There is something about fireplaces that adds to the coziness of the home, more than its visual appeal and overall value. It is a place of gathering and makes a beautiful focal point to any type of yard landscape or outdoor spaces. The function of fireplaces might sound generic, but did you know that there are different types of fireplaces?
If you are looking for one that would best complement your home, here is a roundup of the types of fireplaces, what they look like, how they are used and other bits of information that will help you in making the right fireplace choice.
In this article:
- 20 Types of fireplaces
- 1. Wood burning fireplace
- 2. Electric fireplace
- 3. Gas fireplace
- 4. Gel fireplace
- 5. Ethanol fireplace
- 6. Traditional open-hearth fireplace
- 7. Wall-mounted fireplace
- 8. Free-standing fireplace
- 9. Tabletop fireplace
- 10. Hanging fireplace
- 11. Two-sided fireplace
- 12. B-vent gas fireplace
- 13. Vent-free/ventless gas fireplace
- 14. Burning stoves
- 15. Outdoor fire pit
- 16. Mantle fireplace
- 17. Zero clearance fireplace
- 18. Fish tank fireplace
- 19. High-end fireplaces
- 20. Water vapor fireplace
- Fireplace materials
- Fireplace buying guide
- FAQs on Fireplaces
- Which is safer: a gas or wood fireplace?
- Which is better: a vented or ventless gas fireplace?
- How much does it cost to run a fireplace per month?
- What kind of fireplace does not need a chimney?
- Where is the best place to install the fireplace?
- What is the area above a fireplace called?
- Can you put a TV above a fireplace?
- What is the firebox in a fireplace?
- Why is there a hole in the bottom of the fireplace?
- Is it safe to paint fireplaces?
- Is there a health friendly fireplace?
- Can I leave my fireplace on all night?
- How many hours can an electric fireplace run?
- What wood would be bad to use in fireplaces?
- Does a fireplace add value to the home?
20 Types of fireplaces
So, what are the types of fireplaces and how do you differentiate them? Here are the most popular types of fireplaces out there.
1. Wood burning fireplace
This is the old-fashioned fireplace that we all know. The fume, the smell of burning wood, and the warmth of it all is just everything you need for a classic, rustic vibe. It is a practical choice especially when there is a power shortage. It is still used in a lot of log cabins for that traditional feel.
2. Electric fireplace
This one is a more preferred fireplace now because it mimics the slow burning of coal or wood. They are plugged into a socket to open and come with various benefits. For one, it does not release any fumes, it is simple to use, and it is fairly low maintenance plus it is environment friendly. It also comes in versatile designs.
3. Gas fireplace
Compared to an electric fireplace, this one produces a bit of smoke, hence, requiring an exclusive vent for that release. Real wood is lit by the gas fireplace, but you can control the amount of gas pumped into it for regulated burning. To turn it off, you simply must turn off the gas. It comes in two types: gas fireplace inserts and gas log fireplace.
Gas fireplace inserts
This is often confused for a regular fireplace but, it is a cleaner alternative to it because it is installed into an existing fireplace. It is more economical and environment friendly as it replaces wood.
Gas log fireplace
This is another old-fashioned fireplace that looks alike but without the mess. It is generally made of ceramic, but it can be constructed like oakwood or driftwood. Some benefits of a gas log fireplace: it is low maintenance, does not dust and soot, and there is no need for actual wood.
4. Gel fireplace
This type is less popular than gas and electric fireplace, but it has underrated advantages. First, it is the easiest to install because it does not need vents, pipes, or even electrical lines; it is just self-contained. Second, you get real fire from lighting the gel fuel but minus the fume.
5. Ethanol fireplace
It is very similar with the gel fireplace but instead of gel fuel, bioethanol fuel is used to light it up. In terms of build, it is lightweight, making it easy to install. It is also versatile and can be mounted easily in your preferred spot. Unlike a gel fireplace, this one’s burner can be adjusted and can be easily put on or off.
6. Traditional open-hearth fireplace
This one is usually made of stone or brick, built-in on a wall. For ventilation, it would require a chimney or a flue. For the fire, you would need some old-fashioned wood. This needs good planning because it takes an entire restructuring for the fireplace spot.
7. Wall-mounted fireplace
If you are in a loft or compact homes, this one is the most practical installation type. Wall-mounted fireplaces can be moveable if you have self-contained ones and install it in exterior walls. There is also the traditional interior wall-mounted fireplace by the chimney installation.
8. Free-standing fireplace
This one is one of the best alternatives for open hearth fireplaces. They can be as the term implies, free-standing with a moveable enclosure, could be mounted on the wall or could be installed in a fireplace mantles that resemble traditional fireplaces.
9. Tabletop fireplace
This one is mostly installed outdoors. They are usually portable and lightweight and can be moved from one spot to the next. It is one of the most aesthetic additions to your compact room but is better as an outdoor fireplace especially on cool nights.
10. Hanging fireplace
It is literally suspended from the air by being mounted to the ceiling with their own vent pipe. It gives all the modern vibes. Depending on the design, they can be unobtrusive. It is usually made of metal construction.
