Fireplace Glass Doors, What You Need to Know
Fireplace doors and enclosures have been popular additions to the hearth for decades. These accessories can be functional, aesthetic, or both. It is important to note that not all fireplaces can use all doors. Certain fireplaces; such as, air cooled and zero clearance fireplaces require the use of approved doors. Masonry fireplaces can use just about anything, but most gas only units cannot have any change or addition of a door kit. In some previously written articles we cover the differences in fireplaces, and you can find those on our blog to determine which you have.
Masonry Fireplace Doors
Masonry fireplaces are by far the easiest to work with. The have very few restrictions on the type of door that can be used. Most doors for masonry fireplaces are constructed out of heavy steel and can be finished in almost any color or texture. With a masonry fireplace that is being used to burn wood the doors can have a huge advantage. When burning wood, it is commonly known that the damper must remain open throughout the night until the coals are cool to the touch. This results in MASSIVE air loss up the chimney, and usually results in a cold room/home upon waking up in the morning. Doors can easily combat this by simply closing them prior to retiring for the night. Closing the doors will help snuff out the fire, and drastically reduce the air loss up the chimney overnight. Fireplace doors for masonry fireplaces are also the most customizable and allow for some of the coolest finish outs.
Zero Clearance, Pre-fab, Air Cooled, and Manufactured Fireplace Doors (all the same thing)
Pre-fab fireplaces are the most commonly found wood burning fireplaces in homes built after 1990. These fireplaces use air cooled chimney systems and fireboxes to keep the walls and framing of the home safe from over heating and catching fire. Because these fireplaces are built to extract air from both the exterior and interior of the home to prevent fires; they all have restrictions for which type of door can be used. Doors found at big box stores are almost never approved for this use! Most of the doors used on this type of fireplace are aluminum, and generally fit a certain track or channel that was put in during the original manufacturing process. These doors are semi- customizable. Trim shape, finish color, glass color, and frame texture are a few of the things that can be customized.
Gas Only Fireplace Doors (B-vent/Vent-free/Direct vent)
In these fireplaces changing the trim or doors is very difficult. These are manufactured appliance that more closely resemble your microwave than a fireplace. These products are specifically manufactured to operate in a very specific way. They have built in systems for self-cooling, insulation, blower kits, and maintenance access. Due to this, the doors and glass panels have to be tested during the manufacturing phase in order to gain the required safety certifications. This testing and certification process is exceptionally expensive and requires repeated attempts prior to certifying. Because of this, the only doors or glass panels that can be safely installed on these units have to come directly from the original fireplace manufacturer and be designed for use with the specific model of fireplace.
Tips for properly operating a fireplace with doors installed:
- Fireplace doors must remain fully open while an active fire is present. Doors can only be fully closed once the fire has died down to a coal bed.
- When using gas logs, fire glass, or modern gas media the doors must remain fully open at all times while in use.
- For wood burning fireplaces some masonry doors can be gasketed for an extra tight seal.
- Tinting the glass on your doors can reduce the visibility of things like ashes or soot/smoke stains.
- Doors with shiny or polished finishes (brass, chrome, polished copper) should be cleaned regularly to prevent patina and discoloration. Check with the dealer or manufacturer to find out the appropriate cleaning method.
- Some chemicals when mixed with heat will strip the finish.
- Clean the glass monthly during the burn season, but weekly if you burn a lot of wood. This is especially important for wood burners. It will reduce the amount of elbow grease required and protect the coatings on the glass from undo wear and tear.
How to shop for doors
GO TO A DEALER! Don’t pay $300-600 for a door you cannot see. Finishes vary from manufacturer to manufacturer and a picture on a screen is NOT going to look the same in person. A qualified dealer will have samples you can see and feel in their showroom. Most doors found online are universal fit and have unsightly gaps or excessive mounting hardware that make them very unattractive. These door purchases usually end up being regretted and are often un-returnable once removed from the packaging. Also, a dealer can explain what the RIGHT door for your fireplace is, and they can help you determine what type of fireplace you have. Lastly, a dealer will help you with installation, proper measuring, and warranty support. Prior to visiting your dealer; you should take a photo and measurements of the fireplace. Visit our showroom in Plano and we will help you select the door that makes your fireplace pop!