Fireplace Fireback: Benefits, Options & Materials

If you’re thinking about installing or replacing your fireback, you’ll do well to read this article to the end.

Here, we’ve focused on discussing what this component is about, the functions performed as well as the benefits. You’ll find this article very informative.

The chimney fireplace has undergone significant transformations over the years. Some of these innovations are new, while others have evolved.

The fireback is one such component that has been around for centuries. It’s still used to this day and continues to be of great benefit to users.

Fireplace Fireback: How Useful to a Fireplace?

Readers finding it a bit difficult to figure out what a fireback is may be surprised to find out they’ve always known what it is. Have you seen or noticed the decorative (sometimes not decorative) polished iron plat behind your fireplace?

If your fireplace has none of that, chances are that you’ve seen that behind your neighbor’s hearth. If you have, then you’ve seen a fireback. Firebacks are usually distinct in design with imaging design embossments on the surface.

So, how is this component important and why is it installed in a fireplace? Read along to find answers to these questions and more.

Benefits: Firebacks For Fireplaces

A fireback does more than you think. It serves a variety of functions and these serve as benefits.

Such benefits include adding aesthetic beauty to your fireplace, heat reflection, and offers protection to fireplace masonry. What more? You have multiple options to choose from.

  • Adding Aesthetic Beauty

When you look at most firebacks, it’s easy to see that they’ve been designed to enhance the look and feel of your fireplace. This is seen in the variety of designs embossed on their surfaces.

Such designs could include floral motifs, historical scenes, or coat-of-arms among several others.

Adding firebacks with these intricate designs makes your fireplace stand out.

By its design and placement, it’s well-positioned to be seen whenever anyone walks in. However, this isn’t the case with those made from steel plates as they’re mostly plain.

  • Heat Reflection

A fireplace fireback once installed serves multiple functions.

One of the primary roles includes the reflection or radiation of heat back into a home. It’s natural for a fireback surface to be heated as it’s located right in the fireplace and shields the wall.

Now, the heat retained gets reflected into your home. This increases heating efficiency.

Different fireback materials have varying reflection or radiation rates. Whatever the case is, radiation occurs with heat escape through firebox walls limited or reduced.

  • Protection for Fireplace Masonry

It’s clearly evident how a fireback works to protect the rear masonry of fireplaces.

As a heat shield, it’s placed between the fire and the wall or rear masonry. Before its (fireback) invention, rear brickwork or masonry often got destroyed due to continuous exposure to heat from combustion.

This was significantly reduced with the advent of firebacks. Instead of getting easily corroded, bricks retain their strength as the heat reaching them is greatly reduced. It doesn’t matter how long a fireplace is allowed to burn.

Once there’s a fireback, it’s able to withstand and contain heat from getting to fireplace masonry.

  • Multiple Options to Choose From

In terms of design, you have the freedom to choose from tons of designs. Different customers will have their preferred designs and there’s no limit to available designs.

Apart from design, you also get to choose your preferred size.

As fireplaces vary in size, so do firebacks. Firebacks are known to come in multiple sizes to fit various fireplaces and customer needs. In terms of materials, you get to choose between steel firebacks and those made of cast iron.

As mentioned earlier, steel firebacks are mostly plain.

Fireback Materials

Firebacks are mostly made of two materials, cast iron, and steel.

For steel firebacks, their sizes are a bit smaller than those made of cast iron. So, does this make them any better? Not at all! A fireback not only protects the wall behind a firebox but also radiates heat back into the room.

Now, a steel fireback will protect your walls as expected but radiates less heat back into the room. This is largely due to its smaller size when compared to firebacks made of cast iron. Plus, steel firebacks are mostly plain and have no intricate designs like those made with cast iron.

Firebacks made of cast iron are larger and mostly have the intricate designs mentioned earlier.

Not only do these radiate heat into the room, but they also offer better protection for walls behind a fireplace. These are sure reasons why firebacks made of cast iron are more expensive.

What more? You’ll find that there are more size variants for cast iron firebacks than there are for steel ones.

There’s a little advantage of steel firebacks though. These reflect more light compared to firebacks made of cast iron.

Can I Do Without A Fireback?

It’s possible to have a fireplace operate without a fireback.

However, whether this is detrimental or not is entirely up to the user. Now, lots of innovations involving the fireplace have emerged over the years.  Such innovations include the emergence of fire clay.

This has substantially revolutionized fireplace construction.

Instead of using the usual materials which were easily vulnerable to heat, more resistant bricks are now made from fire clay. This points to one clear benefit; contemporary fireplace masonry can withstand higher temperatures for longer periods with little to no damage.

Therefore, it’s common to find a fireplace without a fireback still working normally for long years. So, while it’s possible to have a functional fireplace in the absence of a fireback, it doesn’t hurt if it’s included for its aesthetics.

You also get increased heat insulation.

Without a doubt, fireplace firebacks continue to be useful today as they did a long time ago.

We’ve discussed the various benefits, the uses and so much more. With the information here, you’re able to make informed decisions on whether to include a fireback or not.

You also get to make better decisions on material, size, and lots more.

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