Our Technical Director, Peter Mintoft has provided a few answers to questions we are sometimes asked by people in the trade, and more technically inquisitive customers with regards to our fires.
Double sided stoves and premium gas fires are available that have a fire viewing window both sides enabling installation into a partition wall between rooms. They may be cassette type built in fireboxes or more commonly freestanding units. The key is to create a chamber between the rooms in question with the flue pipe or chimney rising as directly above the chamber as possible.
For masonry construction appropriate load bearing lintels will be required above the chamber. Stoves can produce a huge amount of heat so if using stud construction serious consideration needs to be given to heat effects. Timber above the stove or fire is a risk and so non-combustible metal stud materials plus properly rated heat proof boards are strongly recommended.
Open fires can also be installed in this way but open fires are very inefficient and smoky and should be exchanged for a modern closed stove for financial fuel cost, environmental and practical reasons.
A wood burner can be sited in a number of places in the home and modern freestanding stoves, plus twin wall metal flue systems allow fires to be placed where it was thought to be virtually impossible or certainly uneconomical up until a few years ago.
UK fireplaces are typically on outside walls or party walls but in other parts of the world masonry stoves and fireplaces are built into the centre of the home for better efficiency, and heat retention within the building.
Wherever you consider placing a stove give consideration to the flue system and keeping it as straight as possible with good overall height for best efficiency of operation and safety. Common placements for a stove are in a living room, kitchen or conservatory.
Whilst it is possible to place a stove somewhere unusual such as beneath a staircase, in a bedroom or other situation, the limitation might be clearances to combustible materials or getting a practical flue pipe run above it.
Gas fires and stoves are available with balanced flues, which can go straight through a wall to the outside of a property, and whilst they need a gas supply pipe laid in they do not always require a flue pipe to rise above the stove like a conventional flued version.
Outdoor fires are becoming more popular and the main considerations need to be surrounding safety. The obvious points are keeping a safe distance from combustible materials to prevent the spread of fire, and a sensible selection of materials used surrounding the fireplace need to be considered carefully.
Contain the fire in a robust 100% non-combustible way with stone, refractories or steel and keep a large, safe distance from your property or any timber garden buildings. A less obvious consideration is the gases produced by combustion and making sure that any smoke is kept away from areas of human occupation.
Products of combustion contain highly toxic carbon monoxide (CO) as well as chemical compounds and dusty particulates. Simple outdoor devices such as charcoal barbecues cannot safely be taken into enclosed areas due to the CO in the combustion gases and the same applies to any kind of outdoor fire. Stay safe and keep any fires well away from enclosed spaces, remembering especially young children, the elderly or infirm.
A plethora of materials can be used in and around a fireplace. The main consideration, dependent on the positioning, is heat resistance as invariably any fire or woodburner will put out a significant amount of radiant and convected heat.
Reclaimed brick or other hard masonry materials can give a classic traditional look even in a new build or recent restoration and when combined with cast iron components, a period look can be re-created.
More sophisticated and therefore usually more expensive materials such as marble or more consistent micro marble are always popular but allow for reduced heat resistance from the resin content of micro marbles.
Tiles are becoming more popular in fireplaces once again with ceramics being finished in a wide range of surface finishes from riven slate right through to smooth metallic. A notable current trend is for a rustic or distressed timber finish beam (preferably non combustible material) above a chamber with a stove recessed inside. Often the chamber will be lined with stone edge tiles giving a rustic mosaic style patterning.
5kW output wood burners are by far the most popular UK sizing, offering good powerful heating capacity without permanent air bricks being required so long as enough air supply is available.
Smaller stoves are available as well as much larger ones. A guide to stove sizing is available from C&J, just search for the free StoveRight app to download on your handheld device or tablet.
The styling of wood burners or fires have moved well away from the elaborate cast iron or brass clad designs of yesteryear to a leaner era of design. Stoves with a classic look are still widely available but usually much more refined and often with a much larger air washed fire viewing window than previously available.
European stoves are a growth area with much more modern neat and functional designs typically incorporating very large glass windows. Current trends are for plainer more neutral colours and have moved away from elaborate decoration and patterning, but ultimately individual choice rules. A fire and fireplace for your individual style of décor and property can definitely be accommodated whether it be classic Victoriana right through to ultra cool modern chic.