Prefab Fireplace Door Buyer's Guide
So, you have an overly curious pet or small child and a wood-burning fireplace? And, perhaps you've found them one too many times with their hands or noses in the ashes?
Now you fear that you'll have to monitor the fireplace after putting out a fire. Otherwise, you may end up dealing with a visit to the ER or an emergency veterinarian.
Adding doors to your prefabricated wood-burning fireplace will help prevent these incidents. Fireplace doors also protect your home from embers and sparks flying out of the fireplace.
Prefabricated Direct-Fit Doors
This style of door assembly is designed to fit a factory built, slide-in fireplace. As you would expect, these are fireplaces that were mass-produced in a factory out of sheet metal parts.
Doors manufactured for this fireplace type tend to be unique to the fireplace as they are both manufactured by the same company. Designed to match the openings of the fireplace, the door assemblies allow the appropriate amount of oxygen to reach the fire.
One thing to consider when looking at prefab doors is how well the doors complement your home's decor. While there aren't many variations, you can find doors with a traditional, contemporary, rustic, or craftsman style. Another option to consider is a surround that will also help enhance the appearance.
An additional perk when adding doors to your wood-burning fireplace is that the doors will help prevent air from the home escaping through the fireplace when not in use. So, adding doors will help keep your home warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer.
Prefabricated Door Configurations
This type of door assembly comes in the form of two individual doors, each utilizing two panes of glass. The glass panels are 3/16" to 5/16" in thickness, with 1/4" being the most common. The larger the door assembly, the thicker the glass needs to be to prevent too much stress from physical movement and thermal expansion. Additionally, the tempered glass panels have a strong resistance to breaking. Edges of the glass are commonly brushed and smoothed to eliminate sharp edges.
Most bi-fold doors feature an aluminum or steel top and bottom rail, which hold the assembly together. The individual glass panels slide into the rails, and long spring action clamps hold them in place. Set screws tighten against the clamps and hold the glass ends firmly in position.
These doors are less common, and usually, they are featured on mid to upper-end prefabricated fireplaces. Instead of two separate door sections with two panes of glass each, this type of system uses a perimeter mounting frame that houses two larger glass panes.
The individual panes open outward like a cabinet door and fold back against the wall when fully opened. The glass thickness in cabinet style fireplace doors is usually 1/4" to 5/16" inch, with 3/16" being rare due to the larger size of the glass panes.
Both styles of glass doors feature an ability to adjust the glass within the fireplace opening or the fireplace frame. You can loosen the set screws that hold the glass to the mounting rails (bi-fold) or within the mounting frame (cabinet doors). This allows you to shift the bi-fold or cabinet doors to offset any out-of-square characteristics the fireplace may have.
No matter how well a fireplace is manufactured, there is always a slight amount of shifting needed for the sheet metal structure. Once mounted, the doors can be fine-tuned to ensure there is consistent spacing between each piece of glass and the surrounding frame.
Why Won't These Doors Fit My Fireplace?
Both bi-fold and cabinet direct-fit style doors are limited to the model or series of fireplace that they are designed for. Some of the reasons behind this are size, mounting methods, and cooling air requirements.
Each style of door has specific height and width requirements, as fireplace openings are unique to the manufacturer. Even though a fireplace opening may advertise as 36 inches, the true measurement may be anywhere from 35 1/2" to 36 1/2" inches wide. Opening heights may also vary by as much as a foot, making it even harder to have a universal fit.
Mounting methods differ from fireplace to fireplace and from door to door. Bi-fold doors may use pre-drilled holes in the upper and lower fascia of the fireplace for mounting. Or, they come with rails that must be secured to the fireplace before installing the doors. You could alter the size and location of the mounting holes to mount other doors. But, because the mounting lip is very thin and the mounting holes depend on a precise location for proper attachment, it is not recommended to do so.
Cooling air requirements are also incredibly important as they vary from model to model. Disregarding these restrictions could cause issues. For instance, the fire might go out, or the tempered panes may overheat, leading to shattering of the glass. For doors designed for closure during the operation of the fireplace, there is an engineered amount of space set between the glass panes. This space allows cooling air to be drawn past and into the fireplace.
What If My Doors Were Discontinued?
Fireplace doors are like functional décor pieces as much as anything. The color may go out of style and like anything else that moves, eventually, they will need replacement from wear and tear.
While the fireplace itself may be in good condition, anyone with a unit more than a decade old may find that doors are no longer available for the unit. You do have a couple of options in a situation like this.
Some manufacturers will create retrofit kits for their modern doors, which allow modern door assemblies to fit an older unit. Superior and Majestic are good examples of manufacturers that offer such kits. These retrofit kits work by taking a current door assembly that is the correct width but slightly shorter than the old fireplace opening. To adjust the height, you would add a pair of rails or a set of spacers to adapt the doors to the unit.
