Bi-Fold Fireplace Doors

Fireplace Doors (The Complete Fireplace Glass Door Guide)

In Wood Burning Fireplaces by James O'KellyLeave a Comment

Many wood burning fireplaces can be found with glass doors integrated within the opening of the fireplace.

Glass fireplace doors can provide improved aesthetic looks for a fireplace and increased functionality where cold drafts can be prevented when a fireplace isn’t in use.

We’ve been considering installing glass doors on our own living room fireplace to help modernize the room and provide more of a contrast between the fireplace and the hearth and mantel surround.

In this guide to fireplace doors we’ve discussed and explained:

  • What fireplace doors are and whether a fireplace would need them.
  • What the purposes of fireplace doors are and what they’re typically made of.
  • Types of fireplace doors and how to choose them.
  • Whether fireplace doors should be left open or closed during fires.
  • And more.

Glass doors on a fireplace can really help it to stand out as more of a focal point for a room.

See the range of glass fireplace doors available right now here.

What Is A Fireplace Door?

Fireplace doors are a set of doors installed either within or in front of the opening of a fireplace. Fireplace doors can serve a number of aesthetic and functional purposes and are often made of metal surrounds and glass panels.

Doors can often be installed onto the front of existing open fireplaces. These doors are often referred to as ‘fireplace doors’ or ‘glass fireplace doors’.

Fireplace doors are typically installed within the front opening of a traditional open fireplace and will sit on the hearth and be enclosed by either the firebox or the surround on the top and sides.

Glass Fireplace Doors
An example of glass fireplace doors

The most common design for fireplace doors can be a black metal surround with glass panels. This allows for the inside of the fireplace to be viewed even if the doors are kept closed and will look stylish when the fireplace isn’t in use.

As the size and shape of open fireplaces can differ between homes, fireplace doors often need to be made to order to be able to fit within the opening of a particular fireplace, but many can also be bought as a standard size that will fit within a range of existing fireplace sizes.

Fireplace doors also typically come with two doors that each open out into the room, but may also have bi-fold doors that fold to the sides.

Not all fireplaces will have doors. Many open masonry fireplaces (like ours) are completely open at the front of the fireplace and don’t have doors installed.

Traditional Open Fireplace
Our own open fireplace doesn’t have any doors and many other masonry fireplaces can also be found without glass doors

However, other types of fireplace appliances that can be inserted into open masonry fireplaces such as wood burning inserts or wood burning stoves will have a set of doors already integrated onto the front of them.

If any form of fireplace insert such as wood burning, gas and electric, or any form of stove such as wood burning and multi fuel stoves are installed into an existing open fireplace then any existing fireplace doors will have to be removed and any further fireplace doors won’t be required.

As we have a masonry fireplace in our living room we’ve been considering getting glass fireplace doors and we’re looking to buy custom made doors so that they’re a perfect fit for our particular fireplace. We’re also looking to get doors with black surround and large glass panes for to match our black-painted fireplace and provide the more modern look we’re after.

We want doors that sit flush with our fireplace opening and so we’re going to have to go with a set of custom-fitted fireplace doors

What Is The Purpose Of Glass Doors On A Fireplace?

The purpose of glass doors on a fireplace is to provide a more aesthetically pleasing fireplace where the firebox can be partially hidden away, and to help prevent cold drafts from coming into the room through the fireplace when not in use.

Fireplace door benefits include:

  • The ability to help keep any cold drafts from coming into the room through an open fireplace when the fireplace isn’t in use and the doors are closed. This can be to help cold drafts on top of using a damper or as a way to stop cold drafts if there isn’t a damper located within the chimney.
  • Helping a fire to go out safely by being able to close the doors on the fireplace and leaving the damper open. A damper shouldn’t be closed until the fire coals are completely cold.
  • Help prevent heat loss from a home through the fireplace in the same way as preventing cold drafts coming in.
  • Keeping the fireplace grate and any other objects or mess from previous fires such as ash or burnt bits of wood behind closed doors and partially out of view.
  • Add another aspect to a masonry fireplace to enhance the looks or provide more character to the fireplace.
  • Choosing a style and design to fit in with the décor of the room.

