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Fireplaces for Screened Porches and Sunrooms

Jul 18, 2019 | Porch & Sunroom Additions

sunroom fireplace, owings brothers contracting

Porch Fireplace Ideas

Fireplaces for screened porches or sunrooms can create a wonderful ambiance and provide stunning focal points. In many parts of the country, a fireplace can extend the outdoor living season into the cooler spring and fall days, offering more entertaining space for large gatherings and allowing for the enjoyment of a beautifully landscaped yard as a backdrop.

Fortunately, you can install a fireplace for your screened porch at any time, but it is most advantageous when designing and adding space to your home. This approach will afford unlimited options on the size and design and is usually less expensive.

The first decision is to choose a custom-built masonry fireplace or a metal insert fireplace. A masonry fireplace is built with cement and firebrick and has a chimney and flue. The sizes and shapes are more flexible than a metal insert, typically a rectangular box of various sizes. A masonry fireplace will usually be more costly than a metal insert. Regardless of which you choose for your screened porch or sunroom, the options for the surrounding materials are vast. The color, material, and placement of the stone, mantel, and hearth can create a beautiful custom look for your home.

Check out our blog post for more information on enjoying your outdoor living space longer.

fireplace for screened porch sunroom

Screened-in porch with fireplace and manufactured stone. See Project Details.

Gas or Wood

The next decision when choosing a fireplace for your screened porch or sunroom is whether it will be gas or wood-burning. Masonry and metal fireplaces can offer both of these options.

If you choose a metal insert firebox and a gas unit, your next decision will be between ventless or vented inserts. Both metal inserts are self-contained, have no flue, and do not need a chimney. The main difference is that vented fireplaces typically vent the heat through the back of the unit, while ventless gas units blow the heat through the front. A ventless gas fireplace is not recommended for the home interior as in a sunroom because it emits too much heat, but for an outdoor application, it’s perfect for keeping the porch toasty!

fireplaces on screened porches, owings brothers contracting

Screened-in porch addition with gas fire pit. See Project Details.

A plus in choosing a gas fireplace is the reduced cost to run it by having a remote control to turn the unit on and off. Another obvious plus is not needing to buy, cut, and gather wood, eliminating the clean-up that comes with a wood-burning fireplace. The gas fireplace doesn’t require cooling time nor poses a safety hazard that can come from cinders that often fly out.

If you choose a wood-burning fireplace built from scratch, it can be unique and customized to your specific taste. Be aware that wood-burning fireplaces can be costly: they need a full foundation and chimney stack. According to code, chimney stacks must exceed the height of the roof and be within a specific distance from each side of the house.

Metal fireboxes can also be configured for wood burning and need a chimney, but they are usually less costly than building from scratch. With a wood-burning fireplace, any combustible material (such as furniture and rugs) must be a safe distance from the opening to ensure less risk of unfriendly fire. We also recommend considering a designated area for storing wood.

Another idea is to install a fire pit on your screened porch. A fire pit can provide the cozy ambiance you are looking for at a fraction of the price. Most fire pits built on your deck will be gas-powered because wood-burning fire pits could emit sparks and damage your decking or worse. Wood-burning fire pits are perfect additions to patios, but homeowners may prefer gas fire pits on the porch because they require little space and are easy to install.

Sunroom Fireplace Ideas

Fireplaces are popular in sunrooms due to their ambiance and the additional warmth often needed in a room with numerous windows. The first question to answer is: what is the primary purpose of your fireplace? If you are looking for a more comfortable room environment in colder climates, a traditional masonry fireplace may not be the most efficient for heating the room. Most of the warmth with these types of fireplaces rises through the chimney. On the other hand, a gas fireplace may be a better option since the heat doesn’t escape through the chimney but funnels into the room. Gas units do not require a flue, making them less costly, easier to install, and non-invasive to the home’s exterior.

sunroom conversion

Sunroom with Fire Orb hanging fireplace. See Project Details.

If the purpose of a sunroom fireplace is ambiance alone, other options are available. An electronic fireplace can add a cozy look and warmth to a room as a focal point when entertaining or curling up with a book. Unlike traditional wood and gas fireplaces, electric fireplaces are vent-free and smoke-free and offer a zero-emissions heat source. These offer heat when and where you need it with no chimney, and they are easy to install and portable.

There are some restrictions when choosing a fireplace for an indoor space, such as a sunroom. While homeowners can choose many of the same options available for screened porches, there is one exception. Ventless fireplaces are dangerous indoors because exhaust fumes, including carbon monoxide, are emitted directly into the room. A porch has plenty of ventilation, but a sunroom is a closed environment and will hold toxic gases within the home. These gases are especially harmful to children, older adults, and pets.

Another consideration is the sunroom’s structure. Glass-roofed sunrooms, such as solariums, are incompatible with traditional masonry fireplaces because a chimney cannot be installed. In this case, an electric fireplace may be the answer, and they come in a variety of sizes and styles.