Gas Fireplace vs. Traditional Fireplace: Which Is Best for You?

traditional fireplace

Home improvement projects and renovations are part and parcel of home ownership in the US. In fact, around 55 percent of homeowners tackled a renovation project in 2021.

One question that many homeowners don’t consider right up until the last minute is what kind of fireplace they want. While many homeowners like the idea of a fireplace, they don’t realize that there are several types of fireplaces available.

Two of the more popular options are the traditional fireplace and the gas fireplace. If you’re wondering which type of fireplace is best for you, keep reading for a look at both kinds of fireplaces as well as their pros and cons.

What Is a Traditional Fireplace?

The term traditional fireplace often leaves fireplace buyers a little confused. They typically assume that it means a fireplace that burns wood. While fireplaces that burn wood are certainly traditional, it’s not the wood burning that makes them traditional.

What makes a fireplace traditional is that it mimics a fireplace design from the past. So, for example, the types of fireplaces that you see in a Victorian home may look very different from the ones you see in an American Colonial-style home.

Traditional Fireplace Advantages

Traditional fireplaces offer a few key advantages. One of the biggest advantages is that they can make renovating or remodeling easier.

Let’s say that you bought a Victorian-style house. The last thing that you want is for your brand-new fireplace to clash with the aesthetic of the rest of the house. With a traditional fireplace, you can match the look of the fireplace to the existing design elements of the home.

Another key advantage of traditional fireplaces is that they offer fuel-type flexibility. You can get a traditional fireplace that employs wood, gas, or electricity. This flexibility makes traditional fireplaces an excellent choice regardless of location.

You also enjoy material flexibility with the stove itself or the mantel. For example, you can get a wooden mantel or marble mantel depending on your needs and preferences.

You can also choose between stone or brick for the stove itself. These options make it very easy to match a stove with your design choices or add a counterpoint to those choices.

Traditional Fireplace Disadvantages

Traditional fireplaces don’t create a lot of disadvantages, specifically, but they can create disadvantages depending on your specific choices. For example, if you want to replace an existing fireplace with a larger fireplace, that can add complicating elements. You may need more renovations in your home than you originally anticipated.

If you decide to go with a wood fireplace, that can also create disadvantages. Wood fireplaces, even efficient ones, create ashes. That means that you must clean out the stove periodically to remove those ashes.

You must also take care that you dispose of those ashes safely. If you don’t ensure that the ashes are completely cold, you can unintentionally set a fire.

Another potential disadvantage of a wood-burning stove is managing the fuel. For one thing, you must secure a steady supply of wood. You must also deal with the problems of seasoning wood if you buy wood in advance.

You must also take care that you get a proper chimney cleaning to prevent a chimney fire.

While none of these disadvantages pose overwhelming challenges for most homeowners, it’s important to understand them going into the fireplace buying process.

What Is a Gas Fireplace?

A gas fireplace serves the same essential functions as a traditional fireplace in that it provides supplemental heat and the presence of a fire in the home. What separates the gas fireplace is primarily the fuel source. These fireplaces typically run on natural gas or propane.

While natural gas is more common in urban and suburban locations, propane is more common in rural areas.

Gas Fireplace Advantages

Gas fireplaces offer several important advantages. One of the biggest advantages is that you can get a ventless fireplace that doesn’t need a connection to the outside world. That can prove particularly advantageous if you have a limited budget to remodel the stove.

You can also get versions of gas fireplaces that work with traditional chimneys. If you have an existing fireplace but prefer not to use wood, this is an excellent middle-ground choice.

Unlike wood, most urban and suburban areas have an infrastructure that routes natural gas directly into your home already for heating purposes. That means that you can connect your existing gas line to the fireplace with minimal trouble.

If you live in a more rural area and depend on propane, you have a tank to supply the propane to the stove.

Depending on the exact type and model of fireplace that you choose, you can get an open-front version that replicates a traditional fireplace. You can also opt for a see-through version that essentially acts as a closed system.

Gas Stove Disadvantages

While gas fireplaces do offer plenty of advantages, you will face some disadvantages. One of the key challenges is that the gas stove will not run if you lose power in your home. In most cases, they rely on electric ignition and electronic control.

Gas fireplaces don’t need substantial maintenance. In general, you can get away with it once a year if there are no problems with the stove. The catch is that you typically need a professional to carry out the maintenance, which you must consider as part of the ongoing costs.

Gas Fireplace vs. Traditional Fireplace

When it comes to the question of a gas fireplace versus a traditional fireplace, there isn’t an easy, one-size-fits-all answer. Choosing between them will depend on a wide range of factors such as your willingness to put up with renovations, your preferred fuel type, and your intended use.

If you only plan on using the fireplace for decorative purposes, either kind can work. If you want an emergency backup heat source, you’ll likely want a wood-burning traditional fireplace.

Dreifuss Fireplaces offers gas fireplaces and traditional fireplaces in the Philly area. For more information, contact Dreifuss Fireplaces today.

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