Outdoor Fireplace vs. Outdoor Fire Pit

March 28, 2022 Outdoor Living, Outdoor Safety, Patio Design

An outdoor fireplace or fire pit is an eye-catching, functional addition to your outdoor design. A fire feature adds warmth and ambiance and can act as a point of engagement for guests.

While fireplace and fire pit structures add similar appeal, they have some key differences. These distinctions play apart in deciding which one is right for your outdoor living space.

Ask yourself these questions to determine whether an outdoor fireplace or a fire pit is right for you.

Pool House Fireplace

How much space do you have?

A fireplace is probably the better option if limited space is a concern. They are usually smaller and can be built on the edge of a patio to take up minimal space. 

A fire pit may require about 150 to 200 sq. ft. So if space is limited, a fire pit may not be ideal.

Outdoor Fire Pit

How do you plan to use your fire feature?

Desired experience is a key factor. Do you envision a group of guests sitting around the fire chatting? Or is warmth and ambiance the goal?

Fire pits are usually round, square or rectangular, making them ideal to sit around. They can act as a casual gathering and interaction point.

On the other hand, a fireplace offers space for a couple of people to sit in front. You may find that a fireplace creates a more elegant atmosphere or a focal point in your outdoor design.    

Do you live in a windy area?

Climate is another factor to consider. Do you live in a windy area?

Fire pits tend to produce a lot of smoke. Due to the unpredictability of winds, you can run into the issue of smoke blown in an undesirable direction. 

Whereas, fireplaces are built with a chimney to carry smoke away from the house. You can also use your fireplace on rainy days if your patio is covered.

Brick Fireplace

Are you looking for wood burning or gas?

With both fire pits and fireplaces, you have the option of wood burning or gas. 

With wood burning, you get that nice warmth, crackle and smokiness—almost like you’re sitting beside a campfire. However, there’s a bit more effort required in building and lighting the fire, and there are limitations on the style. Wood-burning options must be built using masonry with certain fire codes met for chimney height and distance from structure.

Gas, on the other hand, starts instantly, and there’s virtually no clean-up. There’s also more versatility when it comes to styling as you can add decorative fyre glass or lava rock. 

Cost of Installation

Going with a wood burning option can be good for your budget. Gas requires running a gas line, which can increase the cost.

Whether you go with wood or gas, an outdoor fire pit installation generally comes with a lower price tag. However, outdoor fireplaces generally increase your home resale value. 

In addition to the financial costs, a fire pit may require more cleanup and maintenance depending on the type and how it’s installed.  

With careful consideration, the right fire feature can add practicality and style to your outdoor living space. 



Our experts are here to help you make the decision easier. Give one of our outdoor-living specialists a call at 281-265-1994 in Houston, or 972-915-2727 in Dallas/Fort Worth.

How to Determine Your Outdoor Style

March 21, 2022 Outdoor Living, Patio Design

Are you in the process of designing your patio space but not sure how to determine your outdoor style? Like planning your interior, your exterior design takes a little time and consideration. Here are some tips for finding inspiration for your dream outdoor living space.

Bring Indoors Outdoors

One of the simplest ways to help define your outdoor style is to consider your current interior style. After all, your outdoor living space is an extension of your indoor living. 

Your outdoor space can be an opportunity to experiment and combine fresh, new design elements with your existing style. 

Create an Inspiration Board

Gather your favorite design ideas from sites like Pinterest or Houzz. You can even use magazines for inspiration. 

Do you notice a pattern in which outdoor style grabs your attention most? Note which aspects catch your eye.

Keep an Open Mind

Don’t be afraid to combine style elements. It’s a good idea to have a primary design theme. But stay flexible with accessories or accent items. 

For example, maybe you’re most drawn to a midcentury look. A more traditional outdoor rug may add a pop of color or texture.

Consider Function

How will you use your outdoor living space? Do you envision yourself hosting laidback summer dinners around a large patio table? Or maybe you see yourself lounging under your covered patio while watching the kids play. 

Make a list of how you plan to utilize your outdoor living space. You may find that some design styles provide better functionality for your vision. 

Define Your Outdoor Style

Now that you know where to start in determining your outdoor design style let’s explore some of the more popular styles. 

Mid-century Modern Pool House

Mid-century Modern

Marked by clean lines, this style emphasizes natural elements and space. A mid-century modern design can help facilitate a seamless continuation to your outdoor living space.

