When it comes to buying a fireplace there are many things to consider, from material choices and style options to fuel type and physical size.

Which type of fuel should I choose?

The first decision you need to make is fuel: there are three main choices gas, electric or solid Fuel. Although some fireplaces are suitable regardless of the type of fire you fit, others are not. If you plan on having an electric or gas fire then you pretty much have free choice of the type of material you can choose from, however, a solid fuel fire will restrict the material you can use. Here is some more information on each:

Electric Fires

Electric fires are the easiest and cheapest to install and can be fitted almost anywhere. Gone are the days of plastic looking electric fires with radiant bars; you’ll now find a wide variety of electric fires with differing flame effects as brands compete to have the most realistic looking flame.

The most common is the ribbon flame effect - coloured ribbons are lit from below and blown by a fan behind an opaque glass screen to give the effect of flames.

Some brands such as Dimplex have gone a step further; they have two types of flame effect, 'Opti-myst' and 'Optiflame®'. Optiflame creates the illusion of flames to provide a realistic glow while the Opti-myst is unique, using ultrasonic waves and water vapour to create a smoke effect rising from the fire bed.

Opti-myst Video

Optiflame® Video

Rivals, Celsi, have three types of flame effect, producing a standard ribbon flame effect on their Accent range and their Electriflame range.

The most realistic Celsi effect is the Puraflame - this uses a video of an actual fire filmed with a special 3D camera. As you can see, things have moved on significantly for electric fires in terms of their ease of use, realistic flame effects and simple installation. They are more popular now than ever.

Celsi Electriflame Video

Celsi Puraflame Video

Click here to find the perfect electric fire for your home.

Gas Fires

Although the flame effects on electric fires have improved considerably over the last few years, a lot of people still want a real flame fire without the hassle of a solid fuel fire.

If this is you, then a gas fire is the best option. There are several different types of gas fires available in all sizes, styles and designs. For information about the different types and to find the one best suited to your situation, read our guide to gas fires.

Solid Fuel Fires

As fantastic as modern day gas and electric fires are there’s nothing quite like a real fire. If you want a real fire, your house must have the correct chimney type - you need a proper class 1 chimney. Generally if you have a house with a brick chimney and a chimney pot on the roof, then you’re OK to use a solid fuel fire.

It’s well worth getting a chimney sweep round to check your chimney is in good working order before you buy a fireplace. Find a local sweep on the National Association of Chimney Sweeps website: www.nacs.org.uk.

When it comes to having a real fire you have a couple of choices. You could choose an open fire or a wood burning or multifuel stove. If you want to go down the stove route, then check out our other website - Direct Stoves.

For more information read our solid fuel fire buying guide here.

Which fireplace material should I use?

With solid fuel fires, you’re restricted to natural products such as Portuguese limestone, Agean limestone and natural marble or solid wood. You cannot have fireplaces made from Micro Marble (Engineered Stone) or MDF wood with a veneer.

Once you’ve decided on your fire’s fuel type, you need to decide on the material. Below is a list of the materials we offer and a description of their characteristics.

Micromarble Colours

Portuguese Limestone:

This is a light beige / off-white stone with a fine vein running through it. The stone comes in a honed (matt) finish. This is a very popular stone for limestone fireplaces due to its neutral colour and the wide variety of styles it comes in which means it fits most styles of homes.

Jura Stone:

This is a natural stone but with a painted finish. This gives the fireplaces the look and feel of a natural fireplace, just harder wearing, more consistent in colour and without veining or fossils. Jura Stone fireplaces come in a variety of styles from the more traditional looking Gallery Collection Kendal Jurastone Fireplace with its Tudor arch to the Gallery Collection Durrington Jurastone Fireplace with its clean simple lines for a more modern setting.

Micro Marble:

This is an engineered stone made from crushed marble and a bonding resin. The stone is crushed, mixed with resin (there’s normally 98% crushed marble, 2% resin) pressed and then polished to a shine resulting in a very hard wearing material available in a variety of finishes. Although micro marble fireplaces come in many styles they tend to lend themselves to a more modern home.

Black Granite:

Black Granite Fireplace

Black Granite is made from natural solid black granite. The stone is obviously black in colour but it does have a shining speckle to it. Black Granite fireplaces come in a variety of styles from the modern Stonehenge to the more period looking Athena.


Wooden fire surrounds probably offer the widest range of styles and finishes. They come in a variety of types of wood from oak or pine to mahogany and sheesham. You can also get wooden surround made from MDF with a veneer. These come in all colours including white and ivory. If you can’t find a colour to suit your needs it is possible to get some wooden surrounds unfinished which allows you to paint or wax them to a colour that suits your decor.

Agean Limestone:

Our Agean limestone fire surrounds come from Turkey and are a very white stone with few veins or fossils. It’s a very stylish and classic looking stone and most of the surrounds that are made from it reflect this.

Natural Marble:

We offer Carrara marble, a natural marble stone sourced in Italy. This is a blue/grey stone with a dark vein running through it. Fireplaces made from marble fire surrounds tend to be more traditional in design and particularly suit period properties when paired with cast iron inserts.

cast iron fireplace

Cast Iron:

Often called Period or Victorian fireplaces, cast in moulds they come either painted black or polished to a shiny finish. There are different types of cast iron fireplaces. You can get a cast iron fire surround that is just the decorative surround that goes around fire opening or the fire insert. Then there're cast iron fireplace combinations, complete units that consist of the fire surround and fire insert, often referred to as a bedroom fireplace. You also have cast iron inserts. These are a decorative insert that often have an arched opening or have tiles down the sides.

Electric Fire Suites:

Modern electric fire suites are completely free standing units and by far the simplest fireplace solution. All come complete with a built-in electric fire and are available in a wide variety of styles and finishes.

How to choose the perfect style of fireplace

Once you’ve decided on the fireplace material, it’s time to choose the style. Obviously this is completely down to personal choice. You may be renovating a Victorian house and replacing the period features, in which case a period styled wooden fire surround with a cast iron insert would be perfect.

If you’ve just bought a new-build house and want a more contemporary look, then you might  consider a modern looking limestone fireplace. Whatever style you want you’ll be sure to find something in the wide range we offer.

When it comes to size, this will be dictated by the width of the chimney breast, unless you’re fixing to a flat wall. If you are putting it against a chimney breast then you want to make sure that the fireplace mantel is no wider than the chimney breast.

What size fireplace do I need to buy?

The final consideration when choosing the size of your fireplace is how much of a feature you want it to be. In a very small room you don’t want a fireplace that overpowers, likewise if you’ve got a very large room you don’t want a small fireplace that will appear lost.

We suggest that if people are redecorating then it’s a good idea to draw the size of the fireplace on the wall. This will give you an idea of the right size fireplace for your room.

Hopefully this guide will help you in the steps you need to consider to pick the right fireplace for your room. If you have any more question then please get in touch with us today and our expert team will be happy to help.

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