Fireplaces can add eye-catching aesthetics to a room. They can also provide a nice way to stay warm during the colder months of the year. When considering installing a new fireplace, having some knowledge of the various options is helpful. In this guide, we will cover the details of different types of fireplaces for you to have all the information you'll need to make the best choice for heating and aesthetic preferences.
For the most part, fireplaces typically come in four types: solid stone/mortar, masonry, insert, and prefabricated. Though, there are a few types of hybrid fireplaces, such as metal fireboxes. Other options can include fuel type, mounting capabilities, design style, etc. Below are 21 of the most common types of fireplaces:
- Gas Fireplace
- Ledge Stone Veneer Panel Fireplace
- Insert Fireplace
- Built-In Fireplace
- Concrete Fireplace
- Tabletop Fireplace
- Metal Fireplace
- Fieldstone Fireplace
- Electric Fireplace
- Mortar & Wood Fireplace
- Venetian Plaster Fireplace
- Wall-Mounted Fireplace
- Gel Fireplace
- Ethanol Fireplace
- Marble Fireplace
- Valor Fireplaces
- Hanging Fireplace
- Stand Alone Fireplace
- Modern Design Fireplace
- Classic Open Hearth Fireplace
- Wood-Burning Fireplace
There is a wide spectrum when it comes to the options available for a fireplace. Let's discuss some of the features of each type as well as when they work best.
- 2 Gas Fireplace
- 3 Classic Open-Hearth Fireplace
- 4 Wood-Burning Fireplace
- 5 Ledge Stone Veneer Panel Fireplace
- 6 Insert Fireplace
- 7 Concrete Fireplace
- 8 Suspended Fireplace
- 9 Stand Alone Fireplace
- 10 Tabletop Fireplace
- 11 Metal Fireplace
- 12 Mortar & Wood Fireplace
- 13 Fieldstone Veneer Fireplace
- 14 Electric Fireplace
- 15 Venetian Plaster Fireplace
- 16 Wall-Mounted Fireplace
- 17 Gel Fireplace
- 18 Ethanol Fireplace
- 19 Marble Fireplace
- 20 Valor Fireplace
- 21 Wrapping Things Up
Gas fireplaces offer efficiency by using combustion as a heating mechanism. They usually consist of a gas line that provides fuel directly to the fireplace. Most gas fireplaces tend to range in size from 180- to 200-square inches. and are about 12- to 15-inches deep. They can add a considerable amount of warmth to a room, being that they produce an authentic fire. Gas fireplaces can be suspended from the ceiling, purchased as standalone models, or embedded in the wall of the main room within a home (which is most common).
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Classic Open-Hearth Fireplace
These types of fireplaces have been a mainstay in North American and European homes for centuries. They are most commonly found embedded in a home's wall and typically use wood as a fuel-burning source. However, they can come in gas, ethanol, and gel-based fuel models. Most open-hearth fireplaces are about 500-square inches and approximately 12- to 14-inches deep. They require a chimney (or another ventilation type) for venting purposes and are commonly constructed with stones and bricks.
These types of fireplaces also make great stand-alone units, adding character and warmth to any space. Gas and wood options offer great efficiency and produce flames guaranteed to take the chill out of smaller spaces quickly.
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Wood burning fireplaces have been around since the beginning of time and will probably be around until the end of time. For the most part, they are still most commonly found embedded in the walls, though they are definitely capable of working as standalone or suspended units. The wood used in the fireplaces may take a minute to get warm (though there are some "quick-fire wood" options), but the amount of heat they can provide measures up just as good as gas counterparts. These fireplaces can come in small models or large dimensions of up to several feet in length. Today, most models can be installed fairly quickly and easily and are usually less expensive to install than other types of fireplaces.
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Ledge Stone Veneer Panel Fireplace
Ledge stone panel fireplaces allow homeowners to create a broad range of styles for their fireplace, including contemporary and traditional styles. This type of fireplace consists of a ledge stone cover or veneer to give the appearance of a dry stack type of installation. They can be used with gas, electric, or ethanol-powered fireplaces and can usually be installed in one or two workdays. These panels are usually stacked either to the ceiling of a home or around 5- to 6-feet tall.
They can also be installed as stand-alone fireplaces or embedded fireplace units. Ledgestone panels don't affect the amount of heat that a fireplace gives off, and being that they are stone, they don't pose any specific fire hazards.
