Fire Pit & Patio

Outdoor Fire Plans: Heating Up Your Backyard

By the time spring comes around in full bloom, most people are more than eager to spend some well-deserved time in the sun, enjoying outdoor entertainment and leisure. When looking to create a fire pit to enliven the outside of your home with a shared gathering space made for s’mores, burgeoning conversation, and fun games, there are more options available than you may realize. 

Fire Pits

A traditional fire pit can be constructed with loose brick and any type of level ground, whether dirt, a concrete slab, or another sustainable area of your backyard. These fire pits give off a noticeable impression of down to earth family togetherness and communal joy/entertainment. Fire Pit & PatioYou can also buy a pre-made fire pit, which can be easily set around your yard and is typically made of a stainless steel or cast-iron ring or something completely finished. Fire Pit & GrillThese types of pits are very affordable, customarily costing in the low hundreds: $200-$600. Depending on your level of comfort in building DIY (do-it-yourself) tasks, this could easily be a one-day project or even an afternoon job for the whole family to work on. By buying loose bricks, a level, and any other tool you may need to dig and scrape out dirt, you are already halfway there on making your own backyard fire pit.

On the flip side, you can hire local professionals to install your fire pit, giving you the assurance of a job well done, as well as a wide array of fire pit options to choose from. In general, most folks use wood as their fuel, while some use gas. Both have pros and cons: for wood, it can be easy and cheap to find, especially if you have nearby woods. Others may find it burdensome to need to purchase or haul firewood. It is important to keep the area clean as a preventative measure for future safety – fire pit covers can also be a simple method to keep anything unnecessary out and will keep a low dying fire from sparking and catching external things on fire. For especially windy locations or smoke-sensitive customers, some brands offer smokeless fire pits. Additionally, for those looking to grill/cook foods above the fire pit, there are countless types of grill accompaniments or kettle hooks to fit your needs. 

Fire Tables

Fire TableSimilarly, a fire table is a ready-to-use piece of furniture, which adds a more distinct look of luxury and class to your backyard, whilst still initiating a place where people can gather comfortably. These are typically set on part of a deck, patio area, or brick pavers. They tend to cost somewhat more than fire pits: around $500 to $5,000. These tables rely on gas, which can either be run in from a gas line to the house or an LP tank that is hidden beneath the table itself. 

Fire Element on tableSome of these even incorporate a water feature for additional sound and contrast. Unusual in shape and size are torches or tabletop fire inserts that can fit into the umbrella slot in a traditional patio table. This allows for a small cozy setting during dinner or drinks. 

Most of these units are not suitable for those who appreciate cooking over an open flame. The use of small holes where the gas/flame comes out, they typically do not feature a grill attachment. They generally come with rocks or glass type media that one would not get greasy or dirty as they would no longer be as nice to look at while sitting alongside it.Outdoor Fireplace


For an awe-inspiring grandiose display of warmth and luxury, installing an outdoor fireplace can greatly enrich your life as well as the overall worth of your home. Fireplaces inherently create a relaxed and inviting focal point. They create a leisurely space where one is welcome to sit and talk, read, rest, eat, etcetera. Such a place is a highly appreciated asset of any home, adds social value to your home, as well as obvious accompanying economic advantages. For fuel, both gas and wood are equally feasible. Price wise, these can cost somewhere between $2,000 and $6,000, which is fully contingent on the quality and type/area of installation you desire. Overall, however, homes with fireplaces, both indoor and outdoor, have a higher selling value, which only sets you up for success in the future. By working with local professionals, you can distinguish your home and backyard with a welcoming and aesthetically pleasing fireplace. 

Fireplace and seating area outside

**All of these prices can fluctuate significantly depending on any additions chosen to accompany the basic fireplace, pit, or table.

Permits & Safety

Regardless of whether your fire unit relies on gas or wood, it is important to check whether you must acquire a permit from your local township or county office. Permits often work in accordance with the height and size of each unit. It is best to keep fire pits and tables a minimum distance of 10-20 feet away from the house or property line. For more specific requirements, calling local officials can easily iron out any remaining questions/details. Additionally, manufacturers can supply introduction/safety manuals for your particular unit regarding placement and usage. 

Why Us

After working in this industry since 1922, VanderWall Brothers and their in-house technicians have the experience and knowledge to support you in whatever fire unit avenue you decide upon. Our expertise will make this addition as clean and worry-free as possible, and we are excited to bring to life the idea you were dreaming of all winter long. Contact us today to get a quote or get your questions answered.

