Surveys of home buyers consistently show that a fireplace is rated as one of the most desirable home features. Not only is a fireplace a source of beauty and comfort, it is also good investment. Most homeowners choose a gas or wood fireplace. However, electric fireplaces (primarily used for ambiance), and pellet fireplaces (primarily used for heat,) are additional options. Making a good selection is important because fireplaces are two to three times more expensive to replace because wall finishes, mantels and even venting, are typically not reusable.
A new fireplace is installed when construction is in the framing stage. Open framed walls are necessary for the connection and installation of fireplace venting, gas and electrical, as well as inspections.
A showpiece and gathering place
A fireplace is a natural gathering place, a key design element, and if installed with a mantel, a place to display art, family photos, and holiday decorations.
A heat source
Gas, wood and pellet fireplaces can effectively heat a room or an entire home depending upon choice and design. (Electric fireplaces have limited heating capabilities.)
Key decision points
Fireplaces require non-combustible materials around them. If putting a TV above the fireplace, use a mantel shelf to prevent heat from going up the wall and overheating it.
Keep the final wall finish materials in mind from the beginning so the fireplace face, mantel and hearth meet design and safety requirements. The choice of tile versus stone, for example, may change change installation depth requirements and limit fireplace trim options.
Some fireplaces are heater rated and others are decorative. Verify that the fireplace specifications meet your goals.