propane fire bowl

Backyard Outdoor Fireplaces: All Your Questions Answered

When the seasons change and the cool breeze starts to set in, there’s nothing quite as inviting as the warm flicker of a fireplace. Why limit this cozy experience to indoor spaces? In this blog, we dive into backyard outdoor fireplaces, exploring their benefits, design options, safety considerations, and more.

Outdoor Fireplaces: FAQs

Whether you’re a seasoned homeowner looking to upgrade your outdoor living area or a first-time homebuyer excited to create a gathering spot at your new house, we’ve got you covered with all answers to your questions so you can build the ultimate oasis in your backyard.

When you’re ready to install an outdoor fireplace at your home, VanderWall Brothers has you covered!

Do You Need a Permit To Build an Outdoor Fireplace in Your Yard?

The need for an outdoor fireplace permit can vary depending on your location and the specific regulations set by your local authorities. Research your local building codes and regulations first, or contact your city or county’s building department to inquire about the specific requirements for outdoor fireplaces.

As a general rule of thumb, outdoor fireplaces are considered a structural addition, so they will likely be subject to zoning and building codes.

How Far Away Does an Outdoor Fireplace Need To Be From a House?

It’s recommended that an outdoor fireplace should be installed at least 10 feet away from your house, property line, or any other structure, such as a fence.

Code requirements in your area could require more distance and could also regulate chimney height, so always educate yourself on your local building codes.

Do Outdoor Fireplaces Need To Be Vented?

Yes – if your fireplace relies on wood to function, you’ll need a chimney for proper ventilation. This is especially true if you install an outdoor fire feature in an enclosed patio.

How Much Space Do You Need for an Outdoor Fireplace?

As mentioned above, outdoor fireplaces should be at least 10 feet away from your home and other structures. For maximum safety, you should also have at least 3 feet of clear space between the fireplace and anything flammable, such as outdoor furniture, plants, or other decorations.

Does Outdoor Fireplace Add Value?

Typically, homes with an outdoor fireplace installed can recoup about 80% of the associated costs. An outdoor gas fireplace will offer you the most bang for your buck, adding even more value to your home.

What Should I Look For in an Outdoor Fireplace?

A high-quality outdoor fireplace will feature a chimney, firebox, and hearth and will usually be built on a stone, brick, or concrete patio or paved surface.

How Deep Should Concrete Be for an Outdoor Fireplace?

You will want to install a minimum 4″ thick -up to 8″ thick reinforced concrete pad. If you’re building on a pre-existing concrete pad or one much larger than your fireplace footprint, you should form or cut expansion joints around the fireplace.

What Fuel Options Are Available for Backyard Fireplaces?

There are generally only three fuel choices, each with its own benefits and drawbacks: wood, natural gas, and propane.

How Do I Maintain an Outdoor Fireplace?

To maintain your fireplace and get the most out of your investment, it’s essential to regularly remove built-up ash from the fireplace. You should also use a broom or outdoor wet-dry vacuum to clean debris, soot, and leaves from the fireplace each time you use it.

It’s recommended to do a deep clean once a year. Use a brush and warm, soapy water to thoroughly clean the fireplace inside and out. If you notice nearby foliage beginning to overgrow, cut it back promptly. Keep the fireplace bricks free of weeds and grass–plant roots can cause damage if they infiltrate natural cracks in the stone.

Can I Customize the Design of My Outdoor Fireplace?

With any home addition, personalization is vital. With VanderWall Brothers, homeowners can choose from various design options, materials, finishes, and other customization possibilities. It’s our mission to make your dream vision come to life!

High-Quality Outdoor Fireplaces From VanderWall Brothers

With a commitment to quality, innovation, and customer satisfaction, VanderWall Bros. is a trusted partner for outdoor fireplaces. From an impressive array of design options to expert guidance on safety and installation, VanderWall Bros. offers a comprehensive solution that caters to your unique preferences and requirements.

As you embark on your journey to transform your backyard into your own paradise, remember that VanderWall Bros. provides exceptional outdoor fireplace products and a sense of assurance that you’re investing in a company dedicated to enhancing your outdoor experience. Choose VanderWall Bros. and ignite the warmth and beauty of your outdoor space today.

pellet vs wood stove

Do You Know the Difference Between a Pellet Stove vs. a Wood Stove?

In the quest for efficient and environmentally friendly heating solutions, both pellet and wood stoves are popular choices for homeowners. These two heating appliances aim to provide warmth and comfort during colder months, but which is the better choice? 

We’ll compare pellet stoves vs. wood stoves so you can decide the best choice for your home. 

Comparing Pellet Stoves vs. Wood Stoves

What is a Pellet Stove?

A pellet stove is a modern heating appliance that burns compressed wood or biomass pellets. The pellets are made from renewable materials, such as wood chips, sawdust, agricultural waste, or other biomass materials. 

Pellet stoves consist of a hopper that stores the pellets, an auger system to feed them into the combustion chamber, and a fan to control the intensity of the fire and distribute the heat. They can be easily automated with programmable thermostats, ensuring steady and consistent warmth throughout the space. 

Pellet stove brands we love

What is a Wood Stove?

Wood stoves are traditional heating appliances that burn chopped wood logs. The stoves can be made from cast iron or steel and consist of a firebox and flue that allows smoke and gasses to escape while retaining heat into the surrounding space. 

