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A well-chosen fireplace is the focal point of any room, so choosing a new fire surround is an important task. While the best option for you will depend on the age, style and size of your home, stone is a great choice in many cases. Whether you prefer striking granite or classic marble, adding a stone surround to your existing fireplace - or completely overhauling the whole thing - can be a worthwhile investment in your home.

Stone is a timeless option and complements a wide range of decor styles and colours. Here are just some of the benefits of opting for a stone fireplace surround in your home.

Durability

A stone fireplaces will last and last. Think of all those old stone fireplaces you have seen in stately homes or period properties - in many cases, a stone fireplace will last as long as the property it is installed in. A properly installed stone fireplace will remain looking good with very little maintenance other than occasional cleaning. There is no need to worry about scratches or chips in your fire surround, as stone can stand up to an awful lot of knocks and scrapes without signs of damage.

Appearance

A stone fireplace has a timeless appeal that will never date, providing you choose a classic design. If longevity is important to you, steer away from overly contemporary styles that will look out of date after a few years and stick with more subtle designs in neutral tones. While some modern granite surrounds are extremely attractive and eye-catching, they might not necessarily suit as wide a range of decor as more traditional designs.

Added value

A fireplace is often considered a permanent feature of a home, so splashing out on a high-quality and attractive stone surround that complements the overall style of your property could add value in the long run. As the focal point of your living room, an eye-catching fire could even sway undecided buyers and really make your property stand out from the crowd.

Retain heat

A stone fire surround can retain more heat from your lit fire than other types of surround. This means it can actually help to keep your room warmer for longer and will even continue to give off warmth after the fire has been turned off or extinguished. Your room will be gently warmed by the stone.

Posted By Paul Smith

There are so many options when it comes to picking the perfect fireplace or fire for your home - so much so that the choice can seem bewildering. Here we consider what factors you need to bear in mind when creating the right look and ambiance in your living space.

While many of us are driven by aesthetic considerations when shopping for a fire, there is no reason you can’t combine pure good looks with excellent usability and efficiency - provided you are prepared to do a modicum of research.

If you have central heating in your property, you are likely to be looking for a secondary heat source that can be utilised for a swift dash of extra warmth during the colder months or a fire that will work well in tandem with underfloor heating, for example.

The first thing you need to decide is whether you want an open fire or one with a glass frontage. While open fires undoubtedly inject a real sense of cosiness into any room, they are not very fuel efficient, require decent ventilation, and can be quite smoky.

A wood burner will provide an impressive flame coupled with a high level of heat efficiency; alternatively, if you are looking for the atmosphere that a flame adds to an environment but do not want the hassle involved with burning wood or other fuels, a gas fire could be a great fit for you. There are lots of models that offer highly-realistic coal or log fuel beds and the benefit of being able to control the flame and heat to your exact specifications, often via remote control.

Designs can fall anywhere between the starkly contemporary and the very traditional; in addition, they can be built in or freestanding, depending on your needs.

One obvious plus point of wood burning stoves and gas fires is that they do not need mains electricity to work. This means that should you experience a power cut, you will still be able to keep at least one room in your home nice and warm.

If you are working on a large-scale home renovation or new-build project, you should try to make your decision about heating as soon as possible. Certain options may require a chimney or even an inglenook; therefore, settling on a heating scheme early on will leave you with the widest range of options from which to choose.

Posted By Paul Smith

There are three main reasons for aiming to get your chimney swept regularly:

Health

Breathing in fumes from solid fuel or gas fires can damage your health; in the worst-case scenario, doing so could be fatal. Getting your chimney swept will help to ensure that the flue is clear enough to let any dangerous fumes make their way safely out of the chimney.

Fire risk

Chimney fires are a risk if you fail to keep your chimney maintained to a high standard, but committing to a once-yearly clean will dramatically reduce the risk of experiencing a chimney fire. A fire of this type can vary in severity, from damaging your chimney pot to your home burning down. While uncommon, severe fires do happen; however, they are easily avoided.

Smoke damage

Every time you use your fire, soot will inevitable accumulate in the chimney; over time, this will reduce the area of the flue, which will affect the draw and mean that you risk smoke entering the room. This can damage the fireplace and surround, and even the decor of the room, in addition to being an irritant to those breathing it in.

How often?

