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tschriber 02-15-2009 11:04 PM

Building a firebox
I have just purchased my first home, or should I say shell of a home and have a lot of really good renovating ideas and quite a bit of know how. But, here, I am stumped. I have a 9 foot wall where I would like to put a fireplace. It is an inside wall (originally 2 1/2 foot deep adjoining closets) so venting would be quite a job. I got a great deal on a 24" vent-free natural gas log unit but am not at all impressed with the available fireboxes. I would like to build my own firebox using 16 x 16 inch, 1/2 inch thick slate tiles. Is this doable? What would I use to build the frame of the firebox (what would I attach the tile to... sheetrock, backer board...etc.) What would I use for the roof of the firebox?

jdougn 02-16-2009 06:41 AM

Welcome tschriber,

Thanks for posting. Just to make sure we're talking about the same part of your fireplace, the "firebox" is the area in which the fire would be burning, right?

Fireboxes are very specifically designed & built to keep fire from escaping the firebox and to control the tempurature of the exterior surfaces of the firebox that may come in contact with combustibles. Second many types of stone, including slate, can literally explode when exposed to high heat. Moisture trapped within the stone has no where to go. Absolutely! Positively! Do not alter your firebox or redesign your fireplace!

You want to err on the side of caution here! Put a beautiful glass door on your fireplace, dress up the hearth, mantel, and surround of your new fireplace as much as you want. Slate would be beautiful on the hearth and/or as a surround so use your imagination on these surfaces that are not affected by fire.

Hope this helps!

tschriber 02-16-2009 10:36 AM

Doug, Thank you so much for your help. I am referring to the area in which the fire would be burning. I did not purchase a firebox. I was hoping to be able to build one myself. This fireplace will be built where there wasn't one before and would be built inside the room instead of a seperate structure that older traditional fireplaces are. I was hoping to be able to get away from having to use the manufactured fireboxes. They are more modern looking than the look I was going for.

jdougn 02-17-2009 07:12 AM

Tschriber, thanks for clarifying. The area is which the fire would be burning is a firebox so we're on the same page. A firebox can certainly be built but it must be done carefully to avoid potential fire hazards. It would end up looking like a regular fireplace and be built much the same way. Probably with block on the outside and firebrick on the inside. You will need to do a lot of research to determine proper design and construction methods for safety reasons, efficiency, and looks. You might start by getting some quotes from professional masons. Check your local library for books too.

This could be a fun and satisfying experience for you!
hth, Doug

inspectorD 02-17-2009 03:02 PM

Sounds good
The only thing I would caution you about is that it needs to be listed by the NFPA it is to be metal. Otherwise, firebrick and mortar should be fine. You do want it to draft correctly otherwise you end up with lots of smoke., or a fire that does not burn good.
Also make your insurance carrier aware, if not , you may not be covered...seen it happen, it is a sad story. 05-18-2009 07:57 AM

What did you do?
How did this go for you? I plan on using concrete block walls and concrete slab floor (with natural stone on outside of block), covered with porcelain tile in the fire box. Top of firebox will be copper tubing (covered with small stone and insulation, and I will be blowing room air through the copper tubing. Plenty of venting in and around box, but don't plan to alter burning flame, which apparently is important in ventless gas log fire box.

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