Outdoor Fireplace vs Fire Pit: Which One is Right for You?

Fireplace? Or fire pit?

Either way, we see you toasty and cozy on a chilly Idaho evening, warmed by a flickering glow, sipping hot cocoa topped with a mountain of fluffy marshmallows or warm spiked cider with a fragrant cinnamon stick, captivated by the flames and happily content under the shimmering stars.

(Insert wistful sigh here.) 

Honestly, with this scenario, does fireplace vs fire pit even matter?

It actually does. 

Sure, both outdoor fire features offer the perfect fun gathering spot for friends, a happy hangout for teens, an enchanting landing spot for a romantic date night. 

Warmth? Light? Ambience?
Check, check, check. 

But there are differences that affect your choice. 

Which outdoor fire feature is right for you?

Get cozy and let’s take a look.

Outdoor Fireplace vs Fire Pit: What’s Your Vibe?

Elegant outdoor dinner party with trendy cocktails? Or casual all-ages s’mores fest? 
Choose your vibe:

Read our Detailed Guide to Planning your Landscape Design in Idaho

Outdoor Fireplace Vibes

  • Upscale. A fireplace is a sizable architectural element that adds instant elegance and visual oomph.

  • It anchors a space, serving as the centerpiece of your outdoor living area. It makes a visual statement, even without a fire going. 

  • Selling your house some day? An outdoor fireplace offers great appeal.

  • Wow factor. Seriously, people will literally say, “wow.” Not everybody has an outdoor fireplace. 

  • Privacy. Fireplaces have a vertical presence, so they automatically add privacy to your outdoor space. 

  • The smoke is directed up and out of a chimney.

  • It’s not as interactive as a fire pit. 

  • You can enjoy it even on a windy evening.

fireplace under pergola

Fire Pit Vibes

  • Everybody’s part of the party. You gather around a fire pit, so there’s more of an interactive atmosphere. You can create seating on all sides. That means you can talk not just to who’s sitting next to you, but to your pals on the other side of the fire, too. 

  • Bring on that campfire feel that encourages storytelling, laughter and s’mores.

  • Have a fantastic view? A fire pit is low to the ground and won’t block it. Enjoy not only an inviting fire, but also the view that extends beyond it and frames it.

  • Be aware that wind can create an issue with blowing smoke.

  • A fire pit can fit even in a smaller yard.

firepit with seating and water feature

Fire Pit vs Fireplace: How Much Flexibility Do You Need?

There’s more versatility and flexibility with a fire pit—you can have a super informal setting where you pull up your own chairs or one that has more structure with a cool built-in seating wall. 

A fire pit can be placed almost anywhere in a yard of any size without a lot of additional planning. 

fire pit on patio in backyard

A fireplace is a bigger permanent structure in your outdoor space, typically part of a larger construction project. 

Installation time on a fire pit can be a couple of hours or a day or two, depending on the size and design.

A fireplace, on the other hand, will take at least one week to install in most cases.

Outdoor Fire Features: Gas or Wood?

When it comes to how you heat your fire pit or fireplace, your choices are the same: gas or wood

Wood offers a campfire feel, puts off a lot of heat, cooks food and is the cheapest option. But be prepared for some smoke and sparks and you have to stay alert to safety issues.

Natural gas lights easily and quickly and doesn’t produce smoke or sparks. But it isn’t the best for cooking and doesn’t provide as much heat as wood.

fireplace and firepit on large patio

Wood-burning outdoor fire features are cheaper and take less planning in the design and installation process. 

Gas does add some cost to the equation because instead of an open pit with a grate, a licensed gas contractor runs a gas line and installs a burner, as well as making sure it’s venting properly.

Outdoor Fireplace or Fire Pit? What’s the Cost Difference?

A simple wood-burning fire pit will cost anywhere from $1,500 to $2,000. Add stonework or masonry and the cost edges up from $5,000 to $7,500.

flagstone patio and firepit

Gas fire pits run between $6,000 and $10,000, depending on the location and difficulty of running the gas line, electricity, and the material around the fire pit like pavers or concrete.

No surprise, but you’re looking at a substantially higher price for an outdoor fireplace, given the construction and materials involved. Expect to pay between $22,000 and $30,000.

Ready for an Outdoor Fireplace or Fire Pit? Trust Outback in Idaho Falls

Outdoor fireplace or fire pit? Either way, you win. 

Outdoor fire features are high on the popularity list when it comes to landscape design and installation in Idaho Falls. 

Stock up on marshmallows. Search Pinterest for “cozy cocktails.” 

Can’t decide? Let our skilled designers help. We love this stuff. And while outdoor fire features are a great backyard addition, they look even better dressed up a bit.

What else do you need for a magical backyard experience? 

Built-in seating? Plants that offer privacy and soften the edges of your new outdoor hangout?  Strings of festive lights that make the whole scene glow? 

We’re on it.

Located in Idaho Falls, Idaho, we serve residential and commercial properties in Idaho Falls, Rexburg and Pocatello, Idaho, as well as Bonneville, Madison and Bannock counties.

Contact Outback Landscape at 208-656-3220, or fill out the contact form to schedule an onsite consultation.

We can’t wait to hear from you.

Get Started Today