When you're building a new home, or renovating and adding on to your existing home, fireplace construction
is often the most exciting part. Choosing a fireplace can be a little overwhelming with all the choices on the market today, but our thorough guide will help you decide.
The question of whether to have a fireplace or no fireplace in a new home
and what type of fireplace to use depends on many factors. In this article, we look at some of the products that are on the market today and how to order them. Use our modern fireplace ideas
to add efficient heating and impressive looks to your home.
What Fireplace Should I Choose?
The two most common fireplaces for builders
are the modern gas direct-vent fireplace and the traditional wood-burning fireplace. The first thing you have to decide on is the size. If you're primarily looking for a heat source, choose one appropriate for the size of your home. If purchasing a fireplace more for aesthetics, choose one that fits your style - but be mindful of the room's size as even decorative fireplaces generate heat.
Most gas fireplaces have different front options to add a personal touch. All factory-built wood and gas fireplaces (often called prefabricated or zero clearance fireplaces) can be surrounded by a non-combustible material like stone, brick, tile, marble or granite to create an authentic masonry fireplace look for a fraction of the cost of building a brick fireplace.
Why Choose Gas Direct-Vent Fireplaces?
are the most popular choice for adding a fireplace in a new home or remodel. Burning wood can be rewarding and can save you some money if you have a free source of firewood. However, if you have to purchase firewood, the cost per million BTUs of heat created are almost identical - and gas fireplaces require far less labor to maintain.
Direct-vent fireplaces are sealed combustion fireplaces that use a pipe-within-a-pipe concentric vent. This draws air in for combustion and exhausts all of the flue gasses to the outside of your home. They do not affect the air pressure or the air quality in your home. Various sizes are offered depending on the size of your space. The average size is 36" width and the average BTU output is 30K. Smaller or more decorative fireplaces typically use 15K to 25K BTUs. There are larger and linear fireplaces that can reach near 60K BTUs such as the Empire Tahoe Clean Face Direct Luxury Fireplace
What You Need to Know:
Front Choices -
Most manufacturers offer a clean front so that you can bring non-combustible materials up to the viewing area. Some also offer decorative fronts to personalize the fireplace to your décor.
(Options for The Napoleon Ascent 36 Shown
Control Choices -
You will have to decide how you want to turn your fireplace on and off. Most fireplaces can be operated with a switch on the wall, a remote that turns the fireplace on and off, or a thermostat remote that has a built-in temperature sensor that operates like a furnace thermostat. Some have a multi-function remote that will turn the fireplace on and off, have a built-in thermostat, adjust the flames and can even adjust the height of the flame with some models. Some premium fireplaces come standard with a remote of a certain type. Look in the specifications area of the product webpage or the fireplace owner's manual for more details.
(Control Options for Empire Comfort Systems Shown
Interior Liners -
A majority of gas fireplaces come standard out of the box with a painted black steel interior. This is enough for a lot of people. The flame stands out against the black ground and makes the back wall of the fireplace appear indefinite. Most gas direct-vent fireplaces also have the option of brick liners. These are designed to create a more authentic masonry look.
A newer option to the market is porcelain or glass reflective panels. These attach to the inner walls and back of the fireplace with a glossy finish that reflects the appearance of the flame, making it seem as if the flame is dancing against the back and sides of the fireplace. Notice how the flames reflect on the back and side walls of the Kingsman ZCVRB3622 fireplace
Direct-vent fireplaces can be vented vertically through the roof or horizontally through a wall. Each fireplace is different, so you will need to check the installation manual or consult an NFI-certified professional to determine the venting material you will need for your fireplace. Some fireplace manufacturers make their own venting. Others use DuraVent
, which is the largest venting manufacturer in the fireplace industry.
Why Choose Wood-Burning Fireplaces?
Do you want to build your own fire and enjoy a real wood-burning flame in your home? If so, a wood fireplace is your choice. There are several different types of wood fireplaces depending on what you expect the fireplace to do for you.
Do you want to heat your home with the fireplace?
If you are looking for the fireplace to be a heat source then you will have to choose an EPA-approved fireplace like the Osburn Stratford II Wood-Burning Fireplace seen below.
The air for combustion enters the fireplace in strategic points so that the wood and leftover smoke are burned and re-burned. This allows a fireplace to burn at up to 74% efficiency, heat up to 2,200 square feet and burn up to nine hours on a single load of firewood.
Are you interested in some heat, but shopping more for looks?
In that case, one of the Biltmore fireplaces from Majestic
(seen below) may be more appropriate. These are larger, open burning fireplaces that cost a fraction of what it costs to build a masonry fireplace and are sized very similar. These fireplaces allow you to burn a wood fire. They offer a modest amount of heat and are primarily a decorative appliance.
What You Need to Know:
All wood-burning fireplaces require a chimney that is typically 12 to 15 inches in diameter, which is often made by and tested to work with the fireplace. The chimney runs vertically up above the roof line so that the chimney cap is at least two feet above the nearest point of the building.
High-efficiency fireplaces come standard with or have choices of sealed airtight doors. The non-efficient fireplaces have doors that use tempered glass. It is typically recommended that these doors are closed only when the fire is getting up to speed and when the fire is dying down.
Some building jurisdictions require a fresh air duct that connects from the fireplace to a small vent on the outside of the home. This allows the fireplace to draw approximately 25% of its combustion air from outdoors.
Always consult the owner's manual, your local building jurisdiction and an NFI-certified professional when ordering, installing, or servicing a fireplace. HVACDirect.com has certified fireplace technicians available six days a week by phone, email or instant chat to answer your questions and offer new build fireplace ideas
New Fireplace Construction Frequently Asked Questions
Do I need a fireplace in my new home?
While they're not a requirement, fireplaces are an excellent way to heat the main living space and add a focal point to the indoor décor. The National Association of Real Estate Appraisers estimates a new fireplace can increase a home's resale value
by 6 to 12% - much more than it costs to add the fireplace.
How much does it cost to build an electric fireplace?
According to CostHelper Home & Garden
, a basic compact freestanding electric fireplace costs between $80 and $500. Getting a model with a built-in frame and mantel to resemble a traditional fireplace can be as much as $2,200. A new fireplace insert
, corner electric fireplace or wall-mounted unit is also an option.
What is a firebox in a fireplace?
The firebox is the section of your fireplace where the actual fire burns. Masonry fireplaces usually have brick fireboxes while prefabricated fireplaces normally have a metal firebox, as these materials can withstand the high heat.