Traditional Patio

Traditional

Keep things classic yet comfortable with a more traditional design. This style works well for more functional, family-friendly outdoor living spaces.

Transitional Pool and Patio

Transitional

A blend of modern and traditional styles, transitional design can keep a space looking classic while also making it feel decidedly current. Because of its versatility and wide appeal, it’s currently one of the most popular styles in outdoor living.

Rustic Patio and Outdoor Kitchen

Rustic

Rustic design highlights natural, organic elements for a more relaxed, organic feel.  

Modern Farmhouse Outdoor Living Room

Modern Farmhouse

Modern farmhouse has grown in popularity over the last several years. It combines some of the comfort and natural elements of rustic design with contemporary or modern touches.  

Check out some of our custom patios designs here.

New Year, New Home

December 28, 2021 Patio Contractor, Patio Design

2022… the year of no more Covid-19? … health and new beginnings? … possibly even a six-pack stomach, and not beer this year? Whatever it is, make sure your goals will bring you happiness! For our customers this last year, a new custom patio brought great joy and a new place to make memories. See gallery of featured projects here. If you love what you see and would like to get the ball rolling, there’s no time like the present.

One of the first things that most people want to know, is how soon will they be lounging on their new patio? Use the handy guide below to know when your custom patio project needs to begin in order to be completed by these commonly requested dates. Factors such as material supplies and weather prevent us from guaranteeing completion dates, but we understand your excitement and work diligently to meet a desired date. The guide below was created to give you a ballpark look!

First, determine when you want your project completion to be, then discover what month you’ll need to contact our office to get started. For instance, if you would like to sizzle in style in your backyard for Father’s Day, pick up the phone and call now!

When you call our office, we’ll schedule an initial appointment. After the initial visit, we’ll follow up with a proposal. Once you’ve selected Texas Custom Patios as your outdoor design-builder, we’ll begin the permitting and homeowner association process. This can take up to 90 days depending on the particular rules of your community. When the design has met all requirements, a simpler concrete and cover takes about four weeks to complete(including a kitchen adds a couple more weeks).

Give one of our outdoor-living specialists a call at 281-265-1994 in Houston, or 972-915-2727 in Dallas/Fort Worth. Here’s to 2022 with a view!

Best of 2021

December 27, 2021 Patio Design, Project of the Month

In 2021, Texas Custom Patios completed 200 projects with each one having their own story to tell, all of them custom-designed and built to look as though it is original to the home. While it’s hard to pick a fav, here’s a look back at some top picks from 2021! Click the link below each image for full details.

5 Star Projects

November 27, 2021 Patio Contractor, Patio Design

We enjoy working hard to create your dream outdoor oasis from start to finish! It starts with a few ideas and then from there it gets mapped out on paper, tweaked, and eventually custom built to plan! So you can imagine we get so excited to hear when homeowners love their new outdoor living space!

“I highly recommend Texas Custom Patios for any remodel project and design!! Our experience with Collin Jarrell in the design phase was great, as he helped us decide on the perfect layout and details for our project. The construction was managed by Rob, who was extremely responsive, was in constant communication with us, and ensured that the entire process went smoothly. From start to finish, this company is focused on high quality work and a great experience for their clients. The end result exceeded our expectations and I would definitely use them for all outdoor projects in the future. Thank you Colin, Rob and Texas Custom Patios!” ~TCP Customer

“We are overwhelmingly satisfied with all the great work Texas Custom Patios (TCP) did to give us the patio of our dreams. We realize the building/construction industry has a bad reputation for not responding or showing up for jobs, but we experienced none of that with TCP. Everyone from TCP, including all the contractors working on our project, were responsive, professional, and highly skilled in their jobs. We have watched the frustration our next door neighbors have had, and still are experiencing, working with a different company.

We are giddy (can we say smug?) with our decision to go with TCP!! :) We were absolutely thrilled with Collin Jarrell’s design work! We had several initial meetings with Collin to design our patio, in which he was responsive, patient and professional. As part of the initial consultation and quote, Collin created our project using online 3D software that we could see via Zoom calls. Other companies we talked to would not provide an online visual until after we signed the contract. Collin made changes real time and provided explanations and suggestions to give us a gorgeous patio. Collin has a great eye for designing patios! Collin was the reason we decided to choose TCP as our contractor.

