In a forum I frequent often, I came across several great questions about fireplaces. There was a question about a new construction job and an old remodeling job. The irony is that the answer I had was the same for both even though each question was extremely different.
The first question was for a ranch style home and it was about what kind of fireplace to install on the gable end that would be newly constructed, adjoining a great room and their mason is reasonably priced. But, the heating system throughout the whole house is soon going to be augmented by a genset.
There were two options the inquisitor was exploring. Whether to build a new fireplace or install a prefab complete with a brick chimney, a hearth and all, that was her question. It is an interesting question because she only wants a fireplace for looks and ambiance. There are plenty of people who love having fireplaces in their home, but they don’t necessarily need the heat. They might have heat from several other sources just like the genset that is going to be put into place in the example above.
There is no need for a prefab or a traditional fireplace. For one, they are both expensive. If you know a great mason who can keep the prices low, you can use a fireplace insert and gel fuel to build a ventless gel fireplace. A fireplace insert can be installed into a wall or an extension of the wall can built out for a faux mason chimney and a hearth. The faux chimney can go to the ceiling or it can stop at the mantel. But, a beautiful fireplace can be put together that doesn’t require the thousands of dollars for a prefab or the tens of thousands for a traditional fireplace.
The other question that was on the forum concerned an old traditional fireplace that had been originally installed in a 1970s built home. But throughout the years, changes have been made. It’s now an inoperable gas fireplace that is an absolute eyesore because it wasn’t done with the right material.
Obviously, my answer is nearly the same except that a fireplace already exists. I would gut it out and take it back to the nice 1970s version of a traditional fireplace. But, I wouldn’t make the traditional operable again. I would install a fireplace insert and use gel fuel to build a ventless gel fireplace system. Then, a fireplace screen completes the look. But, it’s not necessary.
I love bringing old things back to life. I love it when I can sand and refinish old wood so that it looks just like new. That’s what I would do with an old fireplace. Plus, even though a ventless gel fireplace system works great for heating a room, it’s the most cost effective system to put in place so that you have the look and feel of a traditional fireplace.