Initially designed in Mexico over 400 years ago to cook food and keep interior spaces warm, chimineas have recently become popular additions to exterior spaces, with their quaint “potbelly” appearance making them a favorite among homeowners wanting outdoor fires. But you may be wondering, “Can you put a chiminea on a wood deck?”
You should never place a chiminea in direct contact with wooden decking. Since wood is a flammable material, extra precautions must be taken to ensure that an accident does not occur.
Fortunately, modern chimineas are explicitly designed to reduce the likelihood of an unwanted fire occurring. In addition, many accessories can be purchased with the chiminea, as well as some helpful usage tips that can allow you to enjoy the comforts of your chiminea on your wood deck relatively risk-free.
Can You Use a Chiminea with a Wood Deck?
*Disclaimer: Even if extra precautions are taken, fire risk exists. Be sure to follow all directions and guidance provided by the manufacturer of the chiminea about set up and maintenance. It may be best to choose an alternative location. A chiminea should never be placed in direct contact with a wooden deck. You also need to check with your local bylaws and HOA association to see if chiminea use is permitted.
If you choose to place a chiminea on a wood deck, added care must be practiced in this scenario versus using the chiminea on a cement slab or stone patio.
Even a single ember straying from the chiminea’s belly has the potential to cause devastation on a deck or patio, so preparations must be made before using a chiminea on a wood deck, with the user adhering to a handful of best practices to prevent a fire from spreading.
Precautions to Follow to Use a Chiminea On a Wood Deck
If you choose to use a chiminea on your wood deck, it is very important that you don’t just set it up and start using it.
Although modern chimineas do have some good safety features that keep fires contained, you will need to go above and beyond in your preparations to truly fireproof your wood deck.
Below we are going to cover some extra precautions that should be in place before lighting your chiminea on a wood deck.
Apply a Fire Retardant Deck Treatment
When painting, oiling, or treating your deck before adding a chiminea, it is highly advisable to include a special fire retardant as part of the process.
If an accident were to occur, this product would slow the spread of the fire, allowing help to arrive before the flames could reach your house or do any significant damage to the deck.
Add a Fireproof Mat
Even after applying a fire-retarding treatment, it is still not a great idea to place a chiminea directly on a wood deck.
As we mentioned before, you want to take as many precautions as possible to ensure that an ember is not introduced directly to the wood, so it is critical to lay down a fireproof mat, at least 36 inches wide, to help catch any errant sparks.
If you are worried that such a mat will be tacky when placed on your wood deck, fear not. There are several materials, such as vinyl, rubber, polyester, glass, and other composites, that can be fabricated into many attractive designs that will mesh with your exterior ambiance.
Raise the Chiminea
The three components necessary for starting a fire are oxygen, fuel, and heat.
- Being outdoors provides plenty of oxygen, especially on a windy day.
- The wood deck provides the fuel.
- And the chiminea generates heat (both directly via fire and via the heat conducted through the chiminea to the surrounding area and objects).
Are the fire-containing properties of the chiminea itself, combined with a deck treatment and fireproof mat enough to prevent spontaneous combustion? Probably. But, it is better to be safe than sorry.
It is a good idea to make sure the heat from the chiminea is kept out of direct contact with the wooden deck and all surrounding materials as much as possible.
If your chiminea does not have a built-in stand, a platform of cinder blocks or brick is a simple way to ensure some clearance from the surface (just be sure that it is completely level to prevent wobbling). You can also purchase specific stands built for exterior fire areas.
Install a Spark Screen
Although many chimineas you can buy today, come equipped with a spark screen, if you have one of the traditional open-air versions made from terracotta clay, it is a good idea to use an aftermarket spark screen to ensure that all embers are confined to the designated burn area.
Best Practices When Using a Chiminea On a Wood Deck
Even after all of the aforementioned fire-protective preparations are taken, it is never a good idea to light a chiminea on a wood deck and just let it burn. A higher level of care must be taken to protect your home and neighborhood, with the following best practices highly advisable:
Position the chiminea carefully
Make sure that the chiminea is as far away as possible from the side of your home. If the deck has a wood railing, do not have the chiminea resting up against it. Keep all patio furniture and fabrics a safe distance away from the heat of the far and from any sparking that may occur.
Clear the area before starting the fire
Monitor the area around the chiminea before starting the fire. If any low-hanging branches or day-to-day debris, such as cardboard boxes, children’s toys, leaves etc. have gotten near the chiminea, make sure they are out of the way before starting the fire.
Use the proper fuel
Be sure to read the owner’s manual of your chiminea to see if it has any specific fuel recommendations. In general, stick with wood or charcoal briquettes. Burning trash, leaves, or dried grass clippings puts your deck at unnecessary risk. Controlled fire-starting bricks should be used instead of gas or diesel to ignite the fire.
Monitor the fire
Never leave a fire unattended. Keep an eye on the fire at all times, making sure that the flames never protrude from the belly of the chiminea. Building fires that are too big not only increases the chances that the fire will escape but can cause damage to your chiminea that may lead to a more serious issue down the road.
Keep a Fire Extinguisher on Hand
No matter how careful you are, accidents can happen. Keep a fire extinguisher or hose nearby so that you can quickly and thoroughly put out any sparks that may escape or fire that may start.
Chimineas are a great way to enhance your wooden patio or deck area, by providing warmth and charm.
Ideally, a chiminea would be placed on a fire-proof surface like concrete or sand. If you decide to place your chiminea on your wooden deck, please take additional safety measures to prevent an accidental fire.
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Frequently Asked Questions:
Is a chiminea safer than a fire pit?
That depends on many factors including the type of fire pit you are considering. Typically, a chiminea is safer than a traditional fire pit that you create by simply piling wood in a circle and starting a fire. This is because a chiminea keeps the fire contained to a small area and has a chimney to direct smoke and flames upward instead of allowing them to spread.
However, safety certified propane fire pits that you can purchase are probably more safe than a chiminea since you can control the fire with the push of a button.
How far should a chiminea be from the house?
Because chimineas create a lot of heat they should be kept at least 3 feet away from all structures, people and objects.
How do you put out a fire in a chiminea?
The best way to put out the fire is to stop adding fuel and allow the fire to burn out on its own. You never want to put water in a chiminea, unless it’s an emergency, because it may cause it to crack. To smother a fire sand can be used to make sure there are no embers remaining when you are finished using your chiminea.