Outdoor Fireplace Plans: Heating Up Your Backyard

In Spring Lake, MI, winter temperatures can plummet to almost -8 degrees Fahrenheit. While you can stay indoors, bundled up and warm, it’s nice to get fresh air every once in a while, especially if you have a nice backyard available.

And when Spring makes its way to Michigan (you know, sometime in March, April, or May) we’re all ready for a little backyard fun.

Having a fire-table, fire-pit or another outdoor fire unit can be the centerpiece to your backyard.

If you want to stay nice and toasty during the cold months in Michigan, you should have an outdoor fireplace installed.

Curious? Here’s a quick guide to outdoor fireplace plans.

Are Outdoor Fireplaces Worth It?

You may be wondering: how much does it cost to get a fireplace installed?

Well, it’s true that outdoor custom fireplaces can cost a little more than normal ones. But when you can have an outdoor fireplace you’re truly happy with, it can be worth every penny spent, and more.

So how much does it cost to build an outdoor fireplace? This really depends on things like the materials, size, and more.

But in general, they can cost anywhere between $2,000 and $30,000 (or more). As you can see, that’s quite a broad range, so to get a better idea, it’s best to speak with a local contractor for a custom patio fireplace estimate.

Some fireplace units and fire-pits and tables are pre-mfg and very easy to install. You can pick the stone and either have it professionally installed or do-it-yourself.

Do You Need a Permit for an Outdoor Fireplace?

When you want to build an outdoor wood-burning fireplace, or you want to build an outdoor stone fireplace, you need to make sure it’s safe. Part of that may be getting a permit.

Of course, you need to follow your local building codes and zoning laws for outdoor fireplace safety. If your outdoor fireplace is going to be over a certain height, then you might have to get a permit. To have a safe outdoor fireplace, it’s best you contact the city hall before you proceed with your fireplace plans.

Permits are generally required if you are building a fireplace that is gas. If it’s a wood-burning unit, you may not need a permit, but make sure to follow the manufacturer’s guide for distance and location for combustibles.

How Do You Build a Large Outdoor Fireplace?

Building an outdoor fireplace yourself can be a huge task to take on. Not only do you have to check the local building codes and apply for the proper permits if applicable, but you’ll also have to source the materials and put them together yourself. If you don’t have any DIY experience, then building an outside fireplace is best left to the professionals.

It’s true that a homemade outdoor fireplace will have that special touch because you designed and make it yourself. But you can achieve the same with a custom-built one. You can trust in the professionals to work with you every step of the way to bring your vision to life.

How Do You Build a Foundation for an Outdoor Fireplace?

Perhaps you’re still wondering how to build an outside fireplace on your own. In this case, you’ll need to DIY a stone foundation, or concrete. Luckily, most smaller fireplaces do not need a foundation.

If you do need to build a foundation, the outdoor fireplace building materials you may need are concrete, cinder blocks, screws, mortar, nail gun, nails, drills, screws, screwdriver, masonry anchors, chop saw, and shovel. You’ll also need protective gear, like gloves.

To build the foundation, dig a ditch, mix the concrete, and pour it in to get a level and safe area for you to make an outdoor stone fireplace. You can then build the stone fireplace exterior from there with the cinder blocks and mortar by alternating them.

How Far Does an Outdoor Fireplace Need to Be From the House?

For a safe outdoor fireplace, the minimum distance from grill to your house is at least 10 to 20 feet, however, it is much better to follow the manufacturer’s guide of the specific unit.

In any case, the farther, the better.

Do You Need Fire Brick for an Outdoor Fireplace?

Fire brick is also known as refractory brick. It’s used to insulate your outdoor fireplace.

You may be wondering: do I need fire bricks in my fireplace? The answer is yes!

For one, it’ll give you a nice looking outdoor fireplace firebox. And again, lining a fireplace with fire brick will help ensure the fireplace is insulated well.

If the question of how to lay fire bricks is on your mind, just leave that to the professionals when you have them install your outdoor fireplace.

Do I Need a Damper for My Outdoor Fireplace?

When it comes to outdoor fireplace chimney design, it’s the same as an indoor fireplace. However, you won’t need a damper.

This is why when you look at backyard fireplace kits, they don’t have a damper. Instead, they’ll have a hydraulic setting non-water soluble refractory mortar.

Does a Fireplace Add Value to My Home?

Another important question is: does a fireplace add value to a home? It certainly does!