Using natural firewood for heat offers a rustic and cozy ambiance that many homeowners cherish, but their efficiency can vary based on factors such as wood quality, combustion, and insulation.

Wood stove brands we love

The Pros and Cons of Pellet Stoves vs. Wood Stoves

While pellet and wood stoves serve the purpose of heating homes, they differ in fuel type, automation, maintenance, and environmental impact. Choosing between the two depends on individual preferences, heating requirements, and considerations for convenience and sustainability.

Pellet Stoves: The Pros

  • High Efficiency: Pellet stoves offer higher efficiency than wood stoves, as the combustion process is better controlled.
  • Convenient Automation: Pellet stoves can be easily automated with programmable thermostats, allowing precise temperature control. 
  • Cleaner Operation: Pellet stoves produce minimal ash and emissions, making them a cleaner and more eco-friendly heating option.
  • Consistent Heat Output: With automated fuel feed, pellet stoves provide a more consistent and even heat distribution.

Pellet Stoves: The Cons

  • Dependence on Electricity: Pellet stoves rely on electricity to power the auger system and the fans, which means they won’t work during power outages.
  • Limited Fuel Source: While pellets are made from renewable materials, their availability might be limited in some areas, leading to higher fuel costs.
  • Higher Upfront Cost: Pellet stoves are generally more expensive to purchase and install compared to wood stoves. 
  • Mechanical Issues: The complexity of the auger and fan systems can lead to potential mechanical problems, requiring maintenance and repairs. 
  • Maintenance: Creates ash and debris that may need to be cleaned out daily. Plus, if the pellets get wet, they expand back into sawdust, which means storage could get messy.

Wood Stoves: The Pros

  • Natural and Traditional: Wood stoves provide a nostalgic and cozy ambiance with the crackling sound of burning logs. 
  • Renewable Fuel Source: Wood is a renewable resource, making it a sustainable heating option if responsible harvesting practices are followed.
  • Independence from Electricity: Wood stoves do not rely on electricity, ensuring continued heating even during power outages.
  • Cost-Effective: In regions with abundant wood supply, wood logs can be a cost-effective heating solution compared to other fuel sources.

Wood Stoves: The Cons

  • Lower Efficiency: Heat is lost through the chimney along with smoke and gasses, resulting in wood stoves typically having lower efficiency compared to pellet stoves. 
  • Regular Maintenance: Wood stoves require frequent cleaning to remove ash and soot buildup, which can be time-consuming.
  • Environmental Impact: While wood is a renewable resource, burning wood releases carbon dioxide and other pollutants into the atmosphere, contributing to air pollution.
    • Note: In 2020, the EPA (United States Environmental Protection Agency) introduced a policy that significantly reduces the amount of emissions released from wood stoves. Now the units burn cleaner and with less particulate matter than older wood-burning units – so that’s a great improvement!
  • Inconsistent Heat: Heating with wood can lead to uneven temperature distribution – the fire’s intensity varies based on the type and quality of wood used.

VanderWall Brothers Is Here to Heat Your Home

Whether you opt for a wood stove or pellet stove, you can trust VanderWall Brothers to be your trusted partner in providing top-notch heating solutions for your home. We offer seamless installation and reliable maintenance services for both stove types, and our commitment to customer satisfaction means we take the time to understand your specific heating needs. We can even help you choose which one is best for your home. 

Contact VanderWall Brothers today for all your home heating needs! 

4 backyard fire pit ideas

Backyard Fire Pit Ideas: 4 Ways To Transform Your Outdoor Living Space

There’s something undeniably magical about gathering around a crackling fire, sharing stories, and enjoying the warmth of the flames under the night sky. Are you interested in installing a fire pit in your backyard so you can start making these unforgettable memories? We’re here to help!  

In this blog, we’ll provide you with inspiration for new and fun backyard fire pit ideas that will take your outdoor entertaining space to the next level. 

4 Backyard Fire Pit Ideas To Try

When it comes to outdoor entertaining, we know what we’re talking about. Here are our four favorite backyard fire pit ideas we’re loving right now. 

#1: Traditional Wood-Burning Fire Pit

wood burning fire pit

Nothing compares to a traditional wood-burning fire pit. This classic piece adds a timeless, rustic charm to any backyard. Wood-burning firepits allow you to enjoy the crackling sound and beautiful sights and smells of real wood flames. We recommend constructing your fire pit with heat-resistant materials like metal or stone. 

#2 Gas Fire Pit Table

Opt for a gas fire pit table for a convenient and hassle-free outdoor fire experience. Gas fire pit tables are available in various styles, shapes, and materials, allowing you to find one that complements your outdoor decor while providing a cozy gathering spot. This is a fantastic option if you live in an area that restricts wood burning. 

Gas fire pit tables combine the functionality of a fire pit with the practicality of a table. With a simple turn of a knob, you ignite the flames and control the heat output, and installing a gas line makes it convenient to use no matter what time of year it is. 

#3: Propane Fire Bowl

propane fire bowl

The propane fire bowl is another popular option on the market for backyard fires. Propane fire bowls are made of durable concrete and can be used with propane or natural gas. They vary in size and come in a wide variety of stylish designs and styles. 

In addition, fire bowls offer quick and easy installation. Plus, depending on the size, they can be portable. So they’re easy to take with you if you ever move homes. 

Pro Tip: Protect your investment and opt for wind guards and other protective devices. They’ll keep the equipment safe throughout the year during inclement weather conditions. 

