Essential Fireplace Accessories
Fireplaces are a great focal point to a room, and nice to have on cold nights. If you're lucky enough to have a fireplace though, you know that it takes some work to take care of. There are quite a few fireplace accessories that can make your job easier, so here's some ideas for handy fireplace tools if you're contemplating buying a house with a fireplace.
Let's face it fireplaces are messy. You've got to cut wood and drag it in, or at least buy wood and drag it in. Well, I guess you could always buy some fireplace logs from the store, but still you've got to burn them. After you're done burning anything you've got ashes. The fireplace logs you buy in the store will burn down more than a chunk of wood, but you'll still have ashes. One of the most useful fireplace accessory that you can get is a shovel, and along with that a small broom. A bucket to put the ashes in is useful too, but you can just use a garbage can, or put it right into a bag. Be careful and make sure that your fire has been out for awhile! If you've got a big bed of ash in your fireplace, it can act as an insulation to the hot coals. Your fireplace can still be hot in the morning. I remember that in my grandparents fireplace they'd always cover the hot coals with ash before they went to bed. In the morning they could brush away the ashes and the coals would be hot enough to start a new fire. You can use your shovel to scoop ashes out or move them around in your fireplace. Use your whisk broom to brush out any stray ashes, or clean off the area around the fireplace.
You can still find a lot of brass fireplace accessories out there, even some antique fireplace accessories. People have been using fireplaces for hundreds of years, and the old fireplace tools made by blacksmiths are still around. Of course you'll probably end up paying a premium price. Another very useful tool to have is a poker, or set of tongs - or both! While your fire is burning you'll want to move wood around to get it to burn properly, or it will shift and you might need to put it back in place. A poker can do the job, but tongs (almost like a big pair of salad tongs) can make the job easier so you can grab and move the log. All these things can be bought in a set that can sit attractively on the side of your fireplace.
A fireplace screen shouldn't be considered a fireplace accessory but a necessity, especially if you have carpet. Wood has pitch pockets and voids in it, especially softwood, and these pockets can pop when heated sending sparks out. They usually aren't flaming, but they could be hot enough to set something on fire, but they will definitely leave burn marks in carpet or linoleum - sometimes on wood if you don't scoop them up with your shovel quick enough. You can get glass or wire screen to cover your fireplace, but make sure the open area at the top (if it has one) isn't big enough for a clinker get out, or it's taller than the fireplace opening. I wouldn't recommend the kind that have a sliding screen unless they're built in or attached to the fireplace. They always seem to fall over as you're trying to slide them back. I personally like the folding kind, but most fireplaces in new houses these days have glass screens built in.
Now obviously these are all woodburning fireplace accessories, you won't need to remove ash with a gas or electric fireplace. When it comes to gas fireplace accessories, a screen, which is usually built in is about all you'll need unless it's a lighter.