Many people want to know how often they should get their chimney swept. The answer to this question is generally dependent on how often the fire is used and what sort of fuel you use. If you only light your fire or use your wood burner occasionally, a once-yearly clean should suffice; however, if you rely on your fire more often, you should think about going for a biannual clean - once before the first fire of the autumn and then around half-way through the winter season.

Always check that your chimney sweep is properly registered and ensure that they provide you with the necessary paperwork once they have finished the inspection and sweep of your chimney. You should keep this in case of any queries or problems later down the line.

Do I need to get my chimney swept if I have a gas fire?

You will need to get any gas appliances in your home regularly serviced by a Gas Safe engineer, which should normally be on a yearly basis. A service on a gas fire will typically involve the engineer checking the chimney’s draw; if they are concerned, you will be advised to get your chimney swept.

Posted By Paul Smith

After this year's scorching summer, the temperatures have now well and truly dropped and there is a definite feeling in the air that winter is on its way. Most parts of the country have enjoyed a fantastic few months of weather and the majority of us have not used our fireplaces or central heating since April. As the nights start to draw in and the leaves begin to fall from the trees, our thoughts turn to the winter ahead and it is time to make sure your fireplace is in good working order.

Here are a few tips to ensure your fire won't let you down when you most need it.

Electric fires

Electric fires are extremely low-maintenance and should operate for many years without any issues. Check yours - if it is still working effectively with no problems, you should be fine for the winter. Check the manufacturer's instruction booklet for cleaning advice and simply give it a good clean if you haven't done so for a while.

Gas fires

It is recommended that you have your gas fire serviced annually, which can extend the life of your fire in addition to checking that it is operating safely and efficiently. Gas engineers will be getting increasingly busy as winter gets closer - if your fire is due a service, get it booked in as soon as possible and be sure to only use Gas Safe-registered engineers. Different companies and engineers will offer different services, so check what you are getting before you commit if you are using a new provider.

Wood & Solid fuel burning stoves

You should have cleaned out your stove and given it a maintenance check after you last used it, so it should take minimal work to get it ready for the winter. If you have not had your chimney swept recently, get this service booked in now. Chimneys should generally be checked and swept at least once a year by an experienced professional. Never neglect this task - it is extremely important, as a blocked chimney can increase the risk of fire.

You should be able to conduct a basic stove maintenance check yourself and can refer to the manufacturer's guidelines for help. If you didn't thoroughly clean your stove at the end of last winter, do so now, using appropriate accessories and cleaning products. Be sure to check the seal around the stove's door and arrange for any damaged or worn parts to be replaced before you attempt to use the stove again.

Posted By Paul Smith

With the Christmas approaching, many homeowners will be planning multiple of DIY and home improvement projects. For most of us, this will probably consist of a trip or two to our local furniture or DIY store followed by applying a few coats of paint and possibly assembling some flat-pack furniture; however, others will be planning bigger projects throughout the winter. If your to-do list includes any work relating to gas appliances, it is vital that you leave such jobs to registered professionals, with Gas Safe-registered engineers the only people you should entrust your gas appliances or gas supply to.

The Gas Safe Register

The Gas Safe Register was appointed by the UK's health and safety authorities to oversee gas safety throughout the country. Every gas engineer working in the UK must be on the register by law. When a business or an individual is registered by Gas Safe, they are granted a licence to undertake gas-related work in private and commercial properties. Even if you think you only need minor repairs to a gas appliance, or you are confident you know what you are doing, you should always consult a registered Gas Safe engineer rather than attempt to complete any jobs yourself. You could be putting yourself, your family and your property - not to mention any neighbouring properties and their occupants - in grave danger if you attempt any jobs you are not qualified to undertake.

Those on the Gas Safe Register are qualified to undertake a number of jobs you might require doing in your home, including installing new appliances, carrying out safety and performance checks on appliances, identifying and fixing gas leaks, finding and repairing faults, replacing broken parts, and providing advice about how you and your family can use gas safely and efficiently.

The Gas Safe Register has an up-to-date list of registered engineers in every part of the country and it is easy to find a suitable professional in your area by calling 0800 408 5500 or using the search facility on the organisation’s website (www.gassaferegister.co.uk/). When it comes to gas safety, it is always better to be safe than sorry.

If you have any questions about installing or removing one of our gas fires or other gas appliances, please do not hesitate to get in touch and our friendly, knowledgeable team will be happy to help.

