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Design The Space

Fireplace Product - General Information

Basic Fireplace Information

Thank you for coming to Design The Space, your source for information related to interior design and decorating, whether you're remodeling or building from scratch.  We know that you may want some basic information about fireplaces.

Fireplace Products include inserts, zero-clearance and masonry fireplaces, mantels, surrounds, hearths, gas fireplaces with B-vents, vent-free, and direct vent, wood burning, as well as outdoor fireplaces, many available in a variety of styles, including open front (only) view, see-thru, peninsula, and corner designs.  There are also vent pipes, chimney components, chimney caps, fireplace accessories, and more.

Fireplace Inserts -  typically a fireplace product (either electric, gas-fired or wood-burning) that 'inserts' into an existing wood burning fireplace.  Generally, an insert increases the heating performance of a fireplace, since they sometimes burn outside air and are what's called a 'sealed combustion' (no room air loss), producing heat that is put into the room, or in the case of a vent-free gas or electric insert, they turn a heat losing fireplace into a real heat generator, with the heat coming into the room rather than heading up and out the chimney.  In the case of gas or electric inserts, look for a unit that has realistic and even adjustable flames, and glowing ember effects.  A blower is a nice accessory or feature, as is a thermostat for automatic operation.  If a direct vent gas fireplace is planned, we suggest looking for one that is heater-rated, rather than simply a decorative appliance.  Check local building codes before installing an insert.

B-Vent Fireplace - This is a type of gas burning fireplace that was popular in new construction throughout the 1970's and into the 90's, with 4, 5 or 6" double-wall gas vent pipes normally running up through a chase  or through the ceiling and attic, then through the roof with a chimney cap.  These are falling out of favor in the last several years, since most B-vent units burn air from inside the room/house and most of the heat generated by the flames is lost out the B-vent (gas chimney flue pipe.)  Every cubic foot of air that is goes out the flue is replaced by air coming in from outdoors, usually around non-airtight doors and windows or through other unsealed pathways for air leaks.  In many cases, owners feel a cool air draft when they burn their B-vent fireplaces.  Some of the newer models may burn outside air, and may be design certified as a heater-rated appliance and as such, these units would win favor by most discerning customers.  As with an insert, look for realistic and adjustable flames, a thermostat and a blower to help circulate the air. A unit with a dual or triple burner will usually have a more realistic burning flame pattern.  Premium models include refractory firebrick interior walls to add to the realism, and trim. screen and door options.  As always, check with local building code officials before installing a fireplace.

Direct Vent Fireplaces - On the market over thirty years, these are becoming more and more popular with homeowners and builders, since they are sealed combustion units burning 'outside air', and many now are design-certified as heating appliances.  Some in the industry refer to these fireplaces as "balanced flue" fireplaces since the air intake and flue products are 'balanced' for them to work correctly.  Direct Vents typically have concentric venting assemblies including a smaller diameter center flue pipe and a larger, outer pipe, for entry of fresh outside for combustion. Some direct vent fireplaces need to be on an outside wall, with the fresh air and flue assembly running directly through the wall to the outdoors.  A round or square vent cap assembly can be seen on the outside wall of this type of unit.  Other models have been designed for more varied installation applications with flexible (corrugated) type vent and fresh air pipes, that can be installed and run horizontally or vertically, some with "runs" of up to 20 to 30 feet, allowing considerably more flexibility in where they are installed. Features to look for include a desirable, realistic flame, automatic ingnition of the pilot light, and a blower and a thermostat are certainly welcome, as well.  Many other options including true refractory firebrick interior walls, firescreens, face plates and door trim to make the direct vent look more like a genuine wood-burning fireplace and better fit your decor.

Typical Manufactured Fireplace Installation Video (we do not endorse the brand, or take credit for this video, we are only sharing it since it has some good, general information!


Gas Logs - an appliance that can be inserted into an existing wood burning or gas burning fireplace, there are two basic types:  vented (decorative) and vent-free (heat-generating).  Vented logs typically burn with large/tall yellow and orange flames.  Most vent-free logs burn with a combination of blue and smaller/shorter yellow flames.  The logs normally rest on an iron or steel grate, above a single, dual or triple burner, and they are controlled by a B-valve near the fireplace, a wall switch or a hand-held remote control.  Vent-free logs are required to have an 'Oxygen Depletion Sensor' (ODS), which is a specially designed pilot light that will go out, shutting down the appliance before there is insufficient oxygen in the air to support human life.

