If you’re adding a fire feature to your home, it’s important to know the difference between a fireplace and a fireplace insert, as your home may be equipped for one but not the other. Our experts will always help you find what you need and answer any questions, but it’s nice to have the knowledge so you can work that into your renovation plans. Both units will heat your home, but there are differences in their construction and how they work.


A fireplace at its most basic definition is a structure that is designed to hold a fire—the space where the fire happens is called the firebox. There are two types of fireplaces: masonry fireplaces are the traditional type, where during the construction or remodeling of a home, the fireplace is integrated into the structure of the house. New home construction is the best time to add a traditional fireplace since it’s built along with the home, and it creates the option for a fireplace insert later on.

Factory-built fireplaces, on the other hand, are designed so that they’re ready to be installed when they arrive at your home. They come with their own venting system, so they don’t require a chimney. Factory-built fireplaces can also be placed in parts of the home where a masonry fireplace wouldn’t be possible. These fireplaces have glass doors and insulated walls, and they’re a more efficient form of heat, as the open system of masonry fireplaces means that a lot of that heat is escaping through the chimney.

Fireplace Inserts

As mentioned above, a fireplace insert can be put into an already-existing masonry fireplace. It’s more difficult to install a fireplace insert into a factory-built fireplace unless the insert is specifically designed for it. Fireplace inserts are a more efficient option and are rather simple to install, especially since the facing materials and surround already exists. A fireplace insert connects to the flue, and it’s a much cheaper and easier option than rebuilding the fireplace structure.

With fireplace inserts, you can still choose wood, gas, or electric. If you had a masonry fireplace where you burned wood, you could make the switch to gas by installing a gas insert, as they can be vented through the existing chimney. However, if you prefer the crackling and smell of a real fire, a wood insert is still a great option.

Whether your home doesn’t have a fireplace or you’re looking for an insert to go into your existing fireplace, the experts at Brekke Fireplace Shoppe are happy to discuss your options!