In contemporary design, sleek rules. Soft curves, clean lines, and industrial finishes can be seen all throughout modern homes. When looking for a fireplace to complement a modern home style, look no further than a linear format situated off the floor. The end result is a dramatic visual that can be enjoyed from across the room.
Challenges of Modern Fireplaces
Protecting the surfaces from heat is an ongoing challenge for this fireplace style. Sheetrock is combustible and susceptible to heat; household paint finishes can rarely hold up to high temperatures; and tape joints can crack from heat over time. This combined with the dilemma of how to use the open wall space above the fireplace can lead to hurdles in your dream design. Fortunately, a combination of innovative wall and fireplace products are successfully resolving some of these issues.
Let’s start with the wall/enclosure. One way to beat the temperature issue around these fireplaces is the use of innovative wall products like Skamotec and Promafour boards. These products provide a method for constructing the entire wall around the fireplace in a smooth and non-combustible enclosure. This eliminates the risk of overheated walls or cracked tape joints.
There is still the issue of finish coating on the wall and that requires research into the properties of the paint being selected for the project. In many cases, only high-temperature industrial-type coatings will stand up to the heat generated around the opening of the fireplace. This may limit your color choices. Expect temperatures around the opening to approach 300 degrees Fahrenheit or more.
Some fireplace manufacturers have developed “cool wall” systems that extract the heat around the fireplace and re-route it higher on the wall. These systems provide much greater flexibility for wall finishes (even combustible wall finishes), artwork, or electronics on the fireplace wall. Both Ortal fireplaces and Valor fireplaces with their HeatShift system utilize this technology giving you a lot more control with your fireplace wall design.
If you see a fireplace you like and the solutions above won’t work for you, then the best option is to design the fireplace to accommodate a stone, tile or other non-combustible finish around the fireplace opening. In combination with a non-combustible backing board, this will limit the risk of having a wall crack or discolor. Using larger tile sizes in contrasting finishes, like shown in this Valor L2, create the appearance of an elongated fireplace even in more limited spaces.