Choosing the Right Fire Feature: Fire Pits vs. Fireplaces for Your Outdoor Space

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Fire pits vs fireplaces. Choosing the perfect fire feature for your outdoor living space can be transformative, enhancing your home’s ambiance and functionality. As a homeowner, your decision should be informed by understanding how various features align with your lifestyle needs and entertainment habits. At O’Keefe Built, we want you to understand your options for your Longmont, CO, home. In this comparison, we’ll guide you through three popular fire feature options: fire pits, fire tables, and outdoor fireplaces.

Each type offers unique benefits, from the rustic charm and warmth of traditional fire pits to the sleek, modern appeal of fire tables and the stately presence of an outdoor fireplace. By considering factors such as fuel type, heat output, seating arrangements, and maintenance requirements, you can choose a fire feature that elevates your custom deck and outdoor space and seamlessly integrates with your living style.

Photo of a patio, elevated deck, and fire table.

Factor 1: Fuel Type

One of the key decisions you’ll need to make is the fuel type for your fire feature. Wood-burning options, such as fire pits and outdoor fireplaces, offer the quintessential campfire experience with the nostalgic aroma of burning wood and the soothing sound of crackling logs. However, they require more upkeep, including regular cleaning and maintaining a wood supply. On the other hand, gas fire pits and fire tables provide a hassle-free operation. With a simple flip of a switch, they ignite instantly and maintain a clean burn with minimal smoke, making them a convenient choice for those seeking ease and cleanliness.

Factor 2: Heat Output

The heat your fire feature generates can significantly influence its effectiveness on chilly nights. Fire pits and outdoor fireplaces are known for their substantial radiant heat output, which can envelop a larger area in warmth, making them ideal for the colder seasons. They create a cozy, warm gathering spot for friends and family. Conversely, fire tables typically emit less heat with a controlled flame that prioritizes ambiance over heat, making them perfect for creating a mood rather than providing substantial warmth. This feature is especially beneficial during milder nights or when the fire feature is used more for its aesthetic appeal than as a heat source.

Photo of a fireplace in an outdoor room.

Factor 3: Seating Arrangement

The design of your fire feature significantly influences how people can gather around it. Fire pits typically allow for circular seating, fostering a communal atmosphere perfect for larger groups. This setup is ideal for engaging conversations and shared experiences, making it a favorite for social gatherings. Outdoor fireplaces offer a more structured setup with a linear seating arrangement, which directs attention towards the fire as a captivating backdrop, excellent for more intimate gatherings. Fire tables provide versatility by allowing seating on all sides, similar to fire pits, but the table height adds a layer of sophistication and comfort, making it suitable for both casual and formal occasions.

Photo of a fire pit with seats surrounding it.

Factor 4: Cooking Ability

Outside of an outdoor kitchen, if the culinary experience is a priority in your outdoor space, consider the cooking capabilities of your fire feature. Wood-burning fire pits are excellent for an authentic cooking experience—perfect for roasting marshmallows or grilling hot dogs over an open flame. Some gas fire pits are also compatible with cooking grates, offering convenience while allowing basic cooking. However, fire tables generally do not support cooking due to their design and materials, focusing more on aesthetics and light warmth.

Factor 5: Style & Design

The material and design of your fire feature should complement the overall aesthetic of your home and outdoor space. Fire pits and outdoor fireplaces can be crafted from various materials, including stone, brick, or metal, which can be chosen to align with or contrast against your home’s architecture, enhancing your landscape. Fire tables often sport a modern look with sleek materials like glass or faux wood, offering a stylish element that pairs well with contemporary outdoor furniture.

Factor 6: Permanence

The permanence of your fire feature is another critical consideration. In-ground fire pits and built-in outdoor fireplaces are permanent fixtures that can significantly impact the layout and design of your outdoor space. They require careful planning but offer a lasting addition to your home. On the other hand, freestanding fire pits and fire tables offer flexibility to change your layout as needed. This can be particularly advantageous if you anticipate future changes to your outdoor living spaces or prefer a setup that can be adjusted or moved according to the seasons or occasions.

Comparing fire pits, fire tables, and fireplaces for outdoors

Here’s a quick overview of the differences among the three fire features to help you decide which is best for your home:


Feature Fire Pits Fire Tables Outdoor Fireplaces
Fuel Type Wood-burning or gas options Primarily gas Wood-burning or gas options
Heat Output High, ideal for warmth Controlled, lower, for ambiance High, similar to fire pits
Seating Arrangement Circular, allows seating around Allows seating on all sides Linear setup in front of fire
Cooking Capability Suitable for cooking Not suitable for cooking Suitable, similar to fire pits
Style & Design Versatile materials like stone, brick, or metal Modern styles with materials like glass or faux wood Often built with materials that match home architecture
Permanence Can be either permanent or portable Mostly portable Usually permanent installations
Maintenance Requires regular cleaning, more with wood-burning Easier maintenance, less mess Regular cleaning, maintenance depends on fuel type
Installation Simple installation, more complex for permanent structures Simple setup, portable units easy to place More complex, often requires professional installation
Cost Varies, generally less expensive for basic models Can be expensive due to design and materials Typically most expensive due to construction and materials
Typical Usage Great for larger gatherings, traditional campfire experience Ideal for social gatherings with aesthetic focus, less heat Best for creating a central, warm focal point similar to an indoor fireplace

Still Not Sure Which Fire Feature is Best? Let’s Talk

If you are still undecided whether you want a fire pit, a fire table, or an outdoor fireplace, our expert team at O’Keefe Built can talk with you to better understand your vision for your outdoor living space. Once we have that discussion, we can make recommendations that align with your preferences to create a perfect design.


Contact us today to schedule a consultation and take the first step toward transforming your backyard into a warm and inviting gathering space!


If you are looking for a local deck-building company in the Front Range that guarantees your satisfaction, look no further than O’Keefe Built! Contact us today to get started on transforming your outdoor living space. We can’t wait to help you create a unique outdoor oasis that will wow your friends and family!