DIY Projects: Insulated Fireplace Cover Tutorial

DIY Projects: Insulated Fireplace Cover Tutorial

Do you have a fireplace in your home that creates a draft when not in use? How about one whose interior is anything BUT a focal point? I have both and so I created an “insulated fireplace cover” to put over the doors when the fireplace is not in use which seals OUT the cold and hides the less-than-fabulous interior of a real, USED fireplace. The result brings additional color and style to the room while significantly improving energy efficiency. You can make one too even if you have minimal sewing skills!

 

The fireplace cover in this tutorial is a new one I created to replace the one I’ve been using for the past decade- it’s finally past it’s prime.  Over that time, I’ve figured out what works and what doesn’t.  This tutorial includes my modifications made over the years I’ve been “testing” this cover in my own home.  Did I mention it’s a pretty simple project?

Materials:

1 Yard* “Warm Window Fabric” sold at Joann’s Fabric stores or online.

1 Yard* cover fabric- I used home decor weight fabric but that is not necessary for this project, you can go with less expensive cotton. $5 and up.

3 yards BLACK Velcro- use the “sew on” variety, not the self-adhesive.

E-6000 glue

Tape- masking, painter’s or duct tape

Sewing Machine

Optional: decorative ribbon or trim

* You may need slightly more or less than a yard depending on the size of your fireplace surround.

The key to making this project work is the use of a product called “Warm Window Fabric“. Warm Window Fabric is a four layer insulated fabric that is designed to increase the “R” value of windows.  R-value is a measure of resistance to heat flow through a given thickness of material. A typical window has an R value somewhere between R1 and R2 (and a drafty fireplace is probably an R zero!).

The addition of a Warm Window covering to the fireplace insert can bring this number up into an R7 or R8 value.  The higher the number, the better the insulating properties. For reference, a solid wall in our climate is required to have a minimum value of R11. Warm Window fabric is often used to create Roman shades for windows but I haven’t seen anyone else use it to insulate a fireplace opening. Still, increasing the R value of spaces in your home improves both comfort and energy efficiency and this is a quick way to manage the perennial problem of an ugly, cold and/or drafty fireplace. You can learn more about the Warm Window Fabric itself here: WARM WINDOW FABRIC.

Construction:

Step 1- Measure your fireplace surround.  I like to cover the whole black surround, not just the doors.  It’s best if you measure BEFORE you buy your fabric so you’re sure to get the right amount.  The height of the surround will determine the yardage you will need to purchase.  Mine is 34″ high so a yard of fabric is just right. When purchasing the cover fabric, be sure to add at least an extra inch to your measurements to account for edge finishing. While you’re measuring, give the glass and surround a good cleaning- it’s amazing how dirty the OUTSIDE of the glass can get and you don’t want to get your new cover dirty before you even have a chance to use it!

Step 2- Glue Velcro on surround.  Using the E-6000 glue, attach the hard bristle side of the Velcro along the edge of the surround.  The edge where the surround meets the tile will generally not get too hot so melting the glue should not be an issue.  However, if you try and make a smaller version that only covers the glass, you may have a significant problem so please just keep it around the edges!  Cut Velcro to length then glue on the first strip of Velcro and immediately tape it down.  Taping it until it dries ensures continuous contact with the surround which will make the Velcro more secure and less visible.  I would let the glue cure at least overnight if not longer before continuing with the next steps- you don’t want to chance ripping the Velcro off.

Sidenote: originally it was recommend by the Warm Window people that you use magnetic strips to attach the fabric covering to the surround. I found that this solution did NOT work well for a fireplace use because the cover is removable. Magnets on a window use aren’t holding weight (that’s anchored at the top permanently), they are just providing a seal so magnetic strips are probably fine in the mainstream application of this product. When I used magnets on this original project a decade ago, the cover would always fall off.  The Velcro is a much better solution for this particular application as the attachment is stronger.

Make sure to allow time for the glue to “cure” before attaching the other side of the Velcro to the unit.

