What is the best material for fireplace inlay?
Fireplace is hot. Yes, there’s nothing more obvious than that. But it also means that your woodburner has to be built properly and inlayed with a material that will properly insulate your fireplace, so it will warm up the whole room (or even a house if you have a water jacket or other secondary heating technology installed) and won’t burn you when you come close to it. Furthermore, inlay has to match the overall interior design of your house, otherwise your fireplace will look out of place.
So, what materials can be used for fireplace inlay?
Stone – a natural, universal material that has great heat resistance and splendid heat-storing properties (it will be very warm hours after extinguishing the fireplace), but has to be prepared properly before fireplace construction, as it may heat up too quickly and burn you. It also looks great in almost any interior, as you can choose from wide variety of shapes and sizes. Material’s price ranges from pretty cheap (simple, “garden” stones) to very expensive (granite, marble).
Tile – a material that gives a classic vibe to any fireplace and looks very traditional. It has good heat-storing properties. Traditionally decorated, rustic houses will benefit greatly from a stove or a fireplace inlayed with tiles, but it won’t look good in a modern interior. This inlay is also moderately priced.
Steel – very good heating properties, but it also heats up the most and accidental burns are very serious problem without proper construction and safety measures. Steel looks great on classic, free standing stoves.
Wood – it might seem strange, but fireplace can be inlayed with wood. Of course, it has to be prepared properly before installation to prevent accidental fires, but when it is well-designed, wooden inlay will look extraordinary and unique. It doesn’t accumulate heat quickly and does not give up too much heat, so you should complement such inlay with additional heating installation (i.e. water jacket).