Considerations when Choosing a Fireplace

Even down here in the Sunshine State, we love a good fireplace. While fireplaces are mostly just for show in Florida (and hanging stockings), they remain a beautiful accent to any home and certainly provide warmth for our Northern friends.

There are actually quite a few options to consider when choosing a fireplace for your home. In many cases, your budget will be the deciding factor in the type of fireplace you choose.

As with most aspects of building a home, the options can get complicated and overwhelming, so we’re breaking it down for you. The exterior of most fireplaces can be finished out any way you choose. In this post we will focus on the firebox itself. There are two main types of fireplaces to choose from: traditional masonry fireplaces and factory inserts. We’ll start with the most expensive…

Traditional Masonry Fireplaces are made by brick masons and are the most expensive option.

fireplace

This is the outdoor fireplace at our personal home. Forgive the ash and soot- we like to watch college football by the fire and haven’t gotten around to cleaning it.

This type of fireplace is how all fireplaces were originally built and is the most authentic-looking. We mostly see these in high-end construction, as they are the most expensive. Masonry fireplaces are wood-burning, but keep in mind that any wood burning fireplace can be fitted with gas logs; however a strictly gas-burning fireplace cannot burn wood. Wood-burning fireplaces are therefore the most flexible.

Masonry Kits are typically what is used to build a masonry fireplace. These kits provide all of the components needed to build the firebox itself and the exterior can be finished with a variety of materials and mantles. Check out Isokern for different styles.

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Photo from Earthcore.

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The other firebox option is a factory-built insert. These are the most popular fireplaces in our market, because they provide a lot of flexibility and bang for the buck. Keep in mind that the insert is just the firebox itself. When browsing the options, try not to focus on how the mantle and exterior is finished, since you are not buying those things. The builder will finish the exterior and mantle on site. We typically look for a fireplace that has a minimal amount of exposed metal. That way, we can cover most of the firebox with a nice finish material, such as brick.

There are many different types of factory-built inserts to choose from. One popular brand is HeatNGlo . You can get an idea of the many options by browsing their website. Among factory inserts, there are three types we typically see: Ventless Gas, Direct Vent Gas, and Wood-Burning.

The Ventless Gas option is the most affordable option of the three and the easiest to install. This type of fireplace burns clean, but it can put out a smell. It also puts out a lot of heat so you wouldn’t want to run it for hours on end.

lauries fireplace

Direct Vent Gas is probably the most popular type we see. They are moderately-priced, energy-efficient, and fully-contained, so you won’t get a draft from the chimney. This option requires simpler venting than a wood-burning fire place and you can turn it on with just a switch.

molly fireplace

The last factory-built option is Wood-Burning. These fireplaces do everything a traditional masonry fireplace does, but come pre-built and are less expensive. Since they burn wood, they require a larger vent pipe than a gas fireplace. This vent pipe must be enclosed in a decorative chimney. As such, this option is the most expensive of the factory-built fire places, but it is still less-expensive than a traditional masonry wood-burning fire place.

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We hope this brief run-down of fireplace options has been helpful to you as you choose a fireplace for your home. It really comes down to your style preference and your budget. Stay warm this winter!