Building the Perfect Fireplace: Fireplace Options for Your Custom Home

April 26, 2018

Many homeowners consider having a fireplace in their custom home, but think it might not fit in with the overall aesthetic that they’re looking for. Fireplace options have changed drastically over the past few years with a variety of energy sources and materials becoming available. Want to see how a fireplace might fit in your home? Check out some of the most popular fireplace options:

What Type of Fireplace Do You Need?

More traditional fireplaces are known for their large chimneys that quickly become a focal point for the design of a home. While many love the chimney aspect, it isn’t necessary that the fireplace aesthetic be paired with it. Several heating sources can be used to power your fireplace, each with its own set of benefits and drawbacks. Here are some of the different forms a fireplace can take:

1. Traditional Wood Fireplace

This is the typical fireplace that most people think of, made with an exterior of brick or metal. These require a full chimney to be built into the house, but provide you with the ability to have the nostalgia of burning logs heat your home. It’s important to consider local regulations when choosing this option and to note that wood fireplaces require regular cleaning to prevent unwanted fires.

Pros of a Wood Fireplace

Wood stoves carry an aesthetic appeal and come in beautiful forms. They have the traditional appeal of cuddling with loved ones and roasting marshmallows. Plus, wood is plentiful and relatively inexpensive. In addition, if you chop wood yourself, it provides exercise as well as an added sense of accomplishment. It’s a renewable source and one of the most environmentally-friendly types of fireplaces.

Cons of a Wood Fireplace

Wood fireplaces require a lot of maintenance. Otherwise, they could prove to be a serious danger. Without regular chimney cleaning & inspection, they will result in a lot of smoke and undesirable odor. On top of that, it dramatically increases the risk of a house fire. With a wood fireplace, the heat cannot be controlled without regular monitoring and is not uniform across a large space.

When a wood stove is the sole source of heat, this is why there are usually multiple wood stoves within a larger house. If there is another heating system in place, a single wood stove or fireplace can be a fantastic addition to a living room or great room. But, it is often not the most energy-efficient method for heating a large house by itself.

2. Pellet Stove

Another rising option is the pellet stove. This versatile stove can be a freestanding unit or an insert, which fits inside existing fireplaces. They work like a modern furnace, look like a wood stove, and use pellets as their method of heat. The pellets are often made of compacted sawdust.

Pros of a Pellet Stove

Since they burn at such a high temperature, these pellets do not create the creosote common with traditional wood stoves or fireplaces and produce little ash. This results in cleaner air, both indoors and outside. Plus, the pellets are a readily available resource that can be stored for extended periods of time and don’t take up a lot of space.

Pellet stoves also tend to be more efficient than fireplaces. Oftentimes, they come in as twice as efficient for warming your home when compared with older-style wood stoves. Because they are efficient and versatile, pellet stoves can either be used to supplement your existing heating system or your home could be built to use them as the sole source of heat.

Cons of a Pellet Stove

Pellet fireplaces or stoves are similar to wood fireplaces in that they require a lot of maintenance. If you do not keep a careful watch over these types of fireplace, they could become a great risk to both your family and your home. Pellets also tend to be more expensive, especially if you live in an urban area.

3. Gas Fireplace

If you’re not a fan of including a chimney in your design, a gas or propane fireplace might be just the thing. Although it’s not quite the same as burning wood, given the extra benefits, they still make an excellent choice. A gas fireplace typically only requires a vent, which is much smaller in size than a traditional chimney. Plus, you don’t have to gather, or chop, firewood!

Pros of a Gas Fireplace

Gas fireplaces are simpler all around. They are easier to install, easier to get started with just a simple flip of a switch, and easier to clean. They allow you to decide the heat output and the size of the fire. Gas fireplaces also do not require as much supervision to maintain a fire. However, it is still important to keep an eye on any active fire.

Cons of a Gas Fireplace

As an energy option, gas fireplaces are not very green due to the use of fossil fuel. They can also produce an unpleasant smell and adds another potential source for a gas leak in your home. Additionally, they may be rendered unusable during power outages.

4. Electric Fireplace

Not a fan of gas or fire? An electric fireplace can give you the same lighting and heat, with much less work. Of course, these don’t look exactly like a traditional fireplace, but with their ease of use and minimal to no upkeep, they can’t be beaten. Besides functionality, they don’t require venting, a chimney, or a propane tank, which keeps their space requirement minimal.

Pros of an Electric Fireplace

Electric fireplaces are typically small, so they don’t take up a lot of space and also do not tend to require installation as they are portable and mean to be easily moved. They are most convenient for small apartments or as an additional appliance to help warm a small space.

Cons of an Electric Fireplace

Electric fireplaces tend to be the most expensive option as they increase your electric bill long-term. Not only that, but they are also the least efficient when it comes to warming a large space because they produce the least amount of heat. Unfortunately, you will likely only be able to warm up your immediate vicinity because of their low overall output.

Styling Choices and Options

Beyond the heating method, fireplaces come in a variety of styles and materials. The heating method does play a large role in the materials recommended for use, but even so, there are plenty of designs for everyone. From exterior materials to the general structure of the fireplace, there are dozens of variations available.

1. Traditional Mantels

These are the fireplaces that everyone is familiar with. Inset into your wall with a mantel and landing, this style lends itself to country decor. This kind of fireplace works with all heating types. However, if you’re considering an open flame, it’s probably a good idea to get some form of gating installed. If you have children or pets, you may want to consider some form of gating regardless of your fireplace type.

2. Stand-Alone Pieces

Less common in recent times, standalone fireplaces used to be a staple in home heating. This style of fireplace lends itself to more freedom than the traditional mantel, as you can place a stand-alone fireplace anywhere that you’re comfortable running a vent from. Because of this, the materials used and heating choices are limited, but that’s a small price for the increased customization you gain.

3. Esoteric and Custom Choices

When it comes to custom homes, your fireplace can take many shapes, especially when the heating source is electric. Electric fireplaces can be mounted behind glass, in free-standing pillars, and in a variety of other unique ways that can fit your individual needs. To discuss the specifics of a custom fireplace, you should talk to the designer of your home to see how your vision might be incorporated into the layout of your house.

Heat Up Your Home With A Fireplace

Regardless of what type of fireplace you’re looking for, Custom Home Group can help you find the design that’s right for your home. We can help you pick a heating type, style, and materials that will fit with your dream home’s aesthetic and your lifestyle. Contact us today at 717-284-4090 to find out how we can make your dream custom home a reality!