11. Two-sided fireplace
As the term implies, this one is installed in a strategic spot where two rooms can enjoy the fireplace. It is even used as a cool divider for dining and living rooms, or in bedrooms to separate the sleeping and sitting space.
12. B-vent gas fireplace
This one is more decorative than functional. They use a single chimney for the vent. They are identifiable for their front glass panels with a top or bottom gap to be opened for coal balls or wood chips. None of the parts of this gas fireplace is replaceable. It is operated using a pilot light.
13. Vent-free/ventless gas fireplace
These are two different types of fireplaces but work on the same principle. Vent-free is for indoor wall mounting and ventless is for outdoor use. Both do not have a chimney, but they are made for heating, a lot of heating. They are metal or masonry enclosed. They are common in rural areas and in trailer homes.
14. Burning stoves
This one could be free-standing but usually it is enclosed in a cast-iron box or solid steel. It also comes with a built-in metal pipe for venting out the smoke. They are portable (can be used for campouts) and are more efficient compared to open hearths. As a matter of fact, it is labeled highly efficient by the Environmental Protection Agency.
15. Outdoor fire pit
For a good old bonfire with friends and family, you could not go wrong with an outdoor firepit. Aside from being less expensive compared to indoor fireplaces, it is also energy efficient. However, some places have limited outdoor fire pit ordinances so you have to check it before installing one.
16. Mantle fireplace
A fireplace mantle is a wood frame enclosing a gas or electric fireplace. It is made to mimic the traditional wood burning fireplace, but they do not require a chimney or other vent. The mantle is usually made of classic wood.
17. Zero clearance fireplace
As the name suggests, this does not require a gap or clearance in between the firebox and the home’s walls. It is one of the newest types of indoor fireplaces that could directly come in contact with different fireplace materials like wood, stone and sheetrock without causing fire or damage.
18. Fish tank fireplace
This is one of the most modern fireplace designs that you could get. It is mostly seen in restaurants, hotels, and other commercial establishments. It is installed within a counter, enclosed in glass sides. It can also be mounted on a wall. The fireplaces used for this type would be gas or electric fuel types.
19. High-end fireplaces
This one is more aesthetic in principle but with a heating function like no other. This fireplace is usually enclosed with marble, contemporary and industrial style concrete or stone, and modern style with glass. They can be vented or unvented, free standing or mounted, gas, wood burning or electric.
20. Water vapor fireplace
This one lights up with a 3D flame imitation, complete with the sound of fire crackling minus the worry about fumes and soot. This one makes use of the mist reflecting light that looks like flames. They are operated by tap water and electricity. They are ultra-safe and just give off the warm, modern vibe.
What makes a fireplace unique would be the materials used to cover it. Here are the most common fireplace materials used:
- Plaster or clay
Of these materials, stone would still be the most popular fireplace material followed by tile, wood, and brick. The most common styles for stone fireplaces would be the following:
- Stone concrete
- Brick stone
Fireplace buying guide
Getting a fireplace can be a major decision for the home and because of this, you must be aware of what to consider when installing a fireplace in your home. Here is a simple buying guide for fireplaces.
Choose fireplace installation
The most common types of fireplace installation would be traditional open-hearth, free standing, wall-mounted, built-in, tabletop, hanging, two-sided, ribbon.
- Free standing
In most instances, the spot you are choosing for your fireplace will dictate the type of fireplace to buy. Exterior walls are made for wood burning types. Electric, self-contained, ethanol, and gel fireplaces can be mounted on interior walls.
Fireplace fuel type
This one dictates overall design and the installation type for your fireplace. You can have the traditional wood, a bit of fume with gas, and non-fume at all with electric and ethanol fireplace fuel types.
Of all the fireplace types, the wood burning, or traditional fireplace needs the most fire caution. The safest option would always be electric fireplaces. Gel, ethanol, and gas fireplaces are also generally safe for homes with children and pets.
Again, wood burning fireplaces are the hardest to maintain because of the fume, soot, and wood scraps. With that as an important concern, you might opt for lower maintenance fireplace types like electric.
This should be a primary concern because fireplaces could cost for a few hundreds of dollars to as high as $15000. For instance, gas, gel, ethanol, and electric types could cost in between $500-3000 while wood burning types can cost up to $15000 especially if they are not built-in. Installation on the other hand would cost from $500-2500.
If you are one of the savvier types, you can install smart electric, gas, ethanol, or gel fireplaces that come with remote controls. Remote functionality means that you can control the heat and turn/off the fireplace using a remote control.
Fan and blower functionality
A fan and blower are more of add-ons. They are installed to improve the air circulation from the fireplace vent. These are cost efficient add-ons so it is understandable as to why there are already available kits options available for these add-ons.
FAQs on Fireplaces
Aside from the types of fireplaces, there are also important FAQs that you should be aware of. From safety pointers to cost information, you would need these down the stretch if you are really dedicated to having one in your home.
Which is safer: a gas or wood fireplace?
Compared to wood fireplaces, gas types have fewer safety risks. The biggest safety risks for wood fireplaces would be fumes, creosote, and fire risks due to unattended embers.