#4: Smokeless Fire Pit

smokeless fire pit

If smoke bothers you or you live in an area with strict regulations regarding open fires, a smokeless fire pit is a perfect solution. Smokeless fire pits often feature innovative airflow systems that burn the wood more efficiently, reducing smoke emissions. This advanced technology allows you to enjoy a clean and smoke-free experience. 

When searching for the highest-quality smokeless fire pits, we recommend BREEO. They’re durable, versatile, and will elevate any outdoor space.

Heat Things Up in Your Backyard

Looking to create a cozy and inviting outdoor space with a stunning fire pit? VanderWall Bros. is your ultimate destination for all your outdoor living and fire installation needs. With our expertise in outdoor design and impeccable craftsmanship, we can transform your backyard into a captivating sanctuary where you can gather, relax, and create lasting memories with family and friends. 

Don’t miss the opportunity to elevate your outdoor living experience this summer. Contact VanderWall Bros. today and let us help you create the perfect fire pit that will become the heart of your outdoor oasis.

5 paver design ideas

5 Paver Design Ideas For Your Yard You Need To Try

Pavers have become popular for enhancing outdoor spaces, offering a versatile and durable solution that can transform any area into a stunning oasis. Whether you’re looking to create a charming walkway, a cozy firepit, or a standout geometrical design, we have a plethora of inspiring ideas to help you make the most of your pavers. 

Read on and discover the best paver design ideas and discover how they can elevate the aesthetics and functionality of your outdoor living space.

What Are Pavers?

Pavers, also known as paving stones, are rectangular or square-shaped building units made from concrete, natural stone, brick, or clay. They’re designed to create durable and visually appealing surfaces in outdoor areas. 

One of the best parts about pavers is their versatility. They allow for endless design possibilities, allowing you to customize your landscaping and hardscaping projects according to your style and preferences. 

The 5 Best Paver Design Ideas of 2023

#1: Create a Charming Walkway


Pavers are commonly used to create pathways in gardens, backyards, patios, or front entryways. Installing a walkway will give your outdoor space a charming feel and guide visitors through your yard where you want them to go, so they’re not damaging your landscaping. 

When using pavers to create a walkway, you can choose a complementary color to your home’s exterior. Or, consider adding a bold accent color to create a unique color palette. For added visual interest, you can make unique formations and patterns like herringbone or basketweave. 

#2: Design a Functional Patio


Don’t go through the hassle of pouring concrete – use pavers to build a beautiful patio in your yard. You can easily create a cozy seating area or an extensive entertaining area using pavers. 

Pavers are incredibly versatile and customizable. You can create a space as big or small as you’d like and in any shape, color, or pattern. The possibilities are endless! 

#3: Install a Picturesque Pool Deck

pool deck

What good is a pool if it doesn’t have a deck where you can relax and soak up the sun’s rays? Use pavers and build a dazzling pool deck or patio! Pavers around a pool not only provide a slip-resistant and durable surface, but they also add a touch of luxury and sophistication. 

Experiment with different laying patterns to create a visually appealing design that matches your aesthetic. We recommend using light-colored heat-resistant pavers to keep the surface cool in the hot summer months. 

#4: Build a Cozy Fire Pit Area

There’s nothing like a chilly evening sitting around a bonfire with your friends and family, sharing stories and laughing. Anyone can make a fire in their backyard, but a thoughtfully designed fire pit area will offer a sense of luxury. 

Use pavers to create a designated fire pit area. They’re a top-notch option for this project because they offer heat resistance. You can construct a circular or square base around the pit and surround it with comfortable seating. 

#5: Install a Versatile Outdoor Kitchen

outdoor kitchen

Do you want to transform your backyard into the ultimate entertainment space? Build an outdoor kitchen! From summertime BBQs to football Sundays to happy hours, your home will quickly become the place to be. 

Use pavers to build floors and spaces for built-in grills and ovens, and more. Pavers provide a durable that can withstand heat damage from cooking, so they’re a good investment for this project. 

Pavers can also be used to create the floor in your outdoor kitchen since they stand up against heavy foot traffic, hefty spills, and weather damage. 

Are You Ready To Transform Your Backyard?

Are you looking to enhance your outdoor living space and transform your landscape into a stunning oasis? VanderWall Bros. has got you covered. We’re your go-to outdoor living and landscaping experts, specializing in top-quality pavers that will bring elegance and durability to your projects. 

Whether you’re dreaming of a beautiful patio, captivating walkway, or breathtaking outdoor kitchen, our team of skilled professionals is here to turn your vision into reality. Contact us today, and let us bring your outdoor dreams to life!

outdoor kitchen trends

The Best Outdoor Kitchen Trends of 2023

As winter begins to fade away, we can’t help but get excited about the upcoming summer season. Are you ready to transform your outdoor space this year and give yourself a summertime oasis right in your own backyard? We can help! 

If you want the most fabulous backyard on the block, it doesn’t get better than having an outdoor kitchen. Keep reading to discover the best outdoor kitchen trends of 2023. 

The 5 Best Outdoor Kitchen Trends To Try

Whether you’re an avid cook, an entertainer, or simply someone who appreciates the beauty of outdoor living, these outdoor kitchen designs can elevate your outdoor space to new heights and give you a “resort” type of feeling in your own backyard.

1. Various Cooking Methods

When it comes to cooking in the great outdoors, it’s no longer just about traditional grilling. One of the latest outdoor cooking trends is exploring and incorporating various cooking methods.

