Thursday, December 8

How to Install a Fireplace Chamber

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What can you do if you’re installing a stove into a brand new, but rather plain looking fireplace? Or if you’re installing a stove into a tired, old looking fireplace? You can use a fireplace chamber, that’s what. If you want to create the perfect fireplace setting for your stove, then read our guide to installing a fireplace chamber now.

What is a fireplace chamber? 

When people talk about the fireplace chamber, they are generally referring to the three walls within the fireplace opening itself – the back and the two sides. 

The fireplace chamber is essentially the walls that ‘surround’ the stove.

And, whilst most people focus mostly on the hearth and the fireplace surround, it’s vital that you don’t overlook the fireplace chamber. 

This is because a fireplace chamber has both aesthetic and practical uses.

Why the fireplace chamber is important

It’s important to give some consideration to the chamber on your fireplace for a number of reasons. 

Firstly, the chamber is one of the largest areas of the fireplace on view, and is particularly noticeable when your stove is not lit. If you end up with a fireplace chamber that you’re not happy with, it will affect the entire look and feel of your stove and fireplace.

Secondly, a fireplace chamber also has two very practical purposes:

  • Protection. 
  • Heat radiation. 

A good quality fireplace chamber will provide protection to the walls behind it, whilst also radiating heat out into the living room in front of the fireplace. 

What are fireplace chambers made of? 

Fireplace chambers typically consist of three panels – one for each ‘side’ of the fireplace cavity, and one for the rear wall of the fireplace cavity. 

Some fireplace chambers will also come with ‘side returns’. These are two panels which sit on the face of the chamber, extending out either side to give the chamber a fuller look:

Rustic Brick Fireplace Chamber with Side Returns

Rustic Brick Fireplace Chamber with Side Returns

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It’s also possible to buy fireplace chambers with an ‘arch’ which sits across the top of the chamber’s opening. Again, this helps to create a ‘fuller’ looking fireplace chamber:

Rustic Brick Fireplace Chamber with Arch

Rustic Brick Fireplace Chamber with Arch

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Modern fireplace chamber panels, like the ones we stock here at Direct Stoves, consist of a vermiculite panel, to which a decorative material, such as stone or brick is attached to give it an attractive appearance. 

Vermiculite panels are created from a naturally-occuring aluminium-magnesium silicate material and as such are extremely heat resistant (up to 1,000ºC). This makes it the ideal material for lining the inside of a fireplace.

Using fireplace chamber panels to create a fireplace chamber is also far more convenient than more traditional options. 

As we’ve mentioned elsewhere in this article, fireplace chamber panels allow you to change the appearance of your fireplace, whereas in the past you would potentially have had to completely rebuild a fireplace in order to change its appearance!

What types of fireplace chambers are there? 

Here at Direct Stoves we recognise that people have a wide variety of tastes when it comes to their fireplaces, which is why we stock an enormously varied range of different fireplace chambers, from brick to stone, and slate to vermiculite.

No matter what finish you’re looking to achieve with your fireplace at home, you’ll almost certainly find a fireplace chamber that suits you here at Direct Stoves. 

Below we’ve set out some of the most popular types of fireplace chamber.

Rustic Brick Fireplace Chamber

Rustic Brick Fireplace Chamber

Rustic Brick Fireplace Chamber

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For many people, nothing beats a traditional brick fireplace. So, why not ensure that your fireplace chamber is brick too? 

This fireplace chamber is made from real tumbled bricks affixed to a vermiculite backing board. This means that it will not only provide protection to the walls behind it, but this chamber will look good and radiate heat too. 

This chamber, like many others on the market, is supplied as three separate panels (the rear and two sides). Simply cut them to fit your fireplace cavity walls.

Dove Grey Stone Fireplace Chamber

Dove Grey Stone Fireplace Chamber

Dove Grey Stone Fireplace Chamber

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Perhaps stone is more to your taste? Stone fireplaces have a long history and are a particularly aesthetic choice. 

If that appeals to you, then this Dove Grey Stone Fireplace Chamber can help you achieve the look you desire for your fireplace. 

It’s made from real stone with each panel being handmade. Like many other fireplace chambers, this one sees the stone affixed to a vermiculite back panel, providing both heat protection and heat radiation. 

Note, because this fireplace chamber is handmade, the colour of both the stone and the pointing is likely to differ from the image here. 

Graphite Slate Waterfall Fireplace Chamber

Graphite Slate Waterfall Fireplace Chamber

Graphite Slate Waterfall Fireplace Chamber

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If you’re looking to create an intense, dark graphite fireplace, then this Graphite Slate Waterfall Fireplace Chamber could be for you. 

Being dark, it’ll help the stove to stand out as the centre of attention – especially when it’s lit. 