A popular misconception is that fireplace doors are able to increase the efficiency and heat output of masonry fireplaces.

The purpose of glass doors on a fireplace is not to increase heat output or efficiency of open fires.

Manufacturers of fireplace doors typically state that the doors must be open during and for a while after fires. Studies and research have also shown that closed fireplace doors do not increase either heat output or efficiency, and you can read more about this in our article on whether fireplaces need doors.

Does A Fireplace Need Doors?

There isn’t typically a necessary requirement for open masonry fireplaces to have doors. Traditional fireplaces will function just as well with or without doors, and installation of fireplace doors can mainly be for aesthetic purposes and to help prevent cold drafts.

There is typically no requirement for masonry fireplaces to have glass doors.

Many open fireplaces (including ours) don’t have doors as the need to have doors installed can be more for looks purposes rather than functional reasons when having fires.

Our own living room masonry fireplaces doesn’t have doors, and from what we understand there have never been any glass doors installed.

However, we’re looking to have glass doors installed on this fireplace; not for heat output or efficiency purposes but to help make the fireplace look more updated and modern to help it fit in more with our recently renovated living room. As we don’t have a damper, the doors would also help provide a seal between the fireplace and the room and help to prevent cold drafts to aid the draft stopper we use in the chimney.

Glass doors are often installed on fireplaces for aesthetic purposes and for helping to prevent cold drafts.

Fireplace Doors
Doors for a fireplace aren’t always necessary but can help improve the looks when installed

A masonry fireplace does not need doors for fire to function more efficiently, and manufacturers of fireplace doors typically recommend leaving them open during fires anyway.

Open masonry fireplaces are traditionally very inefficient sources of heat.

The Environmental Protection Agency explains that much of the heat generated by an open fire can be lost up the chimney rather than heating the room and so masonry fireplaces should be used primarily for recreational purposes rather than heating purposes.

Installing glass doors on fireplace won’t increase heat output or efficiency because the doors need to be open, and even if the doors could be closed during fires the increases in heat output would still be very minimal.

For more information see our more in-depth article on whether a wood burning fireplace needs glass doors.

[If you’re looking to increase the heat output and efficiency of your open fireplace, instead of choosing glass doors consider installing a form of insert such as wood burning, gas or electric or a form of wood burning stove.]

Do Glass Fireplace Doors Help?

Glass fireplaces doors won’t be able to help with the efficiency and heat output of fires but can help to prevent cold drafts and heat loss between fires.

Can I Put Glass Doors On My Fireplace?

It can be possible to retrofit glass doors onto an existing masonry fireplace but may not be possible for pre-fab fireplaces. Glass fireplace doors can either be bought in standard sizes and adjusted to suit a fireplace or custom made to fit the exact dimensions of a fireplace opening.

If you’re looking to have glass doors installed into your existing masonry fireplace then there are plenty of options available to do so.

However, for prefabricated fireplaces (where the fireplace and chimney flue has been installed as one unit rather than built on site using masonry brickwork) it may or may not be possible to instal doors onto the fireplace if there aren’t any existing ones. You’ll need to check with the manufacturer to confirm any restrictions on what types of fireplace doors can be used, if any.

We have a masonry fireplace (not a pre-fab one) and so it should be fine to have doors on this fireplace when we get around to having them installed.

Fireplace Lintel
We have a masonry fireplace (not prefabricated) and so there shouldn’t be a problem with installing doors

In summary, whether you can install doors on your fireplace can depend on whether the fireplace is prefabricated or not:

  • If you have masonry fireplace (typically signified by a masonry firebrick firebox with square masonry chimney) it’s likely that you’ll be able to install a set of doors on this fireplace.
  • If you have a prefabricated fireplace that was built in a factory (typically signified by a firebox of cast refractory panels with potentially some metal showing and a round metal chimney flue) you may or may not be able to install glass fireplace doors if the fireplace doesn’t already have them. Speak to the manufacturer of the fireplace or a local professional for advice, or speak to an installer of fireplace doors to find out whether they offer doors for factory built fireplaces.

