Faux fireplaces are a great way of bringing the experience of a real fireplace into any room in your home without the need for an existing open fireplace or the need to install a real and potentially expensive one.
Installing a faux fireplace can help to really change the identity and look of any room for the better, as fireplaces are often considered to be a focal point for a room in which the furniture and decorations can be arranged around.
Faux fireplaces don’t have to cost the world and you can even have a go a building or making one yourself if you’re component with DIY or crafts.
We’ve recently removed an old gas insert from our kitchen fireplace when renovating the room and since we don’t intend on using this fireplace because we have one in the living room, we’re considering turning it into a faux fireplace.
We’ve put together this complete guide to faux fireplaces to explain:
- What a faux fireplace is and how they work.
- Types of faux fireplace.
- Ideas of what to put in a faux fireplace and how to decorate them.
- How you can make, build and install your own faux fireplace.
- And more.
Faux fireplaces can be a great addition to any home.
If you’re considering getting a faux fireplace check out the range of faux fireplaces available here.
What Is A Faux Fireplace?
A faux fireplace is a fireplace designed to look and act like a real fireplace but won’t have any real flames or heat. A faux fireplace can come as a completely decorative form or can have a type of insert installed such as electric to generate flame effects.
A faux fireplace can be described as a fake fireplace that doesn’t have any real flames but imitates the look and feel of a real fireplace.
Faux can be defined as:
‘Not real or genuine. Made to look like something else that is usually more valuable. Faux is the French work of fake, but it’s a very chic fake.’Merriam-Webster
When it comes to fireplaces, a faux fireplace can be considered one of the following:
- A fireplace that serves only aesthetic and decorative purposes and doesn’t provide any form of functionality. An example is a fireplace surround placed up against a wall with decorations placed inside and on top.
- A fireplace intended to look and act like the real thing, with potentially some sort of insert such as electric that can provide the look of flames and generate heat. An example can be a fireplace surround and mantel with an electric fireplace installed within.
Faux fireplaces can come in many different forms, whether its renovating a real fireplace to be faux, installing a fake surround against a wall or purchasing a fake fireplace inside a piece of furniture such as an electric fireplace TV stand.
‘Real’ fireplaces can be considered to be any form of fireplace that use a real fire to generate the look of flames and produce heat, which can include:
- Traditional open fireplaces
- Wood burning, multi fuel and pellet stoves
- Gas fireplaces
These types of fireplaces burn a source of fuel using a combustion process and may release smoke and other harmful particulates when used. As a result, ‘real’ fireplaces such as the above will require numerous safety procedures and precautions, including the use of chimneys, vents, flues, screens etc. to help keep you can your home safe from the risk of a fire.
‘Faux’ or ‘fake’ fireplaces can be considered to be any form of fireplace that doesn’t produce a real flame.
The most common type of faux fireplace can be electric fireplaces.
Electric fireplaces don’t produce real flames and therefore can’t generate heat and so a form of artificial space heater must be used such as fan forced or infrared. Electric fireplaces need to be plugged into a nearby electrical outlet using the plug and power cord that will typically come with the unit.
Electric fireplaces don’t produce any harmful particulates and use lights to create the look of flames, which makes them ideal for use within a range of faux fireplaces such as mantels and TV stands.
We have an electric stove and we commonly use it within our open fireplace when it’s not being used for real fires and provides the ‘faux’ look of a real wood burning stove installed.
Not all faux fireplaces need to be functional and so many faux fireplaces are actually simple fireplace surrounds and mantels used to imitate the look of a real fireplace, with decorations placed inside instead of any form of electric fireplace.
If you’re looking to install a purely decorative faux fireplace in your home then installing a fireplace surround and decorating it with ornaments such as fake logs, candles etc is a completely viable option.
Types of Faux Fireplaces
We’ve briefly touched on the different types of faux fireplaces but the list below outlines the range of faux fireplace that you can choose from.
- Fireplace mantels/surrounds. Traditional mantels that you would typically see around an open fireplace, which can be bought on their own or built from scratch to provide the appearance of a real fireplace in a home but for decoration purposes only. The inside of a faux mantel can be decorated with anything such as fake logs, candles, personal belongings and more. A faux fireplace mantel does not serve any functional purpose and won’t produce any flame effects or heat. See our article on fireplace surrounds for more information.
- Electric fireplace mantels. The same as faux mantels but have an electric fireplace installed within the middle opening. Electric fireplaces display an imitation of real flames and also typically provide heat using a form of space heater. Any faux fireplace with an electric fireplace built in will require a source of electricity, usually in the form of a nearby standard home electrical outlet. For more information see our guide to electric fireplace mantels here.
