Fireplaces are no longer standard in all homes. With the advent of central heating, many builders opt not to include them in their construction. But just because you don’t have one in your home, doesn’t mean you can’t add one. But you’ll want to make sure you know what you’re doing. Here are some things to consider:
Types of Fireplaces
The very first step is to decide which type you want in your home. Generally speaking, there are four basic categories:
- Wood-burning – With a wood-burning fireplace, natural logs are used as the primary source of fuel. Because there’s no need for gas or electricity, there are no utility costs associated with having a fire (though you do have to source the wood from somewhere). The downside is that you must have the chimney cleaned frequently, otherwise, it can become a safety hazard.
- Gas – With a gas fireplace, a natural gas line runs into it and supplies the flame. Because it burns cleaner than a wood fire, there’s less maintenance involved. Installing a gas line can, however, be expensive. You’ll also notice an increase in your gas bill during the months it’s in use.
- Electric – Finally, you have electric fireplaces, which are powered purely by electricity. You simply flip a switch or press a button and have a fire. The only downside to this is that electricity can be expensive when used in significant quantities.
- Ethanol – The newest “type” is known as an ethanol fireplace. The flame requires no venting, which means it can be used anywhere in the house. It doesn’t put off much heat, either, but provides a pretty neat aesthetic. Depending on how much it’s used, it can require frequent refilling.
The type you go with will be dependent on a number of factors, including personal preference, cost, and practicality.
You can narrow your selection down fairly quickly by figuring out how much you’re willing to spend on the addition. Electric ones are the cheapest (typically a few hundred dollars). Gas models are considered the middle of the line in price. (Unless you don’t already have gas running to the house. In this case, you have to connect your house to the gas line on the street, which makes it very expensive.) Then you have wood-burning types which, because of the chimney requirements, can cost a few thousand dollars to have installed.
Choosing the Location
Where will it be installed? Saying a particular room isn’t specific enough. You need to pick the right spot, which means accounting for the existing construction of the home.
According to eFireplaceStore, “It is important to know the overall width, depth, and height of the intended installation area, as well as the overall ceiling and roof height. Most gas fireplaces will list the approved venting components in the instruction manual, and it’s crucial that only those components be used.”
Designing the Fireplace Surround
Installing the fireplace is only part of the equation. In order to make it look good, you also have to design the surroundings to help it blend in with the aesthetic of the room.
Do you want a clean, modern look where it sits flush in the wall? Or do you want a classic style with a massive brick hearth and a big mantel? Is a tile surround more your style? There are lots of considerations. Meet with a designer if you aren’t skilled in this area. The last thing you want to do is lower the value of your house because of a poorly designed addition.
Hiring the Right Professionals
At the end of the day, this isn’t a job you want to do on your own. You need to buy from the right people, have the right folks install it, and have someone help with the design. Hiring the right professionals – i.e. ones with experience in the industry – is an absolute must.
Making the Right Decision
Installing a fireplace may not seem like as big of a deal as some other home improvement projects – like renovating a kitchen or adding more square footage – but it’s arguably just as important. The wrong choice in style, where you locate it, and how you install it could cause serious problems. Sit back and give yourself time to make a smart, informed decision.