Tips For Achieving The Look And Feel Of A Masonry Fireplace In Your Modern Home

Posted on: 3 December 2020

In the past, most homes were designed and built with one or more masonry fireplaces to provide the household with a source of heat, as well as a way to cook food and heat water. But as more efficient heating options were designed, fireplaces become an optional design feature or were omitted entirely. While there are still many older homes in existence equipped with fireplaces, those who want to enjoy the warmth and beauty of a fireplace in a newer home often feel their only option is to install a gas or electric freestanding fireplace. 

Homeowners who truly want the authentic look and feel of a masonry fireplace in their home may still be able to achieve their dream by taking advantage of newer materials and construction methods. 

Modern materials overcome foundational limits

Unlike lightweight gas or electric fireplaces that are placed on the floor or a wall, a real masonry fireplace is likely to weigh several thousand pounds. Since the foundation of most modern homes was not designed to support this type of extreme weight, homeowners who want to enjoy the benefits of a masonry fireplace will need to find a way to overcome their home's foundational limits.

One of the easiest ways to do this is to utilize modern material options to greatly reduce the total weight of the project. For example, instead of using real stone on the visible portions of the fireplace and chimney, homeowners can choose to use engineered stone, which looks real but is much thinner and lighter in weight. Mantels and hearths can also be built with engineered stone or with decorative wood to further reduce weight. 

Fireplace contractors can also build the chimney from lightweight wood in the shape of a traditional masonry structure. The exterior is then covered with engineered stone to provide an authentic appearance. Inside the chimney chase, insulated stainless steel flue pipes can be used to provide safe venting for the fireplace below. When correctly sized and installed, insulated stainless steel flue pipes are recognized as safe flue options for residential structures, but weigh only a fraction of the weight of a real masonry flue. 

Insert instead of a real firebox

While traditional masonry fireplaces were designed to burn wood, they were not efficient because much of the heat produced escaped through the flue. Since modern homeowners are likely to want both the look of a real fireplace and the benefit of efficient heat, they can use an insulated, efficient fireplace insert as the firebox portion of their new fireplace. Doing this will allow them to burn wood safely and efficiently, while also ensuring the fireplace weight remains within a safe range for their home's foundation. 

To learn more about installing a fireplace in your current home that will have the look and feel of masonry, at a fraction of the weight, contact a reputable fireplace contractor in your area, or check out a website like