If you have been dreaming of installing a fireplace in your home for those extra cold nights but are not sure what type of fireplace to purchase look no further. There are multiple options available with both pros and cons so it is best if you carefully consider your lifestyle, requirements and desires so that you can decide which fireplace will serve you best for many years to come. 

Types of Fireplaces

Wood Burning Fireplace

A real wood burning fireplace creates an atmosphere that is unmatched. The sound of the crackling wood, the soft glow of light and the warmth that fills a room. There is nothing like curling up in a big comfy chair with a mug of hot coco next to a roaring fire. While this choice may seem appealing it is probably one of the most costly and labour intensive units to have installed. A heat resistant insert, hearth and chimney must be considered. In some cases entire walls have to be opened up and electrical or plumbing must be rerouted. Depending where you live, meeting local building codes can be costly and time consuming. You must also consider maintenance, fire hazards and repairs.


  • Unmatched atmosphere
  • If you have access to free wood you could cut down on heating costs
  • Renewable fuel source
  • Warmth fills a room
  • You can cook foods or roast marshmellows


  • Chimney must be swept to reduce fire hazard
  • Must add wood logs to keep the fire burning
  • Fire must be started and put out by hand
  • Must stoke the fire to keep it burning ( can be a pro if you enjoy this )
  • Can be dirty or messy
  • Higher fire hazard

Gas Fireplace

A gas fire place is a great alternative to a real wood burning fireplace. Since there is a flame you do get the appearance of a real wood fire burning just without the crackling wood sounds. The heat fills the room just as well and is equally enjoyable. This option is more cost effective and less invasive to install. You will still require an exhaust to the exterior but nothing nearly as costly as a brick chimney. Usually a metal or PVC flue vents directly outside.


  • Easy to use
  • Not necessary to add fuel since its hooked up to natural gas
  • Clean
  • Less chance of a fire hazard since soot does not build up
  • Does not require regular chimney sweeps
  • Can be turned on or off with the flick of a switch
  • Can be inserted into existing fireplaces
  • Safer since you do not need to add wood or stoke the fire


  • Potential for a gas leak
  • Not as fun or involved ( can be a pro if you want something easy to use )

Free Standing Ethanol Fireplace

Probably one of the most cost effective fireplace solutions to achieve a natural flame. They come in a variety of sizes, shapes and colours and can be installed virtually anywhere. They are clean burning so no vent or exhaust is required which means money would be saved on labour. They do require lighting and extinguishing by hand but it is relatively easy to do. Ethanol fuel can be easily poured into burner and can be used for next time if it is not all used.


  • Very cost effective
  • Easy to install
  • Can be placed or installed virtually anywhere
  • Can be easily moved again and again
  • Different models available (wall mounted, table top, inserts )
  • Clean burning no fumes or exhaust needed
  • Very clean
  • Very small fire hazard ( can be installed on the wall out of the way of pets and children )
  • Can be used in warmer months since less heat is produced


  • Must add ethanol and light by hand
  • Half as much heat produced

Electric Fireplace

I would consider electric fireplaces more along the lines of a space heater. Some can be plugged into any outlet whereas others are installed as an insert. They are extremely easy to use and essentially pose no fire risk. They do not produce a real flame but instead its an illusion created with light bulbs, mirrors and foil.


  • Some models do look good while others can look cheap
  • Warms a room well
  • Easy to use
  • Very low fire risk
  • Clean


  • Not a real flame
  • Not as fun
  • If electricity is out there is not way to use it

Things to Consider When Choosing a Fireplace

  • Room and location where you want to install the fireplace
  • Local building codes
  • Cost and time required to install the fireplace
  • Future maintenance
  • Potential fire hazards
  • How often you plan to use it
  • Resale value
  • Cost of fuel required
  • Heat requirements
  • Whether you have children or pets
  • Space available
  • Chimney or vent location

Happy Decorating!

AuthorCamille Pacori