If you are trying to decide between a stone or brick fireplace, here are a few points to bear in mind.
The Design Perspective
Given that both materials are strong and durable, the design perspective is a significant factor in your decision. Bear in mind that once you have installed the fireplace, you cannot easily change your mind!
Red bricks evoke a warmer atmosphere. Bricks are rarely uniform in color and texture, so a brick fireplace will add visual interest and appeal. Use reclaimed bricks for an environmentally friendly option which will “age” the fireplace more quickly.
Stone gives cleaner lines than brick and will suit a very modern or very traditional room. A variety of types of stone are available; including marble, limestone and slate. Natural stone can be crafted to your bespoke design, so you can echo shapes and motifs you have used elsewhere in the house. Cast stone is another option. It is formed from shards of stone chippings cast under pressure, and is mostly indistinguishable from natural stone.
Installing Your Fireplace
Brick fireplaces are far easier to install than stone. Firstly, installing a brick fireplace can be a one man job; the weight of a stone fireplace means you need to call for back-up. Anyone skilled with bricks and mortar can build a simple fireplace without mishap. On the other hand, if you chip your stone fireplace during installation, the whole thing may need to be replaced.
Maintaining Your Fireplace
If a stone fireplace has been sealed with a sealant suitable for that purpose, the stone will be easy to clean with a cloth and warm water. Brick, on the other hand, will not yield the same “shine” as sealed stone. However, some do-it-yourself enthusiasts would argue that brick ages nicely with a few soot stains, and that life is too short to spend scrubbing the fireplace.
Repairing a brick fireplace is straightforward enough, with mortar being re-pointed where appropriate. Stone, on the other hand is less easy to repair, although small cracks can be hidden by professional stone restorers.
The difference between the costs of brick and stone fireplaces is significant. Bricks are widely available in various grades of quality. If someone in your neighborhood is doing some demolition work, you may even be able to persuade them to give you the materials for free. Mass produced cast stone fireplaces are less expensive than natural stone ones, but will still cost more than brick.