Planning Your Hearth

Our professional staff is more than happy to assist you in choosing the right products and systems for your home. Call us at (207) 236-9444 to talk to a member of our knowledgable sales team. For those who enjoy doing a bit of research, we have compiled the following list of helpful resources to guide you.


Smith & May's Hearth Planning Guide

A concise guide to the different types of hearth products available. 

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Basics of Zone Heating

Save money and improve your home's efficiency by focusing heat where you need it the most. Zone heating is a great option for many homes, including homes with older central furnaces.

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Choosing the Right Fuel

There are many factors to consider when thinking about the fuel you want to heat your home with. This overview will give you a good idea of the fuels that are available, as well as their benefits, and what might be the right choice for you.

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Choosing an Appliance


Gas Stove

A convenient and charming option for your hearth. Gas gives you the ease of turning your stove on and off at the flick of a switch, while still providing the warm glow of a fire.

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Wood Stove

This traditional heating method has come a long way since the 1700's! Wood remains a great way to heat your home. It is a renewable fuel, and a low-cost heating option.

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Pellet Stove

Eco-friendly, efficient, and easy on the bank account. A pellet burning stove is easily operated and easily maintained.

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Gas Fireplace

A gas fireplace is a factory-built firebox complete with a glass face for viewing the fire. Some gas fireplaces are designed exclusively for aesthetic and decorative use, while others are built to heat a room.

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Wood Fireplace

If it's ambiance you're after, it's hard to beat the look, smell and feel of a wood burning fireplace. And, thanks to more than a decade of research and development by the hearth industry, there are now wood burning fireplaces that offer benefits well beyond just ambiance.

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Electric Fireplace

Electric fireplaces are designed to be plug-and-play appliances, much like a stereo or a television. Simply turn them off and on as needed, and enjoy them when the mood hits!

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Fireplace Inserts

Fireplace inserts are designed to enhance the operation and appearance of an existing wood burning fireplace, whether masonry or factory-built. The installation of a fireplace insert can turn an occasional source of warmth into a convenient and easy-to-use supplemental zone heater.

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Gas Logs

Gas logs, whether vented or vent-free, are a terrific way to enjoy a gas fire in an existing wood burning fireplace and are a good choice for a fire with little mess or environmental impact.

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EPA Burn Wise Program

Burn Wise is a partnership program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that emphasizes the importance of burning the right wood, the right way, in the right wood-burning appliance to protect your home, health, and the air we breathe.

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Other Helpful Links


Smith & May's Hearth Planning Guide

If you're building a new home or renovating an old home, planning your fireplace is an important part of the process. We specialize in design and construction of custom masonry fireplaces. We also offer sales and installation of wood burning zero clearance fireplaces and all type of gas fireplaces. This guide should help to answer some basic questions you will have as you plan your fireplace.

Gas Fireplace:

There are three common types of gas fireplaces:
• Direct Vent (DV) gas fireplaces utilize a sealed combustion chamber drawing outside combustion air through the coaxial vent pipe. Direct Vent gas fireplaces are generally more efficient than the other types of gas fireplaces.
• Natural Vent (NV) gas fireplaces draw combustion air from inside the building and vent through a single B vent pipe system.
• Vent Free (VF) gas fireplaces do not require a vent system. A vent free gas fireplace can only be installed in a space containing the required cubic air volume for the BTU output of the fireplace. Persons with allergies and/or respiratory problems should avoid this type of gas fireplace.

Gas Fireplace Insert:

A gas fireplace insert is a self contained gas fireplace made to fit inside an existing masonry or zero clearance fireplace. Gas inserts are available in direct vent and natural vent options. Liners for direct vent and natural vent systems must be installed in the entire length of the fireplace flue.

Electric Fireplace:

This is the latest type of fireplace offering the most flexible of installations. No vent is required you can move it to any wall space and just plug it in.

Zero Clearance Fireplace:

The term Zero Clearance fireplace refers to a manufactured fireplace unit vented to a metal pipe system supplied and tested by the fireplace manufacturer. A zero clearance fireplace can be installed on a wood floor system without the need for a masonry chimney. Although the term suggests zero clearance to combustibles, proper clearance is required around the fireplace unit as well as a 2” clearance to combustibles from the vent pipe system.

Masonry Fireplace:

A fireplace designed and constructed using masonry materials including brick, cement block, stone, and clay of refractory flue liners. A masonry fireplace requires a structural concrete footing placed on undisturbed ground below the frost line (4’). It's possible to incorporate multiple flue liners in a masonry fireplace and chimney allowing other appliances to be vented on seperate flues within the masonry chimney. The masonry fireplace and chimney require a minimum 2” clearance to combustible materials.

We specialize in design and construction of custom masonry fireplaces. You can view samples of our work on our masonry page.

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