Basement Fireplace

When we bought our house last year, it came with a wide open, unfinished basement. Nothing but cinder-block walls and concrete floor, with exposed rafters. Not exactly the nicest area for a game room, or play area for the kids.

Needless to say, after more pressing projects were taken care of, the basement became a significant projects. Thanks to help from friends, and lots of drywall, the basement has been partially finished, with a large, mostly finished room (exterior walls are still just cinder-block and floor are just large area rugs over concrete) , and two smaller utility and storage rooms.

But, how to heat? Being the frugal guy that I am, it didn’t seem to make much sense to use electric space heaters. Too much energy used = money floating away.

My first idea was to make a solar air heater (more on those in a future post), but the opportunity to get a cheap propane fireplace came by and I jumped on it. The savings each year using it over an electric space heater would pay for the unit in a matter of a few years, so definitely a no brainer. Not to mention the ambiance it adds to the room!

A few evenings (ok, probably more than a few) on pinterest provided some useful design ideas, and it was off to the races….. well, kind of. This project ended up being a off and on project for most of this winter, though it was hooked up and running for most of the season, which was helpful some weeks!


Hooked up to the propane line, Set in corner on platform of 2x4s


Framing it in- Always make sure to frame correctly for proper clearance to combustibles!


Drywall….this below grade sheet is much nicer color than the last I bought at Lowes..that one was dark green


Layering the plywood for the mantel


Rocking the Harbor Freight tools- worked well for this project!


Faux hearthdetail


Next layer



Final layer and shelf


Altogether, 3 layers of 3/4″ plywood, and some ivy trim board across the shelf and hearth


The “finished” fireplace. Since this picture was taken, the top crown molding has been installed.

(The photos were all taken on my phone, so my apologies for quality.) The mantel was constructed of 3/4″ plywood, layered into desired shape. One 4’x8′ was adequate for the mantel, and a little bit of wood filler took care of the imperfections.

Overall, I am pretty satisfied with how it turned out, and it does a nice job of heating the basement, especially on game nights. Somehow, time with friends just seems that much better with a fire going…. well maybe. Enjoy!


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