Concrete vs steel outdoor fireplaces
A fireplace is a perfect way to add flair and functionality to your outdoor living space, but should you choose a model made of concrete or steel?
This decision must be taken seriously as it impacts the upkeep, efficiency, durability, and atmosphere of your landscaping design. As experts in the industry, we’ve heard this question many times before. Fortunately for you, we have summed it all up in this article, so you can decide which type of fireplace is right for you.
Steel outdoor fireplaces
If you are looking for a simple, short-term solution, a steel outdoor fireplace is a great option. These designs are often boxy with a built-in flue to redirect smoke. In many cases, they are built with weathered steel, or corten steel, which is designed to last longer when exposed to the elements.
Concrete outdoor fireplaces
For a more permanent and solid design, concrete and masonry fireplaces are ideal. In most cases, a steel firebox is encased in a concrete shell which can be finished however you desire. Some examples include bricks, stones, and precast concrete.
How to choose the best outdoor fireplace
Steel and concrete fireplaces each offer a set of advantages that will appeal to different people. Before you choose one, let’s explore how the following considerations factor in.
When it comes to heating an area effectively, consider how the material stores and reflects heat. While the fire burns, steel serves as a reflector, which radiates heat to the surrounding area quickly. However, once the flames die down, the fireplace will swiftly lose its warmth. This can also be a problem when it comes to cooking on your steel fireplace, as the heat may not be enough to consistently heat food.
With greater thermal mass, concrete retains heat for longer while also producing radiant heat for the ambient area. In other words, it warms the space relatively quickly and maintains that temperature well into the evening. Not only is this better for keeping your guests toasty warm, but it is also more reliable for cooking.
Aesthetic and atmosphere
While the heat and efficiency of your outdoor fireplace are key, you don’t want to overlook its aesthetic appeal either. Being a focal point, the outdoor fireplace you choose plays a major role in your landscaping design so you need to think carefully about your preferences.
Steel fireplaces are often modern and minimalistic, but they can also lack personality. For a traditional, rustic appeal, try a stone-clad concrete fireplace instead. Not only does it add texture to the space, but it also ties in beautifully with the surrounding landscape.
If minimalism is what you like, a simple precast concrete fireplace will be perfect. For example, the Burton fireplace has all the appeal of modern design while still drawing the eye with its customisable finish. For inspiration, see the range of design styles in our gallery.
If you are looking for a fireplace that doubles as a cooking facility, you need to consider how easy it is to keep clean. Rough-cast concrete is difficult to wipe, while steel is much smoother. However, once steel rusts, it becomes unsafe for food preparation. Instead, we recommend incorporating a polished concrete hearth that can be easily wiped for many years into the future.
If cooking on your fireplace is a priority for you, consider a design with a swinging grill. This makes it easy to take food in and out of the flames safely, with less risk of food falling off. Essentially, it’s an outdoor kitchen and heat source all in one.
An outdoor fireplace is an investment in your property value and outdoor lifestyle, so you need to be confident that it will stand the test of time. Weather will inevitably cause a steel fireplace to rust, while a concrete model will last for decades. If your concrete fireplace includes a steel firebox in the centre, the concrete shell will protect it from the elements.
In saying that, there are certain steps you can take to ensure your fireplace lasts longer. With a Trendz steel firebox, we advise you to paint it with satin black Stove Bright® High-Temperature aerosol paint every six to twelve months. This paint is formulated to create a blend of heat-resistant pigments in silicone polymer resin. If you apply it regularly, your firebox will retain its colour at temperatures up to 650°C.
When is a steel outdoor fireplace the better option?
All things considered, a steel model will be better suited to anyone looking for a simple, temporary outdoor heating solution. Being lighter, these designs are more portable meaning you can take them with you if you ever move to a new home. They won’t suit someone wanting to prepare food on the fire, but if heat is all you need, they will do the trick.
However, if you are looking for a durable, multi-purpose, and powerful outdoor heating solution, you can’t go wrong with a concrete model — especially with the eye-catching designs available. Lasting for decades, concrete outdoor fireplaces provide far more long-term value and elevate any outdoor living area with cooking capabilities, reliable heat output, and customisable styles.
Trendz outdoor fireplaces NZ
At Trendz, our outdoor fires are the best of both worlds — a robust concrete shell surrounding a practical steel firebox. The concrete casing protects the inner firebox from the elements, is highly customisable, and is sure to endure many years of use. And, with its smooth, efficient heat output, the steel firebox is easy to clean, powerful, and great for cooking.
For more advice and outdoor living tips, talk to the friendly Trendz team. We can help you find the right outdoor fireplace for your home as well as guide you through design, manufacturing, installation, and maintenance. Then all you need to do is put your feet up and enjoy the ambience.