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Enjoy the comfort and ambiance of a crackling fire on a cold winter's night. Here we'll show you how to install a gas fireplace. Don't worry about installing a chimney. You don't need one. You simply vent the fireplace out the side of the house. Once the fireplace is installed, you just flip a switch to start a roaring fire.
It’s hard to beat a crackling wood fire on a chilly night. But modern gas fireplace come pretty close, and without the drawbacks of wood. Not only does gas burn much cleaner, making it a better choice for the environment, but there are no messy logs to carry through the house or ashes to clean out. And lighting the fire is as simple as flicking a switch or turning a valve.
A direct-vent gas fireplace doesn’t need a chimney. Rather, you can run a special vent to the outside through an exterior wall. This process is simple and fire-safe as long as you follow the manufacturer’s directions. Be sure to read them carefully, because they might differ slightly from what we show here. For fire safety, however, make sure to heed the manufacturer’s directions on clearances for combustibles.
Cost to Install a Gas Fireplace
Wondering how much does it cost to install a gas fireplace? If you have some carpentry and drywalling experience, you shouldn’t have any trouble finishing this project. The fireplace will take you about a day to install. Then plan to spend an entire weekend framing and installing drywall and a few hours each day for the rest of the week troweling on additional coats of joint compound. The following weekend you can prime the walls and apply the texture.
In addition to a basic set of hand tools, you’ll need a circular saw and a drill. A power miter box is handy but not necessary for cutting the angles on the framing parts. You’ll need a tin snips for cutting the metal corner bead, a collection of taping knives (2-in., 4-in., 6-in. and 12-in.) and a mud pan for applying the joint compound and texture.
Shopping for a Gas Fireplace
The fireplace we’re using, and the type we recommend, is a direct-vent fireplace. This type draws air from outdoors to feed the flame. Not only is this setup more efficient because you’re not losing valuable heated air up the chimney, it’s safer too because it greatly reduces the possibility of dangerous carbon monoxide backing up into your home.
The best place to shop for fireplaces is at fireplace dealers that have showrooms with working models on display. You’ll be able to see how the artificial logs look when they’re burning and pick a fireplace style you like.
Make Sure You Have Proper Venting
Adding a fireplace to a house is a complex project, but you can do it yourself. Proper ventilation is essential for a safe-operating fireplace.
Mock up the fireplace using the dimensions given in fireplace brochures and outline the hearth shape with masking tape. Your new fireplace will have a major impact on your room. Build a simple mock-up to get a feel for the amount of space it takes up and to see how the angled placement will affect furniture arrangement and traffic patterns.
When you're satisfied with the aesthetics of the fireplace, turn your attention to the mechanical requirements. You'll need to run a gas supply line for the fireplace. Call in a plumber to plan the route before you order the fireplace.
Most gas fireplaces don't require electricity to operate. However, if you ever decide to add a blower to increase heat output or a hand-held remote control, you'll have to connect the fireplace to an available electrical circuit, so run a wire to the fireplace while it's accessible.
In addition, since electrical codes don't allow you to simply cover a box that contains live wires, you'll have to disconnect or relocate any boxes or receptacles that will be covered by the new fireplace.
Get the Gas, Electrical and Vent in Place First
Determine how you'll get the vent from the fireplace to the outdoors. Thanks to the ingenious two-layer design that keeps the outside of the pipe relatively cool, the vents from direct-vent fireplaces can run straight out through the wall or up through the roof, allowing great flexibility in design and placement of the fireplace. Even so, there are very specific requirements that your fireplace and vent installation must meet. Check the installation manual to make sure. Here are a few key points to look for:
Build a Fireplace Platform
Set the Fireplace in Position
Install the First Vent Pipe
Finish the Vent Pipe
With the preliminaries out of the way, here's how you proceed.
Punching Through the Wall Is the Tough Part
Caution: Keep the saw blade shallow to avoid cutting hidden electrical wires.
Frame the Opening
Remove the Siding
Install the Interior Firestop
Caulk the Firestop
Install the Vent
Run Electric and Gas Lines
Build the Wall Surrounds
Note: You can download and print Figure A from the Additional Information section below.
Build the Mantel
Finish Assembling the Mantel
Build the Hearth
Build the Columns
Nail on the Corner Bead
Tape the Joints
Premixed Texture Make You Feel Like a Master Plasterer
We decided to apply a sandy, plaster-like finish to the drywall on our fireplace. There are a dozen ways to accomplish this look. We chose an acrylic-based product manufactured by USG that's typically used as an exterior finish. The USG Exterior Textured Finish is available in five textures, from fine to coarse, and 25 standard colors.
Troweling on the texture is a messy operation, so mask off the walls and floor and put on some old clothes before you start. First prime the walls with a top-quality drywall primer. When the primer is dry, use a wide trowel to spread a thin layer of the premixed texture over an entire section, stopping at a breaking point like a corner.
Give the Stucco Texture
Next you'll float the area to impart texture and smooth out the trowel marks. If you're working in hot, dry conditions, start floating immediately. Otherwise you may have to let the texture mix set up for a few minutes.
You'll have to experiment a little to see what works. We used a square of extruded polystyrene foam insulation to float the texture, but a grout float, wooden block or hard plastic trowel also will work. Each tool gives a little different texture. Practice on a large scrap of drywall to get a feel for the material and refine your floating technique. Work from the top down to avoid splattering on completed texture.
Originally Published: January 06, 2021