In Maine, as the leaves turn and the air chills, your patio need not become a forgotten space. While patios are ideal for soaking up the sunshine in the summer, creating a warm, inviting patio area for fall, winter, and spring requires some creative thinking. From cozy fire pits to radiant heating systems, there are many innovative options to explore. Here are five ways to invite warmth into your outdoor living space.
1. Enjoy the Glow of a Fire Pit
Picture this: a crisp Maine evening, the sky a tapestry of stars, and you, gathered around a bespoke fire pit, its flames dancing a warm welcome.
Fire pits, tailored to your style become the heart of your patio. They are not just sources of warmth but centerpieces of conversation and connection. For a sleek, modern look, a concrete fire pit makes a bold statement. Concrete can be stained, painted or finished with a natural look. For a more rustic, natural style, a fire pit made of natural stone is a classic choice. The variations in shape and color of natural stone can create a one-of-a-kind focal point. Stacked stone and stone veneers offer affordable options with the look of natural stone.
Strategically place seating around your fire pit to maximize the warmth and ambiance. Chat with family and friends as you relax fireside into the evening. Just be sure to select seating made of weather-resistant materials.
If you love entertaining, consider installing a larger fire pit to accommodate more guests. For a cozy feel, opt for a smaller pit to create intimacy. Carefully follow local building codes and safety best practices when designing and installing your fire pit.
2. Utilize Standing Patio Heaters
Freestanding patio heaters are an excellent option for heating larger outdoor areas. Powerful and tall, these heaters can warm up to a 20 foot diameter when placed centrally on your patio. Standing anywhere within the heated radius, you’ll feel comfortable and cozy.
Propane fueled heaters are most common for their portability and heating power. A standard 20lb propane tank can fuel a patio heater for 8-10 hours of continuous use. For convenience, some heaters feature built-in propane tank storage. Electric and natural gas powered standing heaters are also available depending on your setup. Whether you choose the mobility of propane or the steady assurance of electric or natural gas heaters, your outdoor gatherings need not end with the setting sun.
With flexibility to position the heater where needed, you can rearrange seating and tables to adapt to changing outdoor conditions. Carefully follow all safety precautions when using and storing portable propane tanks. Standing patio heaters give you the freedom to quickly heat a large gathering.
3. Mount Overhead Heaters
Mounted patio heaters offer focused warmth right where you need it. Opt for heaters that emit infrared waves to directly heat people and objects instead of simply warming the surrounding air. Place mounted heaters under overhead structures like pergolas or near seating areas. Discreet yet powerful, this allows the heat to radiate downwards over a specific area.
Choose electric or gas-powered heaters depending on your setup. And of course, always follow local building codes for gas or electric hook ups. Gas heaters require access to a fuel line or propane tank while electric heaters simply need an outdoor outlet. Both types come in a range of sizes and styles. A sleek stainless steel or aluminum fixture blends modern and contemporary aesthetics while classic black models offer flexibility.
Install weather-resistant outdoor electrical outlets strategically near seating areas if opting for electric heaters. With the warmth focused right where you’ll be sitting, you can comfortably enjoy your Maine patio long into autumn.
4. Incorporate Radiant In-Flooring Heating
Step onto your patio and feel the embrace of warmth from beneath. Radiant in-floor heating turns the entire floor into a source of gentle, consistent warmth. Radiant systems circulate heated fluid through pipes or heating elements installed beneath the surface. This warmth directly radiates up through the flooring material.
Tile, concrete, and stone patio materials readily absorb and transmit heat from below. Radiant systems provide even, consistent comfort underfoot without drying the air.
Electric and hydronic systems are two options to consider. Hydronic systems pump heated liquid while electric systems use heating cables. Both provide the same radiant effect. An electric radiant mat placed beneath stone pavers or concrete is one of the easiest options to install. An outdoor thermostat allows you to regulate the temperature for optimal comfort. The warm floor will melt away snow and ice in winter, letting you extend the patio season.
5. Build an Outdoor Enclosure
Elevate your patio to a sanctuary that defies the seasons. Envision a pergola or sunroom, an outdoor room that blends the beauty of Maine’s natural backdrop with the comfort of an indoor space. Outdoor rooms allow you to enjoy the Maine open-air experience while blocking wind and retaining ambient heat.
Attaching weather-resistant clear vinyl panels or plexiglass to a pergola or gazebo provides wind protection while still allowing light to filter through. For a fully-enclosed patio room, install floor-to-ceiling glass windows and doors. Strategically placed outdoor heaters, fire pits or radiant flooring turn the space into a four-season outdoor oasis.
When designing your structure, pay close attention to the roofing. Solid roof materials like insulated metal or polycarbonate panels optimize heat retention. Overhead beams can support mounted heaters to warm the interior. Ensure proper ventilation if fully enclosing the space.
Be sure to comply with local codes and regulations when building a permanent outdoor structure. While an investment, an enclosed patio becomes valuable additional living space to be enjoyed for years to come.
Your Vision, Our Expertise
Whether you’re looking to add a fire pit or dreaming up a whole new patio, the possibilities are endless for your outdoor space. As hardscape contractors serving Southern Maine for over thirty years, our team at Stone Solutions Maine brings expertise and attention to detail to every unique project.
Contact us today to discuss heating options like fire pits as well as other hardscape visions for stunning patios, walkways, steps, walls, and lighting. Our experience transforming Maine homes and gardens is at your service. Let’s chat about how we can create your dream outdoor living space to enjoy every day, every season.