If you’re looking to create a traditional, period fireplace in your home, then a cast iron fireplace insert is the perfect way of doing this. But what exactly are they? How do you install them? How much do they cost? If you’re interested in cast iron fireplace inserts then keep reading and we’ll answer these questions and more…
What is a cast iron fireplace insert?
A cast iron fireplace insert is a series of components which form a rear panel, opening and firebox for solid fuel fires (although it is possible to buy inserts which are compatible with, or include, gas and electric fires).
Cast iron fireplace inserts are used in conjunction with hearths and surrounds to create a complete, working fireplace.
They have both a practical and aesthetic purpose, adding an additional element of decoration to a fireplace whilst also protecting the area around a fireplace opening and helping to radiate heat from the fire into the living space.
Note – you will sometimes see a separate category of cast iron fireplace inserts called ‘tiled cast iron fire inserts’. These are simply cast iron inserts which also include decorative enamel tiles on either side of the fireplace opening.
What are the parts of a cast iron fireplace insert?
Depending on the type of cast iron fireplace you buy, it will consist of different features.
As a general rule, a cast iron insert will come with:
- A fireplace fascia.
- Fireplace back.
However, if you buy a cast iron fireplace insert for use with solid fuel fires, then it will usually come with additional parts such as:
- Damper plate.
- Ashpan cover.
- Cast iron fire brick retaining plate.
- Assorted bolts, studs, nuts and washers.
Note – this is just a general guide. Individual cast iron inserts differ. If you want to know exactly what parts a cast iron insert consists of, check the individual product description and specifications.
What are the benefits of cast iron fireplace inserts?
Why should you select a cast iron insert over any other type of insert? Well, not only do they look fantastic, but they have a number of other benefits:
- Heat retention – this is arguably the biggest benefit of cast iron inserts. Because of the properties of cast iron, these inserts can retain heat for a long period of time. This means that even a long while after a fire has been extinguished, a cast iron insert will continue to radiate heat into a room.
- Longevity – compared to other materials, cast iron is incredibly long lasting. As a result a cast iron fireplace insert can easily last decades (if not even longer).
- Diversity – cast iron fireplace inserts are available in a wide range of different finishes and colours, meaning it’s easy to create a fireplace that’s unique to your home.
- Long-term value – cast iron fireplace inserts are very sought after and as such, hold their value. It’s not unknown for people to be able to sell their inserts for decent sums of money, even after many years’ use.
As you can see, there are plenty of reasons to invest in a cast iron fireplace insert.
How much do cast iron fireplace inserts cost?
Cast iron fireplace inserts are available across a broad range of price points. At the time of writing (March 2022), here at Direct Fireplaces you can find cast iron inserts ranging from just over £400 to over £1,700.
This represents remarkably good value considering that cast iron inserts can last decades (or even longer), and are also sought after on the second hand market. So, even if you decide to change your fireplace in a few years’ time, you’ll still be able to recoup some of your initial investment.
What finishes are cast iron fireplace inserts available in?
When you talk about cast iron inserts to many people, they’ll immediately think of a coal black fireplace.
Traditionally, that’s what cast iron fireplace inserts looked like!
Today, it’s a different story. Manufacturers such as Carron, Cast Tec and The Gallery Collection offer cast iron fire inserts in a range of interesting and varied finishes, such as:
- Full polished.
- Half polished.
Explore our range of cast iron fireplace inserts and you’ll see how interesting these finishes can be.
Finishes such as highlighted are excellent for highly decorative inserts, showing off the intricate detailing and patterns. Finishes such as polished and half-polished really bring fireplaces to life, brightening the area around the mouth of the fire.
How to install a cast iron fireplace insert
Fitting a cast iron fireplace insert is a straightforward job which is well within the skills of your average DIYer.
Whilst every model of cast iron fireplace insert is slightly different, the installation of a cast iron insert generally follows these steps:
- Ensure that the hearth and fire back have been installed first.
- Place the insert on top of the hearth and push it back against the fire back panel.
- Take the fire surround and place it against the insert to make sure everything fits and is aligned.
- If you’re happy with the alignment and fit of the surround and insert, then it’s time to fix the surround in place.
- How you fix the surround to the wall/chimney breast will depend on the type of surround you have bought. Our guide here tells you how to fit different types of fire surround.
- With the surround fixed in place, the last job is to seal the insert onto the fire back panel. This will prevent smoke from leaking from the edges of the insert. Use fire cement or firerope to form this seal.
- You’re done!
- To remove a cast iron fireplace insert, simply follow these steps in reverse.
Note – this is a general guide and is not definitive. Check the instructions included with your fire insert for exact installation requirements.
