Select and Install the Right Fireplace for Your Home

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Either you're building a new home or redecorating your old one, chances are the fireplace is one of the first things you think of. Fireplaces are essential to the design and function of any room. When properly designed and set up, a fireplace can add immediate warmth and serve as the room's focal point, pulling all the other room elements together. Unfortunately, the opposite also applies: if you select the wrong fireplace, you can end up with a room that's out of balance, ill-proportioned, or lacking in character.

Fireplaces are now available in various designs and styles, so there's sure to be one that will work for you. Here are several simple tips to help you select the ideal fireplace for your home.

Recognize your needs. Do you want a purely decorative fireplace or something that's both beautiful and functional? Certain marble fireplaces are absolutely decorative, but most are designed to contain at least a basic heating element. If you want a functional fireplace, you will have to work with available heating systems and your chimney type, which can lessen your choices. Marble, brick, and stone finishes normally work for all applications.

Know your chimney type. Several types of chimney work with different heating sources. Here are the most common types of chimney:

Class 1 Flue: Ordinarily found in older homes, this type is characterized by a stone or brick chimney stack with a measurement of 7 inches across or more. This type of chimney works with all heat sources.

Class 2 Flue: Homes built after 1960 will usually have this chimney type. The Class 2 Flue has a slightly smaller steel flue liner in place of the brick structure. It works with gas, electric fires, and LPG, but is not advisable for solid fires such as wood or logs.

Pre-cast Flue: Most new homes are built with a pre-cast flue, characterized by a small rectangular box on the roof. As with the Class 2 Flue, it works with all heat sources except solid ones.

If you don't own a chimney, your options are an electric fireplace or one with a balanced flue or powerflue system. Powerflues offer the rustic appearance of a traditional fire, but require an electric source in the proximity of the fireplace. Balanced flues are placed behind a glass panel, which can reduce artistic appeal and heat.

Balance your fireplace. The size of your fireplace and your room should be proportional to one another. A huge fireplace works well in a huge room, and a little fireplace should be adequate for a smaller room. You also need to consider the available wall space, and make sure there's adequate floor space in front of the fire to help the heat spread.

Set a budget. Cost will always be a major consideration when it comes to fireplaces. They normally cost anywhere from a few hundred to several thousand dollars. Before choosing a type and finish, look at the available prices on the Internet and see what you can work with.

Select the perfect material. The material you selected will affect both the appearance and the function of your fireplace. Stone and brick are typically referred to as the best fireplace materials due to the fact that they heat remarkably well, unlike wood and metal which have to be well-insulated. Try to match the architectural style of your home: a steel grate will go well with a classic, sophisticated appearance, while a brick or wood finish will go well with a rustic country theme.

Think about ongoing costs. When you buy a fireplace, you don't pay just for the unit alone. Fuel and power costs have to be taken into account, as well as the costs of maintenance and cleaning. Find one that's guaranteed energy-efficient by regulating bodies€"you'll normally find the energy stamp on the package.
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