The rails or spacers mount to the old door mounting pin locations and then offset the holes to the correct location for the newer doors. For large gaps, the rails will also cover the excess space. You can use spacers when the amount of extra space is very nominal (less than 1/2" of an inch).
This is the most ideal option as the manufacturers have tested the new doors to fit the older units, so there is a guaranteed fit. This almost means that the new doors are safe to operate with the old units. So, you will not have to worry about a potential hazard when using them. Thus, every door kit needs a bit of modification. No fireplace door is truly universal.
Full Frame Universal Door Kit
Yes, you're reading that correctly, and yes, we did say that there are no real universal doors. In truth, a universal door installation has several restrictions.
A full-frame universal door kit is a complete drop-in door assembly that fits into the fireplace opening. They come customized to the needed width and height of the fireplace opening. The sliding glass doors that come with the kit attached to the frame itself, while the frame, in turn, screws to the inside opening of the fireplace.
However, the restrictions mentioned before are important to note. Most fireplace manufacturers will not allow you to close these types of doors during operation. This is because they can restrict airflow more than permitted. Some homeowners insurance policies also restrict doors that are not rated for your fireplace. Be sure to check into the restrictions before making the investment.
If these doors are allowed, one major advantage to this "universal" type of door is that it has a number of color options. The tempered glass is available in various shades, and the surrounding frame and other details are also available in a number of finishes.
How Do I Use Prefabricated Fireplace Doors?
When it comes to fireplace doors, there are two authorities on how to use them. First, you should always check your manufacturer's instructions.
Depending on the fireplace, the manufacturer will usually state that the doors must remain open during operation. Or, they can be left fully closed for a wood-burning fire. If your fireplace has a vented or vent-free gas log set, the doors should always remain open during operation.
Most vented gas log sets require ventilation for the gas valve components or any electronics they may use. Closing the doors can trigger overheat sensors. And for models that don't have them, closing the doors can cause damage to the internal components. Vent-free gas log sets depend on a constant draw and release of air from the room. Because closing the doors would impede this, they must be left open.
Second, if the manufacturer does not specify how to use the doors, you would defer to UL127. This listing states that the doors should be opened or closed fully during operation. Doors should not be left open partially since it would leave the opening size of the fireplace disproportionate to the flue size. This means the air will be drawn in more rapidly, fanning the flames and potentially releasing smoke or embers into the room.
There are, however, certain times that the doors should remain open versus closed. For the first 15 minutes of a fire, it is recommended to leave the doors open to allow the radiant heat of the fire to heat the glass panes. Building a large fire and closing the doors immediately can lead to rapid heating of the glass. This could result in thermal shock and cause the doors to break.
Also, when outdoor temperatures range from 40 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit, it is often best to leave the doors open. The amount of heat that can radiate to the room with the doors open is greater. So, with mild outdoor temperatures, the air being drawn into the home is warmer. This leads to a net heating gain if you leave the doors open.
If the outdoor temperatures are below 40 degrees, it makes the most sense to close the doors. This will limit radiant heat output but also limits the amount of air being drawn into the home. This leads to the better thermal efficiency of your unit.
Note: In either situation, it is highly recommended to use an outside combustion air kit if the fireplace is equipped with one. This allows air to be supplied directly to the fireplace, increasing thermal efficiency whether the doors are left open or closed.
Installing Prefab Fireplace Doors
As we mentioned earlier, there are many ways prefab doors attach to a fireplace. Most installations are easy and can be done by a novice with simple hand tools or even no tools at all.
Bi-Fold Doors With Spring Pins
This type of door assembly relies on pre existing holes in the fireplace front and a center guide. The center guide is already attached to the fireplace or attached as part of the kit. The bottom pins are usually fixed.
Holding the door assembly in the closed position, you should gently drop the bottom pin into the hole on the fireplace front. Next, tilt the door assembly toward the vertical position. Using your fingers, push the upper pin down as far as it will retract, then position the pin beneath the upper hole. Release the spring pin and ensure it snaps into position.
If the kit includes a center stop - a bracket that mounts to the upper, lower, or both sides of fireplace front to keep the doors aligned with one another - use the provided fasteners to affix those last.
Bi-Fold Doors With Unit Mounted Springs
This variety of door assembly is like the previous version. But, instead of the upper pins on the doors being sprung, there are slanted pieces of metal on the fireplace itself. These slanted pieces deflect and allow the pins to pop into position.
Mounting the door requires dropping the bottom pin into position first. Then, you will force the upper pin up the slanted piece of metal until it drops into the hole at the end. The center stop mounting procedure is the same.
Universal Fit Or Cabinet Style Doors
This type of door assembly is a bit different. The cabinet doors themselves may come already attached to the frame, but not always.
There are many different mounting methods for the doors to attach to the frames, ranging from spring pins to brackets.
This part of the assembly should be completed according to manufacturer's instructions. But, the door frame itself is usually mounted to the fireplace first. This process usually involves using an electric drill to create pilot holes in the appropriate location. Then you will use the supplied fasteners to attach the frame.