Wood-fired ovens have gained tremendous popularity in outdoor kitchens, allowing you to cook various dishes, from pizzas with a crispy crust to succulent roasts and bread. Outdoor kitchens with smokers offer a fantastic opportunity to indulge in mouthwatering dishes that are tender, juicy, and bursting with smoky goodness. And the addition of an outdoor range can allow you to make sauces and sides that will compliment your meal.

At Vanderwall Brothers, we are massive fans of outdoor pizza ovens. There’s no better way to make memories with friends and family during the summertime than by making homemade pizzas and enjoying them in the comfort of your backyard. We recommend the Forno De Pizza Oven from HPC Fire

forno oven

2. Multi-Level Outdoor Kitchen Designs

In recent years, outdoor kitchens have evolved from simple grilling stations to elaborate culinary spaces. One trend that has gained significant popularity is incorporating multi-level outdoor kitchen designs. These designs provide a visually appealing layout, enhance functionality, and create a dynamic atmosphere for outdoor cooking and entertaining. 

Multi-level outdoor kitchen designs effectively use vertical space, allowing you to maximize the available area. By incorporating multiple levels, you can separate various functional areas, such as cooking, dining, and entertaining, creating a sense of organization and purpose. 

You can include a bar or a countertop with seating on one level, allowing your guests to socialize and enjoy drinks while you prepare meals on a different level. The multiple levels can also accommodate additional amenities like built-in grills, pizza ovens, refrigerators, and sinks, providing convenience and accessibility to both the cook and guests.

3. Customized Storage Solutions

When you install an outdoor kitchen, you’re likely to get very excited and buy new accessories to go with it, such as plastic plates and cups, placemats, cooking utensils, and more, but where will you keep it all? Your indoor kitchen is probably full already, with limited additional storage. 

Here’s the solution – customized storage solutions in your new outdoor kitchen. Outdoor kitchens are becoming more functional, with homeowners opting for storage options that can hold everything from cooking utensils to outdoor tableware.

Built-in cabinets and drawers, as well as open shelving, give you plenty of places to store supplies outside. Here at VanderWall Brothers, we recommend products from Stoll Industries such as their outdoor kitchen islands with built-in storage. Their custom kitchen kits make them easy to install in a configuration that works in your space.

stoll storage

4. Outdoor Heating

While in the middle of summer, you may not think about needing any additional heat on those hot nights, but adding a heating element, either a fire table or outdoor heating unit, can lengthen the time you are able to use your outdoor kitchen and entertaining space by two or three months. While other people are sitting inside in the early spring or late fall, you can enjoy your outdoor space longer. 

We recommend Bromic heaters for your outdoor kitchen due to their performance and reliability. They work on a variety of fuel sources, including electric, natural gas, and liquid propane. They can be hung above the dining table or can be purchased in a portable option so you can move it to where you are most comfortable. They even have heaters that are rated for marine use and can be placed near a pool or if you are lucky enough, lakeside. These sleek heaters blend in with their surroundings and can be used with a remote or added to your smart home technology.


5. Versatile & Functional Spaces

By creating spaces in your outdoor kitchen that serve more than one purpose, you can maximize the functionality of your outdoor living space. For example, if you love using fresh herbs and vegetables in your cooking, consider adding a garden area to your outdoor kitchen design. Incorporate raised garden beds or vertical gardens nearby to grow herbs, vegetables, and flowers so you can always harvest fresh ingredients. 

Combine your outdoor kitchen with a comfortable lounge area to create a multi-functional cooking, dining, and relaxing space. Add comfortable seating, an outdoor fireplace, and a TV to create a cozy outdoor living space that can be used year-round. You can even install Bromic heaters to extend your time spent outdoors into the nighttime.

Add a little something extra with a table top gas lantern by Outdoor Great Room. Incredibly easy to install, they fit right where the umbrella would go on your patio table. Powered by a small propane tank they are set up to create a small whirlwind of flames.  They safely transform the space to create a warm ambiance with some interesting flare. 

outdoor great room lantern

VanderWall Brothers Is Here To Help

Are you ready to open up a world of possibilities and elevate your culinary adventures to new heights? Contact VanderWall Brothers about creating a one-of-a-kind outdoor kitchen and entertaining space. We have everything you need, from grills to ovens to storage solutions to fireplaces. Visit us online to stop by our showroom to learn more! 


cmu block

Everything To Know About CMU Blocks

CMU blocks, also known as concrete masonry units, are widely used building materials for commercial and residential construction projects. These blocks offer a range of benefits, including durability, strength, fire resistance, and energy efficiency. 

Whether you’re building a retaining wall or a foundation, CMU blocks can provide a sturdy and long-lasting solution. Are you interested in learning if CMU blocks are right for your next project? You’re in the right place!

Everything You Need to Know About CMU Blocks

This blog will tell you everything you need to know about CMU blocks, including their best features, benefits, applications, and more.

What is CMU Block? 

CMU block is a type of precast concrete block used in construction for building walls, foundations, and other structures. CMU blocks are known for their strength, durability, fire resistance, and energy efficiency, making them a popular choice for construction projects of all types and sizes, including outdoor fire structures. 

What is CMU Block Made Of? 

CMU block is typically rectangular in shape and made from a mixture of cement, aggregates, and water. The aggregates are raw materials produced from natural sources, like pits and quarries, and could consist of sand, gravel, or crushed stone. 

