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The Home Depot

What Kind of Fireplace Should I Buy?

Pro Referral > Home Guides > Fireplace & Chimney > What Kind of Fireplace Should I Buy?
What Kind of Fireplace Should I Buy?

When winter winds blow and you’re tired of chilling out in your home, a fireplace can take the nip out of the air and make your house cozier. If you like a home-improvement challenge, you may even be able to install your own fireplace with a little time and effort.


The type of fireplace you want will determine the installation project you choose. Check out the Drexel University website for information and tips on different kinds of fireplaces before you proceed with any type of installation project. The simplest fireplaces to install are direct vent inserts that fit into a preexisting space or a freestanding unit that does not require complicated installation.


Once you know what type of fireplace you want, an easy fireplace installation guide will have you warm and toasty in no time.

  1. 1.Direct Vent Wood Burning Inserts

    One of the biggest advantages of a direct vent insert is the installation of the unit. These fireplaces have a special frame surrounding the outside that insulates the heat of the unit. This means that you won’t need an expensive foundation or frame surrounding the insert. It’s designed to fit right inside the alcove or space you have for the fireplace. Be sure to check the minimum clearance necessary for the insert and compare this with the alcove dimensions before purchasing an insert. For venting, the chimney can go straight out a side wall or you can use a vertical chimney that exits through the roof.


    Many manufacturers offer kits to finish the outer appearance of the insert, creating just the look you want to fit your decor. Use brick, marble or tile for a hearth – whatever you prefer for your decorating style.

  2. Both gas fireplace inserts and freestanding units require a noncombustible zone surrounding the unit for fire safety. Check the unit specifications with your planned installation location to ensure that the fireplace will fit in your space.
  3. 2.Freestanding Wood Burning Unit

    A freestanding wood burning unit will probably require some type of noncombustible hearth pad beneath the unit to eliminate fire hazard. This hearth pad should extend at least half the width and half the depth of the unit on every side for maximum safety. It’s also important to adhere to minimum clearance on all sides of the unit for fire safety.


    The configuration and installation of the vent is extremely important for fire safety. Most manufacturers recommend expert or authorized manufacturer vent installation for best results.

  4. 3.Gas Fireplaces

    Both gas fireplace inserts and freestanding units require a noncombustible zone surrounding the unit for fire safety. Check the unit specifications with your planned installation location to ensure that the fireplace will fit in your space. These noncombustible materials will add attractive decor and a safety zone around the fireplace.


    Venting a gas fireplace involves installing an exhaust vent and vent cap. Because the configuration and installation of the venting is exceedingly important for safety as well as adhering to local building codes, professional installation is recommended.

  5. 4.Electric Fireplaces

    Electric fireplaces may have a style that produces warmth to heat a room or they may be suitable for visual decor only, providing the appearance of a wood burning fireplace.


    Electric fireplaces vary in style and design – some freestanding models that simply plug into any 120-volt outlet and others varieties that require more complex electrical connections. If you choose a complex insert, most municipalities will require a licensed electrician to install the unit to comply with building codes.


    While a fireplace can add enjoyable ambiance and decor to any room, as well as comfort and warmth on cold winter days and nights, proceed carefully to make sure that you follow all safety recommendations for the installation and use of a fireplace. You can get great information at the Red Beacon website if you need extra help. With the right installation, your family can enjoy sitting around any type of fireplace during the winter heating season.

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