How to pick a fireplace for your new construction home
By: Rich Hendrickson, Jr. – Burlington Fireplace & Solar
Picking out a fireplace when building a home can be a daunting task, and many homeowners allow it to fall through the cracks. To help navigate through the options, and to make sure you don’t end up with something you’ll regret, take a look at a few tips we frequently share with new construction clients:
Match it to your lifestyle
Choosing a fireplace comes down to lifestyle more often than not – if you like the convenience of gas, the authenticity of wood-burning, or the modern look of electric. Make sure to match your lifestyle to the fireplace you choose or else you will end up with a fireplace you never use. Today’s fireplaces are specifically designed to be easy to use, and are meant to be used often. Having weekly fires or using a gas fireplace every day should be a common occurrence if you choose the right fit for you. Also consider your lifestyle in 5 or 10-years down the line, since fireplaces are built in and are there for the long-haul.
Fireplaces come in various styles and sizes, and most good fireplace manufacturers will offer trims, face frames, and interior media options to choose from. Don’t be led to believe you only have a couple of options or all fireplaces look the same. Spend time searching the internet or popular sites/apps such as Pinterest, Houzz, or google. Once you have a look you like, share it with your builder or local fireplace store and they can make it come to life.
What are your goals?
What are your goals with the fireplace? Do you want something that merely looks pretty, or do you want something that performs? Do you want it for supplemental heating, or as an artistic statement piece? These questions help narrow down the choices to find what really fits best. Spend ample time focusing on the fireplace itself before moving onto the stone, tile, or brickwork around it. Once the fireplace is in, its in – and the mantel you picked for above the fireplace won’t be as fulfilling when the fireplace doesn’t work.
Your builder will eventually discuss the fireplace with you, or refer you to the local fireplace store. Make sure you take some of their suggestions with a grain of salt however, since most builders want to save money in this section and install ‘builder-grade’ or low-quality fireplaces. These don’t just look cheap, but they work poorly as well. Ask what fireplace stores they recommend and do your research – after all, a fireplace is something that gets built in and is there for the next 10-20+ years. You’ll be looking at it every day!
Reviews for fireplaces are notoriously hard to find. There is no website that tests and recommends certain models, and no online marketplace to find Amazon-style reviews since most of the high-quality brands don’t sell directly online. What you’ll have to do is find a reputable fireplace store and ask which brands they recommend, and what they would put in their home. You can usually tell fairly quickly if they are selling or pitching a product for the wrong reasons. Your best source of reviews is from reputable fireplace stores since they deal with companies and products on a daily basis and honest stores will let you know what to avoid. Other areas to consider seeking info could be family, friends, or colleagues who may have recently updated their fireplaces.