DIY How To

A buyer's guide to fires and fireplaces

A fireplace is an excellent way to improve the look and desirability of a room, as well as adding value to your property. But before you buy you need to consider the following:

What style will compliment your home?

There are as vast a range of fireplace styles as there are interior design styles, spanning from casual to more formal looks.

It is best to keep the style and proportions of your fireplace similar to the rest of the room - it would be unwise to have a very modern fireplace in an old fashioned property as it would not match the rest of the surroundings.

The material and style of the fire surrounds and back panels and hearths will play a major role in a fireplace's appearance; though keep in mind you may need to purchase these separately.

Whether you like clean lines or ornate details, rustic or contemporary styling, there is a beautiful fireplace out there for you.

What type of fuel do you want to use?
There are many advantages to gas fires. Many have flickering flames and heat reminiscent of a real coal or log fire, but without the mess and inconvenience.

Aside from their authenticity, whether it's a flame effect model or a traditional radiant/convector, gas fires are gentler on the environment and cheaper to run

Electric fires are also growing in popularity. With just a flick of a switch you can heat a room almost instantly and because the device simulates flames without burning anything there are no toxic fumes being released into your home.

Perhaps the biggest advantage of an electric fire however, is the fact it can be installed in a few easy steps, there is no need for a chimney or venting system, all you need is a socket.

Despite being dirty, potentially dangerous and a lot of work, there's nothing quite like an open fire. Not only do they look wonderful, they can also channel heat to water pipes, if you have a back burner, and when built-up properly stay warm overnight so you only have to add more fuel the next morning to get it going again.

Wood burning is better in environmental terms however as the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere is the same as that absorbed by the tree during growth.

The installation
It is important to remember that installing a new fireplace into a property is a fairly straightforward job, but only for a professional. Any work involving the chimney flue should not be tackled by a home owner unless they are fully qualified to do so.

The chimney must be checked before any installation work can begin. The chimney should be free from any blockage that could affect the overall function of the fireplace.

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