Final Installation Touches
Once you've installed your doors, you'll need to make adjustments to the glass panes for even spacing. This requires a careful touch to prevent the glass from falling out of the mounting rails. Most systems use at least four total screws for each glass pane on a bi-fold door and as many as six for a cabinet door assembly.
The screws should be loosened in very small increments until moderate pressure allows movement of the glass pane within the rail. We recommended taking photos of each set of screws before loosening them. This will help you tighten the screws to their original position, preventing over-torquing of the screws against the glass.
With all the glass panes free to move, use a ruler or tape measure and begin working the glass panes. You will go around the panes slowly until you achieve even spacing between all the individual sections. Once you space the panes evenly, tighten the screws back to their original position.
Once you adjust the glass panes, double check the operation of the doors. Always close the factory mounted screen assembly that comes with the fireplace when the doors are open and burning wood.
Cleaning Fireplace Doors
You can clean glass doors easily with a water-based fireplace glass cleaner and a cotton cloth. Never apply a cleaner to doors that have not cooled down to room temperature.
Do not use an ammonia-based glass cleaner, such as Windex, on your fireplace glass. This is for multiple reasons. Such cleaners are not formulated to clean carbon deposits, and they can release ammonia vapor into your home.
You can also use a mixture of vinegar and water and a little wood ash from your fireplace to clean the glass on a wood-burning fireplace.
Some Frequently Asked Questions
At eFireplaceStore, we've got several ways for our customers to ask us questions. And as a result, we do collect quite the list of commonly asked questions.
Here are a few of the most commonly asked questions in relation to fireplace doors.
For retrofit installations, do the door spacers/rails come with instructions?
Yes, these kits typically come with instructions that both confirm what fireplace models the kit will fit and what door to assembly to use.
Can individual handles, pins, or glass be ordered?
Most manufacturers do sell individual glass clips, handles, and door pins but not individual glass panes. This is a safety precaution. Individual glass panes that have not been exposed to the same level of heat as the other panes can behave differently, causing breakage.
Can I paint my door assembly?
Yes, you can! When doing so, eFireplaceStore recommends the following steps:
- Disassemble the door kit and set the glass aside.
- Thoroughly clean the door rails, and rough them up with some 320 grit sandpaper.
- Apply high-temperature hearth paint in the color of your choice.
Closing the Door on Fireplace Doors
Of course, you want what's best for your home and family, and eFireplaceStore is here to help as much as we possibly can. We offer a wide selection of fireplace doors and are always happy to check with manufacturers on door options for you.
Add style and excellent protection for your hearth and home with a set of fireplace doors. As always, reach out to our NFI Certified Techs with any questions.
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Pre-fab Doors Q&A with the NFI Certified Specialists* Please Note: All customer questions are answered by our NFI Certified Specialists free of charge!
from Baltimore, MD asked:
August 15, 2018
I have two Majestic prefab fireplaces
Model: MBUC36. Serial No. 18044473 (No. V369473)
and am looking to replace the bifold doors on both fireplaces (UGD-36 glass doors).
Unfortunately, we do not carry any doors that would be compatible with your unit. I apologize for any inconvenience.
on August 15, 2018
from Fairborn OH asked:
January 22, 2018
I have a Majestic fireplace x668593 Model MBUC36,
my glass door hinges broke.
I have the glass and it is all still good but I need the brackets with the hinges. Can I purchase just these parts?
Unfortunately, we do not offer individual parts for fireplace doors. I would recommend purchasing the complete replacement door kit, but Majestic discontinued the doors for this model.
on January 23, 2018
from Cleveland, TN asked:
January 5, 2018
We have an unvented Vanguard fireplace (Model FB36NCA). I want to get glass doors to dress it up a bit. The outside opening is 36"x20.5". Do you have something that would fit and work for this type of fireplace?
It is not recommended to place glass doors on a ventless fireplace and your unit will not have a track installed for one. Doors are model specific so we would not have a part to work for this.
on January 5, 2018
from Oxford, AL asked:
January 3, 2018
I have a Majestic MBUC42 wood burning fireplace insert. One of the glass panels in one of the bifold doors exploded and needs to be replaced. Do you sell the glass in individual panels or do I have to replace the doors? How much ($) for the glass and or doors?
Unfortunately, we do not offer parts for fireplace doors and the doors for this particular model have been discontinued.
on January 3, 2018
from Lake Villa, Illinois asked:
November 5, 2016
I have an older model Majestic prefab fireplace with opening dimensions 36" x 24". the ID plate is unreadable so I don't know the model number. Do you have a door that will fit?
Unfortunately, I will not be able to advise on a proper door assembly with knowing the model number of the unit. We have doors that are close to the dimensions, but the mounting varies from model to model.
on November 7, 2016
Customer Images of Pre-fab Doors