If you’re looking to add a fireplace to your home, your mind probably turns first to the style you’d like to achieve and the fuel type you prefer. There’s one other fireplace decision you’ll have to make when you begin shopping around: traditional masonry fireplace or prefabricated fireplace. While most people understand what it means to have a traditional masonry fireplace, here’s what you need to know about prefabricated fireplaces.
Understanding prefabricated fireplaces
As the name suggests, prefabricated — sometimes referred to as manufactured or factory-built — fireplaces are constructed entirely off site. The fireplace and chimney are designed and safety tested to be installed as a complete system. Prefabricated systems generally include a firebox, sometimes fitted with refractory panels, as well as a chimney, firestop, flashing and a chimney cap. Prefabricated fireplaces have to be installed following strict manufacturer’s guidelines to ensure that the fireplace will work safely and efficiently.
Benefits of prefabricated fireplaces
Prefabricated fireplaces have been increasingly popular since they were introduced to the market roughly 40 years ago, and there are some very obvious reasons they’re popular. First and foremost, prefabricated fireplaces are often a more affordable option, and can be installed more quickly, than traditional masonry fireplaces. That’s because masonry fireplaces truly are works of art. They take careful crafting, many supplies, and they take a lot of time and hard work to construct.
Prefabricated fireplaces also are more versatile. They aren’t nearly as heavy as traditional masonry fireplaces, which means they don’t require the solid foundation that masonry fireplaces do. They can be installed where you aren’t able or don’t intent to build an extensive foundation. They also insulate the heat from the fireplace well, so most prefabricated fireplaces don’t require the clearances that traditional fireplaces do. Because their installation has less stringent requirements than traditional masonry fireplaces, factory-built fireplaces can be installed in nearly any room and even on second floors of homes. Some factory-built fireplaces can even be fitted into an existing hearth space.
The flip-side of prefabricated fireplaces
While prefabricated fireplaces do offer plenty of benefits, they might not be for every home. Some of the things to consider with prefabricated fireplaces is that many prefabricated fireplaces usually aren’t designed to heat an entire home; they’re more for ambiance and low levels of supplemental heat. Prefabricated fireplaces also don’t last as long as traditional masonry systems. That’s not to say they’re not durable, but after a few decades, you might need to replace parts of, or even entirely replace, your prefabricated fireplace.
Deciding whether a prefabricated fireplace is right for your
If you’re looking for a new fireplace for your home and trying to decide whether a prefabricated fireplace is right for your home, Fluesbrothers Chimney Service can help! We can evaluate your home and your fireplace needs and help you choose whether, and which, a prefabricated fireplace is right for you.