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Finishing Off Your Gas Fireplace

If your fireplace is intended more for aesthetics than for heat, you can buy an insert unit without metal grilles around the firebox. Some designs suggest the look of a traditional masonry fireplace, which allows you to use tile, brick, or stone to trim the firebox--right up to its edges.

click for your no obligation quoteBut most heat-generating units need a grille at the bottom to pull cool air in from the room and another grille at the top to push warm air out. Some manufacturers offer designs that mask the grilles for a cleaner, more decorative look.

A surround made from such materials as cast iron, ceramic tile, or stone nicely complements a gas unit. Although you can create your own surround, manufacturers now offer ready-made designs.

If you can't decide on a permanent look for a surround, consider a frame system that allows you to change the tile. This type of frame attaches to the drywall around the unit. The tile slips into the framework and doesn't require adhesive or grout. Altering the look of the surround to go along with the changing seasons or a new room decor simply requires a fresh batch of 4x4-inch tile.

1. This traditional, direct-vent gas fireplace features a filigreed front in pewter that hides the grilles. Model CNXT70 by Heatilator, $2,700 *;

2. Grilles on this gas fireplace insert are masked by a cast-iron surround that harks back to wood-burning stoves. A green enamel finishes the old-fashioned look. Model RHE32 by Majestic, $3,052 *;

3. Though it looks permanent--and elegant--the tile surround on this direct-vent gas fireplace is actually a frame that attaches to the drywall. Tiles slip in and can be changed at whim. Model SL950TRC by Heat-N-Glo, $1,299 *;