Sunday, December 16, 2007

Choosing a Fireplace Screen


Fireplace screens provide an extra measure of safety and protection for your working fireplace. Home improvement expert Bob Vila advises consumers to “always use a metal mesh screen with fireplaces.” But you don’t have to settle for an ugly screen or a “one size fits all” screen; newer styles offer many finishes, designs, and sizes to fit your fireplace and your living area.

The first step in picking the right fireplace screen is determining which type of screen works best for your hearth. There are two types of fireplace screens:

  • Single Plate – Single-plate screens consist of one single panel to cover the fireplace opening. The plate will either be curved so it can stand on its own, or it may include stands. The screen can be glass or mesh.
  • Folding – Folding screens are hinged for easy adjustment. They usually consist of a large center panel of either glass or mesh and two smaller, folding panels on either side. The individual panels can be flat or curved.


Get the Right Fit

Screen distributor John S. Adams tells buyers to measure their fireplace opening and get a screen that fits. Ill-fitting screens (too small or too big) look wrong and can potentially create a safety hazard. “The screen should cover the entire opening,” Adams says. “You want good coverage with narrow, fine mesh—not great big holes.”

Since fireplaces come in all shapes and sizes, measure the dimensions of your fireplace opening before shopping for screens. If you are looking a single-plate screens, get a screen with a few inches to spare in both width and height for a snug fit. If you are considering a folding screen, look for one with up to 10 extra inches width and 5 extra inches height. This will allow you to set up the screen to cover the fireplace opening fully without overextending it. A folding screen that is too open may tip over.


Finish the Job

Just like fireplace tools and fireplace doors, you can select from a wide variety of finishes and styles for your fireplace screen. Adams notes that the most popular finish choices are natural iron, brushed steel or pewter, and basic black. Traditional polished brass is still an option, but many consider the look old-fashioned.

Style-wise, you can choose the look that is right for your fireplace and your living area. Do you have a simple, streamlined, modern look? Maybe a simple iron screen would work for you. Do you have mission-style furnishings? Perhaps a fireplace screen with mission-style designs in the metalwork would work for your living area. Or, if you are looking for something more ornate, check out fireplace screens with curved, floral designs.


Stay Safe

“A lot of families are looking for protection for their kids and pets, whether the fireplace is gas or wood-burning,” says Adams. “Even if it’s a gas fireplace, the glass enclosure gets unbelievably hot.” Luckily today’s manufacturers provide a product that is safer than ever and available in a wealth of choices to fit the color and d├ęcor of your home.

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