Fireplace Advice Please!(12 Posts)
We live in a house build about 1902. We still have the original fire surround, the fire place has been boarded over with a tiled board and a gas fire put onto the front so it is proud of the tiled back. The fire surround / mantlepiece is marble but has been painted. The hearth has also been tiled in the same tiles as the fireplace board.
So... the two questions I have are:
Should we see if we can open up the fireplace - are they efficient? The gas fire currently there is a lovely 80s model needs replacing, as although it works it is old and very inefficient. I think that the tiles are protecting the actual fireplace as they are flush with the edge of the fire surround, but we would have to remove & cap the gas fire to be sure. The other option is to get a gas fire and either sit it in the fireplace or block the fireplace back up and retile the surround. Either option would only really be for occasional use when it's very cold.
Secondly, the surround looks like it's been painted in normal, matt paint. Is this removable (I know marble is very delicate). The marble underneath is quite heavy & dark- black/ brown with gold & green veins through- but has been painted cream. If we can't remove the paint without damaging the marble should we look for "proper" heatproof paint if we want to open the fireplace up?
Hopefully this makes sense to someone . There is, of course, the option to rip everything out and replace it all but I feel reluctant to do that as I feel it belongs in the house.
Thanks for reading!
Fireplaces are generally not very efficient and you may well find that there are problems with the chimney if it has been boarded up for several years. If you restore it, it will look fabulous though (make sure that you get a chimney pillow to try and keep draughts from the chimney to a minimum). Have you not got any other way of heating the room and just have the fireplace as a decorative feature?
We have a radiator in the room which is usually good enough, the open / gas fire will be a back up heat source so it's not that crucial it's efficient but obviously it's a consideration.
It's more a case that we're going to decorate the room and are trying to work out what to do - the fireplace is pretty dominant in the room so we can't easily disguise it & pretend it's not there (sadly!).
We had the same in our Victorian property. We had an open fire installed but found a leak into the dining room chimney and as the flue was too narrow to get a big enough liner down for an open fire we went for a wood burner instead but kept the original surround. I have to say it is one of the best things I have ever bought! Our house is freezing pretty much all year around and the burner, although only a small one, heats both the stairs and the room above, and takes the edge off the cold in the rest of the house. It also looks lovely as with the surround it is still in keeping with the property. So much warmer than an open fire and also can be left while you go out so you come back to a lovely warm house.
Definitely worth looking into.
Wood burner - yes. Efficient and VERY warm. Can get multi fuel ones for coal and wood. Lovely. Open fireplace - no. Messy and draughty. Gas.......not to my taste but might be the simplest option for you. Good luck!
Think I've seen open fires are 20% effecient, woodburners 85% effecient.
But woodburners need wood - somewhere to store, bought up front, seasoned, brought in.... it's all a bit of a faff.... but they are cosy and very warm! OTOH you can't just light a woodburner for 20 mins on a chilly autumn eve (well you can but it would hardly get going in 20 mins). Getting a chimney liner installed is the most expensive bit (£800+), altho you can get woodburners for around £200. So horses for courses.
Re cleaning marble, think it might be worth tryinmg a bit of painst stripper on an inconspicuous spot to see how it works?
Thank you all for your really helpful advice!
We have been mulling over a wood burner as I went to a fireplace shop who said that the liners for woodburners can be more flexible than the open fire ones and given the age of the house it could be an easier option - weirdly despite this I've kind of blanked that as an option (I think because most of our neighbours have open fires). Will definitely look into them, and the idea that you can leave it burning more easily than an open fire is reassuring; I once stayed up until 1.30am in a previous house as I didn't want to leave the fire burning!
bringupthebabies that said you've made an ace point about the wood so i think we'll have a proper think and factor that in when weighing up cost as will probably need to buy something to keep the wood in the garden.
Will also have a proper look at gas fires, have found that you can get some that look like "proper" fires, although we'd have to check they worked ok with our fireplace.
Thank you again!
Storing wood - is a sort of faff but needn't be an expensive storage unit - they are easily built and we just use storage shelves from ikea that are really cheap, it's an old one, and we cover it in tarp. Job done.
We installed a woodburner last year in place of an open fire - it's over 80% efficient and very cosy! With the rising cost of fuel prices I think it's a really good option, and we definitely don't use our central heating as much.
We went for a cassette (Stovax Riva) that fits into the open fireplace with minimal building work, so we didn't have to open up the whole space. Not sure if that would work with your fireplace surround? It is controllable almost like a gas fire, so you can build up a roaring fire quite quickly and you can just let it burn down at night without worrying.
PS We use blocks made from compressed recycled sawdust (no need to season). It works out quite cheaply. I've read that you can often source recycled off-cuts from timber yards for free.
If you don't use it much I would go with with restoration and open...will look ace. Would imagine Eco paint strip would work on marble, works well albeit slowly.
I love our open fires, only light them for cosy nights in and they aren't super warm but are gorgeous. A chimney sweep will tell you how well your chimney is.
The fireplace efficiency is another's subject. To clean off the marble you can use nitromors. To remove the mush that is left you will need a Stanley blade in a plastic holder and then you can scrape off the paint but the blade must be as close as possible to the plane of the surface i.e must not be vertical or steep angle0-about 30 degrees.You can also use nor ferrous such as brass or copper that will not scratch the surface.
This advice also works for limescale on marble or granite.
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