There are a few options of fireplace doors to choose from, which we discuss later in this article.

What Are Fireplace Doors Made Of?

Fireplace doors are typically made of a metal surround, commonly steel but can also be heavy duty iron, brass or aluminium, and with one of more tempered glass panels positioned within the metal frame.

For fireplace doors to be able to last a long time and cope with the heat generated by the open fires inside, they need to be constructed from heat resistant materials.

Even though fireplace doors are intended to be left open during fires, any materials that could be adversely affected by the heat of the fires, such as plastic, can’t be used.

The two main materials typically used within the construction of fireplace doors include:

  • Metal (used for the surrounding frame for stability and support)
  • Glass (used as panels within the metal frame to allow you to see through into the fireplace)

The metal used in the construction of fireplace doors can vary depending on where you buy the doors from, but can include:

  • Steel
  • Aluminium
  • Brass
  • Iron

These metal components of fireplace doors are often painted in varying colors and styles to suit different home decors and personal preferences.

Glass panels are also integrated into the fireplace door frame. The number of glass panels used can depend on how many doors there are and whether they are bi-fold or not.

What Type of Glass Is Used In Fireplace Doors?

Fireplace doors are commonly made from tempered glass, but some may be made from ceramic glass. Check with the manufacturer or seller of fireplace doors to confirm which type of glass is used in a specific set of doors.

Tempered glass is often used within glass fireplace doors because of its ability to shatter into smaller, less harmful pieces when broken and is stronger and more durable than ordinary glass panels.

You may find some fireplace doors using ceramic glass but can be far less common than tempered glass.

Ceramic glass is used widely in wood burning stoves because of its better heat resistant properties compared to tempered glass. Wood stove doors need to be closed during fires for stoves to work efficiently and so the glass needs to be able to withstand the increased heat from the fires in closer proximity.

Types Of Fireplace Doors

The two main types of fireplaces doors are those that come as a standard size to fit a fireplace within a certain range of dimensions and those that are custom made. Sub-types of fireplaces doors include cabinet and bi-fold doors.

There are two main types of fireplace doors:

  • Stock fireplace doors
  • Custom-made fireplace doors

There are also a range of options to choose from when it comes to buying either a standard size or custom-fit set of glass fireplace doors.

This includes the type of door you want to see on your fireplace. Within the two main types of fireplace doors you can choose how you want your doors to open, and these options can include:

  • Standard double doors that open outwards
  • Bi-fold doors that slide to the side

Standard Size Fireplace Doors

Stock fireplace doors are the pre-made sets of fireplace doors you can buy online or find down your local store.

These standard sets of glass fireplace doors come prepared able to fit a certain range of fireplace sizes in between a particular dimension range for height and width of a masonry fireplace opening.

These types of doors are the most common to find online. As they are pre-constructed to fit certain fireplaces sizes you simply need to find one that you like and that will be able to fit your particular fireplace.

Fireplace Glass Doors
An example of standard fireplace doors fit over an existing fireplace opening

Standard size fireplace doors typically fit over the masonry brickwork located between the fireplace opening and any fireplace surround. You’ll need to choose a set of doors that can fit within this area. Doors smaller than the fireplace opening or larger than the space available between the opening and the surround most likely won’t fit.

Standard size fireplace doors are also typically for masonry fireplace use only. If your home has a prefabricated factory-built fireplace then you’ll probably need a set of custom-made doors, if your particular pre-fab fireplace allows it.

If you buy the wrong size set of fireplace doors then you may be able to return it because it’s a standard size. However, this may not be the case for custom-made fireplace doors.

