12 Ways to Warm Up Your Winter Patio

During the winter months, it might seem like cold air and snow foil any attempts to enjoy your outdoor spaces. But there are plenty of ways to warm up your patio in the winter and stay cozy outdoors year-round. No matter how you like to enjoy your patio space or what you want to do to warm it up, there’s an option for you. Before you know it, you’ll be snug as a bug in a rug as you sit back on your warm, cozy patio.

When it comes to heating options, the multitude of options can seem overwhelming. Thankfully, it’s easier than it looks to tailor your patio’s heating to your needs. Read through this helpful guide for some winter patio ideas on how to turn your patio space into the warm and toasty atmosphere that you deserve.

Play with Warm Colors

One way to make your patio feel warmer without much cost and even without actually heating it is to give it a warm design. This can be accomplished with generous use of warm colors such as red, orange, and yellow. It won’t be enough to chase the chill away on a winter night, but giving your outdoor living spaces a makeover with splashes of bright warm colors can help you feel like you’re that much toastier while you’re using other heating sources.

1. Warm Decor

Warm colour decor
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A good place to start with warm colors for your outdoor patio is with some home decor. Hanging pictures or wall decorations with plenty of red, orange, and yellow can go a long way toward making your patio feel warmer. Any warm-colored knick knacks or centerpieces for tables can accomplish the same effect. Lastly, red, orange, or yellow throw pillows and cushions on your outdoor furniture can give seating areas a warm, welcoming feel.

If you’re not afraid to do some minor DIY with your patio design, applying some paint is another good option for warm-colored outdoor decor. This will mostly be for wood patio furniture and other surfaces you can remove paint from easily.

2. Warm Lights

Lighting is another good decorating idea to give your outdoor area a warm ambiance. The right lights can do wonders for making your patio feel warm and toasty. Try switching out the light bulbs in your fixtures for softer, warmer lights, or hang up string lights and other outdoor options in warm colors. 

Keep Out the Cold

Another good option to keep your winter patio warm, and a much more effective one, is to keep the cold weather from getting in in the first place. Keeping it out completely is almost impossible, but there are a few things you can do to keep some of the chill from creeping into your patio. This way, you won’t have as much work to do with your other heating sources and can enjoy your outdoor space that much more.

3. Patio Screening

Patio Screening
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One design idea to partially keep the chill from getting into your patio is to screen it in if it isn’t already. Screening will keep out the snow, protect any greenery in your outdoor living space from it, and help to block at least some of the cold winter winds that will blow into your patio. 

4. Rugs and Curtains

A patio with curtains
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Screening can’t do everything, so it’s a good thing there are other options to help keep Jack Frost from nipping at your nose while you’re enjoying your outdoor space. Setting up outdoor rugs on the floor of your patio can put a barrier between your feet and the cold surface. In the case of wooden patios, this will also help prevent cold air from coming between the floorboards.

Curtains are another way to keep out the cold air. These can be installed in either screened-in or open-air patios, though you’ll need some form of support to hang them from, such as a pergola. You can even buy thermal, insulated, or weather-resistant curtains for the specific purpose of keeping heat in and cold air out.

Heat Things Up

Keeping out the cold and making the patio look warm can only go so far. In the wintertime, it’s likely you’ll need an actual heat source to keep the chill away while you’re enjoying your outdoor space. Thankfully, these are no less varied than other options for keeping your patio feeling toasty. The cost of heaters varies, so you should have no trouble finding one to fit your budget.

5. Heaters

Heaters patio
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A focal point of keeping a patio warm is a heater. Space heaters are good for small patios or covered outdoor living rooms but may not be up to the task of heating one exposed to the open air. 

Propane patio heaters specifically designed for outdoor spaces are recommended for the most warmth on a winter night. You can also use a fire pit, outdoor fireplace, or chiminea. Make sure that any non-electric heating source is used in an area with proper ventilation to avoid the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

6. Hot Tubs

A hot tub in winter patio
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If you want something a little more fancy, another option is a hot tub. Hot tubs feel amazing on cold nights and can warm you down to your very bones even in the chilliest of winters. They can be quite pricey, but they’re worth it if you spend a lot of time on your patio or other outdoor space. A hot tub can also add to the value of your home.

Keep it Cozy

There are also other options to help you stay warm on your patio. Some of these are more personal and less about heating the entire space. These can be combined with other options such as fire pits, or if you feel like enjoying your patio by yourself and don’t want to go to the trouble of heating it up, they should work just fine on their own.

