Fireplaces have a way of elevating the interior design of any home, giving rooms a clear anchor and gathering place. But if your home has already been built, the job of installing that fireplace may be left to you – and your pocketbook. That means making choices based on what will work best for you, your family and your home. By weighing the options between a freestanding and a built-in fireplace, you can choose a heat source that makes your home look and function better.
One of the biggest concerns when considering a fireplace is the installation. If you have an existing home and would prefer a built-in model, you may need to speak with an engineer – particularly if you choose a wood-burning fireplace, as there may be extra foundational work to support a chimney and the stonework for the chimney itself. A freestanding model requires much less in the way of installation as it uses piping to vent the smoke out of the home. This means little in the way of demolition and a faster, cheaper installation process. While it’s not the only consideration to make, it’s something to think about.
Air Circulation and Efficiency
The efficiency levels and air circulation don’t vary much between built-in and freestanding fireplace models. However, because a freestanding model is not limited to a single wall, you can place it in an area of the home that results in better circulation overall. For instance, putting your freestanding model in a corner by the front door often results in better circulation toward the center of the room. Of course, if you choose a built-in model, you can plan accordingly to put the fireplace on the wall that offers the best warmth and efficiency.
While it’s important to think about the numbers – efficiency and installation costs – you’ll also need to consider the design of your home. A fireplace can increase the value of your home, so it’s important to plan a room around the fireplace, which is often the focal point of a room.
In-built wood heaters are usually the first choice for those who want a lot of visual impact in a room. Paired with a hearth and mantel, it’s hard to beat the look of a built-in fireplace module. A freestanding fireplace is usually smaller and not as much of a focal point. What’s more, it could break up a smaller room by taking up space in the corner. You may want to discuss this with an interior designer to plan the room around the fireplace of your choice.
It may all boil down to the actual cost of installation for a fireplace. Whether you choose a wood-burning or gas model, the real cost isn’t in the operation, but in the installation of your fireplace. Hands down, a freestanding fireplace is the cheapest option, since you can choose where to put the unit and you won’t have to make special allowances to fit it into the wall. Your money, on the other hand, would be stretched if you decided on a built-in model. Just keep in mind that whatever you spend will be paid back through the increased value of the home.
In the end, the fireplace you choose is an individual issue, based on budget, tastes, design and installation. On the bright side, while it may take a while to decide, there’s no way to make a wrong choice when it comes to installing a fireplace in your home.
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