Fireplace Firebacks

Improve Your Wood Burning Fireplace’s Efficiency with a Fireback

By Mark J. Donovan

Question: Mark, I enjoy your home improvement articles on You mentioned in one of your articles about installing a fireback to improve the heating efficiency of your fireplace. I was curious how to measure for the right size one and what type of fireplace fireback is best to use? Also, where can you buy firebacks? KB

Answer: KB, A fireplace fireback is a tried and true solution for improving the efficiency of your wood fireplace. 

A fireplace fireback absorbs heat, and helps to reflect fire light and heat out into a room. Consequently a fireback helps to increase the amount of warmth a fire provides to a room. A fireback also helps to protect the back masonry of your fireplace from heat damage.

Firebacks are available in two types of materials. There are cast iron firebacks and stainless steel firebacks. Each have their unique pros and cons.

Cast iron firebacks are available in a much wider assortment of shapes, styles and sizes than stainless steel firebacks. Cast iron firebacks can be purchased with plain surface areas or with ornate decorative designs cast into them. Cast iron firebacks, however are very heavy. 

Stainless steel firebacks, on the other hand, typically come with just plain surfaces and are much lighter in weight. Stainless steel firebacks also reflect more fire light than cast iron firebacks.

Due to the fact that cast iron firebacks have significantly more mass, they are much heavier and expensive. Cast iron firebacks start out around $150 and quickly work their way upwards to several hundred dollars depending upon the size, style and quality of them.

Stainless steel firebacks work nearly as well as the cast iron firebacks but are much lighter in weight and less expensive. A stainless steel fireback will cost you around $50 to $150 dollars. Stainless steel firebacks, however, are not meant to be used with gas fireplaces.

The intensified heat that is produced by using a stainless steel fireback can potentially lead to gas shut-off valve damage.

You can find firebacks at most local fireplace or stove shop stores, however you can also buy them on-line, at such places as See Chimney Plus 850401 Vestal Deer Cast Iron Fireback from Amazon for an affordable cast iron fireback.

Stone fireplace with a Rumford firebox.

In most cases you’ll pay some amount of shipping for buying a fireplace fireback on-line. Consequently that’s another advantage of buying a stainless steel fireback, if you plan to buy one on-line. Since they are less weight their shipping costs are typically lower.

In regards to measuring for a fireplace fireback, measure the width and height of the back wall in your firebox. For the height measure from the floor to where the smoke chamber starts to curve upwards. Most firebacks can be placed in the fireplace by simply leaning them up against the back wall, and in some cases having their bottom edge rest on the fire grate. Alternatively, the fireback can rest standalone on their own two feet that are often sold separately. You may not need to order the feet for the fireback if you plan to rest it directly on the fireplace floor or fire grate. If you do plan to use the fireback feet, subtract the height of the feet from your measured height dimension of your firebox to allow room for the feet.

For information on Restoring Baseboard Heating Element Covers, see the Restoring Baseboard Heating Element Covers eBook from The Restoring Baseboard Heating Element Covers Ebook provides easy to understand, step-by-step instructions, on how to restore Baseboard Heating Element Covers so that they look new again. Pictures are included for every key step in the process.

For information on how to maximize a wood stove’s heating efficiency, see’s Installation of Hood over Wood Stove eBook

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