Lightweight vs. Ultra Lightweight CMU Blocks: What’s the Difference?

CMU blocks are available in lightweight and ultra-lightweight versions. Both are types of CMUs that are designed to be lighter in weight than traditional CMU blocks. The primary difference between the two is the level of density and weight reduction.

Lightweight CMU blocks are made by replacing heavier aggregates with lightweight materials, like expanded clay, shale, or slate. Lightweight CMU blocks typically weigh between 28 and 35 pounds. 

Ultra-lightweight CMU blocks are made using a mixture of highly lightweight aggregates, like expanded polystyrene beads or perlite, and cement. Ultra-lightweight CMU blocks can weigh as little as 10 to 20 pounds.

What Sizes Does CMU Block Come In?

No matter what your project is, there is a suitable CMU block. CMUs come in various sizes and densities, with varying finishes and textures. 

The width and height of the blocks are usually consistent at 8 inches by 8 inches or 8 inches by 10 inches, while the length can vary from 16 inches to 24 inches. Smaller and larger sizes are also available, such as half-high blocks or jumbo blocks, depending on the specific project requirements.

The most common sizes for standard CMU blocks include the following: 

  • 8″ x 8″ x 16″
  • 8″ x 10″ x 16″
  • 8″ x 12″ x 16″
  • 10″ x 10″ x 16″
  • 12″ x 12″ x 16″

How Much Does CMU Block Cost?

The average price of CMU blocks depends on their size, density, the region from which they were purchased, and the quantity ordered. The average cost of standard 8″ x 8″ x 16″ CMU blocks ranges from $1.50 to $3.00 per block. 

As a rule of thumb, lightweight and ultra-lightweight CMU blocks are slightly more expensive than standard CMU blocks. 

What Are the Benefits of CMU Block?

Concrete masonry unit blocks offer several benefits in construction. Some of the best advantages of using CMU blocks include the following:

  • Durability
  • Strength 
  • Fire resistance
  • Energy efficiency
  • Sound insulation
  • Low maintenance
  • Sustainable 
  • Thermal insulation
  • Versatility
  • Cost-effective 
  • Resistant to rot and pests

What Are the Common Applications of CMU Block?

CMU blocks have a wide range of applications in the building industry. Here at VanderWall, we use them often for foundations and buildings. Some of the other common applications of CMUs are: 

  • Load-bearing walls
  • Retaining walls
  • Interior walls
  • Fences 
  • Sound barriers
  • Exterior walls
  • Garden walls

When you need expertise for a new project, you can trust VanderWall. With our knowledge, experience, and expertise, we can assist you with various home projects utilizing CMU blocks and more. For more information, please feel free to contact us or come in and visit our showroom to see our samples!

Outdoor Fireplace - Napoleon

Everything You Need to Know About Outdoor Fireplace Installation

Outdoor fireplaces and fire pits can transform your deck, patio, or yard into additional living areas, providing a cozy ambiance for you and your guests as the temperature drops. The warmth and crackle of a fire can create a relaxing atmosphere that makes you feel as if you’re on vacation in your own backyard. If you’re considering installing an outdoor fireplace, it’s essential to understand the key factors that will help you determine the ideal setup for your needs.

4 Important Things to Know About Outdoor Fireplace Installation

If you’re new to outdoor fire options, we’re here to help set you up for success and familiarize you with outdoor fireplace installation tips. Before you purchase the fireplace, consider the following factors:

1. Gas vs. Wood vs. Electric

One of the first important things you must consider when choosing an outdoor fireplace is whether you prefer gas, wood, or electric. 

  • A traditional wood fireplace captures the unmatched cozy feeling that comes to mind when you imagine sitting around the warm glow of a wood fire. However, wood-burning fireplaces produce significant smoke, which comes with increased regulations. 
  • On the other hand, outdoor gas and electric fireplaces don’t emit ash and can generate the heat necessary to create a warm, welcoming backyard ambiance. You need to remember that to hook up a gas or electric fireplace, you’ll need a gas line or outlet. 
  • One unique fireplace option to keep in mind is a smokeless firepit. Here at VanderWall, we’re proud to carry the Breeo Smokeless Fire Pit. What sets it apart from other options is that when it gets hot enough, it will reburn the smoke, resulting in a more pleasant atmosphere without smoke chasing you around. Plus, they’re made in the USA with high-quality stainless and corten steel. 

2. Location and Space

Determining the fireplace’s location is also an essential step during this planning stage. Fire structures come in various shapes and sizes, so choosing the right style and finding the perfect place for your outdoor living space is crucial. 

  • Consider seating and proximity to the home when choosing the fireplace location. You might want to be able to walk right outside and sit by the roaring flames. Or, you might prefer that it’s further away from your house to prevent noise from outdoor gatherings traveling into your home. 
  • One of the most critical considerations is local regulations regarding outdoor fires. Check your area’s guidelines and laws before setting your heart on the spot for your new fireplace. 
  • If you’re installing a wood-burning fireplace, there are additional measures you should take. You need to keep the location away from structures, trees, or other flammable materials, ensure proper ventilation, and install a spark arrestor or spark screen on the chimney to prevent sparks from escaping. Plus, the fireplace must be built on a sturdy, fire-resistant base, such as a concrete slab or fire-resistant pavers
  • Don’t forget to cover electric units outside and keep them protected from the elements. They can not be exposed directly to the rain or snow. 

