When it’s cold outside, there’s nothing quite like gathering around a crackling fire. Not only does a fireplace keep you warm, but it also adds a beautiful element to your home or outdoor space. No matter what fuel source you use, it’s crucial to ensure that your fireplace is not only stylish but that it’s also safe to enjoy. A fireplace adds value to your home while offering an efficient source to heat your entire house during the winter. If you’re interested in designing a uniquely stylish fireplace and mantel, read on for some ideas and to discover more about fireplace and chimney safety, care, and information regarding fireplace inspections.
Indoor and Outdoor Fireplaces
Depending on your needs and the amount of space you have, you can enjoy the warmth of a fireplace both inside and outdoors. Each type of fireplace provides a range of unique benefits and can be installed in various locations. Here are some of the benefits and best locations for both indoor and outdoor fireplaces.
An indoor fireplace can heat an entire room in just a few minutes. These fireplaces provide a natural heat source and create a gorgeous focal point. An indoor fireplace creates a warm, inviting conversation area in your den or living room. In most cases, indoor fireplaces are located in the main living area but can also be found in the main bedroom or even in a large bathroom. When using your fireplace as a primary heat source, it’s best to install it in a central location to ensure that the heat is evenly distributed throughout the home. If you’re installing an indoor fireplace for looks alone, you can enjoy it in almost any room. It’s vital to remember that you should also consider the construction of a chimney since it provides ventilation for heat and smoke.
Installing an outdoor fireplace in your patio or garden can elevate your outdoor space and make it unique. These fireplaces provide you with a place to hang out when the weather gets cold, and they’re also fun to enjoy during any season. A large stone outdoor fireplace brings a bold element to your patio along with additional functionality. Choose a standalone fireplace or fire pit if you want to be able to move it around. Whatever style you choose, make sure that it’s located at a safe distance from your home and that it has adequate venting. This will help prevent accidental fire and keep excess smoke from entering your home from the outside. An electric fireplace doesn’t require venting, so it’s more versatile for enjoying anywhere you choose to place it.
Best Materials to Use
Now that you’ve selected your new fireplace’s style and location, let’s examine the variety of material options available. Consider the material for the hearth and its surround. The hearth is the section that extends outward from the bottom of your fireplace, and the surround is also known as the mantelpiece. Here are a few popular fireplace materials to consider:
- Tile: Tile for a fireplace is typically ceramic, natural stone, or porcelain. Tile brings a gorgeous aesthetic to a fireplace hearth and surround. Ceramic and porcelain tile is easy to clean and extremely resistant to high temperatures. Install bold, colorful tiles around the fireplace to make it stand out, and always choose a heat-resistant grout.
- Brick: Many fireplaces use brick due to its extreme heat-resistant properties. Not only is brick great at resisting heat, but it’s affordable, easy to install, and looks beautiful with a range of both exterior and interior designs.
- Concrete: Concrete can be molded to form any shape, and it’s incredibly durable. You can also stain the concrete any color, offering you even more versatility with your design. This rugged material complements modern homes and looks beautiful when installed in outdoor fireplaces.
- Steel: Another great modern choice for a fireplace is steel. This exceptionally durable material comes in a range of metallic finishes, including silver (or stainless), black, and bronze. Steel works well for indoor and outdoor fireplaces to incorporate a sleek, contemporary look.
- Stone: You can add a variety of stone types to a fireplace, but it’s important to note that limestone should only be used with electric and gas fireplaces. Slate creates a sleek look and works with any fireplace style, although it’s more vulnerable to showing dirt and stains. Choose a low-maintenance stone that is easy to keep clean for long-term enjoyment.
Fireplaces use a range of fuel sources or technology, so the type you choose depends on where it’s located, the type of venting you have, and your material choice.
- Gas: Gas fireplaces burn clean and are a good choice for indoors. This technology is easy to use and install if you already have a natural gas line running to your home. To use a gas fireplace, simply flick the switch on and off. Make sure you have the proper venting unless you’re installing a newer, vent-free gas fireplace.
- Wood: This classic fireplace uses wood as a fuel source and is a traditional option found in many homes. You will need a protective fireplace screen to protect your floors from sparks that could fly onto the carpet and cause a possible fire. Many people love the soothing crackle of burning wood, but it also creates soot which will require regular chimney cleanings.
- Electric: This is one of the safest fireplace options since it doesn’t require venting. An electric fireplace tends to be for looks only, but it’s a nice feature in modern homes. These fireplaces can be installed almost anywhere there’s a live electrical connection available.
- Coal: A coal fireplace is cheaper than wood and can typically burn for a full 24 hours. You won’t find coal used for most new fireplace styles, but it can be a good substitute for wood if you desire.
