When it comes to burning a fire, there are many steps you can take to make it burn as efficiently as possible to get the most heat for your dollar. Burning the right wood and having a chimney constructed such that it draws properly are two ways to ensure efficiency. One step you can take that requires very little whatsoever to increase efficiency is to install a fireback. Firebacks help heat radiate out of the firebox and into the home. Firebacks are sheets of metal that are sized to fit your firebox. Some are very plain and others ornate and beautiful. When it comes to sizing your fireback, you can leave anywhere from 4″ to 15″ of space on the left and the right of the firebox.
Firebacks are made of different materials. The most traditional fireback material is the cast iron fireback. Cast iron firebacks are often decorated with designs for a stylish touch to a functional piece. Firebacks like these will maximize your fireplace’s heat output. These are generally heavy and black. The metal is heated by the fire which, in turn, radiates heat out into the room. These heavy firebacks are difficult to manage and very expensive to purchase online due to shipping costs incurred by weight.
While cast iron firebacks merely radiate heat once they are heated, stainless steel firebacks radiate and reflect heat into the room. Firebacks made from stainless steel are installed in much the same way, right on the back wall of the firebox. They are curved ever so slightly to maximize heat and light reflection into
the room. Between stainless steel firebacks and cast iron firebacks, stainless steel firebacks are much less expensive and far less heavy.
Ceramic firebacks and concrete firebacks do not have the ability to reflect heat and light like stainless steel firebacks do, and they do not radiate heat as well as cast iron firebacks, but they are an option. These firebacks are an option however, as are stone firebacks and clay firebacks. Firebacks, no matter what material, are the best way to protect at least one wall of your firebox from damage due to the heat. Although the firebrick in your chimney are, if it was built in recent years, quite advanced, they are still susceptible to damage.