3. Necessary Upkeep

Each outdoor fireplace will require a different amount and type of upkeep. Consider how much time you’re comfortable spending on fireplace upkeep before choosing a style.

  • Fire pits that burn wood require ash removal, scrubbing, and rinsing. Owners should also check for creosote buildup, maintain chimney cracks, and install a spark screen to prevent sparks and embers from escaping the fireplace.
  • Gas fire pit maintenance focuses on keeping the gas line clean and annually checking for leaks. You’ll also need to keep the artificial logs, glass, and burners clean and check that the pilot light is working properly. To protect the fire pit year-round, you can store it inside in the winter or keep it covered and put it somewhere where the metal won’t get damaged. 
  • The interior of electric fireplaces needs to be inspected for any debris or buildup that could cause a fire hazard. You’ll also need to test the heating element before using the fireplace for the season by turning it on and letting it run for a few minutes, ensuring it’s heating up properly.

4. Fire Safety

One of the most important things to know before installing an outdoor fireplace is the set of fire safety procedures to keep yourself and your family safe. We have sporadically mentioned some safety tips throughout this blog, but there are still more to keep in mind. 

  • For starters, anything flammable should sit at a distance or be protected from embers, flames, and gas, including outdoor furnishings, lawns, and plants.
  • Homeowners need to keep a fire extinguisher of the correct fire class nearby in case of an emergency and should maintain it yearly to keep it up to date.
  • Store wood in a dry place away from the elements to keep it dry and prevent mold or rot. You should only burn dry, seasoned wood in the fireplace, as wet or green wood can create excess smoke and soot buildup.

High-Quality Outdoor Fireplaces With VanderWall

With style options, placement, and safety regulations in mind, you can take the next steps in choosing your ideal fireplace or fire pit. Before you know it, you’ll have an outdoor oasis right at your own home! Contact VanderWall today to get started with your outdoor fireplace installation. We know all the ins and outs of this process, and we can’t wait to help you. 

types of outdoor fireplaces

Popular Types of Outdoor Fireplaces

Do you want to elevate your outdoor entertaining space? One of the best ways to do that is by implementing an outdoor fireplace. You can bring a charming ambiance and an area where friends and family can gather and make long-lasting memories. You can also install other outdoor fire structures, such as a grill or oven, so you can bbq, make wood-fired pizza, and more. It doesn’t get any better than that! 

If you’re wondering what’s the best type of outdoor fireplace for you, we’re here to help! 

3 Things To Consider Before Investing in an Outdoor Fireplace

Before taking the plunge and investing in an outdoor fire structure, consider these helpful tips to set yourself up for success. 

1. What are the restrictions in your area for burning outside?

It’s important to make yourself aware of any fire-burning restrictions in your local area. For example, in Grand Rapids, you need a permit for wood, your backyard needs to be a specific size, and you need to have your neighbor’s permission to burn due to allergies and other lung issues.

If certain fire structures are prohibited in your neighborhood, we suggest going the gas fireplace route – they’re almost always allowed in all residential areas.  

2. Why should I buy a high-end product instead of one from Costco, Wayfair, or Target?

Here’s the simple answer: quality and replacement. If you want a product that will last year-round throughout various weather conditions, the quality of a high-end product can’t be matched. Reputable fireplace brands built their structures to last and usually come with a lifetime warranty. 


If you need a replacement part, you likely won’t be able to get it from one of the stores listed above since their inventory is produced and sold until it’s gone and isn’t remanufactured in the future. If the glass breaks or a tile comes loose, you won’t be able to get it replaced. 

3. Are you interested in custom-made products?

To amplify your outdoor space and customize your fireplace, you must go with a high-quality brand. We work alongside multiple manufacturers who provide ways to create your own design. Do you want your gas fire pit to be the shape of the Michigan State logo? We’ve got you covered! 

custom made fireplace

The 3 Most Popular Types of Outdoor Fireplaces

Outdoor fire burning can be as simple or detailed as your heart desires. The three most popular types of outdoor fire structures are fireplaces, fire tables, and fire bowls. Let’s get into it!

1. Outdoor Fireplaces

If you want to make a grand statement. You can build a freestanding fireplace or an extravagant structure with a chimney surrounded by beautiful stones or brick, or you can opt for steel. 


You can choose from gas or wood-burning fireplaces and select a stone finish that matches your house for a cohesive look. The structure can be completely exposed and out in the open, or provide solace from the wind and weather can be enclosed in a porch. 

Benefits of Outdoor Fireplaces:

  • Instantly turns your outdoor space into a living and entertaining space
  • Strong and sturdy
  • Weather-resistant 
  • Adds to home value

Outdoor Fireplace Brands From Vanderwall Bros:

  • Outdoor Great Room
  • Napoleon

2. Fire Tables

A fire table is a fantastic choice to create a magical ambiance on your deck, patio, or yard. They range in size and shape, such as a compact portable table that small groups can gather around or a 64-inch-long low-sitting table that exudes elegance. Most tables are propane-operated, but some can be converted to natural gas. 

Benefits of Outdoor Fire Tables:

  • Can move locations if need be (or some might be permanently installed depending on the type you choose)
  • Easily adjustable flame for the perfect vibe and heat level

Outdoor Fire Table Brands From Vanderwall Bros:

  • The Outdoor Greatroom Company

3. Fire Bowls

Like fire pits, fire bowls can transform any yard, patio, or porch into a warm, inviting space for quality outdoor time. Most commonly, they’re made of durable concrete and can be used with propane or natural gas. Wind guards and other protective devices can be installed to keep the equipment safe during weather conditions. 

