Fireplace Cast Iron Back Panel

What Is A Fireplace Back Panel?

In Indoor Fireplaces, Wood Burning Fireplacesby James O'KellyLeave a Comment

When I removed a gas fireplace insert and wooden surround from my kitchen fireplace, there was a panel, known as a back panel, which filled the space between the insert and surround.

So what is a fireplace back panel?

A fireplace back panel is the part of a fireplace located between the fireplace opening and the surround. The back panel typically compliments the design, color and material of the hearth, and can be often purchased together.

When I removed my old fireplace back panel it wasn’t attached to either the fireplace insert or surround, so what is their purpose and what do they look like?

What Is A Fireplace Back Panel?

The back panel of a fireplace sits between the fireplace opening and the surround, typically covering the wall behind to improve the look of the fireplace.

Below is a labeled image showing where the back panel on a fireplace can be found in comparison to the other parts:

Fireplace Insert Labelled Diagram
My old gas fireplace insert with cast iron back panel and wood surround

Fireplace back panels can be purchased along with surrounds and hearths, but can also be bought separately.

For more information on fireplace hearths, including materials, designs and required sizes, click here.

Back panels come in many different sizes, shapes, colors and textures, meaning you can find the right design for your fireplace that will suit the décor of your home.

Back panels are typically constructed from similar materials found in a hearth, including:

  • Cast Iron
  • Granite
  • Slate
  • Stone
  • Marble
  • Brick

Back panels can also be made from wood or laminate, but cannot be used with solid fuel fireplace appliances such as wood and gas because they are combustible materials. They may be used with electric fireplaces however, as they do not output large amounts of heat like gas and wood fireplaces.

Depending on your local fireplace regulations you may need to provide an airtight seal between the back panel and the wall to comply. Be sure to seek professional advice before fitting a new solid fuel burning fireplace.

Removing A Fireplace Back Panel

I removed my fireplace back panel when taking out an old gas fireplace insert from our kitchen fireplace.

The back panel was made from cast iron, and complimented the black gas fireplace insert and wooden fireplace surround as part of the whole fireplace design.

Here’s what the fireplace looked like before being removed.

Fireplace
Before the kitchen fireplace insert, back panel and surround was removed during redecoration

Below is a photo of the fireplace after the timber surround had been removed. The surround had hidden the edges of the cast iron back panel, and the back panel was held into place by screws located in each top corner.

The gas insert was then removed from the fireplace, and didn’t require any professional assistance because it had already been deemed safe by a gas engineer, who explained that it wasn’t connected to the mains.

The back panel could then be pulled away from the wall, leaving behind just the fireplace opening.

Fireplace Opening
The fireplace after the gas insert, back panel and surround had been removed. The hearth wasn’t removed

The cast iron back panel, gas fireplace insert and wooden surround are now stored in my garage while I decide what to do with the fireplace.

Here’s a few close up images of our back panel to give you more of an idea what they look like.

Fireplace Cast Iron Back Panel
The front of the cast iron fireplace back panel
Fireplace Cast Iron Back Panel
The other side of the back panel
Fireplace Back Panel
A close up of the back panel showing a hole for a screw in the corner to secure it to a wall (because this thing is really quite heavy!)

Replacing A Fireplace Back Panel

Replacing a fireplace back panel may not be as hard as you think.

Depending on the design of your fireplace, your back panel may be separate from the fireplace surround (like mine).

If so, removing the surround is the first step. Fireplace surrounds are typically joined to the wall with brackets, which may be located on the sides of the surround on the legs, or at the top of the surround by the mantle.

Here’s where the brackets were located on my old fireplace surround:

Fireplace Surround Bracket Locations
The wooden fireplace surround was connected to the wall using brackets and screws in these locations

I had to remove the plaster over the brackets on the wall to get to the screws. Once the screws were out, the surround came away from the wall with ease.

Depending on the type of fireplace, the back panel can be unscrewed from the wall and removed, or may require further work to remove if there is a seal between the back panel and the wall.

Here’s where the screws were located on my cast iron back panel:

Fireplace Cast Iron Back Panel Screws
The cast iron back panel was held in place against the wall with screws in these locations

Depending on the type of new back panel, it may require holes to be drilled into the wall in locations different to the old panel, or sealed to the wall using an adhesive.

The surround can then be screwed or hooked back onto the wall using the original connections.

Fireplace Back Panel

I’m still deciding what to do with our kitchen fireplace, but If I decide put another insert in, such as an electric fireplace insert, I’ll probably get a replacement fireplace back panel that matches the existing hearth.

Granite Fireplace Hearth
The granite hearth still present in my kitchen

We currently have a granite hearth in our kitchen that I didn’t remove along with the fireplace insert, surround and back panel.

If I were to install a new fireplace then I would go with a black fireplace insert, granite back panel to match the existing granite hearth, and a white fireplace surround to match the white walls.

Want to see more?

You can also see here what it looks like behind the timber fireplace surround shown in this article.

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