Homes with fireplaces have a higher selling value of up to 12% per fireplace. So this also answers the question of how much value does a fireplace add.

Are you also wondering: do gas fireplaces add value to a home? Considering the above statistic takes both indoor and outdoor fireplaces into account, they do as well.

How Do You Install an Outdoor Fireplace?

The easiest way to install an outdoor fireplace is to have professionals do it for you.

When building a patio fireplace, there are so many steps that go into it. Not only do you have to design it, but you also have to check laws, get permits, find the right location in your yard, create a foundation, build the fireplace, and control the smoke that comes out of it.

As you can see, knowing how to build an outside fireplace isn’t a small task. So if you’re looking for “outdoor fireplace kits near me,” it’s probably better if you just contact an expert instead.

Even if you know the basics of building an outdoor masonry fireplace, it can be quite time-consuming. Save some time and focus on what you really love by leaving this project up to people who are quick and great at their jobs.

Use This Helpful Guide for Outdoor Fireplace Plans

Hopefully, after reading this article, you have all the answers to your questions when it comes to outdoor fireplace plans. As you can see, it takes quite some work to build an outdoor fireplace, so don’t do it yourself. Instead, get some experts to do it for you!

Would you like assistance building the fireplace of your dreams? Then get in touch with us now. We’ve been helping people like you ever since 1922.

wood fireplace

What is the Most Efficient Type of Fireplace for a Home?

The majority of homeowners want a fireplace in their homes, and for this reason, over 50% of new houses being put on the market are equipped with this feature.

However, if you’re an existing American homeowner that dreams of having a relaxing fire to sit in front of, you likely are looking at ways that you can install a fireplace within your home. There are a lot of different options for types of fireplaces out there that you may be feeling overwhelmed with choices, but this is actually a good thing. It means that you have more freedom to choose the fixture that’s right for your individual needs.

Here, we’re going to take a look into the efficiency, cost, and popularity of the most common types of fireplaces. Read on for more information on whether a gas, wood, or electric fireplace is the right option for you!

What Is the Most Efficient Type of Fireplace Fuel: Gas, Wood, or Electric?

There are four basic types of fireplace fuels that you can choose from for your home: those that are powered by gas, wood, electric, and alternative fuels (coal, pellets, corn, etc.).

There are three different types of units, which are inserts, direct vents, and stoves.

Here, we’re going to take an in-depth look at these three types of fireplaces and answer the question of which one is the most efficient.

How Efficient Are Gas Fireplaces?

Gas fireplaces are those that are powered by gas within your home.

One of the most efficient things about gas fireplaces is the time that they save and the high-efficiency rating because of hot air that they provide does not go out a chimney like a wood-burning unit does.

With a gas fireplace, you aren’t going to need to go out and find firewood that will fuel your flames. Assuming that this was a task you’d need to perform every time you used your fireplace, you’ll be saving a few hours a week if you use your fireplace regularly.

Furthermore, you don’t need to spend time inserting wood into the fireplace while you enjoy its warmth. This gives you more time to relax and enjoy a good book or some s’mores.

Natural gas is one of the largest natural resources in the United States and is the lowest cost that is available to providing heat to your home.

Propane heating, however, is a different story. It costs more and therefore some people, especially in rural areas, may prefer to use wood or alternative fuel sources (Pellet, etc).

How Efficient Are Wood Fireplaces?

When we say ‘wood fireplaces’ we don’t mean that your fireplace can be made of wood. That would go up in flames like the kindling that it is and cause a massive fire within your home! When we talk about a wood fireplace, we’re talking about one that uses wood as fuel to keep the fire burning. The actual fireplace itself will be made from stone or concrete, which are strong materials that will keep your fire contained.

When you think of an outdoor fire pit, you likely think of something similar to a wood fireplace. You need to continuously insert logs into them for kindling to keep the flame alive. If you intend to place a fireplace outdoors, wood is by far the best option since you won’t need to plug it into a nonexistent source to make it work.

The efficiency of wood fireplaces have continued to be improved, but they still let a lot of hot air from escape through your chimney. One of the more efficient alternatives, if you like burning wood, is either a wood-burning fireplace insert or a wood-burning stove, which also greatly improves efficiency.

How Efficient Are Electric Fireplaces?

Generally hailed as the most efficient types of fireplaces, electric fireplaces have it all.