Generally, decorative/vented logs have a manual on/off control, whereas you can usually install an optional thermostat on a vent-free set, since they are heat-producing.  Premium models have emberbeds that have some glowing and or flame effects, and some 'dancing' yellow flames.  Generally speaking, decorative / vented logs have flames that hit or "impinge" upon some of the logs, and they can create some soot (one reason they need to be vented through a chimney).  Vent-free logs are carefully designed with fixed log positions, and usually any yellow flames that are present do not touch (impinge) upon any of the logs.  The glowing ember effects you might see are normally generated by a clean burning blue flame that slightly impinges on a log, creating some glowing ember effects.  Vent-free units are dollar saving since they are 99% or more efficient!  Desired features on all gas logs include a safety pilot light and a remote or wall switch.  Check local building codes before installing gas logs. 

Electric Fireplaces - The latest explosion in the fireplace market is the resurgence of electric fireplace product.  You may remember the simple orange light bulb behind a rotating cylinder of the past, but if you haven't shopped lately, you'll find the electric fireplace market has rebounded and offers some very realistic, inexpensive to luxurious and varied products from which to select. The latest models also have LED light producing the flame effects. LED lights cost less to operate and last 10 to 50 times longer than conventional incandescent lights. Electric Fireplace Inserts include products that can be inserted into an existing fireplace, much like a set of gas logs.  These normally have a power cord and several settings, including flame only, or heat and flames.  Premium models sometimes include High and Low heat settings and a thermostat to cycle the heater on and off.  Another type of Electric Fireplace Insert is really a zero-clearance fireplace or firebox that can be inserted into the wall or into a free-standing cabinet mantel.  These allow you to install a fireplace where there wasn't one, and can be installed almost anywhere.  Features to look for include realistic and adjustable flame patterns, dual heat settings, flame only vs flame and heat operation for year-round ambiance, and a hand held remote control.  Premium models have additional options like operable doors and front trim options to fit a variety of decorator styles.   A third product category is the combination Electric Fireplace and Cabinet Mantel Package, an electric firebox shipped with a cabinet style mantel.  Premium models include stone or marble mantels, or highly ornate wood cabinet mantels.  Some install flat against a wall, and other models are designed specifically to fit into a corner.     The last type of electric fireplace, and the latest entry into the market, are electric fireplaces that attach to the wall.  These are typically with modern and contemporary styles.  The Celsi brand actually has videos of genuine fire / flames rather than light generated artificial flames.

Granite, Marble, Travertine, Cast Stone Hearth Installation Tips & Subfloor Preparation | Advice

Thank you for your visit to Design The Space and your interest in a stone hearth.  Marble, granite, travertine and cast stone hearths can be installed directly on a hardwood floors, a concrete floor or most other flooring or subflooring, as long as the flooring or subflooring is perfectly level and flat the entire length and depth of the hearth, what is sometimes called the "footprint" of the hearth stone.  The importance of the surface being absolutely level is primarily due to the fact that the hearth itself may easily crack in the event that someone later steps or drops something on the hearth if what is underneath it is uneven.  If your surface isn’t flat, you can use 'thinset' to level it, or you can accommodate minor imperfections with a dense fiber board under the entire hearth, side-to-side and front-to-back, which will ‘cushion’ the stone hearth.  You can find this type of board at most flooring stores and we sell a suitable product called Micore Board which will cover a 20" x 72" area, and it is 1/2" thick. 

If you are having carpeting installed prior to the installation of a new hearth, you might get the dimensions of the hearth, and give them to the carpet installer.  Most of our hearths are 72” x 20” and we would recommend you leave a rectangular opening in the carpeting for the hearth,  71” x 19”, with final/finishing cuts to the carpet done after the hearth arrives and is put into place.   Some customers put the carpeting right up to the edge of the stone hearth itself, while others frame the installed hearth with wood molding, stained or painted to match or compliment other moldings in the room.  


Please contact Design The Space with any questions you may have about fireplace products and accessories, and visit us often, as we continue to add additional products and product categories to our offerings.  Thank you!