- Electric fireplace inserts for existing fireplaces. These are electric fireplace units on their own that can be inserted into the opening of an existing masonry fireplaces to change it from a real fireplace to fake. See our guide to electric fireplaces for existing fireplaces for more information.
- Electric fireplace TV stands. Work just like any other TV stand but will have an electric fireplace integrated into them. Find out more about electric fireplace TV stands here.
- Wall mounted electric fireplaces. Faux electric fireplaces that hang on the wall of your home but can also be recessed into the wall for a more built-in look depending on the model. Check out our guide to wall mount electric fireplaces for more information.
- Electric stoves. Electric fireplace stoves imitate the look and feel of a wood burning stove without a real fire. Can be placed anywhere around a home with a nearby electrical outlet, and we personally like using our own electric stove in our open fireplace during the warmer months. Our guide to electric stoves can be found here.
- Electric logs. Electric fireplace logs sets imitate the look of logs within a fireplace grate and can be placed within the firebox of existing open fireplaces to alter it into a faux fireplace. Unlike electric inserts, electric logs don’t take up the whole opening of the fireplace and so you can still see the masonry firebox. For more information we have a guide on electric fireplace logs.
There are also a range of designs available for faux fireplaces to suit every style of home décor and personal preference.
Electric fireplaces on their own, such as wall mount electric fireplaces, electric stoves, electric inserts and electric logs, are usually black in color and won’t typically have any distinctive ‘décor’ features.
However, faux fireplaces in the form of furniture such as electric mantels and electric TV stands can be found in a wide range of styles.
Faux fireplace styles include:
How Does A Faux Fireplace Work?
A faux fireplace can work in many different ways to suit personal preference. Faux fireplaces can come as inserts for existing open fireplaces, installed within surrounds and mantels or within furniture such as TV stands, or simply just a fireplace surround by itself.
How a faux fireplace works will depend on what type it is:
- Purely decorative fireplace surrounds and mantels.
- Electric fireplace inserts for open fireplaces, walls or bespoke applications such as entertainment centers.
- Furniture with built-in electric fireplaces.
How Decorative Faux Fireplace Work
Decorative faux fireplace surround and mantels are surrounds (typically made from wood that has been painted) that can be placed up against any wall in your home to help transform it.
In many cases they can simply be attached to a wall with screws and decorated inside how you like.
These types of faux fireplaces don’t provide any functionality and are purely decorative. There’s no in-built electric fireplace that can be used to generate heat and the look of flames. As a result, you won’t need to locate it near to any electrical outlets.
How Electric Fireplace Inserts Work
Fake fireplace inserts such as electric fireplaces go inside the firebox of an existing open fireplace.
These turn your existing open (real) wood burning fireplace into an electric fireplace with flames that aren’t real. Electric fireplaces are essentially plastic/metal boxes that sit within the firebox of your existing fireplace and sit flush with the fireplace opening.
Electric fireplaces require a source of electricity in order to work and so you’ll need to have an electrical outlet installed within the back area of the existing masonry fireplaces for the electric fireplace to plug into and work.
Although when installing a faux fireplace in the form of an electric insert you’re removing the ability to have real fires that generate real heat, there are many upsides to electric fireplaces all of which you can find here in our guide to the pros and cons of electric fireplaces. These pros of electric fireplaces (including inserts) can be less maintenance, ease of use and automatic temperature-regulated controls.
How Faux Fireplace Furniture Works
While faux fireplaces can come in the form of a simple decorative fireplace surround or be electric fireplace inserts for existing open fireplaces, they can also be found as a range of furniture objects.
Faux fireplaces as pieces of furniture typically include an electric fireplace built into them. They can be considered to be ‘faux’ because they use electric fireplaces to generate the look of flames, but aren’t the real thing.
Faux fireplaces such as these can include:
- TV stands
Faux fireplace TV stands work just like any other TV stand except there’ll be an electric fireplace designed into the middle of it.
These types of faux fireplaces may require putting together once delivered to your home, much like constructing any other piece of furniture. Once built, you’ll have a TV stand with a fake electric fireplace in the middle where you can enjoy the look of flames while relaxing and watching TV.
As fireplace TV stands have electric inserts, you’ll need to locate it near a standard electrical outlet in your home in order to the faux fireplace flames elements to work. Simply place a fireplace TV stand in your home as you would with any other TV stand, plug it in and it will be ready to be used straight away.
Faux mantels are much like the decorative faux fireplaces explained earlier but will instead have an electric fireplace pre-built into the middle of it.
As faux mantels have electric fireplaces, you’ll also need to place them near an electrical outlet. Simply place the mantel up against a wall in your home, plug it in and the faux flames will be ready to turn on in an instant.
