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Can You Put a Chiminea on a Wood Deck?

Do you have a chiminea or are planning to buy one? A chiminea is a traditional twist on  a fire pit. It is sure to be the center of attention at your next deck party. But, what if you have a wood deck? Can you put a chiminea on a wood deck?

You can put a chiminea on a wood deck. Just do not put it directly on the deck surface. A chiminea with stands placed on a protective mat or a bed of pavers is quite safe on a wood deck.

An open flame is always to be treated with respect, especially if it is in the vicinity of your house and other flammable materials. You must take all possible and recommended fire protection measures.

Chiminea on Wood Deck

How Do You Use an Outdoor Chiminea?

If you are new to chiminea then you may wonder what it is and how it is different from a fire pit. The chiminea originated in Mexico, 400 years ago. It was used for cooking and warmth. It is a bit like a fireplace with a chimney, the difference being that it is free standing and can be moved around.

The Mexicans used it indoors, primarily for cooking. However, in its modern incarnation a chiminea is more likely to be used outdoors, on a deck or patio, for warmth & ambiance.

Traditional chimineas were made from clay. These are still available and many people buy them but use them mostly as décor pieces in the garden. You can use a clay chiminea but a cast iron or steel chiminea is a lot more practical. They are sturdier, easier to move around and light a fire. 

The chiminea is designed like a wide-bottom vase. The belly is where wood is burnt and the neck serves as a vertical chimney. Compared to a fire pit, the fire in a chiminea is better controlled. The smoke goes up through the chimney so it does not get in your eyes.

The chiminea’s design is well suited to outdoor use. Wind & rain will not extinguish its flame.

A chiminea on a wood deck or patio will surely be the center of attention at any outdoor party. Your guests will hover around the warm chiminea, chatting and laughing, quite unaware of the cool night. 

On the other hand, you and your partner can equally enjoy a quiet evening. Imagine sitting on the deck, sipping wine with a glowing chiminea in front of you.

Is a Chiminea Better Than a Fire Pit?

A chiminea scores over a fire pit on following features


You are far less likely to see a chiminea on a wood deck or patio as compared to a fire pit. The odd shape and the height are sure to attract attention. If you have guests over for a party on the deck, the chiminea is bound to be the focus of conversation.

A traditional clay chiminea with Spanish designs will be the showstopper, for sure! 

Controlled Fire

The round belly shape of the chiminea helps enclose the flames and flying embers. The design also restricts the amount of wood you can put. Fire pits can flare up just because you or someone put more wood than required.

This feature makes a chiminea safer than a fire pit.

Controlled Smoke

The chimney in the chiminea directs the smoke upwards, so it does not get in the eyes of your guests. Everyone loves the aroma of burning wood but no one wants their eyes watering up.

Handles Weather Better

Because a chiminiea is enclosed and the chimney can have a top, it can keep on burning even when there are changes in wind direction or there is a slight rain. A fire pit can not handle rain and guests have to change positions if the wind direction changes.

On the flip side a chiminea does have a few features that you may not like


Compared to a fire pit a chiminea appears to be, and is in fact, less stable. It is tall but has a relatively small base. A fire pit is very stable. 

More often than not the fire pit is built into the deck as a permanent feature.


If you have one of the fancier, clay chimineas, then you need to be very careful not to topple them and crack them. Less worries on the metallic ones. Durability is not going to be an issue with a fire pit.

Actually, I have seen reviews of some clay chimineas that cracked the first time a fire was started. A complete waste of money!

Cleaning Up

Cleaning up a chiminea, after use, is a lot more difficult than cleaning a fire pit, because of the belly shaped design. A fire pit is just a metal bowl, if portable or a pit if fixed. You have full access from the top. 

The size of the deck and the gathering can influence your choice. A chiminea would be better for a small wood deck and intimate gatherings. A fire pit would work better for a large concrete or natural stone deck and if you like hosting large deck parties.

Why don’t you check out a few chiminea brands & prices by clicking the link below. It may help you decide!

Chiminea Brands and Prices worth taking a look at

How Do I Protect My Patio from a Chiminea?

Chiminea produce less heat than a fire pit, partly because they tend to be smaller and partly because they are enclosed. Nonetheless, a chiminea can get upto 1200°F. A clay chiminea will get less hot and will radiate less heat than a cast iron or steel chiminea.

A chiminea can damage a wood deck in several ways:

Radiant Heat

A chiminea, especially a large metal one, radiates a lot of heat from its “fire belly”. The chiminea material could be hitting 600 – 800°F. The radiation from the chiminea can raise the temperature of the wood deck below to anywhere between 200 – 400°F.

That is really hot for wood or wood composite decks. They will surely get damaged. Even concrete loses strength if it is exposed to high temperatures. 

The threshold of significant degradation of concrete is around 65-93°C (150-200°F).


Make sure that you buy a chiminea that comes with its own stand. This will keep the base of the “fire belly” around 12 – 30” above the deck. 

As an additional protection for the wood deck, place the chiminea on a deck protector pad. The pad should be able to reflect the radiant heat away from the deck. It should also protect the deck from any wayward burning coal pieces or flying embers.

I highly recommend using Newtex FirePad Deck Protector. The industrial grade high-temperature aluminized Z-Flex fabric technology reflects 95% of the radiant heat. In addition the Z-Block Fabric bottom layer is an impenetrable flame barrier.

Flying Embers

You would like to burn wood or charcoal briquettes in a chiminea. Burning wood just has a cozier glow and a very natural aroma. However, burning wood is going to result in flying embers.

Flying embers are, quite obviously, a fire risk. They will start their own fire if they land on anything flammable. At the very least they will scorch the deck and leave an ugly mark.

Most cast iron, cast aluminum and steel chimineas come with a 360° view of fire with a fine wire mesh spark screen. The screen helps contain the flying embers. The clay or terracotta chimineas do not have a spark screen. To be fair they only have one small opening on the side for feeding the logs to the fire.

Is It Safe to Use a Chiminea on a Wood Deck?

A chiminea is safe to use on a wood deck provided you have a healthy respect for open flames and act responsibly. Just using basic common sense and having a risk averse mindset will keep you safe. 

Here are some tips that will work as a good reminder & checklist before you light the fire in your chiminea on a wood deck:

  1. Keep the chiminea small. A small chiminea is not just safer, it is more personal, intimate & cozier.
  2. Do not place the chiminea directly on a wood deck. Make sure it has a stand and the stand is placed on a Fire Pad Deck Protector or a sturdy bed of concrete or brick pavers.
  3. Keep the chiminea at least 10 feet away from the house, sheds, property lines or flammable material. A chiminea is a lot safer than a fire pit or a charcoal grill, but it does not hurt to be extra safe.
  4. If the chiminea is too close to a deck railing, protect the railing by throwing an old, wet blanket on it.
  5. A chiminea will work fine in a low or moderate breeze. Avoid using it in high winds or inclement weather.
  6. Keep a garden hose, a bucket of dry sand and a fire extinguisher handy. Just in case a fire accident happens.
  7. Clean up the chiminea once it has cooled and dispose of the embers carefully.

Err on the side of safety, if you must!

Thank you very much for reading the post. I do hope you found it informative and helpful.

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