How to Use a Fireplace in an Apartment

Apartments can represent and offer a different way of living.

From downtown apartments offering a city lifestyle, to country lofts or coastal properties offering a smaller slice of a slower pace, there are many benefits to apartment living, but does that include having a working fireplace?

In short, if you live in an apartment, does that mean you can’t have a fireplace?

We will look at the challenges of having a fireplace in an apartment and help you decide which type (if any) is best for you.

Why have a Fireplace in an Apartment?

Due to design, fireplaces are generally not needed for their heat in apartments as most are well insulated and also buffered on either side, or above or below, by neighbouring apartment heat.

As a result, the main benefit of an apartment fireplace is the aesthetic appeal and character, alongside the normal relaxing benefits of settling down in front of a roaring fire.

With all that said, is it actually practical to have a fireplace within your apartment and if so, which type is best?

Types of Fireplace

There are three main types of fireplace available, Wood, Electric and Gas and each with its pros and cons.

Let’s look at each type to help you decide which type is best for your apartment.

Electric Fireplace

The best type of fireplace for apartment living is an electric fireplace. This is because you don’t need a flue or gas supply. All you need is an electrical outlet, and most apartments will have one.

Electric fireplaces are portable, easy to install, and don’t require a permit.

If you have a wall-mounted electric fireplace, you will need to cut out a section of the wall to have it installed. This may require permission from a landlord.

But otherwise, you just plug it in and turn it on. Obviously it doesn’t completely recreate the classic “roaring fire” aesthetic and feel, but it is a potential compromise.

Gas Fireplace

An alternative would be a gas fireplace. Although some apartments could hold a gas-powered fireplace, we advise you to be careful.

The great thing about the gas fireplace is that you don’t need a flue. They often come with a catalytic converter that turns any harmful gasses into safe gasses.

To install a gas fireplace, you will need to have some minor building work done so that the gas pipeline can connect to and supply your fireplace. You will also need an air vent for the gas from the converter to escape.

Most building regulations dictate that a room must be at least 30m2 to have a gas fireplace installed.

Although most gas fireplaces don’t need a flue, some do. A balanced flue system uses a flue instead of a catalytic converter.

If you install a gas fireplace, you will need at least one external wall in your apartment. Because the air vent or flue will have to move all the gasses out of your apartment. Unfortunately, if this external wall is load-bearing then you may not be able to utilise it.

Traditional Fireplace

In short, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll ever have a traditional wood-fired fireplace within an apartment.

Firstly, you have the same wall requirements as a gas fireplace. You need to have at least one external wall that isn’t load-bearing.

Secondly, the room needs to be large enough. If a room is too small, you cannot put a traditional fireplace in it because regulation will dictate as much.

You also need to ensure the fireplace is in a room with an openable window. Which is not always possible within an apartment block.

Fourthly, you will need to install a flue system. This takes both time and money.

Fifthly, if you live several floors up, you will need to carry your wood supply upstairs. If the elevator breaks, you’re in for one tough workout…

All of this, combined with the fact that naturally there’s a “danger” element when introducing live fire to a building holding so many people, means that you won’t have a traditional fireplace within an apartment.

How to Use a Fireplace in an Apartment

Whichever type of fireplace you choose (gas or electric), here are some questions you need to ask yourself when considering installing your fireplace into an apartment:

1. Is this possible?

If the only wall with enough space to fit a fireplace is either 1. load-bearing or 2. not external, chances are you will not be able to install a gas or traditional fireplace. However, an electric fireplace could still be possible.

2. Will I need any building work done?

Whether for a flue system, air vent, extra window, or simply cutting a hole in the wall to create the space, many fireplace installations require significant construction or renovation work. You need to consider how much this work will cost and whether it will be worth the investment in time and money.

3. Am I allowed to renovate within my building?

Unlike with detached buildings, apartment blocks (and the apartments within) are subject to increased regulation because of the volume of people living within the building. Can you legally renovate to add a fireplace?

In conclusion, if you want a fireplace but live in an apartment then your safest bet will be to use electric or gas and whatever you do will be dictated by the various regulation and legal requirements within the block.

We hope this helps, and for everything else home heating stick with