Custom-fit Fireplace Doors

While many fireplace doors can be quicker and easier to buy if they’re a standard size, you can also opt to have a set of glass fireplace doors custom-made for your particular fireplace.

Each model of standard fireplace doors is pre-constructed to fit fireplaces within a certain size range and typically fit over the fireplace opening.

However, if you’re looking for a set of glass fireplace doors that are a better fit your particular fireplace you can opt to have a set custom-made to suit, including any type of finish or number of doors on offer.

Stone Fireplace Ideas
An example of fireplace doors custom-fit for a fireplace

Before ordering a custom set of fireplace doors you would need to measure the exact dimensions of your fireplace. You would then state these dimensions when placing an order for any custom-made fireplace doors.

Many custom sets of fireplace doors are designed to sit within fireplace opening and flush with the face of the fireplace. This is different to standard sized doors which sit over the sides of the fireplace.

Custom fireplace doors are made to order and so it’s extremely important that you provide the right dimensions of your fireplace before ordering. Talk to the manufacturer before ordering if you’re not sure.

Many manufacturers of custom-made fireplace doors will not accept returns, and this will be clearly stated when ordering.

However, custom fireplace doors can provide a more built-in and finished look to a fireplace and we’re personally considering ordering a set of custom-made fireplace doors for our masonry living room fireplace as a result.

Fireplace Door Options

As part of choosing either a standard size set of fireplace doors or custom-made ones, there can be options to choose the types of doors you want on your set of fireplace doors.

The two most common options for fireplace doors are standard ‘cabinet-style’ doors and bi-fold doors.

Standard cabinet-style fireplace doors have two doors with handles in the center of the unit that open the doors outwards to the side, or may consist of just one door with one handle at one end.

Standard Fireplace Doors
An example of a cabinet-style fireplace door

Bi-fold fireplace doors fold out to the side like standard doors but these in turn can fold again. Bi-fold doors can also be found as either tracked or trackless versions where the doors slide along the fireplace door frame or can be pulled out respectively.

Bi-Fold Fireplace Doors

How To Choose Fireplace Doors

To choose the right type of fireplace doors for your particular fireplace and personal preferences:

  1. Confirm whether your fireplace is masonry or prefabricated (also known as zero clearance). Masonry fireplaces will typically have a square chimney made of firebrick while a pre-fab fireplace will typically have a round metal chimney flue.
  2. If your home has a prefabricated fireplace look for a manufacturer and model commonly found within the side walls of the firebox. Speak to the manufacturer or seller of fireplace doors to confirm whether your fireplace is suitable for doors and what types of doors can be installed.
  3. If you have the more common traditional masonry fireplace you can choose between an overlap set of fireplace doors or an inside set. Overlap fireplace doors typically come as a standard size to suit a range of fireplace opening sizes while inside fit fireplace doors sit flush within the fireplace opening and therefore typically need to be custom-made to suit your particular size of fireplace.
  4. Measure the height and width of your fireplace opening (at both top and bottom and left and right sides because it might not be built perfectly).
  5. Measure the area outside of the fireplace between the opening and any surround, important if you’re looking to buy a standard set of fireplace doors that will be an overlap fit and not custom-made.
  6. Choose the style of doors, with common options being cabinet-style, bi-fold tracked and trackless bi-fold.
  7. Choose the design and color of the glass fireplace doors.

Be sure to follow all instructions from the seller or manufacturer when ordering your set of standard or custom-made fireplace doors.

Fireplace Doors Open Or Closed?

Glass fireplace doors should always remain open during fires to allow for sufficient airflow unless otherwise stated by the manufacturer of the doors. Fireplace doors can be closed between fires to help prevent heat loss from a home.

Glass fireplace doors for masonry or prefabricated open fireplaces are optional and therefore these types of fireplace don’t need doors unless you want to have them installed for any of the reasons outlined earlier in this article.

To allow open fireplaces to continue to open to burn efficiently and effectively any fireplace doors should be left open during fires.

