|URGENT!||Assorted useful info on doors and gas logs (and some propaganda!)|
People notice the wide range of prices of the fireplace doors available here and ask why. How could there be door sets for $250 and others for over $2,000? And mass merchandisers even sell some for around $100. How could this be?
Think about automobiles. General Motors makes some GEO models that sell for about $7,000, and other models that sell for over $50,000. Both will get you down the road! And for a while, Yugos sold NEW for under $4,000! How could THIS be? Well, it is related pretty directly to two things: Quality and Extra features. Try closing a door on a GEO and on a Cadillac ElDorado. The "feel" is VERY different! The ElDorado also has quite an assortment of luxury features which are standard, where the GEO is pretty much "bare bones."
A similar concept applies to fireplace doors. Doors sold by mass merchandisers look nice when you buy them but feel really flimsy and cheap when you open or close the doors, and the minimal brass plating sometimes starts coming off during the first winter of use. These are almost "disposable doors!" At the other (expensive) end of the spectrum are doors which feel strong and smoothly glide open and closed. Quality is obvious throughout, with a protective coating over the brass to keep it from ever discoloring.
In the middle are doors of intermediate quality, generally in direct relation to the price. This being America, these manufacturers have found a "fair" price for each of their products. When they tried to charge too high a price, competing models captured their market share. When they charged too low, they soon realized they could make higher profits without losing any market share.
Subjectively, we feel that most of the doors in the $350-$500 range have very good quality when economy is a significant concern. (That's why we include any of the doors up to $450 list price, as STANDARD with the JUCA F-9A Built-In Fireplace.)
We usually start getting nervous regarding quality on doors which list for under $300 or so. In general, such doors are mass produced using as many "shortcuts" as the manufacturer think they can get away with. Metal thickness is the thinnest, the plating process is the fastest they can accomplish, hinges and rollers are the least expensive possible, part assembly is very fast and sometimes sloppy, and quality control is often poor. We are trying to avoid certain single-word descriptions of such products here! We realize that you cannot personally see all of the many door qualities available on the market, and we are just trying to give some personal, subjective opinions on such products. We choose not to carry such products, and we suspect that says something, too!
If economy is not quite so pressing a concern, we think in terms of up to maybe $800 list. In many years of handling thousands of door sets in this price range ($500-$800), we can only recall a single customer not being completely pleased by the quality of the door set. Above this price range, we usually only recommend door sets either because the style or appearance merits it (like super-narrow frames), because a particular unique style would enhance a desired room decor (like pewter doors), or because price is less important than absolute top-of-the-line quality.
(Arch-Top door assemblies are usually $250 or so higher than the comparable rectangular door assemblies discussed above.)
All modern quality fireplace door sets have an invisible enamel or lacquer coating over the Brass or Copper to make sure it would never tarnish or otherwise oxidize. Modern door sets do not have to be continually cleaned and polished like very old fireplace door sets did.
People sometimes also ask us about Solid Brass versus Plated Brass. Some door models are available in either construction, and there's usually a couple hundred dollars difference in the price. So! Should someone ALWAYS lean toward the more expensive solid brass? Actually, probably not! All reputable door manufacturers use excellent care in the plating process they use, so the layer of plating is plenty thick. In addition, that protective coating keeps the air from oxidizing/tarnishing the plated metal, and it also eliminates you grinding away that plating with abrasive cleaners. In other words, there doesn't seem to be much reason to spend the extra money for a solid brass door set (in our opinion!) [We're trying to save you some money here!]
Again, the actual list price of a door set should probably be the best guide for you regarding quality. As an example, there are a few Brass Plated door sets which are carefully hand-assembled and the finish is hand-polished (unusual in the modern world!) and the result is an incredibly impressive door set! In our opinion, such a door set definitely deserves its higher list price. So, just the word SOLID or PLATED shouldn't necessarily turn you on or off for a particular door set.
Fortunately, this is America! All of the door manufacturers are aware of each other! They don't want to give you ANY reason to go to any of their competitors. Therefore, ALL door sets come with a bag of hardware, such that (usually) three different mounting methods are available. (They want to make sure you don't get frustrated with their products and say bad things about them!) Each door set comes with installation directions, which range from adequate to great.
Briefly, the methods generally available for overlap doors (the most
common arrangement) are as follows:
Please note that none of these methods alter or affect the facing of the fireplace at all. In nearly all cases, the provided strips of fiberglass insulation does a decent job of sealing the door set with the fireplace facing. People who want a tighter seal sometimes use silicone caulking around the edges. Very rough surface fireplaces might need extra fiberglass or alternate sealing methods, or an inside (exact fit) mount of the door set.
JUCA has long offered a (non-air-tight) Fireplace Insert, but some people don't like its appearance either, and it might be like forever before additional ones will be able to be built, so that's not a realistic alternative right now.
A third alternative exists, and it is often a pretty good one! There are products called "hearth heaters" which capture some heat from the fire with a blower and heat exchanger. The best part is that the FRONT of these units is just 1 3/8" high! Then ANY of our thousands of door choices could be selected to be placed on top of it! The result is virtually the same appearance as a normal fireplace door set, but with a reasonable amount of heated air coming out into the room. These hearth heaters are available in several configurations, but all are under about $500 (after our discount). If this interests you, there is a thorough, honest (some say harsh!) discussion of them at Hearth Heaters.
The most important consideration related to hearth heaters is that a door set then needs to be bought for an opening height 1 3/8" (1.37") LESS TALL, because it would be sitting ON TOP of the front part of the hearth heater.
J Door's Schaefer Door Automated Pricer / Ordering Form
JUCA's Custom Fireplace Door Automated Pricer / Door Ordering Form
J Door's Design Specialties Automated Pricer / Ordering Form
JDoor's HearthCraft Door Automated Pricer / Ordering Form
JDoor's Diamond W Door Automated Pricer / Ordering Form
JDoor's Portland-Willamette Door Automated Pricer / Ordering Form
E-mail to: JDoor1@mb-soft.com