Benefits of Outdoor Fire Bowls:

Outdoor Fire Table Brands From Vanderwall Bros:

  • The Outdoor Greatroom Company


Additional Sought-After Outdoor Fire Structures

In addition to the fire pits, bowls, and fireplaces listed above, additional options for outdoor products and equipment will take your outdoor space to the next level. 

  • Outdoor Ovens

We’re all familiar with outdoor grills and BBQs, but what about outdoor ovens? You can choose from woodfired, propane, or gas and prepare a wide array of delicious meals. Outdoor ranges are available as free-standing units, or they can be built into a more extensive outdoor counter and kitchen space. Some of the most popular options are brick pizza ovens! 

Want to learn more? Check out the options available from the Forno Series from HPC.

  • Outdoor Fire Pits

If you’re looking for the same ambiance as a stationary fire table or bowl, consider opting for an outdoor fire pit. They’re portable, convenient, and affordable, and they still offer a fantastic space for entertaining and gathering. 

Want to learn more? Check out the options available from The Outdoor Greatroom Company or Breeo

custom pizza oven

Vanderwall Bros Has All Your Outdoor Fire Needs Covered

When you want to install an outdoor fireplace, look to VanderWall Bros. We are licensed, insured, and have a mechanical license to install fireplaces. Our expertise will make this addition as clean and worry-free as possible, and we’re excited to bring to life the idea you have been dreaming of all winter. Contact our team today to get started!

manufactured stone vs real stone

Manufactured Stone vs. Real Stone

If you’re about to tackle a new home project, you might be comparing manufactured stone vs. real stone. This is an important decision and could significantly affect your budget and the outcome of the project. We’ll tell you all about manufactured stone and why it might be the best choice.  

What Is Manufactured Stone?

Manufactured stone, also known as faux stone, artificial stone, or cultured stone, is a building material used for interior and exterior applications that mimics the look of natural stone but has better quality and weight.

Manufactured stone is lightweight and easy to install, which makes it a popular choice among builders and homeowners who want the look of natural stone without the cost and weight. The most common types of manufactured stone we work with include country ledge stone, cobble field, profit, dressed fieldstone, and southern ledge stone.

What Is Manufactured Stone Made Of?

The manufactured stone veneer is composed of cement, lightweight natural aggregates, and iron oxide pigment for coloration. They’re approximately one-quarter the weight of natural stone and easily adhere to most wall surfaces.

manufactured stone exterior

How Long Does Manufactured Stone Last?

With the proper maintenance and upkeep, manufactured stone veneer siding can last anywhere from 20-75 years. The lifespan will depend on the type of artificial stone to choose and the environment it’s in, but in general, manufactured stone has fantastic longevity and is an excellent investment. 

What Is Manufactured Stone Used For?

Manufactured stone is a versatile building material used for various home projects, including both indoor and outdoor. Some of the most popular uses for manufactured stone include the following:

  • Interior walls
  • Backsplashes
  • Fireplaces
  • Fire pits
  • Chimneys 
  • Accent walls
  • Home exteriors 
  • Columns and pillars
  • Outdoor kitchens and grills
  • Water features
  • Patios
  • And so much more!

outdoor stone entertainment space

What Are the Benefits of Manufactured Stone vs. Real Stone?

When comparing manufactured stone vs. real stone, consider the following benefits. 

The Benefits of Manufactured Stone

  • Cost-effectiveness: Manufactured stone is typically less expensive than natural stone
  • Lightweight: Easier to install and handle. 
  • Variety: Comes in a wide variety of colors and styles, giving homeowners more design options to choose from.
  • Consistency: Since manufactured stone is made in a factory, it has a consistent color and texture throughout. 
  • Durability: Manufactured stone is made from a mixture of cement, aggregates, and pigments, which makes it durable and resistant to the elements.
  • Maintenance: It doesn’t need to be sealed or resealed.

Vanderwall Bros. Is Here for All Your Manufactured Stone Needs

Whether you need stone for a new wall, backsplash, fireplace, or other home feature, we would love to be your top choice supplier. At VanderWall Bros., we carry amazing selections of manufactured stones that are built to last. Give our team a call or contact us online to start your project. We can’t wait to get started! 

landscaping and hardscaping

Top Landscaping & Hardscaping Trends

It’s a new year, and the spring season is quickly approaching. There’s no better time for homeowners to give their outdoor spaces a makeover. Read on to discover this year’s top landscaping trends and hardscaping trends and get inspiration for your outdoor space revamp. 

What Is Landscaping?

Landscaping is the modification of features of an area of land, including living elements, such as flora or fauna. This process includes designing, planning, and creating outdoor spaces to enhance beauty, functionality, and sustainability. 

Landscaping can include placing plants, trees, and other natural features. It can be done for residential, commercial, or public spaces and involve a range of techniques and materials depending on the specific needs and goals of the project.

What Is Hardscaping?

Hardscaping refers to the modification of non-living elements of a landscape design, such as paths, patios, retaining walls, and other manufactured features. Hardscaping can include the use of materials like stone, concrete, bricks, wood, and metal to create outdoor structures and surfaces.

