What to Consider When Choosing Your Fireplace

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A fireplace can act as a stylistic centrepiece in your home, but first, you must decide on a fireplace’s primary purpose. It can anchor two rooms and provide a welcoming area for relaxation or socialization. It can also be used for heat-efficiency, aesthetics or a combination of both, so it’s important to communicate this information to the fireplace salesperson.

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By being precise in your planning stage, your options will narrow, and your selection process will become much more relaxed. Whether you’re updating an older fireplace or installing a new fireplace, there are several factors to consider when choosing the product that is best suited for your needs, personal preferences and your family.


Fireplaces are available in a wide variety of sizes, allowing you to choose the piece that best fits into the space you have provided. Large fireplaces are more easily visible, and often take center stage in a room’s decorative scheme; however, if you’d prefer your fireplace to act as more of an accessory than a standout piece, a smaller fireplace may be the best choice. If you are thinking about installing a wood-burning fireplace, keep in mind that the size of the feature will also determine its capacity.


You will want to research fireplace trim options to determine which would best suit your décor. Once you’ve decided on a specific fireplace insert, ask the salesperson to review the trim designs that are available. Often the brochure will feature options not seen in the showroom, and you’ll surely find something that blends seamlessly with your existing decorating style.

Fireplace mantels were initially designed to catch smoke, soot, and ash as it rose above the fireplace. Today, mantels may or may not provide this function, but still considered a primary design element of the fireplace itself.

Fireplace mantels are available in a variety of materials, including wood, stone, and metal; consider a mantel that matches the materials you’ve chosen for the rest of your home. You’ll also want to find the size of the mantel and how it relates to the overall size of your fireplace to get a mantel that is proportional to your fireplace.


The two most common fuel types available for fireplaces today are wood and gas. Wood-burning fireplaces require the continual addition of fuel, as well as regular cleaning to address debris left by combustion. However, these traditional fireplace features will work even when your gas service has been interrupted, and often a matter of personal preference. A gas fireplace requires very little maintenance and care for the utmost in convenience, but may be more costly to install if your home does not have an existing gas line.

You will also want to determine how you want to operate your gas fireplace. There are many options available, including wall switches, remote controls and thermostats. You can also operate many fireplaces manually.

If a gas fireplace is not an option, consider an electric fireplace. Electric fireplaces are now available in a variety of sizes and styles with lots of different trim options. They require no venting so that you can install them anywhere in the home.

Heating Efficiency

When considering your heating efficiency, don’t buy a fireplace with the intention of heating more than one room. Trying to save on heating costs in this way will result in an overheated main room, forcing you to keep the gas fireplace off much of the time.

The best way for heating efficiency is to consider a thermostat-controlled, self-modulated fireplace. This way, the fireplace will automatically turn up and down while regulating the room to the temperature you desire.

The best fireplaces are efficient without a fan so avoid choosing a heating insert that relies on a fan to push the hot air out into the room. Using a heating insert does help with circulation, but will only marginally improve the heat output and there will always be some noise. If you do have a fan, make sure you have a separate control for it so you can turn it up, down, or off, as needed.

Research First

By doing a bit of research ahead of time and narrowing down your preferred options, you will have a greater chance and opportunity to choose the perfect fireplace for your home.