Real Estate & Mortgage Insights

Adding Value - Upgrade Your Fireplace?

Fire. We sit around fires and have been doing so...forever.

If you have a room with a fireplace, then that fireplace is probably the focal point of the room. If it isn't, it should be. Furniture and decor are placed in relation to the fireplace and a great-looking fireplace can "make" a great-looking room.

Take a look at your fireplace.

Does it "fit" the room? Have you updated or remodeled the room or decor but did not know what to do about the fireplace? Does it look old and outdated? Ugly? Dark and moody?

Would a homebuyer like it?

Sooner or later, that may be an important consideration.

Buying a home is an emotional decision and fireplaces affect everyone, even if they never throw a log on the fire. A buyer "imagines" it being used, whether it is a mental image of an old Norman Rockwell painting, Christmas stockings hung on the mantel, or a romantic evening snuggled up to a loved one in front of a flickering or roaring fire.

Homebuyers will focus on your fireplace. Your fireplace could affect whether they make an offer on your home.

Or not make an offer.

Or offer less money.

You might want to update your fireplace.

Brick Fireplaces

In "traditional" homes, a brick fireplace can provide charm and old-fashioned elegance. However, if you have redecorated, remodeled, updated or modernized the room, sometimes those old bricks just don't cut it anymore.

The fireplace can actually be an eyesore.

What do you do?

Replacing bricks can be expensive, so you don't want to do that. You've seen painted bricks too, and you certainly don't want that look, either.


...things have changed.

Brick paint is something relatively new. Unlike in the "olden days" when some folks just splashed regular paint or whitewash on their bricks, "brick paint" is specially formulated to retain the texture and feel of natural brick. Many people will actually think that the painted color is the natural color of the brick.

Even better, brick paint is specially formulated to withstand the higher temperatures of being located near a fireplace.


If your fireplace has a mantel, you may decide to update or modernize. If your fireplace does not have a mantel, adding one can make a boring room into something noteworthy or even spectacular.

What you add depends on the house and the room where the fireplace is located. You don't want to overload the room, and you don't want to add something that does not give credit to the space where it is located.

There are tons of online web sites offering pre-built mantels, moldings, legs and surrounds. You can surf, window-shop, choose, buy, or just get ideas on-line. You can find something relatively inexpensive or select something more ornate. For the do-it-yourselfer, there are even instructions on how to build a mantel on your own.

For those of us who are not inclined or able to build on our own, you should be able to locate a local fireplace store. If you cannot, see if you can find a local builder and ask who their fireplace contractor is. The person you really want to talk to is the contractor.

Fireplace contractors seem to have a genuine enthusiasm for their work and will offer ideas that you may not think of. They genuinely enjoy creating something that looks....

Gas Fireplaces

Gas fireplaces have come a long, long way. They are genuine "decorator items" for your home and can go almost anywhere that has access to a gas line and a source of electricity. You don't even need a chimney because they can vent directly outside and some don't even need a vent.

Just to state the obvious, gas fireplaces can also go in an existing fireplace.

The fires flicker and wander realistically. No longer do they use those "old" fake-looking logs. New logs are made of porcelain and do not collect the sooty build-up that some of us remember. Fires look real, and the embers flow and waver like coals in a real fire.

If you didn't know it, gas fireplaces are almost always less expensive to run than wood fireplaces.

In a traditional fireplace, almost all of the heat goes up the flue. Wasted. Today's closed-unit gas fireplaces are designed to actually heat the room. For example, a friend recently bought a Scandinavian free-standing fireplace for his two-bedroom condo. Since then, he hasn't used his forced-air central heating at all. Not even once.

Plus, he can turn on the fire by remote control. The remote control even has a thermostat.

Men like remote controls.

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