In regions of the country that see cold and snowfall in winter, enjoying your deck, patio, or outdoor kitchen is an activity that usually remains off-limits until the arrival of warmer weather.
But with a little ingenuity and a modest investment, you can have year-round use out of these outdoor areas. Here are some things you can do to make your deck a great place for living and entertaining even in the winter months.
Winter heating for your deck
There are many types of outdoor heaters that work well in keeping you and your guests warm while on the deck. Each type has its own advantages and disadvantages, so you might want to consider using a combination of options.
Here are five methods for heating your deck area during the winter months.
1. Fire pits
This is your most "rustic" option, though fire pits can be made to look quite clean and modern. They can be located near the edge of your decking or built right into it, and come in two varieties: gas-burning and wood-burning. If you go with gas, the fire will start up immediately. If you decide on wood-burning, it will take some time and effort to get the fire going. Fire pits heat only the immediate area of its location, so be aware that your guests will have to huddle around the fire to keep warm. For some purposes this might be adequate.
A chiminea is like a portable fire pit with a miniature chimney attached. They are generally simple, inexpensive, and heat the surrounding area fairly efficiently. A chiminea needs to sit on fireproof tiling or padding, and you must keep it at least 10 feet away from the house and potentially flammable deck furniture. Pot-bellied models take a while to heat up, but you can also opt for screened, collapsible models that move about on rollers and heat up fairly quickly.
3. Portable space heaters
There are space heaters you can buy that are designed specifically for outdoor use. These generally heat up to a radius of about 20 feet, and they are small enough to be easily moved if you need the heat in a different location. Fuel options include wood, propane, natural gas, and alcohol gel (a corn-based fuel that burns fast and clean). The most effective models utilize radiant heat, which directly heats people, decking, and furniture rather than the surrounding air. These heaters are usually cheap enough to operate and can give you 10 to 12 hours of output before the fuel tank needs refilling.
4. Strip heaters
This is the best solution for heating a large area efficiently. Strip heaters are normally tall, mounted to a wall or overhang, and have a heat reflector at the top and a fuel tank at their base. A permanent fuel line can also be used, and it is possible to install these heaters in a manner that blends in with the surroundings.
5. Table top heaters
Table top heaters operate on much the same principles as do strip heaters but are smaller and heat only a six- to seven-foot radius.
You've made an investment in your deck, so why not use it year-round? With the appropriate heating method, you can enjoy your outdoor area even during the cold winter months.