Everything You Need to Know Before Refacing Your Fireplace

Mar 14, 2019fireplace, installation

First, let’s talk about some of the “myth’s” or assumptions most home owners make about the process of refacing a fireplace.

Top 4 Myth About Fireplaces - Elegant Fireside and Patio


Myth #1

My contractor, designer, or architect knows how to properly reface a fireplace because they do it all the time.

Truth: Most contractors or trades people have ZERO knowledge of proper fireplace construction or installation. (although, most will say they do) There are many different types of fireplaces, and each of these have different requirements depending on the manufacturer, type of construction, fuel use, and local code requirements among many more variables. For this reason, home owners should always start this process by hiring a certified fireplace specialist to explain what can, and cannot be done in the refacing process. This will save time and money by preventing an entire project from being having to be scrapped and redone properly.


Myth #2

I am converting my existing wood burning fireplace over to gas, and I don’t need to follow the rules for a wood fireplace anymore.

Truth: A wood burning fireplace is always going to be a wood burning fireplace. The rules and regulations for a wood fireplace are centered more around clearances, air flow, heat transfer, and convection than the actual fuel being used. A wood burning fireplace can almost always be converted from gas back to wood, and thus has to maintain it’s integrity as a wood burning appliance. In addition, local codes do not acknowledge fuel usage, but rather appliance type when regarding regulations.


Myth #3

There is such a thing as fire-proof sheet rock.

Truth: Nope! All gypsum based sheetrock is covered in paper on both sides. The fire rated sheetrock you have seen in home improvement stores is actually used in commercial and multi-family construction. It’s fire rating references how long it takes to burn as opposed to it being flammable or not. Trust us that it is. Therefore, no amount of sheet rock can be used in the immediate area around a fireplace opening.


Myth #4

If I put tile, concrete board, stone, or brick over wood framing or sheetrock; it makes it safe and non-combustible.

Truth: It doesn’t. At all. Ever. Let’s apply some common sense to this. We can all agree that the burner on a stove is hot. We can all agree that cracking an egg directly onto the burner will make a messy burner and burned egg. So instead of cracking it directly on the burner, we place a (non-combustible) skillet in between the two. Now our egg cooks more controlled and slowly, but it cooks none the less and will burn if left unchecked.

By covering a combustible surface with a layer of non-combustible material all we are accomplishing is increasing the amount of time it takes for our combustibles to burn. So, much like the egg in the frying pan; our combustible wall will eventually burn too.

Here are a few photos to show you how NOT to reface a fireplace. Three of these photos even show paper covered drywall all the up to the edge of the open flame fireplace! The most important thing to note in these photos is that none of these are DIY by a homeowner. In every case these were large scale contractors doing remodels in the entire home, and not one of them consulted a fireplace specialist. Each of these had to be torn out and redone to pass home inspections at a later date.

You can visit our social media for more details about myth of fireplace. Refer to www.CSIA.org or www.NFIcertified.org to find a qualified fireplace specialist near you.

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