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Wood-Burning vs. Gas Fireplace: Which Is Right for You?

Jun 09, 2020 by Maurie Backman

Whether you're looking to buy a home with a fireplace or are having one put into your existing home, you have a couple of options to choose from: wood versus gas. There are pros and cons to each, so here's what you need to know.

Wood-burning fireplaces

When we picture a fireplace, we tend to imagine logs of wood burning to create a cozy, warm family or living room. The benefit of a wood-burning fireplace is that you get the classic experience. Wood-burning fireplaces not only blend nicely into a variety of rooms, but also fit easily due to the fact that they don't require a gas line. And there's nothing like the smell of fresh, burning wood to create the rustic feel you may be going for.

On the other hand, if there's one major drawback to wood-burning fireplaces, it's that getting a fire going can be a time-consuming process. You need to make sure you have the right amount of wood on hand and then actually take the time to get a fire lit. Plus, you need to keep fueling that fire if you want it burning for several hours -- say, while you're trying to read or watch TV. And while you might enjoy the smell of burning wood, you may not enjoy the smoke that fireplaces can produce.

Gas fireplaces

The main benefit of gas fireplaces is that they're extremely easy to light. All you have to do is flip a switch, and voila -- you have a fire going. And in most cases, it'll look similar to the fire you'd see in a regular fireplace. Gas fireplaces also don't produce smoke or smells, so if you're the sensitive type, you won't have to worry about being bothered while the fire is going. And the fact that you don't need a pile of wood to light a gas fireplace is an added plus.

That said, to install a gas fireplace, you need access to a gas line. As such, you may be limited to certain locations within your home. Also, some homeowners feel that gas fireplaces have less charm and don't blend into a room all that easily. And using one frequently will increase your gas bills.

How much do you want to spend on a fireplace?

Clearly, there are benefits and drawbacks to both gas and wood-burning fireplaces, so your decision may boil down to cost. The average cost to install a wood-burning fireplace is between $857 and $3,595, according to HomeAdvisor, while the average cost of a gas fireplace is between $2,300 and $10,000. Obviously, these are very wide price ranges, so you may need to get some quotes and see which option is most cost efficient based on the setup of your home.

What's the right choice for you?

Some people simply like the idea of creating a real fire, so if that sounds like you, a wood-burning fireplace is the way to go, whether that means adding one to your home or looking for a new home that already has one. But if you're admittedly the type who prefers the convenience of flipping a switch and having an instant fire at your disposal, then go with a gas fireplace. Either option will leave you feeling warm and content on a cold winter's night.

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