Your fireplace design begins with the technical details and ends with the aesthetic details. Be sure to address every aspect for a successful fireplace design project.
1. What is the size of the area you want to heat? All fireplaces are tested to see how many BTUs of heat they generate. If you are heating a space with high ceilings and an open floor plan, you will want to consider a fireplace that generates more BTUs than a fireplace that would be found in a smaller room which is closed off from the rest of the house.
This is how you calculate the BTUs: BTUs= Area (length x width) x 20
Let's say your room is 10 x10 and you have a newer home built in the last 20 years, you would need 20,000 BTUs to heat the room in Boston in the winter time. If you live in a home built in 1919 with drafty windows and poor insulation you may need 25,000 BTUs to heat the same room in the same city.
Higher quality fireplaces offer control features like built in thermostats that allow you to control the output based on the temperature of the room. Some fireplaces also offer lighting features that light the interior of the fireplace when the flames are turned down so that the fireplace can be enjoyed when it is not producing heat.
Many people think that they need to have a fan to ensure that the heat will be spread throughout the room. A fan can help heat a room faster but not by spreading the heat around the room. A fan helps move the heated air out of the fireplace chamber faster. Sometimes this is advantageous when you are heating a basement or a very cold area and you want to enjoy the fireplace for a short period of time. Most often the fan is not necessary on a main floor because the space will heat up within minutes. Some people object to the sound of a fan which can also change the experience of using the fireplace.
When you burn the fireplace you should turn down the thermostat of your furnace but keep the furnace fan running so the heat from the fireplace moves throughout the house.
Most well built gas fireplaces generate between 26,000 BTUs and 89,000 BTUs.
2. What is the size and shape of the opening of the fireplace cavity? If your fireplace design involves converting a masonry fireplace, you will need the dimensions of the interior of the firebox. This page from an installation manual illustrates the areas that need to be measured in order to fit the correct fireplace into your masonry opening. Here is a diagram that shows how the insert will fit into your fireplace opening. 738JL_Dimensions_Clearances
Don't worry, a professional will preview the space and explain the process before the fireplace is selected. And a visit to the showroom will guarantee a complete appreciation and understanding of the process.
3. What is your style preference, traditional or contemporary?
If you are adding a fireplace and need to finish the wall around it, this can be a fun part of the design process. Be sure to allow at least 50% of your budget for these details. Search images on the web and in magazines to find the styles that suit your home and your taste. The latest trends in fireplace design suggest clean and simple finishes.
In this example, the stone was sourced in Brazil and fabricated to fit the opening of the fireplace.
You'll enjoy your fireplace for years to come and that extra $80.00 to $100.00 per square foot you invest in finishing materials and installation will be forgotten the first evening you spend enjoying these beautiful spaces with family and friends.
If you are building your dream cottage on Cape Cod or Crane Lake you might want a traditional look. Considering placing a T.V. on the same wall above your fireplace? Be sure consult the installation manual for specs. Safe distances vary based on wall boards used and fireplace mechanics. Some manufacturers offer heat shift systems to keep the heat moving out of the wall cavity.
4.What functions do you want on your fireplace? Some fireplace kits come complete and some can be modified with thermostatic controls, fans, internal lighting and other features. See our shopping list for a complete list of questions you should consider.
5.What is the time frame you have to work with? Skilled craftsmen are busy and you will need to be patient and start the process early. If you want the fireplace for Thanksgiving or Christmas, you should start the process in July or August to insure that all the elements are in place and you have plenty of time to prepare for your guests. Fireplaces are rarely stocked and require several weeks for delivery. Be sure to communicate your expectations and deadlines to your contractor and stay in contact throughout the process.
If you are ready to take the next step toward adding a fireplace. Follow this link to the shopping list.