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Insert fireplaces are factory-made fireplace units that are included within the same category as classic hearth fireplaces. They've gained popularity in recent years due to their stylish and modern design. Most wood-burning or gas-operated fireplaces can be converted into insert fireplaces. Inserts emit a significant amount of heat and are way more efficient than your typical wood-burning fireplace.
These fireplaces can be powered by gas, ethanol, or electricity, depending on the type of insert you purchase. Electric inserts can also come in wall mounting models and can be up to 4-feet in length. The electric inserts do not provide any heat (but instead mimic real fireplaces) and are mostly used for aesthetic purposes.
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Concrete fireplaces can offer a blend of both modern sophistication as well as minimalism. This type of fireplace addition can work well for models powered by wood, gas, or ethanol. They can range in size and are more commonly found in larger homes with wide rooms and tall ceilings (with the fireplace typically reaching the ceiling or at least near it). Concrete fireplaces don't pose any additional health hazards other than the typical hazards of a flammable indoor fireplace.
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Many people love suspended fireplaces for the same reason they also love suspended lighting; things hanging in a room make for great attention-getters. Suspended fireplaces are common with various fuel options, including gas (a vertical gas line would is needed), gel, ethanol, and wood. Because they can take up a bit of space, most models range anywhere between 300- and 700-square inches and will be about 14-inches deep. Most suspended fireplaces are comprised of metal and can provide sufficient heat to a home.
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Stand Alone Fireplace
Stand-alone fireplaces can usually coordinate with any type of home decor. The type of fuel used for them will vary but can include electricity, wood, gas, and gel. Most stand-alone fireplaces are made of metal, and newer models can include a glass window casing on the front or a double-sided glass unit. For the most part, they are on the smaller side, typically no more than 4- to 6-square feet.
These fireplaces can come in sleek and modern designs for a more contemporary feel or more old fashioned or traditional stove units. It's important to be careful when operating them, as their open flame can be a fire hazard.
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Tabletop fireplaces are most commonly seen in fancy restaurant settings. They are also great for providing a bit of heat in outdoor settings such as patios or decks. They can be powered by ethanol, gel, or oil, and their flames are typically small enough to where they won't pose any significant fire hazards to table settings or other objects on the tabletop.
These fireplaces are usually no more than 5- or 6-inches in height and anywhere from 20-square inches to upwards of 100-square inches (the latter being more common in home settings) in length. Compared to other types of fireplaces, they are more lightweight and can be easily moved to different locations or re-filled with fuel in a matter of minutes.
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Metal fireplaces can offer a very unique and classic feel to a home setting. They can be added for a warm rustic look for a more simple and modern appeal. These fireplaces can come with ethanol, gas, or wood-burning options. They can be purchased as stand-alone units or suspended from the ceiling. Most metal fireplaces have dimensions of about 300- to 400-square feet and are about 14-inches deep.
They can give off the same amount of heat as any gas-powered or wood-burning fireplace and should be used cautiously as flammable objects can pose a fire hazard. Because of their open and easily accessible flame, caution should be used when operating stand-alone and suspended units--especially when children are present.
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Mortar & Wood Fireplace
These are probably the oldest and most traditionally used types of fireplaces. Often referred to as "brick & wood" fireplaces, these units can work well in any setting. Brick and wood fireplaces consist of a layout containing both materials (brick and wood) and can be powered by gas, ethanol, wood, or electricity. Most come in dimensions of about 300- to 400-square inches and are about 14-inches deep.
These fireplaces are most commonly found embedded in the wall, but they can also be purchased as stand-alone fireplace units. They give off just as much as any type of flame burning fireplace (except for electrical models) and can create a nice amount of warmth for small and large spaces.
Fieldstone Veneer Fireplace
Fieldstone veneer fireplaces are similar to ledge stone panels in that they offer a stone-based covering to the face of a fireplace to add more visual appeal. They tend to be a common fixture in many homes in North America and Europe, and they've been around for centuries. Their stacked brick look can add noticeable character to any living area or entertainment room.
These fireplaces will typically range in size, and depending on the home buyer's preference, they can be made to reach the ceiling or just offer a foot or two of covering around the top and sides of a fireplace. Fieldstone coverings can typically be installed on any wood-burning, ethanol, electric, or gas-powered fireplace.
