Please offer suggestions for my fireplace issue

threeapplesSeptember 16, 2011

We building a new house in a historic style and will have a gas fireplace in our grand room/family room. I want one that looks like an old fashioned fireplace with real bricks in a herringbone pattern and no glass in front of the fake logs. The fireplace salesman we visited this morning said unless we have a mason build it from scratch we need a firebox, made of steel that we can use sheets of firebrick inside of, but that it needs a glass front. None of this looks nice to me for such a focal point in our house. What are my options? I'm so lost and this dealer was not very helpful and we have no idea what to do. thank you.

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No no no threeapples :) Isokern makes a great looking b vent fireplace that looks exactly like masonry. We have two isokerns that are wood burning but with gas starters. One will have a gas log set (in family room) but will be able to burn wood. The screened porch will be wood burning at first. We will have a 3rd gas only fireplace in the basement but the isokern bvent was pricey for that (5600 or so installed). I wouldn't hesitate in a family room though - just seemed a little much for a rec room/basement.

Design Details makes a cheaper version that looks nice also, in a b vent (these are the ones with no glass in front, which I think you would want). We are pricing it out for the basement but still may too high for us - lower than Isokern though . . .

    Bookmark   September 20, 2011 at 8:53PM
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Let me just fill you in on what I have learned :). Do you have a masonry chimney? Or a masonry cover to a b-vent gas chimney? Otherwise, you will have a large metal pipe coming out of your roof, unless you do what is called a direct vent (the ones with glass on the front) that can vent out the side if you are close enough to a side wall. I agree, not the best look.

There are several options that look just like masonry - Isokern and Fire something are the main ones. They are modular but built on site and have the option of a herringbone back. Indistinguishable from masonry but less in some cases (although I have heard they are actually more in others)). If you are only burning gas logs, you need a b-vent fireplace if you don't want glass in front. This looks very much like masonry but less expensive. If you have a chase with a masonry chimmney, you can also put a wood burning box with gas logs. This requires a higher chimney and you would want it to be masonry since it needs to be so high but it would give you likely the best look.

The major issue with gas only fireplaces is the proportion. They are squatty - you really want something with a ratio of 1.2 or so so 36" wide and 28" tall or so is ideal. They get wider and shorter and don't look great . . .

    Bookmark   September 20, 2011 at 9:02PM
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well, if you're building a "historic style" house, why not build it properly and put up a proper masonry chimney that will last 100 years? Much nicer on the inside AND outside than a cheap flimsy metal prefab firebox with a hideous metal stack sticking through your roof. Take the time and the money and build something that you and your family will appreciate for decades to come (not to mention future home buyers).

    Bookmark   September 29, 2011 at 12:58AM
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The isokern is not cheap metal and you have to have a masonry chimney. They are engineered though so the fireplace will draw properly (a lost art to many masons) and are usually less than a masonry fireplace. If you are doing a gas log only fireplace and never will burn wood, you can do a b vent isokern which looks exactly like a regular fireplace. You can just put a masonry chimney over the pipe when it goes out of the roof. You can even use a wood burning box with gas logs (that is what we have now) if you are willing to have a masonry chimney over the metal pipe (these have to be taller than b vent pipes so you might be able to hide the 2 foot b vent on your roof but not the wood burning flue).

    Bookmark   September 29, 2011 at 8:17PM
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