Not many people would argue the fact that the fireplace is the focal point of a living room or maybe even the entire house. It’s the place where the annual family picture is taken, it’s the place that is decorated up for the holidays and seasons of the year and it’s the place where mementos and photos are proudly displayed. The fireplace will reflect the life style and interests of the homeowner. It needs to be appropriately accessorized.
There are lots of upgrades and accessories that can be replaced or added to a fireplace, whether it’s an existing unit or if you are building a new home or adding a fireplace to the family room. What looks good, what style and what colors and finishes to use are all matters of individual choice.
WHAT ACCESSORIES ARE AVAILABLE?
There are many things that can be done to enhance the performance and aesthetics of a fireplace, to give an older fireplace a new look or make that fireplace safer and easier to use. Consider:
- Glass Doors
- Fire Screens
- Wood Racks
- Gas Inserts
- Remote Controls
- Hearth Rugs
- Fan Kits
- Tool Sets
- Log Carriers
- Gas Logs
- Log Lighters
- Scent & Sound Devices
Let’s look at several of these accessories and options and briefly discuss their purpose.
A mantel is the shelf above a fireplace. It can be as simple as a barn board or beam or a beautifully hand sculpted piece. Many mantels are wood, some are stone or concrete. All mantels will have a clearance requirement regarding how close to the top of the fireplace opening they can safely be installed.
A hearth is that non-combustible material on the floor directly in front of the fireplace. This is typically stone, brick, slate or ceramic tile and is used to prevent overheating of the floor in front of the fireplace and for protecting the floor from any errant flying embers and/or ash that comes from the fire. Hearth requirements for wood fireplaces and gas fireplaces are significantly different. If you plan to change the hearth or mantel for an existing fireplace or if you are adding a fireplace to your home, be sure to talk to your local expert about the mandatory clearances for mantels and hearths for your project.
Fire screens are used to contain any sparks or embers from popping out of the firebox and on to the floor beyond the hearth. They are also effective tools for keeping little ones from getting too close to the fire or getting hurt from the intense heat. Gas fireplaces and gas inserts have screens installed as standard equipment.
Glass doors are very effective at eliminating that blast of cold air from an open damper. Regardless of the type of fireplace you have, doors are available from your ‘We Love Fire/United Buyers Group’ dealer. Many custom doors are available in several traditional and contemporary collections and in many color and finish combinations. If a rustic, modern or contemporary style is what you’re after, or if you’re looking for something finished in a burnished bronze, copper or a particular color, it’s definitely available.
The ‘surround’ is just what the name implies: that material that ‘surrounds’ the opening of your fireplace on the top, right and left sides. Again, if this is a combustible material, clearances are critical with any fireplace, whether it’s gas or wood. Before any changes are made, talk to your dealer as there are several details that likely need further discussion.
Tool sets will help you deal with the routine maintenance of burning wood. Tool sets are typically a poker and a shovel for handling and positioning logs and a broom to clean up the ashes. Some tool sets have tongs that allow you to physically pick up or position a log in the firebox. Some people decorate their gas fireplace with a tool set, to give it a feeling of authenticity.
GAS LOGS VS. GAS INSERT?
Gas inserts and gas logs are very popular options for a wood burning fireplace. The difference between the two: a gas insert is slid into a fireplace, and comes designed with a modulating gas valve and variable speed fan. Gas inserts will provide significant heat and efficiencies of +75%. A gas log set consists of decorative logs atop a burner designed into the grate. Most gas log sets will not provide much heat, and will use two or three times the amount of gas that a gas insert uses. A gas log set will not change the viewing area of your fireplace. The viewing area (or glass size) for a gas fireplace insert will always be smaller than the viewing area of the wood burning fireplace its installed in.
Remote controls are available for gas inserts and gas logs. Depending on the model, simple on/off or more sophisticated remotes that perform several functions will make the operation of the equipment much easier.
Grates are those racks that the fire is built on in a fireplace. These come in many different sizes and shapes and are made from cast iron or very heavy gauge steel stock.
Fan kits will be another useful accessory for your wood burning fireplace. If it’s a traditional open burning fireplace, a fan designed into the grate might be your best option. Look for a fan/grate and door/screen combination to provide additional heat in your home. If yours is a factory built zero clearance fireplace, there are replacement fans available.
Your damper eliminates the air flowing from the room, through the firebox and up the chimney when the fireplace is not in use. If your damper is shot, there are replacement dampers that can often be installed. A popular fix for this type of scenario is to install a lock-top sealing damper on the top of the chimney.
Most people like to have a couple of days’ worth of wood located near the fireplace. Log racks, hoops or wood boxes can keep the wood supply within a step or two. Just remember to maintain plenty of space between the hot fireplace or stove and the wood supply. Three of four feet is good, five of six feet is better.
Scent and sound devices are gaining traction in popularity, too. It’s easy to enhance how a gas fireplace looks. If it’s gas logs or a fireplace, look into the options of glass, glowing embers, logs, twigs and pine cones.
WHERE DO I FIND THESE ACCESSORIES?
So, who sells and where can I buy these types of accessories? There are always lots of places to buy, but our dealers are the best place to shop for any of these accessories listed above. You will see lots of samples and options in the show rooms. And if they don’t have it in the right size or finish that suits your style, they can always quickly order what you want.
It would be a good idea to bring some pictures of your existing fireplace and some pictures of the ‘look’ you’re after, to your dealer. This will help with give them a better idea of the scope of the project.
When the ‘make over’ is complete, your fireplace will truly be the main focal point of the house.