Choosing Between Different Types of Fireplaces for Your Home

Posted on: 29 May 2017


A fireplace can easily become a dramatic focal point for any room, as well as a convenient way to heat the space without needing to run the furnace. When you are ready to choose a wood or gas heater for the home, note a few differences between their various types, so you can pick the right one for your space and know that you'll be happy with the new heater for years to come.

Freestanding versus built-in

The configuration of a room will help determine if you should choose a freestanding heater versus one that is built-in. For a very large family room, you may want a freestanding model placed closer to the main seating area, or one that is located in the middle of the room, to become the focal point and allow the heat to reach all areas of the large space. A freestanding heater can also be placed between two adjoining rooms, so you can enjoy the fire from the living room and dining room, as an example.

A built-in fireplace will take up less space as it's placed right in a wall, so it's better for smaller rooms where a freestanding unit might get in the way of foot traffic. However, note that construction may be more complicated with a built-in fireplace, as it would need to have a non-combustible surround, usually made with brick or concrete. This may make it more expensive than buying a freestanding unit and only creating the vent it would require.

Wood versus gas

Both gas and wood heaters have their own pros and cons; a wood heater is more natural and offers the crackling sound that many people love from a fireplace. It also generates and radiates more heat, so if you want your fireplace to help warm the room, wood is the right choice. Wood is also usually considered more eco-friendly than gas, as wood is sustainable and can be regrown, whereas gas is a finite resource; using it for a fireplace adds to the overall depletion of this natural substance.

However, a wood fireplace does mean more cleaning and the risk of burning embers coming out of the heater. You also need to light it manually and ensure your firewood is protected from moisture and pest infestation. A gas heater can be placed virtually anywhere as it needs very little, if any, venting. It also engages with a switch so there is no need to struggle with kindling and matches when you choose a gas heater.