What Is A Zero Clearance Fireplace? Wood Burning And Gas Fireplaces And Inserts

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A modern zero-clearance fireplace is one of the easiest ways to incorporate a new fireplace into your home.

Whether you’re renovating your home or have purchased a new one that is missing a fireplace, you have several options.

A pre-manufactured zero-clearance fireplace can be installed without much clearance between the unit and any timber framing. This means it can likely be installed into almost any wall or empty fireplace in your home.

They’re relatively easy to install and even easier to use.

The best part is that there are many different styles of zero-clearance fireplaces to consider for your home, including wood-burning, gas, or electric.

How Does A Zero Clearance Fireplace Work?

You can install a zero clearance fireplace against almost any wall.

This includes general drywall, paneling, wood framing, and other combustible materials without worrying that your house will catch fire being so close to the flammable materials.

As the video above explains, a zero-clearance fireplace has an air gap and a heat-insulating casing around the firebox that prevents heat from transferring through the sides.

Since companies design these fireplaces to sit directly in a wall, they don’t need a traditional fireplace’s brickwork. 

While some people may find this an excellent factor, if you’re looking for a zero clearance fireplace that mimics a traditional one, you’ll need to consider adding the additional brickwork.

Alternatively, some fireplace inserts, such as these electric inserts, can fit into existing brick or stone fireplaces.

Zero Clearance Fireplace Vents

what is a zero clearance fireplace

These fireplaces don’t necessarily need a chimney, whereas a traditional one does in order to vent the smoke.

Unlike traditional fireplaces that have a large chimney that vents through the roof, these fireplaces can vent out almost anywhere in your home. 

A wood-burning fireplace will need a flue vent that either goes out through the back of the fireplace and then up above the house or one that exits through the ceiling.

A gas fireplace can be vented through the back without a flue.

And, obviously, an electric fireplace won’t need a vent at all, though it will need a power supply!

Most of these fireplaces have easy installation, so you may not need to hire anyone else to do it for you. However, check if there are any consent issues that need to be ticked off with your local authorities.

Regardless of the kind of zero clearance fireplace and fuel option you choose, they’re considered more eco-friendly than your traditional fireplace. 


  • Can be installed almost anywhere in the home
  • There are several design and fuel options
  • Tidy finish that doesn’t take up a lot of space
  • A modern look
  • They’re eco-friendly


  • Can sometimes require a lot of work to install
  • No radiant heat being put out the sides as with a wood-burning stove

Fuel Options

picture of almond wood

Zero clearance fireplaces may be a more modern fireplace, but you have several fuel options.

Zero clearance fireplace fuels include:

  • Natural gas
  • Pellets
  • Firewood
  • Propane

A zero clearance propane fireplace and natural gas fireplaces are easy to turn on.

Most will have electronic ignition or even a remote control. Wood burning zero clearance fireplaces have a more traditional feel than pellets or other gas options. 

When burning firewood in your zero clearance fireplace, you’ll have that classic fireplace smell and feeling that you might not get otherwise. Firewood also burns hotter than natural gas and propane, adding to the more traditional feel.

If you have a ready supply of good firewood, like almond wood (pictured above) or elm firewood, that fuel option could be best for you.

Either way, having the various fuel options is another reason these fireplaces are so popular. 

Zero Clearance Fireplace Vs Masonry

You’ve probably figured out by now that there are significant differences between a zero clearance fireplace and a traditional one.

While there’s nothing wrong with a traditional fireplace, a zero clearance fireplace stands out for several reasons. 

Masonry fireplaces are mostly made with stone or brick – and they do really suit some styles of home.

The fireboxes are also made of the same material that surrounds the fireplace’s exterior. The stone or brick helps create a barrier between the firebox and the wall it sits on, preventing the wall from catching fire. 

Zero clearance fireplaces don’t have this stone or brick firebox. They’re often made with metal or another fire-rated material to sit directly against or in the wall, having zero clearance.

While both types of fireplaces need a zero clearance chimney to vent, the main difference is their appearance.

On the outside of your home, a masonry fireplace will resemble the brick or stone that the fireplace has. Zero clearance fireplaces tend to mimic the paneling or color of the house to blend in seamlessly. 

Another critical difference between these two types of fireplaces is that a zero clearance one will be more affordable. They come ready to install, and you don’t need to hire anyone to do it for you.

You most likely need to hire a professional to handle the brickwork with a masonry fireplace. 

Zero Clearance Fireplaces

how to install zero clearance fireplace

Zero clearance fireplaces are perfect for adding warmth to your home.

They can be placed directly against a wall without worrying about the fire spreading due to a fire-rated firebox. 

They’re easy to install, eco-friendly, and come in various styles that will suit almost anyone’s home.

Let us know if you have any questions down below, or check out these fantastic see-through fireplaces next (some zero-clearance options there too).


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