Step 3- Cut fabric.  Cut the Warm Window fabric about an inch larger than finished size you want (this will provide some wiggle room when we get to the “fitting” step below).

Step 4- Cut the cover fabric so that it has an inch of overlap all the way around.

Step 5- Finish Cover Fabric Edge. Fold the edges of all four sides of the cover fabric over 1/4- 1/2″ then iron flat.

Step 6- Attach Fabric.  Lay your Warm Window fabric down so that the finished side is on the bottom. Center the cover fabric over the unfinished side then pin in place.  Wrap the cover fabric around to the finished side of the Warm Window fabric. Adhere either with glue or sew in place.  I recommend sewing this if you can.

Step 7- Attach Velcro. Sew or glue the soft side of the Velcro to THE TOP EDGE AND ONE SIDE of your cover along the edges as shown above. You will then apply the two finished sides to the Velcro on the fireplace. Get those two sides aligned perfectly.  NOW you can get a perfect measurement for the remaining side and bottom.

My fireplace doors have small handles that protrude so simply measuring and cutting to measurements won’t account for the bits of extra fabric required to skim over this section of the cover.  Trimming the remaining side in place allows me to account for this extra space without having the sides pucker in that location.  You want the cover to fit flat and smooth over the fireplace or it may look sloppy.

Safety Note: While it SHOULD be obvious, I’d better add the disclaimer that you should never use the fireplace while the cover is on.  After using the fireplace, make sure it has cooled down, the glass doors are closed and that there is no lingering fire before replacing the cover.  If any bit of fire is still active, you could create a safety problem for yourself if you attach the cover too soon.  PLEASE BE SAFE, make sure the fire is out and the fireplace has cooled before reapplying the cover!

 

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About cynthiab

Cynthia is a landscape designer who recently ditched her consulting biz for the opportunity to work for a local botanical garden where she gets to teach others about all the things she loves and connect with people of similar interests. She believes the joy of a garden is not in the product but in the process- and sometimes her process is messy!

Comments

  1. Tim Heine says:

    My wife and I are planning to construct this cover this weekend but I am curious about why there is Velcro on only 3 sides and no Velcro along the bottom side.

    • Tim- you could do the Velcro on the bottom side too depending on the way your fireplace is built. In fact, it would probably be a good idea to do that so you get a complete seal all the way around. I didn’t do it because of the way the handles protrude on my fireplace doors but that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be the best way to do it. Good catch!

  2. Mary Brinovec says:

    Could you use a strong magnet strip instead of velcro? I hate to glue anything to the fireplace surround.

    • You can use magnets- that’s how they do it for windows. The problem is that because it’s not secured on the top as a window treatment would be, the magnets can’t really hold the weight of the fabric + the Warm Window Fabric. I originally tried it with magnets (my first attempt 10 years ago) and it just never worked well. If you plan to keep it in place for long periods I suppose you could also tape it in someway if it’s possible to do that without ruining the visual impact. No harm in experimenting!

  3. Great project Cynthia, thanks for posting. I just started working on it and sadly I’m already stuck! Is there anywhere else you can recommend for getting the warm window fabric besides June Fabrics? We don’t have one anywhere near where I live and I’ve already tried Walmart and Michael’s (actually sitting in their parking lot now), neither of them have it and didn’t even seem to know what it was! I don’t know much about fabrics so was wondering if you had any suggestions, or other fabrics/materials I could use?

    BTW the Facebook Connect login isn’t working above :-/

    • I bought my fabric at JoAnns Fabric but it doesn’t look like they carry it anymore. I would contact the Warm Window fabric company directly and have them refer you to someone.

  4. Hi, I can’t find Warm Window Fabric anywhere! Do you suggest something else?

  5. You can find the fabric on Amazon.
    Here is the link:
    http://www.amazon.com/No-Manufacturer-Ivory-Warm-Window/dp/B005OT8C70

    Thanks for the great idea!

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