Can You Use A Chiminea On A Wood Deck?

Brigid Levi
by Brigid Levi

Are you one of those people that love to spend time outside and wish you could do it all year round? The winter months can be a bummer for outdoor lovers, especially in places with cold climates. There are a few options to generate heat outdoors, such as fire pits or patio heaters.

But if you’re like me, décor matters. And so does being warm. A chiminea is a beautiful outdoor fireplace that generates a lot of heat. However, you must be careful about where you place them in your backyard.

Safety professionals strongly urge you NOT to put your chiminea on a wood deck because it poses a significant fire hazard. The safest option is to set it on a fire-resistant surface, such as stone, brick, or concrete. It can be placed on a wood deck only if it’s on top of a fire-resistant surface and monitored at all times.

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What is a Chiminea?

A chiminea is an outdoor fireplace usually made of terracotta or cast iron. It has a wide urn-shaped base that tapers to a narrow chimney. Chimineas are similar in shape and style to a potbelly stove.

Many homeowners choose chimineas over fire pits or patio heaters for their decorative nature and output of heat. Chimineas generate a lot of heat in a short amount of time. This makes them a great place to gather with friends on a cold night. Some chimineas are even great for cooking!

Chimineas on Wood Decks

Because of the high heat generated by chimineas, putting it directly on a wood deck poses many risks.

Possible Risks

Most decks are made of wood and wood is flammable. As with any open flame, sparks and ash tend to fly. If any flammable material is nearby, you risk it catching on fire. That goes for your house, too, since most decks are attached.

Even if the wooden deck doesn’t catch on fire, there’s a high chance that the chiminea will leave burn marks, permanently damaging the wood.

Reducing the Risks

While it’s best to place your chiminea elsewhere, safety measures can be taken in order to put it on your wooden deck.

1. Fire Resistant Base

First, you must put it on a base made of brick, stone, concrete, or other fire-resistant materials. You cannot place the chiminea directly on the wood. Creating a base of fire-resistant materials ensures that they won’t act as heat conductors. Therefore, the wood deck beneath shouldn’t reach a flammable heat level.

Fire pit mats are another option to protect your deck. These are specially made mats that act as a heat barrier between the chiminea and the deck.

2. Extinguishing Tools

It’s a good idea to keep water or a fire extinguisher nearby when using the chiminea. This way you can quickly extinguish any sparks or stray flames before damage is done.

That being said, you MUST monitor the chiminea at all times. Do not walk away while the chiminea is burning, or you risk a fire catching before you can extinguish it.

3. Watch the Weather

Knowing the best weather in which to use your chiminea is another way to minimize fire risks. Avoid burning a chiminea during dry and windy weather. Any type of wind can carry sparks. The higher the wind the further the sparks will travel. If the weather has been dry, wood and leaves are more likely to catch fire.

4. Use a Spark Stopper

Placing a spark stopper at the top of a chiminea’s funnel protects you and your surroundings from escaping embers. You can DIY one out of chicken wire or purchase a fire pit spark stopper.

5. Keep the Fire Small

If you build the fire too big, you’ll see flames coming out the front or the top funnel. Not only is this a major fire hazard, but the extremely high temperatures from a big fire could damage your chiminea.

Safe Surfaces

If placing a chiminea on a wooden deck can be avoided, that is the safest option. There are several fire-resistant surfaces that are safe for placing a chiminea. These include the following:

  • Brick
  • Concrete
  • Stone
  • Sand
  • Tiles
  • Fire pit mats

One of these materials must be used to create a base if placing the chiminea on a wood deck. Not only that, but you must ensure the structural integrity of the base. It should be straight and secure so the chiminea has no chance of falling over.

Safe Locations

Aside from making sure the surface on which you put the chiminea is safe, you should also choose its location with caution. As mentioned before, a wooden deck is not an ideal place for a chiminea, specifically because of its proximity to the house.

Ideally, a chiminea should be placed 10 feet from structures and overhanging trees or awnings.

A chiminea is designed so that the smoke is funneled through the top. Anything flammable that’s directly in its path is in danger of catching fire.

The Proper Fuel for a Chiminea

As stated before, a big fire inside a chiminea poses a danger to you, your surroundings, and the chiminea itself. You can control the fire by using the proper fuel, which is dependent on the material of your chiminea. Some possible options include the following:

  • Charcoal briquettes: These are brick-shaped blocks of charcoal. The self-lighting ones are the easiest to use in a chiminea. To light them, you only need a long match.
  • Gas: Propane or natural gas will only work in an aluminum or cast iron chiminea.
  • Wood: Any type of wood that blows smoke up and out is the perfect option for a chiminea. These include hickory, mesquite, pinon, and cedar, which are aromatic and slow-burning. Artificial logs are also available and cause less mess.

Best Chimineas for Wood Decks

BrandMaterialDimensionsSpecial Features
Deckmate Sonora Outdoor Chiminea FireplaceCast iron21 x 21 x 51.6 inches360-degree view of fire; ash catcher for easy clean-up
Bali Outdoors Outdoor Fireplace Wooden Fire PitCast iron22 x 22 x 45 inches360-degree view of fire; includes protective rain cap
Sunnydaze Outdoor Wood-Burning Fire Pit ChimineaSteel22 x 22 x 57 inches360-degree view of fire; 1-year warranty
Deckmate Corona Outdoor Chiminea FireplaceSteel or Cast iron16.34 x 16.34 x 11.4 inches360-degree view of fire; easy to maintain
Sunnydaze Steel Outdoor Wood-Burning Chiminea Fire PitSteel14.25 x 14.25 x 49.25 inchesLightweight and easy to move; 1-year warranty
Uniflame Firehouse with ChimneyCast iron25 x 20.1 x 43.3 inches360-degree view of fire; painted with high-temperature enamel

Related Questions

Is a chiminea safer than a fire pit?

If you follow all the above-mentioned safety protocols, then yes, a chiminea is usually safer than a fire pit. The chiminea’s funnel directs the flames and smoke up and out, keeping them further away from people and surroundings.

Do you have to put sand in the bottom of a chiminea?

Putting at least three inches of sand in the bottom of a chiminea protects it from the heat. A metal wood rack can also be used to raise the wood. By burning the wood on either sand or a raised metal rack, you protect the chiminea from direct flames, giving it a longer lifespan.

Can you use a chiminea on a covered porch?

A chiminea should NOT be used on a covered porch or a gazebo. Because the flames are directed up and out, the ceiling of either structure is at risk of catching fire. Chimineas should only be used outside in the open air.

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Summing It Up

It is highly recommended that you don’t put your chiminea directly on a wood deck. Rather, place it on a fire-resistant barrier, such as stone, brick, or concrete. For optimum safety, the chiminea should be placed at least 10 feet away from structures and overhanging trees. With all precautions in place, you can safely enjoy the warmth and beauty of your chiminea.

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Brigid Levi
Brigid Levi

Brigid Levi is a wife, mother, and freelance writer who enjoys a good DIY project and creating beautiful spaces within her home. From cleaning and organization hacks to home decor ideas, she loves helping people in their quest to turn a house into a home. Her hobbies include pretending to be Joanna Gaines while updating her home with her husband and performing in local theater productions.

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