Fireplaces | Fireplace Design, Fireplace Installation & Fire Surround Options in the UK
The vast choice of fireplaces now available in the UK mean that there are styles to suit all tastes and budgets. Choosing a fire and fireplace surround that are suitable for your home is not as simple as it sounds as consideration of your flue type will determine which type of fire will work safely in your home. This guide will explain everything you need to know about fireplaces including design ideas, current fireplace trends and offer a basic insight into fireplace installation and regulations.
Do I have a chimney or flue?
Long before central heating and double glazed windows, fireplaces were looked upon as a vital necessity in all homes. Houses were built with a chimney as a real fire was the only option to keep warm. Nowadays, most new build houses rely on radiators for their warmth and most are built without a chimney or flue. Older homes will usual have a Class 1 flue (real chimney). This is the best option as it means you can install virtually any fireplace and incorporate it with either a gas fire, electric fire or even a real coal fire.
Pre-cast flues feature in the majority of homes with chimneys built in the past 40 years. A Pre-Cast flue is constructed using concrete flue blocks within the cavity of the wall. This does limit the styles of fireplaces you can have as the total depth within the flue blocks is normally very shallow.
If your house does not have a chimney or flue, don't worry - there is still fireplace designs available that will suit both traditional and contemporary designed interiors.
The fireplace will be a major focal point to your room so choose a fireplace surround design that will fit into your existing decor. If you have wooden furniture perhaps choose a fire surround in a wood that will match? Fire surrounds are available in both veneer and solid woods including oak, pine, mahogany and lighter woods such as maple. Alternatively, stone fireplaces will blend in with any decor and the beauty of natural stone never goes out of fashion. Luxurious marble fireplace suites give any room a feel of grandeur! Many marble fireplace designs feature hand-carved corbels and shaped chest designs - marble fire surrounds are the perfect companion to all gas fires. Cast Iron fireplaces have become popular over recent years. The contrast of a black cast iron fire surround against a light painted wall creates a striking feature in both classical or modern designed homes. Cast Iron fireplaces are also available in polished finish giving a pewter/silver effect. Polished cast iron fireplaces are not suitable for combining with a real fire as the intense heat will result in the polished cast becoming tarnished.
Most people think of a fireplace as a fire surround with separate back panel & hearth (usually in marble). Whilst this option is still very popular, there is a large choice of other designs available. Wall mounted gas fireplaces are perfect for smaller rooms as subject to them being installed over a certain height, current regulations state that a hearth does not need to be fitted. This will save approximately 300mm of floor space. Electric fires are also now available in wall mounted options. These can either be inset into a wall resulting in the fire being virtually flush or hung on the wall for homes where no depth is available. Recently there has been a trend to install a flat-screen television above a fireplace. This is only possible on a few gas and electric fireplaces which produce minimal heat output.
Ultimately, the type of flue or chimney your house has will determine what type of fire you can combine with your new fireplace. Gas fires are available for all flue types and there is even gas fires suitable for homes without a chimney. If the fireplace is going to be installed on an external wall, balanced flue or powerflue gas fires vent the fumes horizontally through the wall rather than up a chimney. More recently, flueless gas fires have been introduced which feature a catalytic convertor that cleans the fumes produced allowing them to be installed in virtually any room in your home. High efficient gas fires are more popular than before due to their lower running costs. These glass-fronted gas fires offer efficiency of around 85% and can produce enough heat to heat an average sized living room.
Some modern electric fires feature ultra-realistic flame effect and even homeowners with a chimney are choosing electric fires due to the ability to flick a switch and have the warming glow effect without the need to use the heater function. Electric fires are available in all types of finishes including brass, chrome and stainless steel. Most use a ribbon flame effect technology which replicate the dancing flames of a real flame. Most electric fires feature a slim engine depth allowing them to be incorporated into most fire surrounds with a standard rebate.
Fireplaces are complex appliances and need a professional approach when looking at installation. The majority of fireplaces are supplied in sections and it is vital that a competent installer fits the fireplace to avoid any damage to the fireplace (especially on stone fireplaces which can be quite fragile). Building preparation is best started once you have the fireplace with you and most installations will require 2 people. The installation of gas fires in the United Kingdom requires the services of a Gas Safe registered installer. Failure to use a Gas Safe registered installer to install a new gas appliance is against the law and could be extremely dangerous putting you and your family at risk. It will also void any warranty on the gas fire.
The installation of electric fire and fireplaces is normally as simple as placing it where you want and plugging in. Most electric fireplace suites do not require to be permanently fixed and they can be moved around the room whenever you feel like a makeover!
Real fires and wood burning stoves should be installed by a HETAS registered installer to confirm that it meets with current regulations. Most competent HETAS installers will be able to carry out all aspects of fireplace installations including sweeping the chimney if needed, opening up the chimney and providing you with the necessary documentation to confirm that their installation meets with building regulation requirements.
Most gas fires will require some form of permanent ventilation into the heated space. It's a good idea to consult with your installer for gas, real fires and wood burning stoves before ordering your choice of appliance so they can check that any chimney is suitable and that any ventilation requirement can be met - you don't want to buy the appliance and then find that the installer cannot install it.
Whatever style of fireplace you're looking for, visit www.hotprice.co.uk for a fabulous selection of fireplaces and fire surrounds with delivery throughout the United Kingdom.