Our project manager, Rob Baird, is great at his job. He moved our project along smoothly, even when dealing with delays due to COVID. Rob was patient and responsive to our (ok…mostly my husband’s) many texts asking for updates and status. We were very impressed with how well Rob kept track of the many moving parts…and were happy with his willingness to make changes when we wanted upgrades, or when we had a few hiccups. Rob was always pleasant, responsive, and very easy to work with. We already miss seeing him in our back yard!

We are truly delighted with everyone at TCP for making our patio building experience painless and pleasant. We really enjoyed meeting everyone who worked on our patio, and are humbled by the expertise and professionalism. We will think of TCP fondly while enjoying our wonderful new space for years to come.” ~TCP Customer

To see more of this project, click here!

There’s more where that came from, too! Please peruse our gallery on Houzz, we have over 100 “5 star ratings” from happy customers spanning Houston to Dallas!

Don’t be Frightened by Budget

October 28, 2021 Patio Contractor, Patio Design

Halloween costumes are meant to be scary, not dreaming about your outdoor patio! If you find yourself thinking about building, but are held back by budget, let us help you relax and take a few thing into consideration!

An enjoyable outdoor living space is a must-have for most people here in Texas – we are able to spend just about every day outside without too much trouble.  Of course it does get a little toasty in the summer, but with the right design and ample shade even the summer heat can be beat.  For many, the singular thing that holds us back when making big decisions is something called … moolah.  But with the right budget, a good plan and the perfect builders, your outdoor oasis is actually within reach!

Budgeting for your outdoor living space is actually easier than you may think.  We have built outdoor living spaces with just about every single budget in mind.  We put together a quick guide that will you have you well on your way to building out your outdoor space.  So get ready to start planning, building and living (outside)!

How to budget for your outdoor living space …

How big of an area is considered ample?

Whether you are wanting a covered patio, a pergola, a sunroom or a screened in porch about 300 square feet is average. If you go much smaller than that, you will feel cramped and will not have enough room for both a dining area and a sitting area. The cost for something that size would start around 35K – Sunrooms would be more due to windows and inside wall finishes.

What are items that would affect this budget?

* Type and configuration of your home – 1 Story homes usually run more because the roof tie-in is more complicated.

* Do you have concrete already? Having an existing patio or other flat surface will lower your cost… unless you want something more than a standard brushed concrete surface. Upgraded surfaces – stamped concrete, tile, travertine, stone pavers means your cost will increase.

* Type of columns – do you have any existing columns on your home? If so, you may want to match them – are they brick or stone? That will be an added cost because a standard column is wrapped with hardie board and painted to match your home’s paint color.

*Ceiling finish – Like the columns a standard ceiling is just hardie plank painted to match your home’s soffit. If you want a different look, you can go with cedar or stained tongue and groove, you will need to add some to your budget.

* Electrical matters – a basic project does include running electricity for recessed lights and ceiling fans as well as wiring for a TV and sound system.

So, what does a 300 SF project with some of the upgraded options cost?

* With additional items such as those listed above, your 300 SF project would start around 40K – 45K.

What if I want to add an outdoor kitchen? Several things need to occur …

*Size of the space – to have adequate space to accommodate the added kitchen area, we suggest an area that is closer to 400 SF. So, that is an added cost to build your covered area.

*A basic kitchen – this is a tough question – you can have a small, very functional outdoor kitchen area that is in the 8 – 10 linear foot area. To get lots of prep and serving space, you may want to consider something that is closer to the 14-15 linear foot option. Our kitchens include a custom built counter area with granite, stacked stone, brick, or stucco, stainless steel appliances (grill, fridge, storage). The 8-10 linear foot kitchens would start around 15-20K, the larger kitchen would start around 20-25K.

Can it be bigger?

* Absolutely! We have built kitchens that are as large as 20-25 linear feet.

* What really affects the pricing of your outdoor kitchen?

Many things affect that – type and size of grill, choice of granite, propane or natural gas, raised bar top, type of side finishes, among other choices.

What about adding a fire feature?

*A fireplace – whether wood burning or natural gas – will generally add about 20-25K to your project. Your choice of stone, is there going to be a mantle, and how big will the hearth be all play key roles in the cost of the fireplace.

* A fire pit – again whether it is wood burning or natural gas – will add about 5-10K to your project. The size, shape and type of stone plays a part in the variance of the cost.