Posted By Paul Smith

As we head towards the end of the year, we start to get a better idea of what the biggest trends of winter 2018/19 will be. While a fireplace is usually an investment that remains in the home for many years, choosing wisely means you can enjoy a stylish fireplace that will work with various decor as you change your home's look with future trends.

Here are some of the biggest trends for winter 2018/19, along with the type of fireplace that will work well with each.

Nude tones

The ultimate neutral and one that works well in many rooms, nude is set to be huge over the coming season. It works well with other neutrals and creates a soothing, relaxing space when used in a living room. While it might not be the most practical shade in a busy family home, it is certainly inviting and classic. If you want to pair a fireplace with a nude or other neutral colour scheme, it is important to steer clear of anything too heavy or darkly coloured. Look for lighter fireplaces and stick to light woods and more delicate fireplaces if possible.

Bohemian

Think bright colours and eclectic patterns paired with stripped wooden floorboards. Bohemian decor looks stunning; however, it can be hard to pull off and rarely works in very modern homes. The main thing to avoid here is anything too shiny or contemporary-looking. The best choice is probably a wood burning stove or other stove that won't look out of place in your boho living room.

Cosmic

There has been a move lately towards decor inspired by space and the cosmos, which is great news for anyone who favours a modern look with lots of polished metal. If you want to subtly add elements of this trend to your home, consider adding metallic cushions or textiles in silver or different shades of grey. The best fireplace for this type of decor is something with a sleek appearance with metal detailing. Avoid anything too traditional-looking or with a heavy wooden surround, as these will jar with a cosmic theme.

Brass

Now that copper appears to have had its moment, brass is set to be the next big metal trend in decor. It has a somewhat unfashionable reputation, but this could soon change. Modern fires with brass fittings are readily available and will complement other brass fixtures.

Posted By Paul Smith

As we slowly head out of winter and into the beginnings of spring, our thoughts naturally turn towards summer with its long, warm days and light evenings. While it will be a while longer before we can enjoy a constant supply of hot weather and blazing sunshine, it is never too early to start making the most of our gardens and patios. If you love spending time outdoors but venture out less than you would like because of low temperatures, why not consider a wood burner?

There are so many different ways of heating your patio these days that there is something for just about every taste and budget, but wood burners are often overlooked. Another option is, of course, the traditional chimenea or fire pit. While these are undoubtedly attractive - and usually affordable - options, you might find they do not provide enough heat during cold spells. Patio heaters have become increasingly popular in the past couple of decades, but they are not to everyone's taste. If you want reliable, efficient heat but don't want a traditional patio heater, an attractive wood burner could be the perfect solution.

Advantages of an outdoor wood burner

While we have all seen the generic patio heaters, which are often large, cumbersome and not entirely attractive in appearance, relatively few people think of placing a wood burner in their gardens. One of the big plus points of a wood burner is that they are generally more attractive to look at that patio heaters, even when they are not in use. This means you do not need to worry about adding a potential eyesore to your garden. Wood burners are also extremely efficient and supply far more heat than a chimenea or fire pit. If you have a wood burner in your home, or you know someone who has, you will be aware that the level of heat they provide can be intense. Think how much cosier it will be sitting out under the stars with the warmth of a wood burner!

Our outdoor wood burners are fully controllable and offer excellent heating performance. Perfect for use in the depths of winter or those cooler nights during the rest of the year, you will be amazed how much more time you spend outdoors with a wood burner. Why not embrace the outdoors like the northern Europeans do and make the most of your garden, yard or patio all year round?

Posted By Paul Smith

One of the most noticeable trends in recent years when it comes to living room decor has been the increase in the number of people hanging their TV over the fireplace in the spot traditionally occupied by a mirror or picture. The proliferation of flat screen TVs over the last couple of decades has meant that TVs are no longer the heavy, bulky, cumbersome boxes they used to be; today, they can be easily and safely hung on a wall rather than taking up valuable floor space, but is it actually a good idea to hang your TV over the fireplace? This article outlines some of the pros and cons of this popular practice.

Pros

For most people, the pro is that hanging their TV over the fireplace means it takes up no floor space. Another big plus point for many is that as the fireplace is already the focal point of the room - in most cases at least - it makes sense to place the TV in the same spot, as this is where the eyes are naturally draw to. Hanging the TV over the fireplace means it is easily visible from everywhere in the room and makes the layout of sofas and other seating more flexible. If the TV is situated in the corner of the room, for instance, it might not be comfortable to watch from certain other parts of the room.