On the other hand, gas fireplaces can be turned on/off using a pilot light and at a regulated heat that you can control. And since it can be enclosed, it is safe for children and pets.
Which is better: a vented or ventless gas fireplace?
An unvented fireplace is efficient in a more even room heating but the drawback is that it would transfer more fume or carbon monoxide with the gas or fuel used. As such, vented fireplaces are still recommended because it has the same heat efficiency and comes with very few safety concerns.
How much does it cost to run a fireplace per month?
There is no exact figure for this one because it depends on one, the type of fuel used and two, the output used for the fireplace model. At an average, however, one would spend around 50 cents per hour for a fireplace operating on a 40000 BTU heating a 1200-1400 sq.ft. of living space.
What kind of fireplace does not need a chimney?
You would be surprised that there are various types of fireplaces that does not need a chimney, and these are the following:
- Electric fireplace
- Water vapor fireplace
- Ethanol fireplace
- Gel fireplace
- Ventless gas fireplace
The fireplaces that do not need a chimney are the modern models. Aside from not needing a chimney, they also do not need external vents or pipe systems.
Where is the best place to install the fireplace?
If there is no available central heating in your home, the best place for the fireplace would be in between the living and dining room or the home’s relative center. While you can potentially position it in corners or lay flat on the floor, a central fireplace is still the best even-out location for a good fireplace for an even heating.
What is the area above a fireplace called?
It is called the mantle or fire mantelpiece and chimney piece. The use of fire mantle can be traced to the medieval times on open hearth fireplaces. Before, it was just used as a hood over the fire’s grate to catch all the smoke.
Of course, present day fire mantles now come in an elaborate enclosure complete with jambs, a mantle shelf as well as other accessories that help in putting the fireplace in place.
Can you put a TV above a fireplace?
This is a big no. The surface above the fireplace is usually warmer and it is not good for appliances because the excess heat messes up the electronics and circuitry inside the TV. If you insist on hanging it above the fireplace, make sure that the Tv is at 4-12 inches above the fireplace mantle.
Or if you really want to really display your TV near the fireplace, set it in a TV stand next to the fireplace. It will no longer become the co-focal point of the room but you can still have a good access to it from the sofa.
What is the firebox in a fireplace?
The firebox is usually confused with the chimney, mantle, hearth, or flue but it is distinct from these structures because the firebox is where the heat is combusted. It is also usually located at the masonry base, at the room’s floor level. Depending on what fireplace you are opting for, masonry fireplaces have stone and brick fireboxes. Others would have prefab fireboxes.
That hole in the bottom of the fireplace is called the ash dump. As the term suggests, it collects the ash from wood burning fireplaces. This is another reason why this type of fireplace should be maintained regularly. This means that it must be emptied regularly to prevent the buildup of flammable materials. If you are all in for safety, this hole in the bottom of the fireplace is important to maintain.
Is it safe to paint fireplaces?
Yes. It is safe to paint fireplaces inside out. The most recommended paint to use would be acrylic latex paint with a heat rating of 200F. If the fireplace is in a firebox, a heat rating of 1200 F is required.
Is there a health friendly fireplace?
By health friendly we mean less fumes, yes, there is. As a matter of fact, every fireplace could be converted into a more health friendly one by using the highest quality wood pellets instead of the traditional burning wood. There are even oil scented ones that you can use for more aroma.
Can I leave my fireplace on all night?
Essentially, no. Whatever type of fireplace you have, it is not commendable to leave it on all night because there could still be fire risks even the electric ones and ventless fireplaces. Of course, you already know by principle that wood burning fireplaces as well as gas types should not be left overnight.
How many hours can an electric fireplace run?
You must check the manual for your electric fireplace before running it for an extended period. There is a maximum stretch for different brands of electric fireplaces. Per rule of thumb, an electric fireplace during the winter months can be run for 2-6hrs. In that span, you should have already achieved the perfect toasty temperature to evenly heat up the room.
What wood would be bad to use in fireplaces?
Wood burning fireplaces are not open to all types of wood because some would burn faster than the others. The types of wood that you should not use for fireplaces would be:
- Green wood
Using leaves, moldy, wet wood and coals are also not commendable most of the time because they leave a serious case of soot especially for chimneys. And since we have covered this, what would be the best woods to use for a fireplace? You will have to opt for woods that are longer to burn.
- Black locust
- Most fruit trees
Does a fireplace add value to the home?
According to the National Association of Real Estate Appraisers, a fireplace adds 6-12% to the home’s value upon sale. This means that you get back more than 200% of the total cost of putting up your fireplace when you sell your home.
As we have covered, the types of fireplaces can be categorized in terms of design, how they are installed, the type of fuel they use or how they are powered. Each has their advantages and disadvantages so you must choose the one that would fit best in your home style and in terms of energy and cost efficiency down the line.
There is no limit to what fireplace you can install in your home. You just must narrow it down to what you want to have. Will they be indoors or outdoors? Would they look good in walls, free standing or enclosed? At the end of the day, the choice is definitely yours.