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Masonry vs. Prefabricated

Let's look at your fireplace, specifically, your firebox, which is where you burn your wood.  Reach inside and tap on the walls.  What type of material are they made of?


Masonry Fireplaces

Masonry fireplaces are built into the house when the house is constructed.  They have fireboxes built of brick or stone.  These fireplaces accept overlap-fit doors.  The door will sit outside the firebox and overlap the surround.


Prefabricated Fireplaces

Prefabricated fireplaces are manufactured in a factory and sent to a home to be installed.  They have metal fireboxes.  Sometimes the metal is covered by a ceramic panel made to look like brick.  When you touch it, you'll be able to tell that it's not actually stone.  Prefabricated fireplaces accept inside-fit doors.  These doors sit just inside the firebox so that they are flush with the surround.

Since masonry fireplace doors have an overlap fit, they can fit onto a range of firebox sizes.  Generally you'll see masonry doors in three sizes: small, medium, or large.  Prefabricated doors, however, have to fit perfectly inside the firebox.  These doors are custom built for each fireplace.  This allows for proper ventilation and meets national safety codes.  Watch this video for more information.

Please note: The prefab doors on this page are for customers who do not know their manufacturer.  We make all of the prefab models on this page for specific manufacturers as well.  Look at our Prefab Door page for instructions on how to find your manufacturer and to shop the doors made for that specific manufacturer.

Glass Doors for Wood Burning Fireplaces

You have to consider two things when choosing the glass for your fireplace doors: safety and aesthetics.


Fireplace doors can be built with one of two types of glass: tempered and ceramic.  Ceramic "glass" is a clear ceramic material that can withstand extraordinarily high temperatures.  If it breaks, it breaks into dangerous shards.  It is also three times the price of tempered glass.

Tempered glass is not built to withstand the same kinds of temperatures ceramic glass can.  However, as long as you leave your fireplace doors open while you burn, your tempered glass doors will stay safe and strong.  Should the glass break, it shatters into relatively harmless, small pieces.

Some ceramic glass doors may be able to withstand the high temperatures created by leaving the fireplace doors closed.  This heat resistance might make you think ceramic glass is a better option.  However, the experts at Brick-Anew agree that tempered glass is a better, safer option as long as you leave the doors open while you’re burning in the fireplace.


A second consideration is the tint of your glass.  Burning wood leaves a firebox full of ashes and charred bits of wood.  You probably don't want to clean your firebox out every night.  If you choose clear glass doors, you'll be showing off that ashy firebox all day.  If you choose a tinted glass, the charred remains of last night's fire are hidden from sight making your room look brighter and cleaner during the day.

tinted glass options for custom doors

A Couple FAQs

Can I Close the Doors on My Wood Burning Fireplace?

We get asked this question a lot.  Closing the fireplace doors while the fire is burning creates a heat trap that tempered glass cannot withstand.  Never close your fireplace doors while the fire is burning.  While this may make you consider ceramic glass and it's higher heat resistance as an alternative, the experts at Brick-Anew agree that tempered glass is a safer option.  Even if you get ceramic doors, you can't close them on a prefab fireplace due to national fire safety standards.

The experts at Fast Replacement Glass back our team up.  They say, “Tempered glass can only withstand temperatures up to 400 degrees F…While wood burning fireplace doors are approved to accept tempered glass, other heating applications must have ceramic glass for their doors due to the high temperatures they emit.”  If you have a wood stove and have to keep the door closed, ceramic glass is a good choice.  For traditional fireplace doors, tempered glass is the right decision.

However, you can close the doors as the fire is dying down.  You have to leave your flue open for a long time after a fire is done burning, or your room will smell of smoke the next day.  Leaving the flue open all night means that ashes and cold air can blow into the room.  As soon as the flames are gone, it is perfectly safe to close your fireplace doors.  Smoke escapes up the flue, ashes and sparks are trapped in the firebox, and cold drafts are kept at bay by your doors.

How Do I Clean Wood Burning Fireplace Glass Doors?

The glass on your wood burning fireplace doors may get dirty over time.  For regular maintenance, you can clean them with any mild glass cleaner and a soft cloth or paper towel.  If you haven’t cleaned your doors in a while, you may need to purchase a fireplace door glass cleaner.  Brick-Anew also offers full swing fireplace doors like the Georgian Bifold Masonry Doors.  These doors can be pulled off the track completely for easy cleaning.

The Georgia Masonry Fireplace Door

I hope this article helps you narrow down your fireplace door possibilities.  Want more information?  Check out some of these articles.