Fireplace Screens for Your Home

There are a variety of options when it comes to choosing among the various types of fireplace screens for your home. In the past, these items were strictly practical or functional items. They were really born of necessity in a time when the fireplace was used for a variety of heating and cooking needs. The screen was a tool used to prevent a

A more classic looking style, fairly basic. Photo credit

possible fire hazard. This is especially true when burning real wood logs in your fireplace. Now, there are areas of the country where homes are built with fireplaces that have no chimneys. These modern fireplace designs are more likely to burn natural gas or propane and don’t actually produce any soot or popping embers. They are usually decorated with an artificial log or fire glass. These fireplaces can still provide heat by venting into the room. For the most part, the fire provides more aesthetic ambiance than functional heat.  It’s actually not hard to do a fireplace refacing project yourself if you’d like to change the look or feel of yours.

Some modern hotels and hip spas have made outdoor fireplaces a big part of their design features. They use lava rock, fire glass in firepits or even have ‘fire channels’ that can be filled with these materials as well. These channels are essentially long – like 12-18′ – fireplaces that burn some type of gas fuel. These outdoor fireplace designs are a big attraction, especially at the outdoor bar and pool areas in the evenings. You can have this same effect at home, too.

However, this article is really more about the types of fireplace screen choices available to you. Both the decor of your home and the regional characteristics of fireplaces and designs govern the likely screen choices. In some areas of the country, the stone fireplace is a very popular choice. These can be natural stone or even cultured stone products. They can have a very rustic appeal to them and will give you many years of life as they are classic looking. The types of screens you’ll find with these are more commonly simple in design. Oftentimes, they are the style with feet that are just stood in front of the firebox area. They can either stand on their manufactured feet or, if they are a foldable design, can be folded to allow them to stand on their own. Fireplace grates are also an important feature that can be used for functional purposes of allowing air to oxygenate your fire, or for decorative purposes with logs or candles in the firebox area.

If your fireplace opening is large – wider than 36″ – then a simple screen is preferred. This has to do with the fact that such a large fireplace makes quite a statement in its own right. The screen, in this case, would take away from the grandness of it. Fireplaces with smaller openings can benefit from a more whimsical or elegant looking screen. Similar rules apply when talking about fireplace mantels. The larger surrounds need a simple, yet robust mantel. Smaller fireplaces can get by with a more unique or contemporary mantel piece.

Screens that are simple, like a rectangular shaped or arched shaped screen are perfect for most fireboxes. Some minor adornments or accessories can be used to accent the screen. You can also find more custom screens, which we’ll discuss shortly. Most screens are movable items that are just placed in front of the firebox itself. You can also buy a fixed unit that mounts around the opening with doors to allow access to the fire. Fixed units like these require very accurate measurements to make sure that your door assembly will fit and function properly. Gaps in the assembly can lead to fire hazards. This is why retrofit jobs can be difficult if you don’t have a standard fireplace shape or size.

The custom fireplace screens can be detailed with scrolls or include images of animals or figurines. The detail work is often done by hand with a quality screen. There are a variety of techniques that can be used to make them. Some screens are made using a solid piece of metal that is cut or punched to reveal this details. Other manufacturing techniques include casting. Then, there this is the cream of the crop, the hand-forged screen or blacksmith-employed forged pieces to adorn the screen.

There are also fireplace doors, as we discussed above. This model is usually sold as a bi-fold unit with two doors that slide open and closed, meeting in the middle. This allows access to the fire. Behind the doors, you’ll often find a mesh type of screen or hanging chain link screen. The fireplace glass doors are usually hung with metal frames. The mesh screen allows you to have the doors open but still prevent the embers from popping into your space.

Since the custom designed screen is fairly unique, let’s take a moment to comment on the features and pricing of those. Because of the actual work and time it takes to blacksmith or forge iron pieces, you will often pay quite a substantial bit more. However, these screens or pieces will be treasured for years to come. They will truly be heirloom quality if made by a true craftsman. You can spend thousands for a hand-forged fireplace screen like this with any degree of adornment or detailed figurines and such. For a bit less, you might opt for some custom fireplace tools instead. These can also be made by a blacksmith. They will last you the life of your fireplace and longer – again, items that can be passed on for generations.

Decorative Fireplace Screens

This fireplace and screen are definitely focal points Photo credit

Since these are a bit unique, it seemed wise to spend a minute on them. These screens are similar to the others, but with one main difference. As their name suggests, these screens are mainly for decoration or aesthetic purposes. They may help prevent some accidental fires, but they are not best suited for such activity. If you enjoy large or frequent fires in your home, then you may wish to have a decorative screen in addition to your other one for safety. Sometimes, people use the decorative ones for special occasions or holidays. They can add quite a bit of decor flair to your home as well.

These screens will typically be made by hand, too. For patterns that are repetitive in nature, the casting technique may be employed, especially for heavier gauge metal. For lighter or thinner pieces, it is possible to simply stamp them out.

If you do any bit of research or browsing, you may come across the term fireplace covers. These were common in the days of the potbelly wood burning fireplaces. These heavy gauge iron units would be used for all of the household heating and cooking duties. The fire would be burning inside the unit and cooked on, then the door would remain closed and keep those hot coals going for hours. The heat that these styles radiate is quite impressive. This style of heater/stove is still available and used in many regions of the world, including certain climates in the U.S. While you don’t need to worry about hot embers popping through, these items are extremely dangerous to touch, so there is a trade-off in that regard.

Then, there are more modern fireplaces that replace the log entirely with other decorative items. Things like candles and decorative arrangements are the most popular. You can even utilize some type of string lighting woven inside the fireplace around the grate and such. Not burning firewood certainly makes clean up easier, as long as you are careful of how the wax melts. These styles eliminate the need for fireplace tools entirely. However, you may wish to keep your tools nearby for a decorative effect.

The screens, themselves, can also provide for the candles to be mounted on them directly. These screens are the ones with those tea light holders for those smaller votive candles. Some have larger cups or bases that can allow for larger candles to be placed on them. These types of fireplace screens actually provide the fire and the decorative look in this case.



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