8 Smart Ways to Heat Your Outdoor Patio

Extend your time spent outdoors—whether that means hours or months—with the addition of a fire feature or other heat source for your patio, deck, or backyard. Not only will these ideas provide a much-needed temperature boost, but they'll also help create a focal point, upgrade your decor, and serve as a place around which to gather, entertain, relax, and enjoy time outdoors.

When considering a fire pit or outdoor heat lamp, know they can vary drastically in price: Custom-designed hearths and pits with elaborate features and materials can be expensive, but you can also find a simple fire pit or chimenea for less than $200 that will get the job done.

Your choice of fuel can also impact how much your outdoor heating costs you, and should be determined not only by preference and price point but also by local laws and codes. Check with your city or county for any ordinances you need to be mindful of, such as wood-burning laws and performance standards (the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) also provides information and links to many regional ordinances and regulations). Generally, though, the most environmentally-friendly choices are butane or gas, which both need to be hooked up by a professional.

  • 01 of 08

    Fire Pit

    modern chairs by fire pit
    Jeremy Samuelson / Getty Images

    Because of their portable nature, low cost, and ease of use, fire pits have become the most popular type of outdoor heating. They can utilize either wood or gas and are traditionally designed to be situated low to the ground, making them an ideal feature to center seating around. Available in a variety of shapes, sizes, and materials, they're also easy to match to nearly every design aesthetic and a great way to bring a touch of style to your outdoor space.

  • 02 of 08

    Custom Fireplace

    modern outdoor fireplace
    Modern outdoor fireplace. Jeremy Samuelson/Getty Images

    Not only is a fireplace an eye-catching focal point for a backyard or patio, but it also creates a sense of permanence. By adding seating and a coffee table around your fireplace, you transform a forgotten backyard into a true outdoor living room. Whether you opt to have a fireplace custom-built, make it a do-it-yourself project, or buy a prefab unit, time and research will give you the best results. 

    Materials for outdoor fireplaces can range from brick and stone to concrete or metal, and you can choose to fuel it with either gas or wood. When considering the location of your fireplace, think about low-hanging trees and shrubs, nearby structures, and whether the wind will blow smoke in your neighbor's yard (or into the interior of your own home).

  • 03 of 08

    Portable Fireplace

    couple on patio with fireplace
    Thinkstock Images / Getty Images

    A portable or prefab fireplace is a smart choice for a smaller outdoor space, or if you move and want to take your fireplace with you. Sometimes also referred to as chimineas, many portable fireplaces have eye-catching flues, so yours can often mimic the look of a built-in design without the added permanence.

  • 04 of 08

    Hot Tubs and Spas

    people in hot tub in snow
    Hot tubbing in the snow. Chris Clinton/Getty Images

    Picture this: It's a frosty, starry December night and a bubbling tub, heated to a cozy 104 degrees Fahrenheit, is waiting for you just outside on your patio or deck. Even if it's snowing, a spa or hot tub will quickly help warm you up and relax any sore muscles you may have from too much winter skiing or snow shoveling. Make sure you have a plush robe, slippers, and a towel nearby.

    Continue to 5 of 8 below.
  • 05 of 08

    Heated Floors

    family on deck
    Family playing on backyard deck. David Jakel/Getty Images

    Extend the season of your deck or patio by installing radiant heating beneath the flooring. While it's more often associated with interiors, heated floors are gaining popularity with outdoor surfaces as well. Systems can be installed to warm up your patio or deck, and they boast the added bonus of melting fallen snow or keeping surfaces from getting icy. Keep in mind, any heated floors should always be installed by a professional—this is not a DIY job!

  • 06 of 08

    Outdoor Kitchen

    brick outdoor kitchen
    Brick outdoor kitchen. Chuck Schmidt/Getty Images

    Make your outdoor kitchen a place you want to be on a chilly day, thanks to appliances that pack on the warmth. The addition of a grill, brick pizza oven, or other outdoor cooking gadgets will quickly heat things up, and all those delicious aromas will make guests want to hang out on the patio long after dinner ends

  • 07 of 08

    Heat Lamps

    house with outdoor lamp
    Outdoor heat lamp on patio. Jim Kruger/Getty Images

    Portable patio heaters are tall, don't take up much room, and are usually fueled by propane—in fact, you've probably been warmed by one on the patio of a restaurant while dining outdoors. On average, a single unit can heat up an area of 25 square feet, making them the ideal choice for a deck or patios where you'd like to be able to eat outdoors all season long. Bonus: They're not super bulky, so they're easy to stash away during the summer months or when not in use.

  • 08 of 08

    Outdoor Rugs and Blankets

    couple on rug on deck
    Couple warms up on rug on deck. Conny Marshaus/Getty Images

    While an indoor/outdoor rug or heavy throw isn't going to provide the same amount of warmth as a fire pit or patio heater, it will help make your space appear (and feel!) cozier. Add a plush blanket or throw to your patio or deck, snuggle up with a friend, and quickly forget about the cooler temps. Pro tip: Pace your throw in the dryer for a few minutes before bringing it outdoors for an added bit of heat.