Especially in cold areas, turning on the fireplace during an open house can be very attractive. However, real wood-burning fireplaces can be messy and leave a smoky odor in the air that can be too strong for some potential buyers. And if you opt for fake logs, well, they can sometimes look too fake. But a growing trend is to fill the fireplace with recycled, reflective glass—it's clean, easy to install in a short time, and pretty to look at. Plus, an added benefit—the materials heat up quickly and give off a little more warmth.
If your fireplace is set up to burn real wood and has a natural gas starter log in it, you'll need to consult with experts to modify it before you can install the glass. You'll also need to use specially manufactured glass. Do not attempt to put ordinary glass in the fireplace—you'll get an unwanted effect—glass can come popping out into the room as it heats up.
The reflective glass looks great and is easy to work with but it can be costly. Installing the right kind of burner (similar to one you'd use for fake logs) and material overlay will allow you to have variable flames that shoot up from beneath the glass—giving it a more realistic look. Note, that with modifications there are many codes for gas fireplaces, so be sure you understand the codes for your area.
There are many different types and shapes of burners, including pipes and pans that you can use. Check with the specialty stores and online. You can usually see pictures of the flame pattern to get an idea which one will give your fireplace the best look. Here's what you'll need. Sand, small lava rocks, your burner, fireplace paint, specially manufactured glass for fireplaces. There are many companies that can help you get the products you need and the correct amount. You don't want to purchase too much because you can't always return what you don't need. If you consult with a fireplace specialty store rather than a hardware store, you're more likely to find all the materials in one shop. The first step is to clean out the fireplace. If you've been burning wood in it, you might consider getting a chimney sweep to make sure that residual soot doesn't fall onto your glass. Also, be sure to scrape the walls of the fire box to get rid of any heavy build-up.
Fireplaces Plus explained to me that the trick to saving money is to use sand and small lava rocks as the base layer underneath the glass. This fills up the fireplace and then only a thin layer of the glass is needed to create the unique look. The glass can be very expensive. Depending on your color selection it can cost $12 a pound or more. If you have a large fireplace, that's going to add up very quickly.
Once you've cleaned the fireplace out you can paint and then install your burner. After it is properly secured in place and the paint is completely dry (read the directions on the paint, the time period varies), give it a test to see how the flames will look.
Next you can begin to layer your base. Start with the sand. If you're using a burner that has a tray, fill the tray with sand, covering the burner pipe. The holes for the burner should be facing down toward the tray. The gas will emit through various areas of the sand creating natural-looking variable flames as opposed to an artificial appearing straight line of fire.
Next take the lava rocks and start at the back of the fireplace, layering the rocks around the burner to hide it and the pipe. The lava rocks should come all the way to the front of the fireplace. Now, you're ready to put a layer of glass on top. Cover all the lava rocks and the sand with the glass. If you want to get really creative, you can make special patterns. Fireplaces Plus says you can buy sheet metal and stick it into the burner sides to create a rectangle, for instance, by adding a side. Then you can use another color glass if you want the shape to stand out.
Light your fire and enjoy the attention it grabs as potential buyers marvel at the unique look and warmth it gives off. Let's hope that it doesn't make you want to just curl up next to it with a cup of cocoa and a good book on the day of your open house!