Upgrading the Efficiency & Appearance of Your Fireplace

A masonry fireplace is a very popular built-in feature, but did you know you have options and could upgrade both efficiency and appearance? If you’ve come to realize that, unfortunately, your open-hearth fireplace loses about as much heat as it provides overall, the good news is that you can transform it into a highly efficient heat source that can help you cut energy costs. And if you’re going for a whole new look with your décor, you can have a stylish new mantel or surround installed. You can also install additional fireplaces in your home that can provide warmth and look stunningly unique, modern, and beautiful.

Fireplace Inserts

You can instantly transform your masonry fireplace into an efficient appliance by having a fireplace insert installed. Fireplace inserts are typically cast iron or steel, and they fit inside your existing masonry fireplace or zero clearance fireplace.

Fireplace inserts operate with a closed design system that conserves heat and creates an environment in which wood burns longer and at hotter temperatures. An open-hearth fireplace heats little more than the chimney. A fireplace insert, on the other hand, can provide enough heat for a large area of your home, between 1,000 and 3,000 square feet, depending on the size and model of the insert.


Once you begin using a fireplace insert, your firewood will provide you with three times the heat and yet you will use three times less wood. This means you will save on the cost of firewood as well as cut utility costs, since you’ll be able to turn off central heating and still stay warm. Some experts have estimated that your heating bill can be reduced by as much as 40%, when you use a fireplace insert to heat your home in winter. Some models come with fans that circulate air in the firebox and project it into your home.


You can change the appearance of your fireplace as well as the efficiency of it, when you have an insert installed. There are many different designs to choose from, and they come in attractive styles to match virtually any décor, from rustic to contemporary.

Mantel and Surround

If you really want a completely new look for your fireplace, why not hire professionals to tear out the old and put in an entirely new mantel and surround? The possibilities are just about limitless.

Zero Clearance Fireplaces

You don’t need to limit yourself to enjoying a fireplace where a chimney has been installed in your home. There are beautiful zero clearance fireplaces available that burn a variety of fuels, and no chimney is required for venting. ZC Fireplaces are efficient and beautiful. Some models look like absolute works of art. Gas fireplaces can be installed just about anywhere within walls and create a bold and awe-inspiring statement, in addition to providing a significant amount of heat.

These are good times to think outside the box, as regards the possibilities with fireplace efficiency and appearance. Contact one of our member stores and let professionals guide you through your many options.

Step by Step Guide to Building the Perfect Fire

The use of fire for warmth may date back to the Stone Age, but the principles of getting a wood fire started haven’t changed a bit. Untold millions have tried and failed to get a nice wood-fueled blaze going in their fireplace. The primitive task actually can be daunting, and getting just the kind of fire you want requires some know-how. If you understand the elements required for starting a fire, however, you’re well on your way. Details follow about bringing together the three components of fire-starting, which are: Fuel, air, and heat.


The only types of fuel that should be used in your fireplace are tinder, kindling, and logs. Do not use yard debris or colored paper in your fireplace because it’s unsafe to do so. All wood that is used should be dry or seasoned. When unseasoned wood is burned, the moisture inside uses the majority of the fire’s energy; and an increased amount of flammable, tar-like creosote is deposited in the chimney flue lining from green firewood.


Tinder materials are easily ignited. Out in nature, milkweed fluff, pine needles, and wood shavings are great sources of tinder. To ignite the fire in your fireplace, dryer lint can be used but actually may not be the best choice, since the lint can contain synthetic materials. Newspaper, pencil shavings, moss, and twigs also make for good tinder. Only use sticks and twigs for tinder and kindling if it snaps and breaks because if it bends, it contains too much moisture.


The second phase of fire-building is when the kindling catches fire, creating more substantial flames. Sticks, small branches, and logs split into small sections serve well as kindling.


There are two different types of wood: Softwoods and hardwoods. The logs are the fire’s fuelwood. If you want a fire that burns hot and quickly and does not leave lingering hot coals, burn softwoods. For long-burning firewood that produces lasting warmth from hot coals, choose hardwoods. Softwoods are the best sources of kindling since they ignite quickly and produce a good blaze.


Air is the second necessary component to get a fire roaring in your top-rated, stunning wood fireplace. Producing a sufficient draft can be hindered for numerous reasons. There may be too many ashes beneath the grate. Sometimes a fire doesn’t get needed air because the home has negative air pressure, caused by being too tightly sealed. Opening a window in the home can usually provide a temporary solution if negative air pressure is causing the lack of air. If the chimney isn’t properly maintained, the draft may be hindered due to various potential obstructions.


The heat component of fire is what the cavemen had the most trouble with. Today, we have the benefit of matches and lighters. It is extremely dangerous to use liquid accelerants in your fireplace; it should never be done. The most recommended is to light your tinder and kindling with a long match.

Contact one of our member stores for chimney and fireplace maintenance and to ensure that it’s safe to develop or hone your fire-starting skills in your fireplace.