging a fire pit in the middle and calling the job done. Because you’re under a roofed structure, you’ll need to make sure your pavilion has proper ventilation and uses sturdy, corrosion-resistant hardware and wood. But your considerations will also be different based on what type of fireplace you choose. Basically, there are two ways to go:
- Wood burning: A wood burning fireplace is probably the cheapest option over time, especially if you have timber available on your property. However, a wood burning fireplace ups the complexity of your building, as you’ll need to ensure any parts of the pavilion that are close to the fireplace are sealed against heat, and you’ll be required to have a chimney to ensure proper ventilation. These reasons are why many people choose the second option, gas.
- Gas: Gas fireplaces give off little smoke which also means they don’t require chimneys. You’ll also have more control over the size of the flame with a gas fireplace, unlike with wood burning fireplaces, and you won’t have to worry about storing a stock of dry wood. On the downside, these fireplaces tend to be more expensive to set up initially, as you’ll need to run gas lines and pay for the natural gas you use as well as an initial fee to be hooked up to gas.
Keep in mind that f you choose to go with a wood burning fireplace, you’re going to need to add a cutout to your pavilion roof for the chimney. This is traditionally done with stone, although cinder blocks work as well. Gas fireplaces, on the other hand, are usually purchased and added later, and generally don’t require any structural changes to be made to the pavilion.
What You Should Know Before Building a Backyard Pavilion with a Fireplace
Outdoor fireplaces are growing in popularity, and they’ve become one of the top items that DIYers want to add to their pavilions, gazebos, or pergolas. While fireplaces offer a fantastic focal point for the structure, they also come with some additional issues you need to be aware of.
- Leveling the land is essential: While you should level out the land anyway when putting in a pavilion, you’ll need to be doubly sure the ground is even when you want to add a fireplace. If you put a fireplace on uneven land, you’ve created a serious safety hazard.
- Chimneys need to be able to draw: If you have a wood burning fireplace, then you’re required to have a chimney that extends two feet past the roof. At the same time, drawing, the process where smoke is sucked in and up through the chimney, is essential. This can be hard to control outside, as the slightest wind can cause the smoke to come out of the hearth instead of being pulled up the chimney. Made sure you have a good hearth guard and if you live in a windy climate, it’s probably best to go with gas.
- Wood burning may be illegal in your area: Wood smoke is considered a pollutant, and in regions where droughts are common, outdoor burning may be banned. Before you put all that money into building an outdoor wood burning fireplace, check local ordinances to be sure that this burning is permitted. You’ll also want to check your local building regulations and ordinances to see if there are other requirements for fireplaces that are specific to your area.
Before you choose your fireplace style, consider your goal. If you want one for providing heat, a wood burning fireplace will offer more warmth at less cost. If you’d like to be able to put a grill over it and turn the fire into a barbeque, many gas fireplace sets offer that. You can even add a bar to your structure if you want to create a complete setup for entertaining. If your idea is to add a fireplace mainly for decoration, a chimenea might be a better option. A chimenea is a small, front-loading, freestanding fireplace designed more for looks than utility, like warmth or cooking.
Regardless, remember that having a fireplace inside your pavilion is going to increase the fire risk. That means you’re going to want to use wood in your pavilion that’s been treated to be fire resistant, as well as galvanized, powder-coated hardware that stands up against heat and smoke. Above all, you’ll need a pavilion building plan that has enough flexibility to allow for the fireplace addition.
For a long time I’d heard about, and knew people who swore by, OZCO’s Ornamental Wood Ties (OWT) line for projects like pavilions, gazebos, and pergolas. In the last couple years I’ve begun using them as well, because these decorative metal brackets and ties are made of galvanized, ultra-heavy gauge steel that’s also been powder coated for extra protection. But there’s also a reason this hardware is called decorative–it looks stylish and beautiful, while working harder and lasting longer than regular hardware. This is the stuff that can keep your structure secure while standing up against the heat your fireplace will create. And if you’re concerned about chimney draw, a few decorative inserts in your roof can also help pull that smoke upwards. OZCO offers all the materials you need for creating your pavilion, along with customizable plans you can adapt to turn that pavilion into a beautiful outdoor living space with a fireplace.