If the kitchen is the heart of the home, the fireplace is surely a close second. There’s nothing quite like a crackling open fire to bring warmth and atmosphere to your home, whether cuddling on the couch with the kids, sipping red on a raining night or relishing the toasty ambience over a book in your favourite armchair. Here we outline the three mainstream options to help you find the perfect fireplace for your home.
Fireplace purists might argue that nothing can replicate the atmosphere and aroma of a traditional wood-burning fireplace. Available in both a built-in design or freestanding, they’re a prized feature for those fortunate enough to have one and don’t require electricity or gas to operate — just logs. Yet, unless the fireplace was built into the original design of your home, you’ll need to get council approval to build one retrospectively as there are strict regulations around installing wood heaters and chimneys. Wood-burning fireplaces also require regular cleaning and log-stocking. That may be a small price to pay for the beauty of a conventional fireplace, but it’s something that should be taken into account when weighing up your options.
Gas fireplaces mimic the look and feel of traditional wood-burners. Fuelled by gas, it’s easy to control the flames and amount of heat they produce by simply turning them up or down, and you don’t need to stock logs to burn. Many gas fireplaces are designed with faux logs — some of which are surprisingly realistic. They can be built-in as inserts or freestanding and, as they produce a small amount of smoke, ventilation is required. Being gas, they must be professionally installed by a licensed gas plumber. They also require a hearth if positioned over a combustible floor, such as timber.
Easy to install yet loaded with ambience, an electric fireplace is an electric heater designed to imitate the flickering flames of a conventional wood-burning fireplace. Operated by remote control, the heat can be easily adjusted and some models even allow you to change the colour of the flame. They don’t produce any fumes or emissions, so they don’t require chimneys. They’re also maintenance free with zero flues to operate, logs to stock or ashtrays to be swept clean as the logs are faux. Stylish, very safe and better for the environment, electric fireplaces are a popular choice and can even be self-installed.
Just like hanging a flatscreen TV, installing a wall-mounted fireplace is easy. You’ll need: Phillips screwdriver; stud finder (if you don’t have one, download an app on your phone); level; tape measure; electric drill; 1/4” wood drill bit, hammer.
Step 1 Decide where you’d like to mount your fireplace on your plaster wall, taking into consideration the location of your power outlet. Allow a minimum clearance of 50–100cm around the unit to avoid any fire dangers (refer to your unit’s installation sheet for exact measurements for your fireplace).
Step 2 Locate the wall studs using an electronic stud-finder. Mark the hole locations with a pencil (your unit’s installation sheet will outline how many holes are required and how far apart they should be). At least two screws should be screwed directly to the wall stud. If additional screws are required, ensure they are screwed into drywall anchors (also known as hollow wall anchors).
Step 3 Drill a pilot hole into each mark. Ensure you attach a drywall anchor for any screws that aren’t being screwed directly into the stud and gently tap them in until they are flush with the wall.
Step 4 Align the holes in the wall bracket with the pilot holes and drywall anchors. Thread the screws through the washers and holes in the wall bracket, then directly into the wall studs and/or drywall anchors. Make sure the bracket is level. Tighten all screws securely with a screwdriver.
Step 5 With a second person, carefully lift the fireplace and align the hooks on the back of the fireplace with the slots on the wall bracket and set the hooks into the slots.
Step 6 Secure the fireplace to the wall bracket with the screws provided, one on each side. Thread the screws through the fireplace and into the wall bracket side tabs. Tighten both screws with a Phillips screwdriver.
Step 7 Plug in, turn on and enjoy!