A Little About The Different Types of Fireplaces Out There

Fireplaces are all different in their own way, designed and built or installed to work within an individual space to the specifications of an individual owner. But there are a few specific lines along which chimney professionals, like Northeastern Masonry & Chimney, differentiate these appliances.

Beautiful freestanding wood stove insert into large brick hearth with a copper box at the side

Masonry Or Traditional Fireplaces

The type most of us think of when fireplaces come to mind are masonry fireplaces: appliances built out of bricks and mortar, built on-site to stand up to decades and decades of use. Masonry fireplaces are beloved for a reason: They offer a time-tested look that homeowners and home-buyers love, and with regular maintenance, can last an exceptionally long time. It’s not uncommon to see owners of historical homes that have been around for a century, using the original fireplace.

Even within the realm of masonry fireplaces, you’ll see some stark differences. Most homes have modern masonry fireplaces, installed with a flat lintel (the “breast” up front), shorter and deeper openings and more tightly angled walls. But we’re also seeing a resurgence of Rumford fireplaces, which were hugely popular in the 1800s. Their design — with a rounded breast, taller and more shallow opening and more widely angled walls — allows for a more efficient draft and higher levels of heat getting directed into the room.

Prefabricated or Factory-built Fireplaces

More recently, factory-built fireplaces have become the norm. These have some great benefits: They’re designed with lighter and cheaper materials than masonry, so installation tends to be simpler and more affordable, without the need to construct a concrete footing for the firebox to sit on. The appliances and chimneys are also designed, constructed and tested together as a unit, which results in high levels of efficiency and safety. And today’s factory-built fireplaces come in a wide variety of looks, too, to appeal to just about any taste.

Different Fireplace Fuel Choices

On top of masonry or factory-built construction, fireplaces also differ in the fuels they burn.

The most traditional choice, wood has some great benefits — it’s plentiful, affordable and provides some great ambiance. But burning wood does come with work, from collecting the firewood to setting up each fire and cleaning up after it.

Lots of busy homeowners are choosing gas units these days, or having their wood-burning fireplaces converted with gas logs. Gas is incredibly convenient — you push a button, and enjoy your fire. And while you don’t get the exact effect of a wood fire, gas logs look very realistic these days, and vented gas logs provide a really realistic fire, too.

Pellets are made out of waste materials (like sawdust), and offer a lot of the vibe of wood with much less hassle. You’ll fill a hopper with pellets, and then that hopper feeds the fuel into the appliance gradually to keep a consistent fire. Pellets burn cleanly, make productive use of waste and don’t take up much space in a home, so they can be a great choice for eco-minded folks who like the ambiance of wood but aren’t looking to expend the time or effort required to use that fuel.

Northeastern Masonry & Chimney technicians can sell, install, repair and maintain all kinds of fireplaces, from masonry to prefabricated, gas to wood. If you have any questions or would like to set up an appointment, give us a call at 518-767-9315 or click here. You can come to us for all your fireplace needs!


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