Fireplaces now come
with two, three, even
four, glass sides.
BY BETH SMITH
ireplaces are hot. Several in-
dustry leaders are actively
involved in developing new
technologies to improve
fireplaces and to make them more en-
Among these manufacturers is Ma-
jestic, which has introduced its new
Free-Flame Fireplace. This model re-
duces wood pollution by more than
50 percent, emits fewer grams of car-
bon monoxide per hour, and
enhances heat performance by pro-
ducing more heat with less wood.
Heatilator, another manufacturer, is
touting what it calls an SX Pellet Fired
Appliance, a free-standing fireplace-
like device that burns pellets made
from wood, agricultural waste prod-
ucts or coal.
Superior, a third manufacturer, of-
fers Stoveplace II, a high heat-
producing unit that looks like a
fireplace but works like a stove.
PHOTOGRA PH S BY MA RK WIELAND
Flip The Switch
Right now, the hottest fireplaces on
the market are those that use natural
gas or propane. While wood-burning
fireplaces still appeal to traditionalists,
gas fireplaces are popular with peo-
ple who like having a fire with the flip
of a switch.
Pre-engineered gas fireplaces come
with glass doors and log sets which,
in some models, can be ignited via
a wall switch or by remote control.
Since they run on either natural gas
or propane, they burn much cleaner
than wood, putting less pollution in
"The gas fireplace attracting the
most interest at our store is the direct
vent model," says Peter Stuart, presi-
dent of Federal Fireplace. "It is direct-
ly vented, just like a clothes dryer,"
he adds. There is no chimney, so that
cuts down on cost. Plus it is a closed-
system — the glass does not open —
and that meets the numerous safety
requirements for bedrooms, where a
lot of people want to add a fireplace.
But their greatest appeal, adds Mr.
Stuart, is ease of use. Older people
especially like the fact that they don't
have to get involved with wood — or
with ashes, smoke, tools and
Wood-burning fireplaces can be
converted to gas, but not the other
way around. You cannot convert gas
fireplaces to use with wood.
Make Mine Wood
Despite the convenience of gas
to $2,500 depending on the model,
and homeowners can expect to pay
about $3,000 to $3,600 for an in-
stalled, finished fireplace.
Of the two types of fireplaces in ex-
istence — masonry (built brick by
brick or stone by stone by a mason)
and pre-engineered (made in a fac-
tory, installed at the building site) —
pre-engineered are about half the
cost of comparable masonry units, ac-
cording to Jim Setree, of the dis-
tributing company Hearth and Home.
Pre-engineered fireplaces can be in-
stalled anywhere in a home, from a
kitchen to an upstairs master bath.
Because they are zero clearance, they
only need to be an inch or so away
from combustible materials. Because
they're not heavy, they don't need a
foundation like masonry fireplaces.
As if all that weren't enough, pre-
engineered fireplaces are more
energy efficient than masonry fire-
places (35 to 40 percent of the heat
stays in a room, compared to 10 per-
cent for masonry fireplaces). No
wonder that 60 percent of fireplaces
being installed in new homes are now
Above: An irregularly shaped stone
Manufacturers like Majestic, Supe-
fireplace enhances a Colonial
rior, Heatilator, Marco and Heat-N-
kitchen. Left: Elaborately carved
Glo are fueling interest in the market
woodwork and black marble create a
with high design models that fit easily
into contemporary as well as tradi-
tional decors. One measure of their
fireplaces, there are people who in- success is the fact that 80 percent of
sist that only a wood-burning new homes being built today include
fireplace is the "real thing." Pre- fireplaces.
Besides the classic front-view
engineered wood-burning fireplaces
provide all the sights, smells and models, fireplaces are now available
sounds of wood-burning masonry with two, three, even four glass sides.
fireplaces. In fact, many are designed These innovative fireplace designs
to look like masonry units, down to can be used in a number of configura-
fireboxes lined with refractory tions. See-through fireplaces, which
give a full-fire view to two different
Several new styles of wood-burning areas, serve as room dividers. Units
fireplaces are now on the market. with glass on a short side and a long
Wood-burning fireplaces, with chim- side are used as corner fireplaces.
ney included, are priced about the Superior's Corneramic model fea-
same as gas fireplaces. The parts for tures curved glass rather than the
a system generally run from $1,200 traditional straight-edged design. A
FALL '91 51