How to Build a Masonry Fireplace Header

How to Build a Masonry Fireplace


Having a masonry fireplace in the home not only adds to the beauty and value of the property but it can also be very helpful in heating purposes. Also known as a Russian fireplace, this structure is a permanent and durable one usually made of bricks or stone. Most designs are traditional patterned after those found in the cold climate countries of Europe and Russia.

In building a fireplace, masonry is still considered the best material compared to the metal fireplaces. This is because masonry has better features such as it does not warp, melt or corrode even with high temperatures and acidic surroundings.

There are some very important items that one has to consider in making a real masonry fireplace. Firstly, have a clear plan and design for your fireplace. You should have a sketch that specifies the size of the fireplace, hearth and flue and other dimensions. Next, consider the thickness of the firebox wall and how it should be built. For fire safety, it should be thick enough to accommodate very hot fire.

Sufficient clearances should be then given to the metal damper (ideally 12 inches above the fireplace opening) and air space for the chimney whether it’s in the interior of the building or exterior wall (about two inches). Additionally, the clay flue liners of chimneys need to be enclosed with four inches of solid masonry.

For the mantel of your masonry fireplaces, you can have one that hangs on the wall or a free standing type. If you prefer the built in type, make sure that it has the right support such as blocks of wood mortared into the stone fireplace at an ideal height. Inform your contractor about the need to put these blocks in place as they will be the mounting blocks that will support the mantel’s weight.

Some things you should not forget are to seal your fireplace with a glass or metal door and to use a metal cap for your chimney to prevent rain and other small animals from entering your home. A log lighter will be helpful in letting you easily create fires. For convenience in removing ashes, it’s best to install an ash caddy dump.

Heating is one of the major functions of this type of fireplace. Together with passive solar energy, the heat that you and your family can gain from this structure will be very sufficient. A masonry fireplace can create very hot fire that can burn for an hour or two and the heat it produces can last up to 24 hours with less emission. The intense heat created from this is absorbed by the bricks or stones and is then radiates throughout the room.

While this is a very efficient home heating structure that uses very little fuel, building a masonry fireplace costs a lot. Pre-manufactured types may cost as much as $5,000 while building a traditional type can cost up to $10,000. And since this is really heavy due to the solid materials used, homeowners have to ensure that their house is strong enough to support the weight of the fireplace. Additional support will need to be built underneath your home’s ground floor especially those made of wood and those with basement.