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You are here:TRI-COUNTY BRICK/Blog/Fireplaces/Fireplaces vs Fireplace Inserts

Fireplaces vs Fireplace Inserts

A friend of mine was researching fireplaces. He wanted to replace the old wood burning one that came with his home. He asked me what was the difference between a fireplace and a fireplace insert. I mean they look the same, and they all make fire, so how do you know what you need? At first I didn’t have a good answer. As it turns out, confusion aside, there is a clear difference between these two. But after doing some reading, I was able to help my friend. With any luck, this article will help you figure out what you need and end the much heated (yes, literally) debate as to the difference between a fireplace and a fireplace insert.


When you think of a fireplace, you think of an opening (keyword open) in the wall with a flue above it to remove/vent the smoke. Some fireplaces have glass doors on the front, or a screen making it look closed. Basically, a fireplace is either built one of two ways: masonry or factory built.


Masonry fireplaces are constructed by builders, and are almost always made out of brick. However, some more upscale fireplaces are made of stone and even tile. This connects seamlessly to the flue and chimney in your home as one element.


Factory Built

Factory built fireplaces are a metal box, sometimes made with or without refractory bricks inside to be framed into a house without masonry. They are usually installed in framed walls and encased in non-combustible materials while the home is being built. Nowadays, a lot of new homes have gas fireplaces, but the standard for older homes is usually wood burning.

You can get a fireplace after your home has been built; it just requires a little bit of a renovation. A cavity will have to be created and venting allowed for, either by installing a chimney or applicable venting, or by buying a vent free fireplace (only available in certain states – check your local by-laws).


Fireplace Inserts

A fireplace insert can burn gas, wood, or pellets, and is inserted into an existing masonry fireplace; just like a stove can be. If you have a masonry fireplace that needs a facelift, an insert is there to fill the gap and rejuvenate your room. This means that it will exclusively take the place of your masonry fireplace, by connecting the insert to the chimney and flue leading outside. Sure this looks very similar to a fireplace, but it is definitely not the same thing. While you may not see the difference at first glance, there are many styles that make inserts and mason fireplace look very similar. Inserts are a low cost option compared to a complete renovation to install a gas fireplace, or completely replace your existing masonry fireplace. This is yet another reason why Inserts are so versatile. A fashionable choice, inserts can change the ambience of a room from traditional or rustic to contemporary.

Stoves can be installed as freestanding units, and can also be considered inserts because they are sometimes vented out of your existing chimney. You can take a look at our range of wood, gas and pellet stoves here.

Which one is best for you?

Quick Reference Guide
Get a Gas or
Wood Fireplace
Get an Insert
(Pellet, Gas, Wood or Stove)
I don’t have any fireplace at all
I have an older wood burning fireplace
I have an existing gas fireplace
I have a chimney but no fireplace
I’m having a house built
I want to save money

**This is a quick reference guide.
**Please consult a professional to ensure you get the right product for your home and lifestyle.


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