Get Fired Up! By Chad Vankoughnett

It seems hard these days to find a new home that doesn’t have at least one fireplace in it. Whether it be in the living room or master suite, a fireplace adds functional style and beauty to virtually any room. A fireplace can be the centerpiece of a room’s decor or a subtle accent intended to provide warmth without intruding on the living space. If you are looking to add a fireplace to your home, there are several important things to consider.

The first thing you need to decide is what the main purpose of the fireplace is to be. Are you looking for a decorative touch, or a primary heating source, or a combination of the two? Most fireplaces will provide heat of some kind, but there is a wide range of heating capability, so if you are in the market for something to get that basement warm, it is important to consider just how large an area the fireplace will heat. Alternatively, if you are wanting something primarily decorative, then aesthetics will definitely be on the forefront of your mind. Whether you are looking for something ultra-modern or classically styled, chances are there is already a fireplace out there waiting for you.

The second thing you should determine is what kind of fuel you want your fireplace to run on. There are three primary fuel categories you will need to consider. The first is what I will call wood/combustibles. This category would include pellet stoves, wood burning fireplaces, and other non-gas type real flame fireplaces. These fireplaces require you to feed the flame with combustible material. The advantage of this type of fireplace is primarily aesthetic (unless you live in a cabin in the woods, in which case the plethora of free fuel is also appealing). Nothing beats the sound and smell of pine logs burning in the fireplace. It brings up images of cozy winter nights, hot chocolate, and romantic getaways. Unfortunately it also brings up images of ashes, soot, burn marks on the carpet, cutting and chopping wood, cleaning the ash pan and chimney…you get the idea. Wood fireplaces tend to be much more labour intensive than other types of fireplace.

The second type of fuel is natural gas. Gas fireplaces have become extremely popular in the last several years for a couple of reasons. Firstly, they are an economical way to heat a space. Secondly, they are attractive, coming in a wide variety of styles and designs. Thirdly, they have actual flames and realistic looking logs, mimicking the aesthetic appeal of wood fireplaces without the mess. And finally, they are affordable and can be installed virtually anywhere in the home. A gas fireplace can be turned on and off with a switch, meaning that you don’t need to wait for a log to burn out before leaving the room. They are convenient, safe, and best of all, they look great. They can be placed in walls so that people in two or even three different rooms can enjoy the flames. There are even fireplaces that can be placed in an outside wall so that they can be enjoyed from both the living room and the deck. Gas fireplaces are, in a word, versatile.

The third type of “fuel” is electricity. Electric fireplaces have come a long way in the past several years, and now represent an affordable, attractive alternative to true flame fireplaces. Electric fireplaces generally have heaters that can be turned on to help warm a room. They are easy to install, and can often simply be removed from the box and plugged in for instant fireplace gratification. They can be great for smaller rooms or rooms where venting a gas fireplace would be difficult. While they lack the true flame of a wood or gas fireplace, most modern electrics do a fairly good job of mimicking the appearance of flames, although they will never truly be able to replace them.

Once you have determined the purpose of the fireplace and the type of fireplace you wish to install, you need to figure out which fireplace will look best in the space you are designing. It is a good idea to determine the design theme of the room first, then shop for a fireplace that will complement that theme. There is a vast selection of fireplaces to choose from, and customizing the overall look of your fireplace is fairly easy with your choice of hearth, mantle, and surface treatments such as stone, tile, or wood. It is a good idea to speak with a professional who understands the advantages and disadvantages of each type of fireplace, not to mention the options and styles available. They will be able to direct you to a fireplace that is perfect for your needs.

At J&H Builder’s Warehouse, we sell high quality Montigo and Dimplex gas and electric fireplaces. Our salespeople are experts in their field, and will be able to help you make the best choice for your needs. We will also install any fireplace we sell, so if you are concerned about getting the work done or finding a contractor you can trust, you can rest easy knowing that your renovation is in good hands. Let us help you find that perfect accent to your home today.

– Chad Vankoughnett