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Fireplaces are a coveted item among homeowners and home buyers alike. They’re practical and decorative, bringing both warmth and stateliness to a home. The bad news is, if your home doesn’t already have a fireplace built into it, it can be expensive to have one added.
Enter the free-standing fireplace: all the warmth and coziness of a built-in fireplace without the hassle and cost of installation.
Would a free-standing fireplace make a good addition to your home? Here’s everything you need to know.
Why a Free-Standing Fireplace?
A free-standing, or stand-alone, fireplace is essentially what it sounds like. It’s free-standing, so it doesn’t have to be built into a home the way a traditional fireplace does. This can be attractive for homeowners who want a fireplace but don’t have the budget to install a fireplace in their home, as free-standing fireplaces generally cost less overall and don’t require a big project.
If you want a fireplace in your home and are considering a free-standing one, think about what you want out of your fireplace. Do you just want something that will help warm your home, or do you need something that’s going to add value to it as well? Although having a built-in fireplace added to your home can be a costly project, you also have the potential to see a return on that investment if you ever decide to sell your home. However, if having a fireplace is purely something you want for your own enjoyment, a cheaper, free-standing model might be a better option.
While installation for a free-standing fireplace is much simpler than one for a built-in fireplace, there is some installation required, depending on what type you get.
If your fireplace or stove needs to be vented, you’ll have to have a chimney pipe installed. However, there are ventless or even electric models available that don’t require a chimney.
You also have more options when it comes to choosing the location of your fireplace if you go with a free-standing one. This means you can optimize the heat output of your fireplace by locating it somewhere central, so the heat can radiate in all directions.
If you’re looking to have a fireplace installed in your home but don’t want to take on a significant remodeling project, a free-standing fireplace will likely be better suited to your needs.
Having a built-in fireplace added to your home can cost upwards of $10,000, according to HouseLogic.com. Meanwhile, HomeAdvisor.com says wood stoves can cost $3,000 – $4,000, including installation. Other types of free-standing units can cost even less, depending on the installation required.
You have three basic choices when it comes to the types of free-standing fireplaces available: wood, gas and electric. Of these types, some of them will require venting and some won’t.
Wood fireplaces always need a venting system, so if you choose to get a wood stove, be sure to factor in the cost of having a chimney pipe installed. Certain types of gas fireplaces may need ventilation as well. If you don’t want to go through the trouble of having a pipe installed, you might consider a ventless gas fireplace, which doesn’t need to vent to the outside. However, there is some debate over how safe these types of fireplaces are, so be sure to do your research before buying one and learn how to properly use the appliance so you don’t create any safety hazards in your home.
With either type of gas fireplace, you will have to have it hooked up to a gas line, so be sure to consider the expense of installing a gas line or having a new line added as part of your total costs.
The lowest maintenance and generally cheapest option is a free-standing electric fireplace, which generates heat using electricity rather than combustion. These are easy to install, easy to use and don’t require a ton of upkeep. However, they won’t deliver as much heat as other types of fireplaces. They can also be pretty expensive if you want a high-end, stylish model.
Here’s where a built-in fireplace pulls ahead. There’s just no comparison between a classic, built-in fireplace and a free-standing model when it comes to the aesthetic value they bring to a home. If you’re dead set on having the traditional fireplace look or are hoping to increase your home’s value, you’ll likely have to bite the bullet and incur the costs of a built-in fireplace installation.
However, that doesn’t mean you can’t get a beautiful free-standing fireplace to warm up your home while complementing your decor.
If you want the ambiance that comes to mind when you think of a fireplace, but you aren’t willing to take on the cost and installation of a built-in one, there are many models available that are made to mimic the traditional stone fireplace appearance for a fraction of the price.
Are you short on storage space? Many free-standing electric fireplaces come with attached shelves or cabinets, making them spatially efficient. It’s the perfect place to store all the books you like to curl up by the fire with.
A pretty wood fireplace can add a touch of class to any room. With a vent-free gas fireplace, it’s easy to achieve that look.
Whether you like the old-fashioned look or just want a no-frills way heat your home, a wood burning stove will provide plenty of heat and keep you warm when it gets cold outside. These are especially useful to have if you live in an area that frequently loses power, as they don’t require electricity to operate.
Is It Worth It?
Whether or not a free-standing fireplace is worth it really comes down to what best suits your needs and budget. While they can be less expensive, it’s important to weigh all your options, as some of the higher quality free-standing fireplaces can still be a fairly big investment. It could be that you end up getting more bang for your buck by opting for a built-in fireplace when you factor in the value it adds to your home.
You also need to think about what you want out of your fireplace. If you need something that’s going to provide a reliable source of heat, even when the power has gone out, a wood stove might be the best choice for you. On the other hand, if you want the classic setup of curling up by a beautiful stone fireplace and you have the funds to do it, you might want to look into having one built into your home. Ultimately, there’s no right answer to this question. It’s about what works best for you.
What do you prefer? Built-in or free-standing? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.
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