Electric-powered fireplaces are becoming increasingly common in many households today. Modern technology has equipped these fireplaces with not only the look of real wood or gas-burning fireplace but with the ability to produce the familiar crackling sound that's commonplace in fireplaces. While these fireplaces do heat up, they cannot produce the high temperatures found in gas-powered or wood-burning fireplaces.
Electric fireplaces can come as stand-alone models or be suspended from the ceiling of a home. Because of the various types of electric fireplace models available, they can range from small 200-square inches models to over 400-square feet (some can even run the length of a wall). These fireplaces are typically more expensive to operate (as electric power still costs more than gas) and usually cost more to purchase than other types of fireplaces.
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Venetian Plaster Fireplace
Venetian plaster fireplaces can be absolutely stunning to view. Their simple and classic design can be applied to a wide range of home decor options. These plaster fireplaces can work well with any electric, ethanol, or gas-powered fireplace and are commonly embedded in the wall of a home or placed as stand-alone units.
Plaster is essentially a very thin form of cement, which means that this type of fireplace casing is not combustible. Depending on the home's size, plaster fireplaces can vary greatly in their dimensions, with many installed as high as the ceiling of a home. They can also be used for mounted fireplaces and as a decorative frame for all four sides of the fireplace.
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Wall-mounted fireplaces are becoming another popular choice for fireplace design. Some models require the use of a chimney, and some may not need any ventilation at all. The biggest variable for this is the type of fuel that would be used for its operation. Wall-mounted fireplaces can vary greatly in shape, length, and casing type and can even come in glass and ceramic casing.
Most wall-mounted fireplaces are powered by electricity, so while they may provide an even amount of warmth to a room, they won't get as hot as other fuel-based fireplaces (i.e., wood, gas, ethanol, etc.). Because of their location, they offer homeowners the added convenience of saving more space in a room.
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Gel fireplaces are starting to gain more attention but have not yet reached the level of popularity as their electric counterparts. Gel fireplaces can be fairly expensive to operate, as the alcohol-based gel used to power them costs about $3 and will burn for about 2- to 3-hours max. The best benefit of these types of fireplaces is that they don't require any sort of electrical wiring, pipes, or venting to operate--just a lighter to ignite the can of gel.
This means that you don't have to worry about any inside smoke, ashes, or expensive gas hookups to get them going. Gel fireplaces can be embedded in the wall as a traditional fireplace, suspended, or used as a standalone unit. The fire produced from them is as hot wood-burning and gas-burning fireplaces, which means that they can pose a safety hazard for combustible or flammable items. They can also range and dimensions depending on the type of model you buy, with some models as small as 200- or 300-square inches and others going up to 700-square inches.
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Ethanol fireplaces are powered by liquid bioethanol, which is a very efficient fuel source. The liquid is typically poured into a metal casing inside the fireplace and then ignited to produce a flame. These types of fireplaces can warm up a room significantly--and fairly quickly. Ethanol fireplaces can be used in embedded inserts or suspended units but are more commonly used in modern stand-alone fireplaces.
They can range in dimensions, with some on the smaller side of around 300-square inches and some over 700-square inches. They offer great convenience, as they are pretty easy to install and don't require any gas lines or chopped wood to function. Their biggest disadvantage is their lack of efficiency, mainly due to the cost of purchasing ethanol fuel.
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Marble is a beautiful stone and works as a great casing for modern and new-age fireplaces. You'll find these types of fireplaces commonly in five-star hotels and upscale apartment buildings. They can work well for any fuel type or electric-based fireplace unit and range in their dimensions, with some installations reaching the ceiling. Marble is non-combustible, meaning that it won't close any specific fire hazards to the fireplace. It can, however, make for a fairly expensive installment as this stone isn't the cheapest.
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Valor fireplaces are energy-efficient and innovative natural gas propane fireplaces. They are most commonly installed in remodeled homes and new construction. They can also come in stand-alone stove models as well as inserts. These fireplaces can be installed just about anywhere and can add an elegant or earthy aesthetic to a homeroom. They come in a wide range of models and can replace existing fireplace stove or oven.
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Wrapping Things Up
Hopefully, this guide has shed some light on many of the capabilities when it comes to installing a new fireplace. It's always best to find a reputable contractor in your area to determine what the most suitable fireplace options will be for your specific residence.
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