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Tips for Redesigning an Older Wood Fireplace

For a few different reasons, whether it’s because your old fireplace isn’t working properly anymore, you want to convert to a more sustainable burning format, or based on simple preference, you may be looking to modernize your existing wood-burning fireplace. If you’ve landed on this as your preferred outcome, there are a number of options you have for getting there.

At Uintah Fireplace and Design, we’re proud to offer a huge range of contemporary fireplace options, from gas logs and electric fuel options to several forms of inserts that work very well in converting an old fireplace space to a modern format. What are some of the options we present to clients who are looking to redesign an older wood fireplace area into something that better fits with the times — and possibly is far more efficient, as well? Here’s a primer.

Major Fuel Format Overhaul

For those who have both the funds and desire to do so, one of the most significant options you’ll have for redesigning your wood-burning fireplace is to install an entirely new fireplace in the same area — using a modern fuel alternative. Your primary options here are well-known:

  • Gas fireplace: The option of using gas logs has grown increasingly popular over the past several years, as people have begun to better understand the advantages that come along with this fuel type. Modern natural gas or propane fireplaces come with all the aesthetics and ambiance of a typical wood fireplace, but you can switch them on and off as needed. They also have the advantage of giving a significant amount of heat output for their size. And best of all, unlike wood options that cause all sorts of soot and ash, the modern gas logs are clean-burning. They require no flue maintenance and far less chimney maintenance, plus provide instant ignition with no need to wait for the kindling to catch.
  • Electric fireplace: These are another modern take on the classic looking fireplace aesthetic, but use electric heating elements built into stylish models instead of gas or wood. Electric fireplaces make it easy to turn down the heat while you’re home without giving up warmth in other rooms; they also offer a remote control for adjusting the temperature and flame type without leaving a cozy seat. Electric fireplaces aren’t as powerful as gas options, but they’re an excellent choice for those who have little interest in maintaining a wood-burning fireplace from day to day.
  • Pellet stoves: While these options are geared more toward those who utilize renewable and sustainable energy sources for their homes, pellet stoves offer a safe and modern way to heat your living space. They operate much like standard wood-burning fireplaces of the past except they require using only approved pellets made from recycled material or biomass sources. Wood-pellet burning doesn’t cause nearly as much air pollution as burning wood, and the heating elements are far more efficient than those of old.


In some cases, you may not have the budget or the desire to completely overhaul your fireplace area. Luckily, this is where the realm of fireplace inserts comes into play. Inserts are designed to fit into the existing fireplace area and provide a more direct heat source than older fireplaces allowed. This is especially helpful if your home was built before 1990, as most of those homes can usually accommodate an insert more easily than a full remodel job.

Again, the two most common forms of inserts are well-known:

  • Gas fireplace inserts: Solid-fuel burning inserts are the most popular type of fireplace inserts on the market today, and for good reason. They provide an easy way to make your old, inefficient fireplace more efficient by using gas flames to warm your living space directly. They are easy to install, can be turned on and off as needed, and need minimal cleaning. Some models even come with options for thermostat control or remote controls!
  • Electric fireplace inserts: Like other electric fireplaces, these are ideal for those who don’t want the hassle of tending to a wood-burning stove area. They provide clean-burning comfort that is ideal for smaller living spaces, and need only the installation of an electric outlet to get started. Some may even include heat lamps or blowers which can be used with the fireplace.

Because inserts are generally far more affordable than converting the entire area to a gas or electric fireplace, it’s worth exploring this option if you’re still not sure exactly what new fireplace type is best for your home and situation.

Hearth and Mantle Upgrades

While changes to your fuel format and fireplace style are some of the most notable you can make when upgrading or modernizing it, there are also other areas you can look at here. For instance, if you’re looking to modernize your existing fireplace and upgrade the aesthetics, upgrading the hearth and mantle with new materials can be a great choice. This is also one of the easiest changes to make, since most traditional hearths and mantles are simply designed for easy removal and replacement.

Different options exist depending on what look you’re going for and what type of material you’d like to use. Options for hearth and mantle installation materials include everything from stone and tile to natural stones, metals, or even painted finishes.

As you can see, there are a number of options available to you if you’re looking to convert your older wood fireplace area into something more modern. For more on this, or to learn about any of our fireplace options, speak to the team at Uintah Fireplace and Design today.

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