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Why a Wood-Burning Fireplace is Worth the Investment

It's time to rekindle your romance with an old flame: the wood-burning fireplace.

Written by Donna Peak
If you’re like most people who love timber homes, having an exposed timber frame isn’t the only place you want to enjoy the warmth of wood. An all-natural, wood-burning fireplace ranks high on the wish lists of many a homeowner. Sure, gas units are convenient to operate. With the flick of a switch or, these days, a voice command, you can have instant fire. But when it comes to creating true ambiance… the aroma of the wood, the crackling of the logs, the glowing embers… a real wood fire is hard to beat.

Looking to add a genuine wood-burning hearth to your timber home? Warm up to a few of our favorite options.

Traditional Masonry Fireplace

This is the Mack Daddy; the Bentley of the wood-burning fireplace world. A site-constructed masonry fireplace carries with it an air of prestige and grandeur; however, there is a price to pay for all this luxury, with costs averaging $10,000 or more. You also need to plan for it early in the home-design phase, as it’s not easy to retrofit a structure for a hearth of this scale. In most cases, the foundation must be reinforced to accept its weight, and when it comes to a timber home, you have to take the frame’s positioning into account as well. Masonry fireplaces don’t have the greatest reputation for energy efficiency, either, as a lot of the heat you generate escapes through the chimney. Leave the damper open when not in use, and you are inviting outside air indoors. But all cons aside, the exquisite beauty this kind of fireplace brings to a timber home is unparalleled.

Pre-engineered Wood-Burning Fireplace

Though it’s hard to touch the craftsmanship and elegance of a site-built masonry hearth, today’s pre-engineered wood-burning fireplace manufacturers continue to heat up the market. An insulated metal firebox is usually lined with light-weight brick, allowing it to be installed within inches of combustible materials, and the units cost a fraction of the price of a full masonry hearth. Couple these cost savings with their highly efficient combustion and heat-transfer rates, as well as their classic styling, and these beauties are a fantastic timber home choice. The unit shown is Travis Industries’ 36 Elite™, which can heat up to 2,500 square feet, has a maximum burn time of 10 hours and boasts up to a 73-percent efficiency rating.

Wood-Burning Stove

Today’s wood stoves marry traditional and modern styling into one efficient unit. Flexible placement and venting, exceptional heating capabilities and old-fashioned charm are only a few of the benefits a wood-burning stove has to offer. Plus, they’re inexpensive to operate and easy to maintain. Some models even double as stove tops, capable of heating a variety of foods or warming a kettle. This stove, from Quadra-Fire offers automatic combustion control and 51,000 BTUs, enabling the compact unit to heat an area as large as 2,600 square feet.

Soapstone Fireplaces & Heaters

Sleek, clean lines and a European flair are hallmarks of freestanding soapstone fireplaces and heaters. Though they come in a variety of colors and textures, their smooth bluish-gray hue is their calling card. But these beauties provide many more advantages than mere good looks. To operate, you only need a small amount of wood to enable the unit to burn a short, very hot fire. The soapstone absorbs the heat and radiates it softly and steadily back into the room for hours, even after the fire is out.

By reducing the amount of wood you need, you’ll save money on fuel. Plus, well-made soapstone units are clean burning, allowing you to bring the warmth and ambiance to spaces like master bedrooms or kitchens (some models even boast a bake oven!) This unit is industry leader Tulikivi’s new Nietta design. A “modular” approach to the unit allows you to adjust the height to fit your space and features integrated wood storage for convenience.

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