A fireplace is a great choice if you’re trying to achieve a cozy, romantic feel in your living space. However, there comes a time when a fireplace is no longer the right choice – and you’ll need to explore some alternatives.
If you’re wondering what to replace a fireplace with, you have several options. You might consider choices like fake firewood, a decorative mantel, or even a pellet-burning stove.
Of course, your decision will rely heavily upon your design preferences as well as whether you want your fireplace space to continue to provide heat. Here are some options for replacing your wood-burning fireplace that will work for any aesthetic, budget, and living space.
What to Use in Place of a Fireplace
1. Electric Fireplace
An electric fireplace is perhaps the best alternative to a real fireplace, as it will simulate the feel of a wood-burning fireplace with enough heat to generate warmth for the room.
However, as with most modern fireplaces, it’ll probably not have enough heat output to warm the entire house. So, expect to run your central heating unit as well. Consider investing in higher quality models if you’d like the flames to look more real.
2. LED Fireplace
A type of electric fireplace, LED fireplaces are growing in popularity, serving as safer alternatives to wood-burning fires. They give the same feeling you might get from a traditional fireplace and also offer some heat.
Many have remote controls that will allow you to adjust the amount of heat output. They can be plugged into electrical outlets and unplugged when not in use, helping you save energy and money.
3. Gas Insert Fireplace
A gas insert is another option to consider if you’d like to replace your wood-burning fireplace. Gas insert fireplaces are typically surrounded by metal boxes that are inside another metal box and then fitted into the fireplace.
They can produce plenty of heat, quickly heating up a room. However, they can be somewhat expensive since they need to be retrofitted.
4. Decorative Mantel
Decorative fireplace mantels are viewed by many people as being a bit over the top compared to some of these other options. However, they’ll allow you to have a gorgeous-looking fireplace without having to burn a real fire. You can use this option regardless of whether you have a functioning fireplace or not – you can put it exactly where a fireplace would normally go.
You can use it purely for decorative purposes or you can use an electric insert if you want to provide some heat. The downside to using a decorative fireplace mantel is that they can be fairly expensive (although arguably cheaper than a new fireplace insert!).
5. Pellet-Burning Stove
Burning pellet stoves are an eco-friendly option that can serve as a great alternative to the classic fireplace. Wood pellets are made from sawdust and other byproducts, making them more sustainable than burning actual wood.
They also burn efficiently and completely so no charred remnants are hanging around after the fact. Just keep in mind that pellets can sometimes be harder to come by, particularly if you’re used to going out back and chopping down your own firewood.
6. Wood-Burning Stove
A wood-burning stove is a good option if you want to continue to provide heat to your living space. It burns much safer and uses less fuel than many of the alternatives, reducing the likelihood of soot and creosote from building up inside the hearth.
Wood-burning stoves burn hotter and longer compare to traditional fireplaces due to their efficient design, insulation, and air intake.
7. Fake Firewood
Okay, hear me out on this one! They’re not real, of course, but fake fire logs (or fire balls in this case) can offer a great aesthetic to your room.
You can choose between fake firewood that doubles as an electric or gas heater to warm the room or one that has no heating capabilities at all.
Regardless of which option you choose, this is a good choice if you’re one who cares more about the aesthetics of a fireplace.
7 Steps to Take Out Your Existing Fireplace
If you’d like to take out your existing fireplace, first ask yourself whether you want to completely remove the fireplace from your living space or if you want to replace the wood-burning unit with something more modern, like an LED fireplace or a decorative fireplace mantel.
Next, check out these 7 steps to taking out your existing fireplace:
1. Decide On What You Want
Before you start working, decide whether you want to remove just the mantel or the entire fireplace. You will need to be diligent to avoid damaging the surrounding walls and the finishes.
2. Locate the Seam
Next, you should find the seam where the outer face of each leg on each side meets at the horizontal shelf found at each end.
3. Chisel the Seam
Once you’ve located the seam, press the tip of a wood chisel into it. Tap the handle with a hammer, creating a 1/16” gap. Use a thin wooden shim to create a larger 1/4” gap with a hammer. You may need to do this at several locations along the bottom of the shelf to form a gap for your nail bar.
Next, use the hooked end of a 16” nail bar to press into the gap at one end of your mantle. Lift upward on the handle to remove the front end of the shelf, then lift on the shelf to detach it at the back.
4. Detach the Mantel
Pull your mantle from the sides. Detach the leg faces on each side, too, following the steps you used above. You may want to save the pieces of the mantel as you work for future use (or just in case).
5. Remove the Framework
Next, find the wooden screws or lag bolts that secure the mantel’s framework to the wall. These are located on both sides as well as on the top. Remove these screws with a screwdriver or a socket and ratchet, depending on what kind of hardware was used to attach the framework.
6. Pull the Mantel Away
Now you can pull the mantle away from the fireplace. You may want some help doing this, as it can be top-heavy and tip easily. If necessary, use your wooden shims and chisel to remove or detach other parts of the legs from the wall’s face at each side.
7. Know When Professional Help is Necessary
If you’re just removing an aesthetic surround or mantle, you can usually take care of it yourself by following the steps above. However, a structural surround or mantel will usually be an extension of the masons material used in the home’s construction. Because of this, you often can’t remove it yourself without incurring significant expense (or causing serious damage).
In that case, it’s likely better for you to get the help of a professional. Even though it’ll cost a bit to get this done, you’ll reduce the risk of the project and probably even saving money in the long run.
If it were up to me, I prefer the wood-burning stove for efficiency and the fireplace balls if I was looking to focus on aesthetics.
To find the right fireplace alternative for your needs, consider whether you want to provide supplemental heat to the room or just replace the cozy aesthetic that your previous unit provided.
No matter what the case may be, there are plenty of options to suit any need or budget. In the majority of cases, removing the existing mantle and putting in something new will likely be easier than you thought!
Need More Help?
You can always ask us here at Fireplace Tips, but you should know the other resources available to you! Here are the resources we recommend.
- Chimney Safety Institute of North America (CSIA): The CSIA is your BEST resource for fireplace and chimney safety at home. They’re a non-profit governed by a volunteer board of directors dedicated to the education, training, and certification of chimney and industry related professionals.
- Self-Sufficiency and Off-Grid: If you’re like me and passionate about off-grid and self-sufficiency, see my number 1 resource—Abundance Plus. Check out their Frugal Homesteading Course on growing 90% of your own food. Get 7-days free and 10% off with the code: TYLER10