They’re incredibly environmentally-friendly (if you assume that your electricity is generated by solar, water, or wind) in all the ways that gas and wood are not, since you’re not leaving a huge carbon footprint by obtaining gas or burning wood. They also save you time because, like with gas fireplaces, all you need to do is flip a switch and enjoy the warmth.

Electricity does not have high-efficiency transmission rates like natural gas does. The generation of electricity at a plant does not transfer along the line to the home with the same efficiency as gas.

This warmth provided by an electric fireplace is spread throughout your house with a fan for thorough heating. Despite the lack of a real flame, electric fireplaces can use inserts or digitally generate images and sounds of a crackling fire to give it a lifelike feel.

What Are the Least Expensive Types of Fireplaces to Use?

Having any fireplace installed within your home can definitely add to your property value. This means that each and every type of fireplace is a good financial decision. However, some of them cost more or less to operate than other types, which is definitely a factor to consider when choosing a fireplace on a budget. Read on to learn which is the most inexpensive type of fireplace on the market!

How Much Are Gas Fireplaces?

A gas fireplace isn’t that expensive to maintain. You’ll need to pay a little extra on your monthly gas bill, but the price won’t be that steep. In fact, this is a pretty inexpensive bill to pay.

You may need to install a chimney if you want a gas fireplace. This can become expensive pretty quickly. However, this is a one-time installation fee, so some people might not mind it. If you’re willing to make the investment, then a wood fireplace may work well in your home.

If you don’t want to install a fireplace, you may be able to have a direct vent installed through an exterior wall or through your roof.

We suggest that you put a quality fireplace unit in, regardless if it’s gas, wood, electric because unlike a kitchen appliance, you will not want to remove the stone or brick facing with a fireplace unit.

The amount of money that your fireplace costs will also depend on the material that your fireplace is made from. 

How Much Are Wood Fireplaces?

They aren’t, necessarily. You are going to need to pay extra on your gas and electric bills when you have a wood fireplace because you have a hole in your roof which is letting hot air from your furnace out.

When figuring out the amount that a fireplace will cost you, you need to make sure that you’re hiring the right company from whom to purchase your new fixture. This will save you money on both the purchase of a fireplace and its installation. Luckily, our professionals are the #1 choice for fireplaces that are both inexpensive and high-quality. To learn more about why Vanderwall is the right place to get a fireplace, click here.

How Much Are Electric Fireplaces?

Electric fireplaces are the least expensive option on the list. Like with gas-powered options, you’ll need to pay a bit extra on your electric bill each month with an electricity-powered fireplace. This fee will be incredibly small, though. The time you spend in front of it may take away from your TV time and you could possibly even reduce the amount of electricity you pay for.

You also don’t need to install a chimney, which is great financially. (It can be a little disappointing, though, if you want the full-fireplace aesthetic in your home.) The electric fireplace will be installed directly into or on the wall of your home, which saves a lot of space in addition to money on installation.

What Is the Most Popular Kind of Fireplace?

Recently, electric fireplaces have been catching on as the most popular available kind in the country. Because of their cost-effectiveness and environmental efficiency, people have been flocking towards them like wildfire (no pun intended.) Furthermore, since they tend to be one of the safest fixture for children and pets, this option is by far the most popular for families. If you have a baby (or a furbaby), this is something to consider when choosing a fireplace.

Wood fireplaces have been declining in popularity recently due to safety concerns. Unless the chimney is properly maintained on a wood-burning fixture (which is easy and inexpensive enough to do as long as you’re on top of things), they can cause a chimney fire.

However, at the end of the day, it’s all about your preference as a homeowner.

Choose Your Fireplace Today

There are a lot of different options when it comes to choosing a fireplace for your home. This is an amazing thing since you have more alternatives when deciding what’s best for your specific needs.

Now that you know the efficiency, cost, and popularity of the three main types of fireplaces, it’s time to get any other questions you may have answered. Click here to contact us with any inquiries about fireplace types, installation, and more. We’ll also give you a quote on how much your fireplace will cost once you decide what you want so that you don’t need to guess at how much you’ll be paying.

fireplace insert

Fireplace Inserts: Everything You Need To Know

Michigan is known for its harsh weather, and it is not uncommon for temperatures to drop well below freezing during the coldest months. It is then important that you ensure that your home’s heating systems are up to the task of keeping you warm year-round. If you rely on your home’s fireplace as a source of heat for your home’s living spaces, then you may want to consider investing in a fireplace insert in order to boost the efficiency of your fireplace and to ensure that it provides maximum comfort to your home.

