Non-Combustible Fireplace Materials Explained

April 21, 2021

Non-Combustible Materials Explained

What are Non-Combustible Materials?

Non-combustible materials are building materials that do not burn or ignite when subjected to expected levels of fire or heat. Examples of non-combustible materials include brick masonry, concrete blocks, hardy backer board, calcium silicate board, cement board, metal, and certain types of glass. These materials are rated for certain levels of direct flame impingement or heat rated according to your countries specific building laws.

What is the Clearance to Combustibles?

The clearance to combustibles is the tested and approved clearances for a specific fireplace unit. The clearances provide the minimum safe distance that combustible materials can be used without the heat from the fireplace causing damage or potentially increasing the risk of a fire. It is important to always ensure that your fireplace follows the manufacturers specific clearance to combustibles when planning a project. Fireplaces are complicated appliances, and you should always have it professionally installed by your local fireplace experts.  

Why Are Non-Combustible Materials Required for Fireplaces?

Fireplaces produce a large amount of heat and using any building materials that are not properly rated as non-combustible can result in damage to your home or increased risk of fire.
With modern fireplaces, the building materials will not come into direct contact with flames as they are fully contained within the firebox, however the tremendous amount of heat can cause the framing or wall structure to bow, crack – or worse. This means you are not required to build an entire fireplace out of brick or cement and instead use non-combustible materials for framing, wall construction, and finishing.

Typically, fireplaces require steel framing and cement/concrete board when building within the unit’s clearance to combustibles. To finish the fireplace typically stone, tile or other non-combustible material is used to surround the face of the fireplace and provide the finished look. To keep construction costs down, wood framing and drywall can be used to complete the chase or rest of the installation if it adheres to the manufacturers stated clearance to combustibles.

What are Zero-Clearance Fireplaces?

Zero-clearance fireplaces do not have a minimum clearance to combustibles. Depending on the particular unit, Zero-Clearance units may be able to use wood framing, regular drywall, and any finishing material (including wood or wallpaper) direct to the edge of the firebox. In addition, zero-clearance units may also allow TV’s and artwork to be safely hung directly above without fear of damage. While these are general statements, each unit and installation is unique and the manufacturers specifications should always be followed. 

Some Regency fireplaces use our patented heat transfer technology called Cool Wall System to reduce or sometimes even eliminate clearances to combustibles. Our Cool Wall System draws excess heat away from the interior of the wall and distribute it into the room with the use of natural drafting and a chase vent system. The result is decreased radiant heat directly in front of the fireplace and inside the wall allowing for virtually zero clearance to combustibles. Some Regency fireplaces featuring our Cool Wall System have an optional Cool Wall installation and therefore would not be zero-clearance without being installed as such. While these are general statements, each unit and installation is unique and the manufacturers specifications should always be followed. 

Finishing Materials for Zero-Clearance Fireplaces

One of the greatest features of zero-clearance fireplaces is that they can be finished in virtually any building material to create a unique and stunning feature wall or design element within the home. While certain materials may be restricted by certain manufacturers, the following shows some of the most popular finishing materials of Regency City Series fireplaces with Cool Wall System. 

Feeling inspired? See how our customers have used the flexibility of our Cool Wall System to create stunning fireplace features in their home

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