Cons

Perhaps the biggest con is the most obvious - the heat from your fire. If your fireplace is a period one that is now purely ornamental and never actually used as a heat source, this clearly won't be a factor in your home. If you use your fire as an actual working heat source, however, you need to be aware that the heat can damage your expensive TV. It is not just the heat that comes out from the fire and into the room that you need to think about - if your chimney breast gets hot, this can also damage your TV when it is mounted directly onto the wall. Particularly if you have a real fire, your chimney will get very hot. If you want to hang your TV on the chimney breast, you will need to be sure it is properly insulated before doing so. Another disadvantage comes down more to a matter of taste. Do you really want the focal point of your living room to be your TV, or would you prefer people to only be drawn to the TV when it is actually being used?

Posted By Paul Smith

We are deep into the British winter and you have no doubt noticed if your current fire is not quite cutting it on the heating front. If you are thinking about installing a new fire, or perhaps adding a fireplace to a room that does not currently have one, this article will give you a brief overview of the mains types on the market and the pros and cons of each.

Gas fires

Everyone is familiar with the traditional gas fire - that often-unattractive box-like fixture on the wall that was everywhere in the 1970s and 80s. Times have changed, however, and today's stylish gas fires will enhance any home. Gas fires start at very reasonable prices and are easy to use and clean, and are energy efficient. They remain extremely popular with homeowners and are a great way to add a cosy ambiance to a room when you want to go some way towards recreating the look and feel of a real open fire.

Electric fires

These are very straightforward to use - all models can simply be plugged into an standard electrical socket for minimal fuss. Modern electric fires can be very attractive and are often a good budget option if money is an issue.

Wood burning stoves

Something of a halfway house between electric and gas fires and a traditional open fireplace, a wood burning stove is an increasingly popular option for homeowners. A stove will offer considerable heat if used correctly and will add a cosy, cottage-style feel to any home. While they are fairly simple to use, you will have to ensure you have a ready supply of suitable wood to hand and somewhere to store it ahead of use. They do need some cleaning and maintenance, but are generally cleaner than open fires.

Open fires

Whether you prefer logs or coal, there is nothing quite like an open fire in the depths of winter. They add instant heat, atmosphere and an attractive focal point to your room; however, they do come with some downsides. They can be messy & are inefficient and you may struggle to keep a decent sized fire going for any length of time if you lack experience. You will need to ensure you have your chimney professionally swept by a chimney sweep regularly, as failing to do so can cause problems and even chimney fires.

Posted By Paul Smith

Gas fire safety tips

21/03/2018 14:26

Millions of us use gas fires safely and without incident every day, especially at this time of year. Gas fires offer a reliable, economical and safe way to heat our homes and remain one of the most popular choices for homeowners; however, accidents can happen. It is therefore a good idea to follow these simple tips to keep your gas fire operating at the optimal level and minimise the risk of anything going wrong.

Have your gas fire checked regularly

Many companies offer an annual check as part of a standard package; if you are not sure whether your provider offers this service, simply ask them. If you are on certain benefits or are of pension age, you might even be entitled to a free annual check. If your company can’t help, it is quick and easy to call an independent Gas Safe registered engineer out to check your gas fire and any other gas appliances you have in your home. This will put your mind at rest and ensure your fire is working both correctly and efficiently.

Only use Gas Safe registered engineers

Always check the Gas Safe credentials of anyone you are thinking of hiring to install, remove, or do any other work on your gas appliances. There are different types of Gas Safety registration, so call the Gas Safe Register on 0800 408 5500 if you have any questions or any doubts about someone.

If you move into a new home, get the gas fire tested

There are so many things to think about when you move into a new home that it is easy to overlook issues that might seem less important. You should always have any gas fires checked when you move into a new property, even if they look new and appear to be functioning correctly. You should never assume a fire is safe simply because someone else has been using it.

Install a carbon monoxide detector

These are small, affordable alarms that look similar to a smoke detector. You should only buy a carbon monoxide detector from a reputable supplier - don't be tempted by cheap deals from suspicious sources. If the device detects unsafe levels of carbon monoxide, it will sound a loud alarm, alerting you to the situation. If this happens, you should leave the house and call the Gas Emergency Helpline on 0800 111 999 immediately, for assistance. Often your local Fire Brigade or Fire & Rescue group cam help & give impartial advice

Posted By Paul Smith
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