The Difference Between Masonry Fireplaces and Factory-Built Fireplaces
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Contrasts Between Masonry & Factory-Built Fireplaces

Masonry Fireplace

Masonry Fireplace

A masonry fireplace and a factory-built fireplace both provide the same basic function of adding warmth, beauty, and the pleasure of a watching a fire at home. There are, however, some distinct differences between the two which are of significance to many homeowners, as shown below.

Home Value

The value of a home is increased if it has a masonry fireplace. This type of fireplace is a permanent part of the structure and is built as the home is built. Fireplaces are subject to regulations such as municipal codes, and it’s important that fireplaces and chimneys be in compliance. For instance, in former times flue lining was not required, but today all chimneys must have a protective lining, to reduce the possibility of house fires and to meet code standards.

Factory-built fireplaces also add to a home’s value, and these appliances must also comply with engineering and municipal codes. It is extremely important that pre-fab fireplaces be properly installed in order to ensure protection from house fires. In addition, proper installation can prevent possible carbon monoxide poisoning, which causes more fatalities in the U.S. than any other type of poisoning. Our chimney professionals are qualified and specially trained and can install a factory-built fireplace in your home according to code and manufacturer’s instructions, which also provides you with peace of mind.

Heating Efficiency

For homeowners from Southwest Wisconsin to Northeast Iowa to Northwest Illinois, our service area, the difference in heating efficiency between a masonry fireplace and a factory built fireplace can be very significant. As beautiful as masonry fireplaces are, they do not have the benefits provided by technological advancements and essentially allow most of the heat from the fireplace to escape up the chimney.

One great solution to increase the efficiency of an existing masonry fireplace is to have a fireplace insert installed right in the existing firebox. This way, you can still utilize the existing fireplace structure and chimney while enjoying a real heat producing appliance.

factory built fireplace

Factory Built Fireplace

There are pre-fab fireplaces and wood stoves available today that are so efficient, they are qualified as smokeless appliances. Factory-built fireplaces are very well insulated and can be installed within inches of combustible materials. These smart appliances have air-cooled pipes, insulated walls, and can also have glass doors. Typically, there are many options as far as where in a home to install a pre-fabricated fireplace.

A masonry fireplace is inefficient, but a factory-built fireplace insert can be installed and give you the best that both have to offer.


Fires are tough on appliances, but masonry fireplaces still have remarkable life expectancies. With proper maintenance and care, chimney masonry should last at least a century.

Factory-built fireplaces can last for many years, but they are much less durable. What generally occurs is that, over time, replacement parts will be needed for a pre-fab fireplace that are not available and replacing the entire appliance becomes unavoidable.

Replacement Costs

Replacement costs provide a benefit in the pre-fabricated corner because pre-built fireplaces and their parts can be replaced relatively inexpensively. When masonry fireplaces eventually deteriorate to the point of crumbing, replacement becomes a necessity; and the price tag is large.

Contact us for help with a factory-built fireplace installation or for a masonry chimney rebuild. Whatever your needs regarding your fireplace, chimney, and any venting systems, we are glad to provide the help you need.

For your Fireplace, Stove, Patio or Chimney needs
please call one of our Sponsoring Businesses.

Chimney Specialists, Inc
869 Main Street, Highland, WI 53543
(608) 929-4887
Dubuque Fireplace & Patio
925 Century Drive, Dubuque, IA 52002
(563) 582-5156

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