Fireplace Door Installation

Installing a fireplace door may just be a home project that you can complete yourself. But you need to know what's involved ahead of time. In the first place, that means knowing why your fireplace should have doors at all.

You may think of fireplace doors as simply a safety feature. And they certainly are that. Fireplace doors prevent sparks from shooting into the living area, ash (flaming or otherwise) from floating there, and even logs from rolling off the pile and out onto the rug. Even a second-rate installation will take care of these problems.

But your glass fireplace doors are also meant to control your energy bill. You don't want indoor heat escaping up the chimney in winter. Fireplace doors provide an additional barrier before the air reaches the damper. That means the doors need to be flush mounted to create a tight seal. This sort of installation requires a "measure twice (or even three times), cut once" sort of mentality. A flush installation will have an additional safety feature in that it allows you to starve a fire of oxygen when you're done with it. It won't wake up to flame again in the middle of the night.

There are two basic fits that you can use to achieve this tight seal-inside and overlap. An inside fit goes within the framing of the fireplace. Naturally, for this to work, your measurements need to be exact. You will then order custom doors to fit those measurements.

An overlap fit, by contrast, gives you a little more wiggle room. These kind of doors fit across the front of the fireplace opening and attach to the hearth above and on either side of the firebox. This is easier to manage, but you can still run into trouble. If the masonry is uneven along the face of the fireplace, you may not be able to get a flush fit all the way around. At that point, you might want to have someone out to sand the surface to a smooth finish. Alternatively, you can place fiberglass insulation between masonry and frame to form a tight seal.

If you've decided to install your own, here are the basic steps you'll need to go through to get the project done:

  1. Clean the fireplace thoroughly.
  2. Position the riser bar (the bar the fireplace doors will rest on).
  3. Unscrew the doors from the frame. There's no point in trying to install the thing with the heavy doors attached.
  4. Place the frame on the riser bar and use it as a guide to mark where the drill holes should go.
  5. Drill the holes. A hammer drill can make this easier. Use a drill stop on your masonry bit so the holes don't go too deep.
  6. Tap lead anchors into the mounting holes.
  7. Position the fiberglass insulation on the rear of the frame.
  8. Secure the brackets and put the frame in place.
  9. Screw the brackets into the lead anchors.
  10. Reattach the doors.