What many homeowners do not realize is that traditional fireplaces are extremely inefficient, as they only radiate roughly 10 percent of the heat they produce into a room. Installing a fireplace insert in your home can help to drastically improve the heating power of your fireplace by increasing its efficiency by up to 80 percent. However, if you are not familiar with fireplace inserts, then you likely have a lot of questions about what they are, how they work, and whether or not investing in a fireplace insert would be a good option for your home. To help you make an informed decision, here is a look at everything you need to know about fireplace inserts.

What is a Fireplace Insert?

If you have not previously heard of fireplace inserts, then you may be uncertain as to what they are. Similar to a wood stove, a fireplace insert is a steel or cast iron box with an insulated glass front that is installed into an existing masonry fireplace in order to improve its efficiency. The insert is designed to contain and radiate heat back into the room, cutting down on the inefficiencies of traditional fireplaces. 

While it may feel like your fireplace is heating your home, it is really only providing minimal heat to the area immediately surrounding your fireplace. Much of the heat that the fire in your fireplace is producing is being wasted, as a lot of warm air is being sucked out of your chimney.

How Do Gas Fireplace Inserts Work?

Fireplace inserts help to reduce the inefficiencies of fireplaces by containing heat within its shell. The insert has its own firebox that fits within your fireplace, and the fire can be viewed through a window within the insert’s door. As the insert’s firebox heats up, the metal shell contains the heat and circulates it back into the room. Many fireplace inserts even have a blower that helps to push hot air back into a room through the insert’s front vents. The insert’s design then helps to cut down on wasted energy by helping to contain the fire’s heat and direct it where it is meant to go, which is into your home. Fireplace inserts come in a variety of designs and styles, and they can be powered by a variety of fuel sources including electricity, gas, propane, wood, pellets, or coal, depending on the type that you choose.  

Are Fireplace Inserts Expensive?

If you think a fireplace insert could be a good option for your home, you may find yourself asking whether they are expensive. Like many appliances you will invest in for your home, the cost of a fireplace insert will vary quite drastically depending on a variety of factors including its size, features, and fuel source. In fact, a fireplace insert can cost anywhere between $1,500 and $6,500 or more depending on the specifications of the unit you choose. However, purchasing a fireplace insert can truly be seen as making an investment in your home, as they can help to reduce the cost of heating your home, saving you money over time.   

How Long Do Fireplace Inserts Last?

Of course, if you are going to be making a substantial investment in your home, you will want to know that your investment will last for years to come. So exactly how long do fireplace inserts last? As with most things, how long your fireplace insert lasts will depend on how well you take care of it. However, when properly maintained, a fireplace insert can last 20-30 years or more, making them a great investment in the future of your home. 

How Do I Size a Gas Fireplace Insert?

If you have decided that you want to invest in a fireplace insert for your home, you will need to determine what size insert you need before you start looking at designs and styles. 

Measure Your Fireplace

Your first step will be to get a measuring tape out and take measurements of your current fireplace. Measurements that you will need to take include the height and width of the front opening of your fireplace, the depth of your fireplace, and the height and width of the back wall of your fireplace. Knowing these measurements can help you to choose a fireplace that will fit in your firebox.

Determine What Gas Output You Need

Next, you will need to decide the heat output that you will want your insert to produce, as fireplace inserts are designed to produce between 30,000 and 85,000 BTUs per hour or more. Ultimately, how powerful a fireplace insert you will need will depend on a variety of factors including the size of the space that you plan on heating.

For instance, if you only need your fireplace insert to heat a small den or living room, a 30,000 BTU insert may be sufficient. However, if you plan on heating a large space, or if your home has poor insulation, then you may want to go with a more powerful unit. A knowledgeable contractor can help you to determine what size fireplace insert will be best for your home based on your unique needs.

Can I Install a Gas Fireplace Insert Myself?

Once you have chosen a fireplace insert, you may wonder if you can install it yourself. While installing a fireplace insert may seem as simple as sliding the unit into place, it is actually a complicated process. Before the fireplace insert can be installed, your chimney will need to be cleaned, inspected, and lined with a flue liner that will be connected to the fireplace insert. Then, depending on the type of insert you purchased, the fireplace insert may need to be connected to your home’s electricity or your gas line. If any of these steps are not done properly, your fireplace insert could become a safety risk, making it critical that you work with an experienced fireplace contractor when adding a fireplace insert to your home. 

Contact us to learn more about gas fireplace inserts, as well as to inquire about having one installed in your home before winter arrives.