How Electric Fireplaces Work
If you’re looking to understand how the insides of an electric fireplace actually works, see our in-depth article on how electric fireplaces work for more information.
How To Make A Faux Fireplace
Making Decorative Faux Fireplaces
If you’re looking to make your own decorative faux fireplace you can either choose to buy a fireplace surround and mantel and decorate around it, or you can make the surround from scratch to suit your own needs.
The video below shows how you can make your own faux fireplace from scratch, including painting it, incorporating storage into it and adding a faux brick backing.
We have an old wooden fireplace surround stored away after it was removed from our kitchen fireplace when we renovated the room. It was accompanying a gas fireplace insert that didn’t work (wasn’t connected up to the gas line) and so we removed it all.
We’re yet to decide what to do with this fireplace but we’re considering installing the surround back as a faux fireplace to cover back up the kitchen open fireplace.
As our kitchen now looks far more modern this traditional timber surround would look out of place. We would therefore need to paint this surround white and reattached it back onto the wall.
We really like the logs effect backing for faux fireplaces, and so if we do decide to turn this into a faux fireplace then this is the look we would probably go for.
Making Faux Fireplaces With Electric Fireplace Inserts
If you’re looking to provide more functionality from your faux fireplace by using an electric fireplace insert to generate flame effects then you can consider building a fake chimney breast in which to place an electric fireplace into.
To make a faux fireplace that generates the look of flames and heat you’ll need an electric fireplace.
A built-in electric fireplace would be the best type of fireplace for bespoke faux fireplace installations such as these.
See the range of built-in electric fireplaces available right now here.
How To Install A Faux Fireplace
How a faux fireplace will need to be installed will be depend on the look you’re going for and how much effort you’re willing to input into constructing and installing a faux fireplace.
Fully bespoke faux fireplace installations with built-out areas and integrated electric fireplaces can take a while to design, construct and install.
For example, the video below shows the construction and installation of a bespoke faux electric fireplace build.
On the other hand, decorative faux fireplace surrounds/mantels shouldn’t be too difficult to install up against a wall and may only require attaching to the wall using screws and brackets.
The video below shows one such example.
Our old timber fireplace surround was attached to the wall with brackets and screws.
If we’re to paint this surround and replace it back as a faux fireplace then we’ll do the same as before and screw it into the wall.
For faux electric fireplace on their own without any surrounds or integrated furniture:
- Wall mounted electric fireplaces can be installed onto a wall using brackets and screws, much like you would do to hang a TV on the wall. Some models can also be partially or fully recessed into a wall.
- Electric fireplace inserts for existing open fireplaces need to be placed in the firebox of a masonry fireplace by pushing it through the opening and will rest on the hearth. Electric inserts will never typically be an exact match for the size of a fireplace opening and so a trim surround can be used to plug the gap between the electric fireplace unit and the surrounding opening of the existing fireplace.
- Electric fireplace logs simply need placing within the floor of an open fireplace firebox or any location you want. No installation is usually required apart from plugging it into a nearby electrical outlet.
Can You Paint A Faux Fireplace?
Faux fireplaces made from wood can typically be painted, but electric fireplace units cannot typically be painted.
If you’re looking to buy a standalone electric fireplace unit, such as to be integrated into an existing fireplace, into a bespoke faux fireplace center or on the wall, then it’s likely that these units can’t be painted.
Our own electric fireplace stove has a metal and plastic casing (painted black like many electric fireplaces) and we wouldn’t be able to paint it without extensive work. See more information on whether electric fireplaces can be painted here.
However, decorative faux fireplaces made from timber that don’t include any electric fireplace units can usually be painted how you’d like.
For faux fireplace mantels and TV stands, the surrounding wooden material could be painted while leaving the electric fireplace insert as standard, as shown in the video below:
Are Faux Fireplaces Tacky?
We personally don’t believe that faux fireplaces are tacky.
As with many things in life, the more expensive faux fireplaces can look better and have higher quality flame effects, while you may find some tacky-looking components on certain fireplaces if going for the cheapest option.
For more information we have an article on whether electric fireplace units themselves are tacky.
What To Put In A Faux Fireplace (And How To Decorate)
There are a wide range of options when it comes to deciding on what to place in a faux fireplace and what to decorate it with.
Common items to decorate a faux fireplace with include:
- Real and/or fake logs
- Fireplace grate
- Fairy lights
- Personal belongings
We have a few examples for ideas of what to put in a faux fireplace and how to decorate a faux fireplace below, but you can also check our complete list of faux fireplace ideas for more inspiration.