Buying Guide

Types of Fireplaces and Mantels

Fireplace Types

There are three primary fuels that are used to generate heat in fireplaces:

  • Wood-burning fireplaces generate enough heat for an average size room, and they fill the house with pleasant aromas.
  • Natural gas burning fireplaces come with an endless supply of gas fuel.
  • Electric fireplaces are great for rooms where ventilation is not possible.

Wood burning fireplaces require ongoing maintenance. Plan to clean out the ashes regularly, have your chimney inspected and cleaned annually to keep it free of soot and creosote.

Natural gas fireplaces require much less ongoing maintenance, but do require ventilation, so make sure the room in properly ventilated before using one.

Newer electric fireplaces feature LED lights, so less electricity is used. But if there is a power outage, you’ll need an alternative heating source to heat your home.


Mantel styles can be as plain or as extravagant as you'd like. Whether you prefer a classic, modern, Victorian or Colonial look, you’re sure to find a mantel to match your decorating tastes.

  • Mantels are typically made from wood, stone, concrete or other composites.
  • They also provide functionality as you can use them to display flat-panel TVs, pictures, books or decorative items.
  • Some mantels are available as kits that come partially assembled, making them easy to install.
Fire Safety
Fire Safety - Fireplaces and Mantels

Whether you decide to build and install the mantel yourself or hire a professional, you need to ensure it meets or exceeds your local building codes for fire safety.

  • Most regulations require at least 12 inches of clearing space between the mantel and the top of the fireplace.
  • The hearth size should extend at least 6 inches beyond the width of the fireplace on both sides.
  • Mantel dimensions start outside the surround, not the firebox.

To ensure you have the proper height and width of your mantel, consult the diagram:

A - Width of stone facing

B - Depth of stone facing

C - Height of stone facing above hearth

D - Hearth width beyond stone facing

E - Hearth height above floor

F - Distance(s) to nearby obstructions

G- Width of firebox opening

  • Combine measurements C and E to obtain total height.
  • Add a cushion to your measurements to avoid overlapping corners, windows, gas valves and more.
  • Full surround mantels: Add 19 inches to A, 6 inches to B and 12 inches to C.
  • Shelf mantels: Add 8 inches to A, 4 inches to B and 4 inches to C.