7. Warm Clothes and Blankets

A girl wearing warm clothes
Photo Credit: Pxhere

Combined with your favorite winter wear, heated blankets or big, thick ones can help you stay nice and cozy on your patio in the winter. Hats, scarves, gloves, and puffy coats can keep you warm and toasty in the cold and look fashionable while you’re at it. 

8. Kotatsu

Another option for staying cozy on your patio is a kotatsu. A kotatsu is a small table with an attached blanket and heat source. They’re most commonly used in Japan, but are available online and can be delivered just about anywhere. You can even build your own kotatsu at home. They are extremely warm and comfortable, and a great option for keeping cozy on your patio so long as you don’t mind sitting on the floor.

Some Warm Treats

If you’re enjoying your patio on a cold night, a good way to keep warm is to make some hot drinks or food. This can warm you from the inside out and is a great way to spend time in your outdoor spaces, especially with guests and loved ones. You can serve just about any hot food you like so long as dietary restrictions are kept in mind, but some outdoor dining options are better than others for providing the most warmth.

9. Hot Drinks

Hot drinks
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Hot drinks are a great way to warm up and enjoy a nice beverage on a cold winter night. Cocoa is a classic, especially in the wintertime. There’s just something about a steaming cup of hot chocolate with some mini marshmallows that really makes it feel like the holidays. For more mature groups, mulled wine or other alcoholic beverages can warm you up with a little extra spice. Just make sure to enjoy responsibly.

10. Hot Food

Hot food winter patio
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Hot food is another great way to keep warm in the winter, and can turn any gathering into a lovely dinner party. There are a few different foods that are great for heating up on the patio. One is a hotpot. Keep a pot of soup stock simmering on the dining table and add various ingredients, removing them as they finish cooking. This might be a bit complicated, but it’s loads of fun, and the broth that results is delicious.

Other hot foods to enjoy on a cold winter night include fondue. You can dip just about anything in a pot of melted cheese and have it come out tasting great. Stews or soups are another good food to warm you to your core. You can also make s’mores around a fire pit for a classic winter treat.

Permanent Heating Fixtures

There are also more permanent ways of extending the patio season through the winter. If you don’t want to deal with bulky heaters or fire pits, then installing permanent heating fixtures in your patio could be the way to go. These will cost a pretty penny, but they’ll help keep your patio warm and toasty all winter long and will help add value to your home.

11. Heated Flooring

Heated flooring can make the patio feel warm from the bottom up. If your patio is exposed to the open air, this will also help prevent ice from forming. You have a choice of either electric or hydronic floor heating, both of which have their pros and cons. Electric is cheaper and heats up quicker, whereas hydronic is more energy efficient and more economical in the long run.

12.  Overhead Heaters

If you’re looking for a cheaper and easier-to-install permanent heating option than heated flooring, you can go in the opposite direction and put heating on your ceiling. Since heat rises, this might seem like a bad call, but it works wonders. You can have a circulating heating system installed in the ceiling itself or you can hang up mounted heaters. Either option will help you warm up your patio and keep it warm throughout the winter.

FAQ About Winter Patios

Can a heater start a fire on my patio?

It’s very possible. Especially in the case of gas heaters, the possibility of a fire breaking out is one that should never be ignored. Have a fire extinguisher handy and keep a close eye on any heat sources you use on your patio. Make sure to keep flammable objects and fabrics away from them.

Are gas or electric heaters better?

Both have their pros and cons. Gas heaters tend to be cheaper, more efficient, and more portable. However, electric heaters don’t emit carbon monoxide and are safer overall. Shop around and do your research to find the heater that’s right for you

Where should I put a patio heater?

The best place for a patio heater is in an open area on a flat surface. Depending on the heater, you may need a certain amount of space above it in order to use it safely. Thoroughly read the manual to determine the best and safest placement.

Remember to Prep the Lawn for Winter, Too

Is your lawn winter ready? Do you want to get one last mow in before frost and snow makes it impossible? Consult your local lawn care experts to help you care for your lawn in the wintertime.

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Austin Geiger

Austin Geiger

Austin Geiger is a lover of all things nature. He enjoys writing comprehensive, easy-to-swallow articles about pest management solutions, landscaping tips, and ways for people to help their local pollinators.