So you are building a new, gorgeous home to your exact specifications, or you are giving your current home a complete overhaul that will make it feel like new — what type of fireplace will you buy?
The answer, of course, lies in your aesthetic preferences, but it also involves the very practical goals you want to achieve for your brand new living space. To help you make some crucial decisions during fireplace construction, you can consider the following factors:
Even though modern heating systems have phased chimneys out as a practical home component, the timeless and dramatic statement they make has many buyers begging to keep them in, even if they are just an edifice.
Those who want to go the extra mile will need a functional chimney, which means one with a flue and damping system that safely vents fumes, smoke and gases while preventing things like rain, humidity and insects from coming in the other way. Naturally, a functional chimney like this is more difficult to design and more expensive to build, but the results create a genuinely functional asset that is rapidly disappearing from the modern home.
Wood burning fireplaces have sights and smells that create captivating drama, but there is the more negative type of drama involved in setting them up and maintaining them. For one, your building codes and considerations get even more strict, adding even further to design, expense and sizing requirements. For another, you have to constantly chop or purchase wood, find a place to store it and then periodically clean soot and debris from the fireplace and chimney. All in all, it is a lot of work!
Those who prefer to skip the work and use a gas fireplace instead have far more options at their disposal. A vented gas fireplace requires far less depth for the fireplace and reduced considerations for heat and fume removal. Gas fireplace vents can also be narrow, made of metal venting, and capped with a less complex roof apparatus while reducing worries of water or critters coming into the home.
Ventless gas fireplaces enable you to make your fireplace completely aesthetic, letting you focus on the design aspect of brick, stone or whatever material you choose without having to be as limited by code. Vent-free models also produce far more heat for the home, making them a welcome addition to any home familiar with chilly winters.
Another design choice you must make when designing your new home’s fireplace is where to locate the hearth — the floor surface directly in front of the fire. Many new homes create a stepped hearth that serves as a bench for the living room, allowing them to decorate it with furniture and other accents while sometimes even serving as a real bench.
Other homes use the more traditional flush hearth, which spreads out onto the floor with a slab of slate, tiles or bricks to create an inviting threshold for your glowing fire.
In the end, the design you choose should match your personal style and ultimate needs, but the practical considerations above can help you decide how limited you want your chimney, fireplace and gas log set to be in terms of form versus function.