We’re In, We’ve Started – Let’s Talk Process!
As my family and I have started on our gigantic renovation/remodel of our new home (read my first blog here), we have heard so much talk of “process” and “steps”. Every trade has a flow that they want to see happen and working outside of that flow is much harder and more time/cost intensive than it needs to be.
The fireplace industry is no different, and I want to take the opportunity to talk about what takes place between having the idea to do a renovation involving a fireplace to that first coffee on the couch in front of the fireplace after the renovation is finished – and why these steps are so critical.
I’ll also outline why going out of order with these steps can be so costly (in the same way that my painter doesn’t want to paint a ceiling over fresh, brand new tile flooring – time means money in a reno!)
Fireplace Purchase Flow:
First step: learn what options are out there and get educated!
How do you as the client want this fireplace to feel after it’s been installed and finished?
Sorting out your cosmetic vision (and this is where a picture from Pintrest or our idea book in the store can be helpful!) is important. Visually, Mendota brings a huge amount to the table with realistic logs, and a wide array of designer fronts/ doors, so we knew we were going to be happy with the Mendota fireplace. But how do you want the fireplace to function? Function can impact design. For example, my heat distribution kit from Mendota will impact how I finish my fireplace (more on that in another blog).
You can read the first blog to find out a bit more about the process of research and pros and cons we went through to make the decision about the fireplace we selected.
Second step: function, anyone?
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – most folks, most times, can get away with a decorative grade fireplace that takes the dampness out of 400-500 square feet, but is designed as a feature that provides supplementary warmth – not a priority heat source. Some folks don’t even need a fan for their fireplace!
So…why did I buy a heater grade fireplace for a 500 square foot space, reasonably well insulated with new windows?
The Mendota gas fireplace – as well as the Regency fireplaces that we work with – allow on certain models for remote heat transfer kits. Functionally speaking, my basement is freezing! This was the clincher for us upgrading to a heater grade fireplace, as decorative grade fireplaces typically don’t have this feature. We will use Mendota’s Versi-Heat Kit to move heat into the basement off of the fireplace on the main floor. This also plays into our design for our fireplace finish – our finish will need to conceal our Versi-Heat system.
Third step: placement & venting!
We picked the center of our living room for our fireplace placement. This location allows easy access to the unfinished portion of our basement for both running the ducting for the heat transfer kit and routing the electrical/gas piping supply. We knew that because we were placing the fireplace on an interior wall, we were going to pay a bit extra and have a rigid direct vent system (chimney) installed and flashed through our roof with offsets (there’s an old original roofline in our attic that we had to elbow around…twice).
Fourth step: install day!
The only thing that we had done in advance of installation of the fireplace was building a platform for the fireplace to sit on. There’s absolutely no need for any framing or finishing to be done in advance of the fireplace installation – and it can make installation very difficult if framing has been done. Installation went smoothly – other than having to cut through several layers of original ceiling and roofing, installation was straightforward.
Fifth step: accessories (may not apply to every fireplace)
We’ll be installing the Versi-heat kit and testing it out over the next couple of weeks because after a fireplace is framed in, making changes can be extremely challenging, and may require a bit of “demo” in the worst case scenario. What we want to ascertain in our specific situation is whether or not a second Versi-heat kit is needed to adequately move around the heat to the basement. We also are going to fully assemble the Grace Front that we ordered for our Mendota fireplace to make sure that no matter what finish we do, the front of the fireplace will go on properly (nothing worse than finishing a fireplace and your safety screen/front won’t go on!)
Sixth step: design
Using the manufacturer’s certified installation instructions and paying close attention to the clearances to combustibles and the mantel clearances, start researching and brainstorming how you’d like to finish around the fireplace. For us, with drawing so many influences and design notes from wood, we’re using 1×10 roofing pine, installed horizontally, floor to ceiling and doing a 4 inch “picture frame” surround in a Chevron tile, backed with cement board – not drywall – in order to meet clearances to combustibles. We’re installing a beam mantel – at the appropriate clearance above the fireplace.
Seventh step: exhausted yet? Enjoy!
Fireplaces need a lot of planning in order to make sure that all of nitty gritty (the clearances are met, the function is going to match with design), but once things are done, there’s just no renovation quite as much fun as a fireplace installation – with all the design flourishes and options/accessories available on modern fireplaces, you truly can design a one of a kind fireplace for yourself!
We’re your fireplace experts – and we’d love to chat with you about a design all your own!