- Pellets: Pellets are another affordable option that burns clean. They’re less common than gas, wood, or electric, but they’re a good option if you want to use your fireplace to heat the entire home.
Inspect all Fireplaces and Chimneys in the House
If you’re installing a new fireplace or already have an existing one, it’s essential to make sure that everything is inspected to ensure safety. Here are some fireplace and chimney safety tips, an inspection checklist, and a few helpful recommendations.
Fireplace and Chimney Safety
- Always keep a glass or metal screen in front of your fireplace to prevent sparks and embers from getting onto the walls and floors.
- Never burn paper in a fireplace, and always put your fire completely out before going to bed or leaving your home.
- Put ashes inside a metal container with a lid and place it a minimum of three feet from your home.
- Have your chimney regularly swept to remove any buildup of soot or creosote.
- Do not leave a burning fire unattended, and ensure that children and pets are always supervised.
- Make sure vents and dampers are open when the fireplace is in use.
- Do not burn unseasoned wood.
- Schedule chimney cleanings and inspections annually to remove creosote residue and ensure that the chimney is in good condition.
- Check to make sure that the chimney cap is intact and that there are no cracks.
- Inspect the flashing, a thin metal strip that secures the chimney to the roof. Replace any warped, bent, or loose flashing before using the fireplace.
- Check to make sure that the flue is clear of too much creosote, which could increase the risk of a fire.
- Test the damper to ensure that it’s easy to open and close and that it forms a tight seal when it is shut. Repair or replace damaged dampers.
- Trim all tree branches away from the chimney and roofline to reduce the risk of fire or damage due to a storm.
- Repair any chipped bricks and mortar located around the chimney and fill gaps in mortar joints.
- Remove leftover ash from the previous fire season. Too much ash can retain moisture which can cause fires to burn out sooner.
- Store firewood for the winter and make sure you only purchase seasoned hardwoods with low moisture content.
- Install new batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors every winter.
Here are some creative ideas to style your mantelpiece to add the “wow” factor to your home or patio:
- You can paint your mantelpiece for a quick pop of color or add some texture by layering tile or stone to give it more visual depth.
- Install a ledge on your mantel to create a display shelf for framed pictures, small decorative items, vases, and more.
- Select a beautiful color and material for your fireplace to help it stand out in your home. Use decorative ceramic tiles, stained concrete, or natural stone. Place your furniture around the fireplace to become a cozy conversation area.
- Style your mantelpiece for different seasons. You can drape some pine garland during Christmastime, add colorful leaves during autumn, or spruce it up in the spring and summer with beautiful flowers. Of course, remember to hang some stockings from your fireplace at Christmas, too.
Best Tips to Take Care of Your Fireplace
Keep these tips in mind to make sure you’re caring for your fireplace the best way so that it’s safe and well-maintained:
- Schedule regular inspections of your fireplace to check for any debris or soot buildup. Clean the brick, tile, or stone with a scrubbing brush as often as you can to keep it clean, and always make sure everything is completely cool before cleaning it.
- Use rubber gloves and a mask to protect yourself and remove any burned logs or other debris between fires.
- Ensure you have all the right fireplace tools, including a fire poker, tongs, and shovel. Put them in one location on a sturdy stand or holder near the fireplace for easy access.
- Keep a fire extinguisher near your fireplace just in case a small fire starts.
- Always make sure that you have a smoke and carbon monoxide detector installed in every room where a fireplace is located (and in the rest of your house too).
- Check to ensure that you have proper ventilation before burning a fire, and sweep the inside regularly to remove excess soot and grime.
Best Activities to Do Around Your Fireplace
Here is some fun, relaxing activities to enjoy around your fireplace:
- Put your favorite recliner or chair near the fireplace and cozy up with a good book.
- Meditate near your fireplace to help you relax. The soothing sounds of a crackling fire and its warmth can help support healthy mental well-being and relaxation.
- Eat dinner around the fireplace to enjoy a nice meal while entertaining guests or during the holidays.
- Enjoy hanging around the fireplace when you host parties, play games, watch movies, or entertain.
- Have fun roasting s’mores, telling ghost stories, or chatting with friends near your outdoor fireplace.
- Use your outdoor fireplace whenever you have a backyard barbecue so everyone can gather around, relax, and eat together.
Following proper fireplace and chimney inspection recommendations and safety practices will ensure that you enjoy your fireplace safely during any time of year. Consider adding some beautiful tile or installing a mantel to make your fireplace an attractive focal point in any room. Whether you have an indoor or an outdoor fireplace, keep these tips in mind to help you design a safe and stylish fireplace and mantelpiece to create a stunning feature you’ll love.