electric fireplace installation

DIY Fireplace Makeover: How to Convert a Wood Burning Fireplace to an Electric Fireplace

Touchstone Sideline 40 electric fireplace in a wood burning brick fireplace conversion by @pretty.and.functional

Do you have a wood burning or gas fireplace, but rarely use it because of safety concerns or limited time to tend a fire? With a Touchstone® electric fireplace insert, you can easily re-purpose your existing fireplace, and enjoy smoke-free, odorless flames anytime.

Project Goal: Functional, Safe to Use Fireplace

DIYer Shereen Farooq @pretty.and.functional recently transformed her old fireplace with a Touchstone Sideline® 40 Electric Fireplace and shows how easy this project can be. Shereen shares, "Our brick fireplace was a wood burning fireplace, which we have no idea how to operate - and quite frankly we're pretty scared of having fire around our kids. The goal here is to have a fireplace that is functional and safe to use." 

@pretty.and.functional brick wood burning fireplace conversion with Touchstone Sideline 40 Electric Fireplace

Choose the Right Fireplace for the Best Fit

Shereen documented her project, which included inserting a Sideline 40 Electric Fireplace into her existing brick wood-burning fireplace wall. Based on the measurements of her old fireplace opening, she chose the 40-inch wide Sideline 40 for the best fit. Touchstone has a variety of fireplace sizes to fit most wood burning fireplace openings, including the Sideline 36, Sideline 45 and Sideline 50. For those looking for a Wi-Fi enabled fireplace, the Sideline Elite® 42 and Sideline Elite® 50 Smart Electric Fireplaces are a good fit. For a taller fireplace opening the Forte® Electric Fireplace collection is an ideal height. The non-reflective Sideline Steel® Electric Fireplace collection offers a screen front for those looking for a more traditional fireplace look.

She then used her new fireplace’s dimensions to determine the size of her frame. After building the frame with 2 by 4 wood, she secured it to the brick wall. She then inserted her Sideline 40 into the frame and anchored it into place. Lastly, she built her trim, painted it black, and then secured it on the brick wall.

Touchstone Sideline 40 Electric Fireplace inserted into existing wood fireplace, photo credit @pretty.and.functional

“When I was building the frame for the electric fireplace, I made sure it was quite snug. So the gaps between the brick, wood, and the fireplace itself were so minimal. I also covered all of the exposed frame wood with trim, so I felt like that was pretty decent coverage. I would say if someone else was building a similar project, they could caulk any tiny seams.” Shereen explains.

No Extra Wiring Needed, Simply Plug into a Standard Outlet

An energy efficient alternative to a wood burning or gas fireplace, the Touchstone Sideline Electric Fireplace plugs into a standard 120v outlet or can be hardwired by a professional. Sheeren built a frame for the fireplace that included a clever opening for the electrical cord and plug. She simply pulled the cord through and plugged the electric fireplace into the nearby outlet, hiding the cord with strategically-placed decor. 

How to plug in an electric fireplace when converting a wood burning fireplace

No need to hardwire - simply pull the plug through and use a nearby standard 120v outlet.

While preparing for an electric fireplace insert, it is important to consult a professional contractor, gas company, and chimney sweep to seal your fireplace and ensure the gas line is disabled. Optional hardwiring also requires a professional. 

Inspired by Shereen’s fireplace transformation project? Browse our collection of electric fireplaces to find the perfect product for your upgraded space.


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