You can use various methods to heat an outdoor deck, including traditional fire pits, electric heaters, gas fire pits, chimineas, and more. You can also think outside the conventional methods by using blankets, sitting in a hot tub, and lights to add a warm feeling to your decking, whether wooden or composite.
Best ways to heat an outdoor deck safely
- 1. Gas Heaters
- 2. Fire Pit
- 3. Electric Heaters
- 4. Chimineas
1. Gas Heaters
Gas heaters come in many forms. You can get free-standing patio heaters that can be used on decking, portable gas heaters, or gas fire pits.
Free-standing heaters typically offer 360 degrees of heat and are powered by a gas canister hidden inside, which can be replaced when empty. These let you control the level of heat output by turning a dial, much like you would on a gas bbq, for instance.
Portable gas heaters are compact and easy to light thanks to a piezo ignition; however, they typically only give off heat in the direction you point them.
These gas heaters are best for non-covered decking areas as the build-up of carbon monoxide produced from the burning could cause some issues only best for open-air decking areas.
2. Fire Pits
Fire pits are a great way to heat a deck, much like they are a great way to heat any outdoor space.
There are a couple of different types. You can get wood fuelled fire pits, which are the most affordable, or use gas fire pits which have a higher initial cost than traditional methods.
When using wood-fuelled fire pits on a deck, you will want to ensure you protect the decking area under and around your fire pit so as not to burn it if it’s wood or melt it if it’s composite decking.
You can easily achieve this by using spare patio tiles, a heatproof fire pit mat, or some kind of stone in some way.
Gas fire pits have a more luxurious look and feel than traditional pits and use glass beads or lava rock to spread the heat evenly across the pit.
3. Electric Heaters
One of the more eco-friendly outdoor heaters you can buy, electric heaters are great for covered decks and are cheaper to run than other outdoor heating options.
These come in many forms. You can get wall heaters, free-standing heaters, and infrared heaters, all powered by electricity offering directional heat that can heat up to 2 meters away depending on the heater’s power output.
Electric heaters are typically smaller than gas fuelled heaters as there’s no gas canister needed to store. Simply plug in and go, wait a little while, and you’ll get heating you can sometimes control at the click of a button.
For the safest option, you’ll want to ensure that any electric heater you buy has an overheating safety cutoff, fall-over cut off, and a long enough cord to fit your outdoor socket.
The only real downside to electric heaters and gas heaters, for that matter, is that you’ll need to store them properly, and we wouldn’t advise using them in wet weather unless it is under a covered decking area where any weather can’t get to them.
Like fire pits, chimineas offer another heating option for your decking space.
Typically fuelled by wood or bbq charcoals, chimineas are a good-looking alternative to fire pits that are slightly safer due to the flames being contained within the chiminea itself.
Chimineas can be made from clay or cast iron and can keep some residual heat even after you’ve put out the fire, so be careful not to touch or move them directly after use.
Much like fire pits, you’ll also want to ensure you protect your decking with a fireproof mat or stone tile to stop your decking from melting or burning.
You can also use them for grilling with some added attachments like a grill rack.
Just be sure to cure your clay chiminea before use to protect it against cracking and the elements, and place a cover over it when not in use. A good maintenance routine will also help it last longer.
Other ways to make your deck usable all year round
If the above outdoor heating options aren’t for you, then there are a few other ways in which you could make your decking warmer.
Blankets can be a great way to heat up your guests on your decking if you’re on a budget. Use them to cover yourself to keep you warm, or add them to the furniture to take the chill out of the metal or plastic decking furniture.
Blankets come in all shapes and sizes, and picking warm colors like red, oranges, and deep yellows can add to the warming effect.
Add lights for warmth
Lights are an excellent option for adding warmth to any indoor or outdoor space. Grab yourself some string lights with warm white bulbs to provide a warming glow around your decking area.
To help save on the cost of running them, find LED lights with a lower power consumption over standard light bulbs and halogen ones.
Add a hot tub
If you have some extra cash to splash, adding a hot tub to your decking could be a great way to keep warm on your decking all year round and through the winter months.
Taking a dip in a thermally regulated hot tub can add a little luxury to your outdoor space and keep you warm while taking a plunge.
Be careful not to splash too much, as your decking can become slippery when wet.
Add a roof / cover
To add extra warmth and protect your decking from the elements, adding a cover or roof to your decking area can be a great way to make your decking useable even when it’s raining outside.
The added roof will help keep the heat from escaping into the atmosphere a little and provide you with a warmer environment to entertain and enjoy.
Adding a decking roof or gazebo-like structure can cost anywhere between $1,000+ (£800+) depending on the size of the deck area and the type you go with.
Whether you’re looking to heat an outdoor deck using gas, electric, or wood fuelled heaters, you will have found a few solutions that will be of interest.
Electric heaters are the most efficient heating method for running costs. However, gas and wood fire pits have the potential to produce more heat output, making them better for a larger decking area.
You can always combine an electric wall heater or free-standing heater with a fire pit on your deck to provide a warming campfire environment while keeping you warm, even if you’re not close enough to the fire.
Combining standard heating options, blankets, and lights to your decking can offer a nicer-looking deck area and an all-around warmer outdoor space to sit out on cold winter nights.
Whichever way you choose to keep your decking warm, have fun and enjoy.