Choosing the Right Fireplace for Your Builds
Fireplaces have always been among the most desired features for home buyers. In fact, according to data from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), fireplaces rank second among the top amenities desired by buyers, just behind decks, porches and patios. If you’re planning to build a fireplace into your next home, consider the following options.
Popular Fireplace Options
- Wood-burning fireplaces: Valued for their aesthetic qualities, wood-burning fireplaces are the oldest fireplace options. They look great, smell great, and you can’t beat the sound of a wood fire. At the same time, they require space for storing logs, force users to restock wood periodically, and require cleaning and chimney maintenance. Since they often spit out hot embers, screens are required to ensure safety. Wood-burning fireplaces can also lose a lot of heat up the chimney, and studies have drawn a link between wood fires and respiratory difficulties. If a wood fireplace has a gas starter, it can be converted to a gas model. That said, since wood models require a chimney, it can be expensive to retrofit.
- Gas fireplaces: Requiring only the push of a button to turn on and off, gas fireplaces provide fires that look and perform like real wood. They also combine flexibility with a wide array of styles, along with improved energy efficiency. Much like traditional wood-burning fireplaces, vented gas models include a firebox that is vented through a chimney. On the other hand, direct vent fireplaces require no chimneys, while ventless gas units can be placed almost anywhere, as long as gas can be brought to the location. While they offer no considerable price advantage over traditional wood burning fireplaces, gas units do offer greater versatility and better long-term performance.
- Ethanol fireplaces: One of the newcomers to fireplace technology, ethanol fireplaces are developing quiet a following. The flames require no venting, meaning these units can be installed almost anywhere in a home. While they don’t generate as much heat as gas and wood units, ethanol fireplaces do produce a clean flame with no fume output. They are also easy to start and require no chimneys. They do require periodic refilling, using special care to avoid unintended fires.
Focusing on Designs
There are a variety of ways to incorporate a fireplace into a build, with some offering specific benefits over others. Best built during the new construction phase, masonry fireplaces are what people typically imagine when they picture a traditional fireplace. On the other hand, zero-clearance fireplaces require much less construction and are far easier to install. They can also increase efficiency by up to 70 percent when installed on an exterior wall. Obviously, ethanol and ventless gas units offer more design options, since they don’t require chimneys.
Things to Consider
When planning a fireplace install, it’s good to consider building costs, energy efficiency and future maintenance costs for the home buyer. At the same time, it’s important to assess design implications, while ensuring proper planning of combustion air and chimney physics.
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