So as you can see … a lot goes into the prepping and planning when building something to any extent, but it CAN be done!  Take notes, let us know how we can help and we look forward to building something beautiful for you, but whatever you do… don’t be frightened, save that for Halloween!

Designing Your Outdoor Kitchen

October 28, 2021 Patio Design

In Texas, seasons blend together, not really ever knowing where one ends and the other begins. Lucky for us, it’s the perfect place to create a backyard oasis! Outdoor kitchens are heating up in popularity across the country, but for Texans it’s a great investment and something you can enjoy year round.

If you’re worried about space… don’t! An outdoor kitchen can be as simple as a small bbq pit with a tabletop counter surrounding for food prep, to a full-scale set-up with a sink, refrigerator, storage and multiple cooking appliances.

Everything from start to finish is fully customizable with Texas Custom Patios, it’s in our name and we stand behind that! We can lead you in the right direction to achieve exactly what you want with the space you have.

Grills and backyards in general aren’t what they used to be… now the world is your fire-grilled oyster, so have your cake and eat it too!

Our experienced personal project developers will work one-on-one with you to create a custom-designed outdoor kitchen that blends seamlessly with your home’s exterior.

You can choose stone, brick, or stucco finishes; and granite, tile, or concrete counters; but we’ll always use a high-quality framework underneath. We build all outdoor kitchens with tubular steel framing and fiber-cement sheathing to give you a durable, non-expansive, and heat-proof foundation.

What to consider…

For an outdoor kitchen space, there are a few key things:

  • Built in propane or natural gas for a grill
  • Work surface for prep.

If you want to take it up a notch:

  • Sink
  • Fridge
  • Storage drawers
  • Warming drawers
  • Sideburner

Get fancy with it:

  • Pizza oven
  • Big Green Egg
  • Kegerator
  • Ice maker
  • Built-in bar table / stools

Outdoor kitchens are meant to be fun and functional, to graze our outdoor kitchen gallery, click here!

Positioning is everything…

When it comes to picking out a spot for your outdoor kitchen, there are a few things to think about:

  • Sunlight
  • Wind
  • Access to the indoor kitchen

Outdoor kitchens flow nicely when there is a solid straight wall to position the kitchen along and that can be easily covered by a roof extension or stand alone cover. Providing “shelter” for your kitchen will make for a more comfortable cooking experience and keep your appliances and materials nicer and for longer.

Just like the indoor kitchen is where everyone gathers, the outdoor kitchen is the same! So you want to make sure it’s as spacious as possible so that you get 5 stars when it comes to socializing in your backyard paradise. Many like the indoor/outdoor feel, so adding seamless folding doors will help achieve that open concept.

Spacing….

We will definitely help with this and can design something that looks great and works well with your space. We put these things into consideration:

  • Prep area
  • Cooking area
  • Cleaning area
  • Dining area

Whether it’s an intimate dinner with the family or a larger gathering with friends, we will want to maximize the space so that no one feels cramped. And just a reminder, smaller spaces can accommodate a kitchen, too.

Recommended materials….

  • Stainless steel
  • Carbon steel
  • Brick
  • Stone
  • Composite for surfaces
  • Cast iron
  • Concrete

Just stay away from marble and other porous surfaces, they are hard to keep clean, sanitized and unstained.

Outdoor Kitchen Costs…

And last but not least (we know you were thinking it)! After your project developer visits with you, we will provide you with a proposal that includes an exact quote proposal for your project. On average, the proposal will be completed in about 10 days. This proposal will include a design drawing with specifications and dimensions and rendered views and elevations, so you can see what the project will look like after completion.

Your project developer will schedule a meeting with you to go over your proposal and answer any questions. Once we have signed a contract, you and your project team will arrange to view samples and make final selections for your project. Your budget is top of mind because remember, we want you to have your cake and eat it too! Cheers!

Have a project in mind? We work throughout the Houston and Dallas - Fort Worth areas.

Our Customers Love Us

I am beyond impressed with the quality of the materials, the sub-contractors hired, and the overall final appearance of this project. This was our first experience with a contractor/home improvement project (beyond changing out shower heads, etc.), and I must admit that I am a little terrified to tackle anything else… I have been spoiled by Texas Custom Patios. Thanks, guys!

© 2022 TCP Custom Outdoor Living