Modern Fireplaces & Smooth Wall Finishes
In contemporary design, sleek rules. Smooth surfaces, soft curves and industrial finishes abound.
In the fireplace world this usually means linear formats situated off the floor and elegantly breaking-up the wall enclosure. The result is dramatic.
Getting to this look while protecting the surfaces from heat is an ongoing challenge. Sheetrock is in itself susceptible to heat. Household paint finishes can rarely hold-up to high temperatures. Tape joints can crack from heat over time. Fortunately, a combination of innovative wall products and fireplace design 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 Or Promafour board. 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 200 degrees Fahrenheit or more.
Some fireplace manufacturers have developed wall designs that extract the heat around the fireplace and re-route it higher on the wall. This allows the use of certain types of sheet rock and also permits the safe installation of electronics like TV screens above the fireplace. Ortal fireplaces are a good example of this design. More recently, Valor Fireplaces has developed their
Heatshift system to allow similar applications. These systems provide much better temperature regulation for most household paints.
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 eliminate the risk of having a wall crack or discolor.