Are Outdoor Fireplaces Safe?

Outdoor fireplaces are becoming a more and more popular and permanent backyard feature. Even in a state like Texas, fall and winter temperatures get a little chilly, and an outdoor fireplace can be a unique and practical addition to property.

While there is always an element of risk with any type of fireplace, when installed correctly with proper ventilation, outdoor fireplaces are just as safe as indoor ones.

Arguably, outdoor fireplaces are more so because they are typically freestanding, meaning they are not near or attached to the house. Many states even have requirements for how far an outdoor fireplace has to be installed away from the house and things like trees and fences.

It is worth noting that in some states, though, outdoor fireplaces can be installed against a house on the opposite side of an interior fireplace. Each fireplace needs its own flue, but it is possible for both an inside and an outside fireplace to share the same chimney even. It’s recommended to discuss options with a contractor who understands the state building permits and regulations for outside fireplaces.

Just as it is recommended for indoor fireplaces, homeowners with outdoor fireplaces should have functioning and inspected fire extinguishers nearby and should understand the basics of home fire safety and protocols (and teach them and review them with their family). A local fire department also has amazing resources for homeowners when it comes to home fire safety, often free of charge.

Types of Outdoor Fireplaces

An outdoor fireplace is designed very much like an inside one.

It has a chimney and is usually made from stones and/or bricks to withstand the heat of the fire. Outdoor fireplaces can range in cost due to the size and the materials used. They can be simple or extremely elaborate statement pieces. Many outdoor fireplaces are also installed as part of a larger deck or patio redesign, and they can truly transform a backyard, making it a popular spot for entertaining guests and holding parties.

There are two main types of outdoor fireplaces, also similar to inside fireplaces:

  • Wood Burning
  • Gas

Wood Burning

There is something so nostalgic and warming about a natural wood-burning fireplace. They are a simple luxury and need simple materials. Wood burning fireplaces also give off that iconic smell that brings back so many memories and just makes you want to curl up with a blanket and mug of hot chocolate.

With that being said, wood-burning fireplaces do take a level of work. You will need a solid supply of wood and kindling, which means chopping and hauling from your own property or purchasing wood for the season. Burned wood turns into ash, so wood-burning fireplaces need to be cleaned out regularly and ash disposed of properly (bonus if you have a garden though, as ash is very useful for soil).

A wood-burning fireplace also needs a barrier called a spark screen. This safety feature ensures no rogue sparks pop and fly out of the fireplace. These rogue sparks can cause accidental burns to humans and furniture and can even catch things on fire, which is not good.


Gas fireplaces are becoming popular for their safety features and convenience, and they still look great and produce a ton of heat. Many gas fireplaces run off of propane gas and are typically installed with their own propane tank attached separately from the house. In some cases, it might be possible to have a gas fireplace run off of natural gas and connect to a line already running to a home.

Gas fireplaces are extremely easy to use and can be turned on and then off quickly. They usually involve a simple button, valve, or switch that starts the flow of gas and ignites it to create fire (think like a grill or a gas stove, it’s the same concept).

Some gas fireplaces even have a remote control.

Gas fireplaces come in a variety of design options. There are some that can simulate real flames with realistic-looking wood and be very natural. Other designs are more modern and creative and do not even try to provide a real fire experience. They have stones or glass rocks, and some are even just waves of flame across an area.

Many homeowners like gas fireplaces because there is no actual wood needed and no ash cleanup. There is also no risk of rogue sparks with gas fireplaces. However, propane and natural gas costs can increase.

Serving the Dallas & Fort Worth Metroplex

At Nouvel Construction, LLC., we have over 50 years of custom home and commercial building experience. We not only specialize in new home and building construction but also remodels, additions, and restorations.

Give us a call and get a free estimate on your next project. Our team of dedicated and professional builders and contractors would love to help make your dream a reality.