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Fireplace Screens

Updated on March 15, 2010

Fireplaces are nice accessories to have, these days they're not really essential to heating.  Still they can help increase the value of a house, and it's nice to sit in front of on a cold night. If you're going to have one then there's some fireplace accessories you need to have.  Fireplace tools are something you'll need, they'll help you clean the ashes out, move logs around while they're burning and open or close the flue.  If you've got a gas burning fireplace you won't really need all those tools, but there is something that both gas and wood burning fireplaces need and that's a fireplace screen.  For a gas fireplace you'll need the screen to keep the flame away from being touched accidentally, or to keep flammable things out of the fireplace itself.  With a wood fireplace the screen can perform all those functions keeping things out of the fireplace, but the screen also serves to keep things in.  Wood when it burns can pop and spark and embers can fly out of the fireplace.  Many fireplaces have brick ads in front of them but embers can still fly past that and cause a fire hazard.  

Brass Fireplace Screen

by dusty! via flickr. Notice that this screen doesn't cover the whole opening, a good chance for embers to fly out.
by dusty! via flickr. Notice that this screen doesn't cover the whole opening, a good chance for embers to fly out.

I remember the fireplace at my grandparents house when I was kid.  They lived in north Florida which can get fairly cold in the winter.  I know most people think of Florida as being warm year round, but in the northern part of the state it can get into the 20's during the winter.  Their house was uninsulated block, and they didn't have central heating either, so the fireplace was the only source of heat.  My grandfather was a tree farmer so he always had access to wood.  You have to go in and clear out dead or diseased trees sometimes so there was always something for the fireplace, usually oak and pine which grow readily in Florida.  Florida pine is fast growing and is filled with pitch pockets - little hollow areas filled with sap.  When the wood was burning the pockets would heat up and explode much like popcorn.  It was really loud, and would always send a shower of sparks.  They had a wrought iron fireplace screen but it didn't go up high enough and sometimes an ember would fly over the top and hit the rug.  To this day I remember the nickel sized burn spot (more than one actually) on that rug where a hot coal had hit it.  It's a good reminder of how important a fireplace screen is, even if it's an antique fireplace screen like theirs, it was still better than nothing.

If you're looking for fireplace screens there's several type you can get.  One is a folding type that sits in front of the fireplace.  You can get them in all styles to fit any home, from modern fireplace screens and even a stained glass fireplace screen.  The nice thing about them is that they can be easily moved for cleaning and you can take them with you if you move.  They also don't need any sort of installation.  There are also sliding fireplace screens, which I personally don't like but they're fine, and they do protect you from embers flying out.  Unless they're screwed to the wall they aren't as stable as the folding kind.   You can also get custom fireplace screens that are built in to the fireplace itself.  These can have doors that open out or be sliding.  Make sure they're screen or glass if you want to see the fire.  My parents have glass fireplace doors and they get covered with soot that's almost impossible to get off, so now after 30 years you can't really see the fire all that well.  

No matter what kind of fireplace screen you get you want to make sure that the screen goes well above the fireplace opening if it doesn't fit flush against the fireplace.  That's because a pitch  pocket can send sparks several feet.  Remember to get something that is see through if that's important to you, and remember if a glass fireplace screen is right against the firebox it will get hot, if it's a wood fireplace almost too hot to touch.  


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    • RussellLHuey profile image

      RussellLHuey 6 years ago

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