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How to Choose a Fireback: Steel or Iron?

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What is a Fireback?

A fireplace fireback back is a simple innovation that dramatically increases the amount of heat your fireplace emits into your home. The back wall of a fireplace absorbs and retains a great deal of heat. A fireback instead radiates that heat outward to warm the home. Find out how to choose a fireback that suits your needs and style.

Cast Iron Firebacks

Fireplace firebacks were, in generations past, always made of cast iron. They take in the heat of the fire and send it back out into the room, much like an old-fashioned iron radiator. Cast iron fireplace firebacks are made in a wide range of sizes. They can accommodate any kind of fireplace, from that of a small apartment to the large hearth of a colonial mansion.

Cast iron firebacks are often cast with a decorative motif, such as a wildlife scene, a commemorative pictorial, or even a coat of arm. Cast iron firebacks are sturdy and do their job well, but because they are solid cast iron, they are very heavy.  Their weight makes it a challenge for some people to move and place them, and shipping tends to be very costly as well.

Stainless Steel Firebacks

More recently, stainless steel firebacks have emerged, literally shedding new light on fireback innovation. Because their surfaces are more reflective—sometimes polished to a mirror surface— they add an additional element of brightness when sitting behind a fire. Stainless steel firebacks are much lighter than those made of cast iron, so they are easier to ship, deliver, install and adjust. They are also more affordable, being priced at about half the cost of similarly sized cast iron fireback. Stainless steel firebacks are so effective that they are not recommended for gas fireplaces, because the heat can be magnified so much as to damage gas valves.

Stainless steel firebacks are simple and modern, and fit well in contemporary houses. The mirrored finish can significantly increase both the heat and the light reflected back into the home.

How to Choose a Fireback

Both types of firebacks are designed to make the fireplace put out more heat. For those with wood fireplaces, the choice mainly comes down to style. For gas fireplaces, cast iron is the safe choice.

© 2015 FireplaceMall.com and PennVentures, Inc.
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© 2015 FireplaceMall.com and PennVentures, Inc.
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Tom has been writing for the FireplaceMall.com blog since 2011 and has loved sitting in front of the fireplace since he was an itty-bitty boy.

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