Alex Cleveland won't admit it, but he's a bit of a fireplace guru. With over ten years in the industry, he knows a thing or two. We hit him up with all our fire-related questions, from running costs, to how to save money on your installations. Here's what he said:

1. What heats better, wood or gas?

Wood gives off an intense heat, however with the new clean-air standards, wood fireplaces are more of an effort to run and keep going. Lighting a fire every day can be hard when you are living a busy lifestyle.

Although you cannot beat the smells and crackling of a wood fireplace, there are a lot of great features with gas, such as the fact it can be programmed to come on and off at different times of the day. To me this is one of the keys to efficient heating. By keeping your house warm during colder parts of the day like early in the morning and again in the afternoon, you do not have to run your fire at its highest output in an attempt to build the temperature back up into your room.

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You can’t beat the crackling and heat of a real wood fire, just make sure you choose one that is clean-burning, like this Spartherm large swing door wood fire.

2. How do the running costs of gas compare to those of wood?

This will always depend on where you are purchasing your wood or if you are on natural or bottled gas. The general opinion is that gas is more expensive than wood as a heating fuel. I actually think that this assumption is because of older technology in open gas fireplaces consuming a lot of gas with very little return. The technologies in gas fireplaces in today’s market have huge heat outputs, low gas consumption and impressive looking flames.

3. Any tips for a cost-effective installation?

It really depends on the design. A fireplace will cost you X amount of dollars, but getting into complicated designs like floating shelf and ledges will always push out costings. There are a lot of gas fireplaces out there that need to have non – combustible materials on the face wall.

By researching your fireplace, you will find that there are ones on the market that you can be more flexible with.  This is great because you can now have the option of using the same joinery on your surround as you have used in your kitchen, or other joinery around the home. Although this can be an expensive one off exercise, integrating your fireplace into other joinery cabinets can save money on builders and extensive sheeting material.

4. What are the most popular types of fireplaces, and why?

We are definitely seeing a trend towards longer linear fireplaces with minimal surrounds or a frameless look and viewable from different sides. With open plan living being specified into homes, a long double sided fireplace can be a solution for dividing a room without losing the open feel.


Escea’s DS Series is a good example of the trend for ultra-wide, minimalist and see-through fireplaces.

5. And what about surrounds and installation designs…what materials and looks are popular at the moment?

Fires are being designed into homes as a feature in open-plan living areas to be viewed from different points in the home. We are seeing a trend in floating concrete hearths that wrap around corners and double as a sitting ledge, with clean square-set finishes and artwork above or TV to the side.