It’s recommended by many manufacturers of glass fireplace doors to keep them open throughout fires because:

  • Closed fireplace doors can restrict the airflow to the firebox and lead to poorly combusting and smoldering fires with less heat being produced.
  • Poorly burning fires due to lack of oxygen can lead to more smoke being produced.
  • Poor combustion of wood can also lead to increased creosote production and the need to have your chimney swept more often.
  • Staining of the glass may occur if too close to the fires.
  • The heat from the fires may damage the glass.

However, as soon as any fires have subsided you can often close the doors as per the manufacturer’s instructions. Fireplace doors can be kept closed between fires to help prevent heat loss from a home and cold drafts from the fireplace and chimney.

If you’re closing fireplace doors after fires, ensure that any dampers remain fully open to allow any remaining smoke or gases still being produced to leave your home. You can find more information in our guide to fireplace dampers.

When burning open fires and leaving the fireplace doors open always remember to use a fireplace screen/guard to help protect you and your home from any hot embers.

Fireplace screens are an essential item for any open fireplace and you can see our recommended fireplace screen here.

Are Fireplace Doors Universal?

Standard size glass fireplace doors will have a range of sizes that can fit almost any masonry wood burning fireplace by using an overlap fit. Custom-made fireplace doors will only be able to fit the exact fireplace it was designed for.

Fireplace doors can be found in a range of sizes where each model will be able to fit masonry open fireplace within a certain height and width dimensions range.

Whatever the size of your fireplace you’ll therefore typically be able to find a set of fireplace doors that are the right size for your particular fireplace. These standard size fireplace doors will fit onto your fireplace by overlapping the sides of the fireplace opening.

As there can be such a range of fireplace sizes and no two fireplaces can be the same dimensions, there won’t one certain model of fireplace doors that fits all. You’ll need to measure the dimensions of your fireplace and choose a set of doors that suits.

If you have a prefabricated fireplace you’ll need to contact the manufacturer of that fireplace or a seller of fireplace doors as not all glass fireplace doors will fit pre-fab fireplaces.

If you’re looking to order a set of custom-made fireplace doors then those doors will only fit the fireplace you’re buying them for. They can’t be used on any other fireplace (unless it has the exact dimensions for the opening) and most likely can’t be returned to the manufacturer if you don’t like them because they’re bespoke.

Are Fireplace Doors Adjustable?

Standard size fireplace doors can be adjusted to fit a certain fireplace opening dimensions range for each specific model of doors and can’t be adjusted beyond that range. Custom-made fireplaces doors cannot be adjusted.

It’s therefore important to measure your opening of your fireplace accurately before ordering either a standard or custom-fit set of fireplace doors.

If you’re unsure, supply your fireplace dimensions to a manufacturer or seller of fireplace doors to get confirmation that you’re ordering the right size set before you go ahead with a purchase.

What Are Zero Clearance Fireplace Doors?

Zero clearance fireplace doors are for zero clearance fireplaces, which can also be referred to as prefabricated fireplaces. Pre-fab fireplaces differ to masonry fireplaces and require a certain type of fireplace door for safety reasons.

Are Fireplace Glass Doors Tempered?

The majority of fireplace doors have tempered glass which allows the doors to withstand higher temperatures and have a higher resistance to shattering. This is in comparison to wood burning inserts or stoves which typically use ceramic glass to cope with even higher temperatures.

What Size Fireplace Doors Do I Need?

Standard fireplace doors need to be sized correctly for the opening and surrounding dimensions of your particular fireplace. Custom-made fireplace doors need to match the exact internal opening dimensions of your fireplace.

Northline Express have a useful guide to measuring for fireplace doors here.

Can You Paint A Fireplace Door?

It may be possible to paint the frame of a set of fireplace doors.

Contact the manufacturer for your particular set of fireplace doors to confirm.

Further Reading

A Complete Guide To Fireplace Hearths

A Complete Guide To Fireplace Surrounds

A Complete Guide to Fireplace Fireboxes

An In-Depth Guide to Fireplace Screens

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