How to clean a cast iron fireplace insert
Once you’ve installed your cast iron fireplace insert, you’re going to want to keep it looking in brand new condition.
And, you’ll be glad to hear that doing so is really easy:
- Begin by sweeping up any ashes and dust that have accumulated in the grate (if you have a solid fuel cast iron fireplace). You can dispose of the ashes either in your bin or in a compost heap.
- Vacuum up any remaining dust or ash that is left over from your sweeping.
- Give the main body of the fireplace a light dusting using a lint-free cloth.
Provided you do these things often enough, then this will be sufficient to keep your cast iron fireplace insert in top condition.
Guide – for more detailed care, maintenance and restoration tips, read our guide on restoring cast iron fireplaces.
What are the best cast iron fireplace inserts?
Have you decided that you want a cast iron fireplace in your home? Then you’ll want to buy the very best cast iron insert.
Below, we’ve set out the most popular cast iron fire inserts here at Direct Fireplaces from the very best brands; Carron, Cast Tec and The Gallery Collection.
Gallery Collection Lytton Cast Iron Fire Insert
Should you be looking for the very best value cast iron insert, then the Gallery Collection Lytton should be a contender.
Despite being one of the most competitively priced cast iron fire inserts on the market, the Lytton doesn’t sacrifice quality or workmanship.
Featuring a stunning Victorian Era-inspired design, the Lytton features a decorative band around the arch which adds an additional level of detail to the fireplace opening.
The Lytton will complement either a marble or wooden fire surround and is available with a number of fire options including solid fuel, gas or electric fires.
Gallery Collection Large Crown Cast Iron Fire Insert
Bold, with a highlighted finish, the Crown fire insert from The Gallery Collection is a cast iron insert which is bound to catch the eye and create a grand focal point for your living space.
When we say grand, we mean it. The Gallery Collection Large Crown is one of the biggest cast iron inserts that we sell here at Direct Fireplaces.
It certainly takes the crown of statement inserts…
So, if you have a fireplace opening that’s larger than 940mm wide and you’re struggling to find an insert that’s big enough, well, you’ve just found it!
The Crown comes with a choice of fire options, so whether you want to have a solid fuel, gas or electric fire in your fireplace, the Crown allows you to do so.
Carron Collingham Cast Iron Fire Insert
Handmade by craftspeople in the heart of Lincolnshire, the Collingham is a traditional cast iron fire insert, but with a modern twist.
It has a unique triple-arch design, with the arches featuring a modern toothed pattern. You can choose to have these arches highlighted so that they become a standout visual feature of the insert. Alternatively, you can choose to have them in black so that they provide more subtle detailing to the insert.
Whichever finish you choose, the Carron Collingham is a fantastic looking cast iron insert and is available in either a solid fuel configuration or with a 6.9kW gas fire.
Cast Tec Ashbourne Integra Gas Cast Iron Insert
The Ashbourne from Cast Tec is a particularly detailed and ornate cast iron fire insert.
The integrated arches are beautifully detailed and are available in either a matt black or highlighted finish.
What really sets the Ashbourne apart from other cast iron inserts though is its choice of included gas fires. These allow you to create a traditional looking fireplace, but with the efficiency and specification of a modern gas fire.
The Cast Tec Ashbourne is available with a choice of gas fires, including:
- Classic multiflue gas fire.
- High output gas fire.
- Convector plus gas fire.
- High efficiency gas fire.
- Balanced flue gas fire.
Which gas fire is right for your home will be largely dependent upon the type of chimney and flue you have.
Carron Rococo Cast Iron Fire Insert
For the most ornate of homes, there’s the Carron Rococo cast iron fire insert.
Featuring a spectacular, intricate design around the arch which channels the artists of the Rococo or late Baroque periods, the Carron Rococo really is a work of art in its own right.
If you want to create a focal point in your home that really can’t be ignored, then the Carron Rococo is for you.
Like all Carron products, the Rococo is handmade by craftspeople in the heart of Lincolnshire and it really shows. The quality of this cast iron insert really is unmatched. To see what we mean, zoom in to the picture above and you’ll be awed by fine details such as hanging fruits and mermaids.
As we said, this cast iron fire insert truly is a piece of art in itself!
The Carron Rococo is available in a solid fuel configuration, or can be purchased with a natural gas fire or an LPG fire.
Transform your home with Direct Fireplaces
We hope you’ve found our guide to cast iron fireplace inserts helpful.
Cast iron fire inserts represent a really cost effective way of completely transforming the look and feel of your living room. So, if you want to transform your home, consider buying one today.
Shop cast iron fireplace inserts at Direct Fireplaces now
For more buying guides, information and fireplace inspiration, read the Direct Fireplaces blog…