Gas vs. Wood Burning Fireplaces: What’s Better? - Quicken Loans Zing Blog

Unless you really enjoy snow-related activities, winter is pretty terrible. One of the small consolations to this seemingly endless season is the feeling of curling up in front of a nice fire on a cold winter’s day.

According to, fireplaces are actually a very popular selling point for new home buyers, regardless of whether they’ll be used. They’re very aesthetically pleasing and the mantle is a great place to display family photos and accomplishments.

But if you live in a colder climate, your fireplace might be used for heat generation, in addition to humblebrags and senior portraits. Therefore, what your fireplace uses as fuel is probably important to you.

Most home fireplaces are either wood-fired or use natural gas, though there are some alternatives. Let’s examine the pros and cons of each in a few important categories:

Difficulty of Use

Advantage: Gas

A gas fireplace is as easy as flipping a switch. Boom. Instantaneous fire.

Wood-fueled fireplaces require a lot more effort to get going. First you have to get the wood, then you have to arrange it a certain way, get kindling, start the fire and then maintain it. A wood-fueled fire is like a living organism that needs to be created and sustained. That’s great if you want the satisfaction of building something. But if you’re cold or just want a fireplace to look at, choose gas.

Fuel Cost

Advantage: Wood

Sure, you can buy firewood from a hardware or home improvement store. Or, you can just walk into the middle of the woods, chop down a tree and use that for fuel. It’s a lot more difficult to produce your own natural gas, unless you’re eating a lot of beans, and you don’t want to power a fireplace with that kind of natural gas. Natural gas isn’t expensive, relatively, but it’s more expensive than free or the cost of a few logs.

Fireplace Maintenance

Advantage: Gas

The aftermath of a wood-fueled fire is not fun to clean. The soot, ash and burned-out logs are messy and spread very easily. Creosote, a byproduct of wood-fueled fires can build up in your chimney and need to be removed by a professional. If you don’t regularly maintain your chimney when you have a wood-fueled fireplace, you risk a chimney fire.

Gas fireplaces are as easy to maintain as they are to operate. No messy cleanup and no sweeping are necessary, though you might want to have a professional look at it every once in a while.

The Experience

Advantage: Wood

Granted, gas log fireplaces are as easy to use as opening a valve, but something’s missing. Sure, it generates heat and looks like a “traditional” fireplace, but it’s just not the same experience. Where’s the snap and crackle of the logs as they heat up? Where’s the intoxicating aroma of a wood fire? As far as the experience goes, a wood fireplace is the only fireplace in my book.

On paper, it may appear as though it’s a split decision between wood and gas. But in practice, the benefits of a gas fireplace far outweigh the ambiance and free fuel.

If you’re a casual fireplace user that just wants to turn it on a couple times per year for family photos or a romantic evening, gas is the way to go.

What do you think? The natural charm of wood, or the convenience of gas? Tell us in the comments!


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This Post Has 17 Comments

  1. It got me when you said that gas fireplaces will be able to be turned on with just a switch. I guess I will be choosing this instead since I can be impatient with lighting up wood. Honestly, I might also cause an accident because I do not trust my skills with that.

  2. Well for a couple in their late 60s gas fireplace is the right thing. We don’t have the energy to get wood from outside daily especially in very cold weather

  3. We have a propane fireplace now and absolutely hate everything about it. I have to sit right in front of it to feel any warmth. The smell is horrible. And I won’t get started on the cost and issues of having to schedule the filling up of the tank. We use our fireplace almost every day during winter time. And I truly miss the authentic wood burning fireplace.
    I’m looking at converting it to wood burning.

  4. I can’t believe you didn’t include the most important factor to weigh: air quality. “The dirty truth is that wood burning fireplaces emit 28 lbs of particulate emmissions per MMBtus of heat output (soot and ash) as opposed to natural gas which produces up to 99% less (about .28 lbs/MMBtu). This means that natural gas fireplaces pose less of a risk of in-home air pollution or smoking out one’s neighbors as well. “

  5. Well after reading these comments so far it seems to be about 50/50 which is better. We have a very old wood burning insert that we have used for 10 seasons and it needs to be retired. It blows out horrible dust and dirt, I hate the thing. I was convinced we should go gas but then I considered the cost hmmmm. The other thing however I ask myself how long as we grow older do we want to split wood (with a splitter of course) and tote it in the house? Decisions are tuff sometimes … But the fact is we do have oil heat, and a gas fire place in another room… I think for the sake of cost…the new wood insert will win. It’s also a great thing to have around in the winter when you loose power… which has happened a few times. The initial cost up front will be the price of the new insert, but you can’t put a price tag on your health what you are breathing in….dust… yuck… and hopefully in time the new one will pay for itself. And besides, cutting and tote’n wood keeps you young!!

    1. I’m glad we were able to help you come to that decision. Splitting wood would definitely keep you in shape. That’s for sure!

  6. We love our natural gas fireplace! My kids and I can use it daily with or without my husband around. Keeps us nice and warm in the common area/living room without the smoke and fumes. Great to look at, too!

  7. I have a gas fireplace that can be used with wood as well. My mom suggests using the gas to start my logs and admits that clean up is a pain. They prefer the clean up over gas though. My only concern is that my fireplace is a white stone cast and I’m a little hesitant about getting soot and ash on it…although maybe it will add to its charm.

    We live in Texas. We will only be able to use the fireplace for two, maybe three months.

    Either way, it will sure beat using the fireplace DVD that had been running nonstop last year!

  8. I always get pretty cold during the winter, so I love sitting in front of fireplaces and warming up. When I get my own place, I hope to have a fireplace. I will have to consider what you’ve said about the advantages of both gas and wood. Right now, I’d probably lean towards the gas one just because it is easy to maintain and get started.

  9. Although I want a new wood stove, and I enjoy the work to gather the wood and chop it up, my husband wants gas because it’s easier. But we live down a private driveway that doesn’t have a gas line. We’d need to install a propane tank outside our home. I don’t relish the idea of a tank of something potentially hazardous sitting in our yard.

    I also like the ambience of a wood stove way better than gas.

  10. I live in Wisconsin, I Love my wood fireplace, I use it to help heat & for romantic evenings, my friend has a gas fireplace,not nearly as appealing to me.

  11. Well..I have 2 wood burning fireplaces in my home here in Canada.I never pay for wood although I live in the city. I cut it outside city limits. Yes there is a cost with fuel to get it,maintaining the chainsaw..fuel oil etc.I bought a wood splitter cheap 200 bucks. And the work involved as well can be a trouble for the colder weeks my fireplaces never stop they burn 24/ keeps my gas bill way down..keeps my toes warm..I cook occasionally on them, steaks and pretty much the whole meal. I myself would not trade them for gas fireplace if you paid me. It would be like watching the stove burn..and there’s no fun in that. I enjoy chopping wood and the whole thing. If I happen to miss a gas payment at least I can stay warm.

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