Made from thin slivers of real slate affixed to a vermiculite backing, this fireplace chamber allows you to quickly finish your fireplace opening to an exceptional standard. 

Supplied in three panels (rear and two sides), this fireplace chamber can be quickly and easily cut to size. 

Note, because it is handmade, it’s likely that both the slate and pointing will look different to the image above. 

Reeded Vermiculite Fireplace Chamber

Reeded Vermiculite Fireplace Chamber

Reeded Vermiculite Fireplace Chamber

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Do you want to create a subtle, unobtrusive fireplace? Or perhaps you don’t want the chamber to distract from your choice of hearth and surround? 

In that case, something like the Reeded Vermiculite Fireplace Chamber could be the perfect option for you.

Featuring a reeded vermiculite finish this particular fireplace chamber can be painted to achieve the exact finish you desire. So if you’re looking to achieve a seamless ‘hole in the wall’ style fireplace that blends in with the rest of your living room walls, this is the fireplace chamber to buy. 

As you can see from the images above, this fireplace chamber is very much one for people who want their stove to take centre stage.

How do you install a fireplace chamber? 

If you’re going to buy the type of fireplace chamber that’s listed above, installation is generally very straightforward. 

Traditionally, changing the look of a fireplace chamber involved ripping out old tiles, stonework or brickwork. In some instances, it was impossible to change the look of a fireplace chamber without having to completely rebuild the fireplace!

Today, however, thanks to the use of vermiculite panels which are affixed with stone, brick or slate, it’s pretty straightforward to change the look of your fireplace chamber. 

Below we’ve set out a brief guide to installation. 

Ensure the area is suitably prepared

Like any work on a fireplace, things can easily get messy. So it’s wise to take precautions and ensure that the floor, and nearby furniture, is suitably covered with old blankets or covers. 

You’ll also need to ensure you have suitable tools at hand. You’ll need a tape measure, a cutting tool and heat cement at the very least.

Remove the fireplace surround

If you’re fitting a fireplace chamber in an existing fireplace, then it’s important that you remove the fireplace surround first. 

Removing the fireplace surround will give you better access to the fireplace when it comes to inserting the chamber.

In terms of the hearth, this is okay to leave in place. You’ll want your fireplace chamber panels to line up perfectly with the hearth.

Measure the chamber panels

As the old saying goes, ‘measure twice, cut once’, so you should ensure that you have accurately measured the inside of the fireplace cavity. 

If the fireplace cavity is somewhat larger than the chamber that you intend to install, then you may need to use bricks as a means of spanning the gap between the cavity and the chamber panels. 

In other words, if there is going to be a gap between the chamber panels and the walls of the fireplace cavity, you want to ensure there is something there to bridge that gap and prevent the panels from moving.

If there is no gap between the chamber panels and the fireplace cavity, then you’ll simply want to affix the chamber panels directly to the cavity walls. 

Affix the chamber panels in place

Depending on the size of the existing fireplace cavity and whether or not there will be a gap between the chamber panels and the cavity walls, the next step is to fix the chamber panels in place.

If there is a gap between the chamber panel and the cavity wall, then use heat cement to fix a number of house bricks to the cavity wall (you’ll normally want to use four bricks – one in each corner). You then use heat cement to fix the chamber panel to the house bricks. 

This creates a solid foundation for the chamber panel to sit against.

If there’s not going to be a gap between the fireplace cavity walls and the chamber panels, simply use heat cement to fix the panels directly to the cavity walls. 

Most people will fix the rear or ‘back’ panel first, followed by the two side panels, but this isn’t a hard and fast rule.

Once you’ve done that, you can put your fireplace surround back in place and you’ll have a nicely finished fireplace!

Note – these instructions are written for a fireplace which has not yet had a stove installed. We would always recommend fitting fireplace chamber panels before the stove is fitted.

Other ways to enhance your fireplace

Aside from installing a fireplace chamber, there are a number of other ways you can enhance the look of your fireplace.

Two key ways in which you can improve the look of your fireplace is to install a high-quality hearth and fireplace beam.

These two things are not only highly-practical, but can significantly enhance the look and feel of your fireplace and stove; making them the centre piece of a living room.

Guide – discover more ways to complete the look of your fireplace in our guide to hearths and beams here.

Time to change up your fireplace? 

If you’re buying a new stove for your home, why not give it the fireplace it deserves with a new fireplace chamber too? 

Here at Direct Stoves we not only stock a huge range of stoves, but also fireplace chamber panels to suit almost every taste.

Shop fireplace chambers at Direct Stoves now

For more stove and home heating advice, read the Direct Stoves blog

Can You Install a Stove in an Existing Fireplace? | How to Have a Wood Burning Stove Without a Chimney | How to Clean and Maintain Your Wood Burning Stove

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