Hardscaping can enhance outdoor spaces’ functionality and aesthetic appeal and create distinct areas for different activities, such as dining, entertainment, and relaxation. It can also address practical concerns, such as erosion control and drainage.

What Is the Importance of Landscaping and Hardscaping?

There are many benefits to landscaping and hardscaping and reasons why they’re essential. For starters, it will increase your curb appeal and add value to your property – making it more attractive to potential buyers. It will also enhance the visual appeal for the current homeowner and provide a beautiful space they want to spend time and use for enjoyment for years to come.


Another reason landscaping and hardscaping are important is that they are good for the environment. A landscape with native plants and sustainable hardscaping materials can help conserve water, reduce erosion, and support local wildlife.

Here Are the Top 4 Landscaping Trends of 2023

Are you ready to take your outdoor space to the next level? Check out the most popular landscaping trends of 2023. 

1. Sustainable Landscaping

rainwater collection

With sustainable landscaping and the incorporation of native plants, you can create a habitat for pollinators and other good insects. This will help your plant life flourish and prevent you from wasting money on plants that won’t survive in your environment. 

Other ways to use sustainable landscaping in your space include adding a composting area and a rainwater collection system to save water. 

2. Use of Native Plants

As we mentioned above, using native plants and resources in yards is a trend we’re seeing more and more of this year – and for a good reason! Native plants are typically more resistant to disease, drought, and other environmental risks, requiring less maintenance and upkeep. 

Also, most native plants are not invasive and allow all other plants in your garden or yard to grow freely without using fertilizer or pesticides.

3. Incorporation of Water Features

water features

When you want to elevate an outdoor living space, it doesn’t get any better than a gorgeous water feature. Adding a pond or fountain will create visual interest and a sense of luxury. A well-maintained and designed landscape with a water feature may increase the value of your real estate investment by as much as 20%. 

An additional benefit of water features with running water is that they can help to mask unwanted outside noises and create their own soundtrack of tranquil sounds. 

4. Minimalist Landscaping

Minimalist landscaping subscribes to the thought process that less is more – and we agree, especially if you’re working with limited space or want to keep your budget low. You can spend less on ornamental objects and let the landscaping speak for itself. 

To complement minimalist landscaping, we recommend choosing simple, clean furniture, such as teak, with simple patterns. Also, you could opt for a few streamlined garden boxes rather than building an extensive in-ground garden. 

Here Are the Top 4 Hardscaping Trends of 2023

As you plan your next hardscaping project, consider these hardscaping trends of 2023. 

1. Multi-Functional Outdoor Living Spaces

Multi-functional outdoor living spaces are designed to serve multiple purposes, allowing you to maximize the use of your outdoor area. For example, fire pits and fireplaces can be used for warmth, ambiance, and cooking food. They can also serve as a focal point for gatherings and socializing.

Outdoor kitchens can include a range of features, such as a grill, sink, refrigerator, and seating areas, allowing you to cook and entertain guests in your outdoor space for various occasions. Plus, your garden can provide a space for growing your own fruits, vegetables, and herbs and a stunning setting for relaxation and dining.

2. Natural Stone Hardscaping

natural stone fireplace

There are several benefits to using natural stone in hardscaping projects, including its high durability and versatility. It comes in many colors, shapes, and sizes and can easily be cleaned with a pressure washer or hose. Plus, natural stone is sustainable and can withstand harsh temperatures and weather conditions without deteriorating. 

Natural stones can be used in several ways in your outdoor living area, such as creating beautiful and durable patio surfaces, walkways, and paths that blend seamlessly into the surrounding landscape. Many of our customers opt for natural stone when building outdoor fireplaces and fire pits, since natural stone can be straight or curved and can handle high temperatures. Consider using natural stone to build outdoor kitchen walls, backsplashes, pool accents, columns, garden edging, and more. 

3. Outdoor Lighting 

When you invest in an outdoor entertainment space, you want it to be functional during the day and night, so it’s vital to implement outdoor lighting. One trend that we don’t see going anywhere is the use of string lights and bistro lights. They immediately add a romantic appeal to the area and make you feel cozy. 

On the practical side, functional pathway lighting allows guests to navigate the space in the dark easily, so no accidents occur. Smart security lighting for the outside is another great way to enhance the safety and security of your home. You can install motion detection lights and other smart lighting that integrate with smart home systems, such as home security systems and voice assistants like Alexa and Google Assistant. 

4. Use of Pavers


Pavers are flat, usually square or rectangular-shaped stones, bricks, or concrete blocks used for outdoor hardscaping projects. Pavers are designed to be interlocking, which means they can be fitted together tightly to create a stable and durable surface. Plus, pavers are a low-maintenance option for outdoor surfaces and are durable enough to withstand heavy foot traffic, extreme temperatures, and other weather conditions.

Some of the most popular ways to implement pavers are creating patios, walkways, driveways, borders, and retaining walls. They come in many shapes, sizes, colors, and textures, allowing for a wide range of design options. They are relatively easy to install and can be arranged in different patterns to create unique and exciting designs. 

Dreaming of Taking Your Outdoor Living Space Up a Notch? Let’s Talk!

If you’d like to elevate your outdoor living areas, our team at VanderWall Bros. can help. We can offer beautiful living spaces, outdoor kitchens, pavers, fireplaces, natural-looking stones, and more. We can create the perfect environment for your family and lifestyle. Contact us online to get your project started today.