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Build a Fireplace Insert Draft Stopper with Reclaimed Lumber | Pretty Handy Girl

I’m a little bit of a fanatic when it comes to drafts. (Remember the time I weather stripped my garage doors?) Over time I’ve addressed most of the pesky cracks and crevices that invite cold air into our home. But, there was one draft that I’ve been meaning to serve an eviction notice to since the first winter we lived in our house.

Build a Fireplace Insert Draft Stopper with Reclaimed Lumber | Pretty Handy Girl

Fireplace Insert Draft Stopper

The source of this cold air is our fireplace. Even with the damper closed, there is a draft that escapes into the room. You can’t weatherstrip the damper (that would be a fire hazard), so I decided to build a rustic reclaimed wood fireplace insert to stop the draft.

Want to build your own fireplace insert draft stopper? It’s not hard and you can complete it in an afternoon!

Fireplace Insert Draft Stopper Materials:

Build a Fireplace Insert Draft Stopper with Reclaimed Lumber | Pretty Handy Girl

(I’ve included affiliate links for your convenience. I earn a small percentage from a purchase using these links. There is no additional cost to you. You can read more about affiliate links here.)

Notes: I chose pegboard because it was slightly cheaper and weighed less than the masonite but was still rigid enough to hold the reclaimed wood. You can ask a Lowe’s employee to cut down the rigid foam insulation for you so you can fit it in your car. You can also have your pegboard cut at Lowe’s if you know your measurements up front. I chose to use the Kreg Rip Cut because I was anxious to try it out. I liked how it worked and it was a good option if you don’t have a table saw. Finally, adding the reclaimed lumber is not necessary, I just like the look.  Another option would be to buy foam insulation and wrap it with fabric and batting and simply fit it in the fireplace opening.

Fireplace Insert Draft Stopper Instructions:

Start by measuring your fireplace opening. (Pssst. You can see that our bricks are faux painted in this picture. Learn how I painted my fireplace back to brick without sand-blasting!)

Build a Fireplace Insert Draft Stopper with Reclaimed Lumber | Pretty Handy Girl

Check the width of the edge bumper (mine was 1/4″) and subtract that amount from three sides of the fireplace opening measurements.

Build a Fireplace Insert Draft Stopper with Reclaimed Lumber | Pretty Handy Girl

Mark the cut lines on your pegboard material.

Build a Fireplace Insert Draft Stopper with Reclaimed Lumber | Pretty Handy Girl

Lay the pegboard on top of the excess foam insulation and set the saw blade depth just below the pegboard.

Build a Fireplace Insert Draft Stopper with Reclaimed Lumber | Pretty Handy Girl

Rip cut the pegboard to size.

Build a Fireplace Insert Draft Stopper with Reclaimed Lumber | Pretty Handy Girl

Check the fit of the cut pegboard with the edge bumper inside the fireplace opening. The pegboard should be loose, but allow the edge bumper to make it a snug fit.

Build a Fireplace Insert Draft Stopper with Reclaimed Lumber | Pretty Handy Girl

Building the reclaimed lumber frame:

Using the same dimensions as the pegboard, miter cut the frame pieces (I used 1×4″ cedar boards.)

Build a Fireplace Insert Draft Stopper with Reclaimed Lumber | Pretty Handy Girl

Use a Kreg Jig to make pocket holes in the corners. Clamp the corners (use a speed square to maintain true 90 degree angles) and drive the pocket screws into place.

Build a Fireplace Insert Draft Stopper with Reclaimed Lumber | Pretty Handy Girl

 

Cut a vertical support piece for inside the center of the frame and attach it with pocket hole joinery.

Build a Fireplace Insert Draft Stopper with Reclaimed Lumber | Pretty Handy Girl

Cut your reclaimed lumber edges at 45 degree angles. Lay each piece inside the frame and use the speed square to scribe a line where you need to cut.

Build a Fireplace Insert Draft Stopper with Reclaimed Lumber | Pretty Handy Girl

Test fit each piece and continue to fill the frame.

Build a Fireplace Insert Draft Stopper with Reclaimed Lumber | Pretty Handy Girl

When all the pieces are cut, set them in the frame.

Build a Fireplace Insert Draft Stopper with Reclaimed Lumber | Pretty Handy Girl

Lay scrap peg board, plywood or rigid foam insulation on top of the frame and flip it over so the back side is facing up. Use a liberal amount of construction adhesive on the back of the reclaimed lumber frame.

Build a Fireplace Insert Draft Stopper with Reclaimed Lumber | Pretty Handy Girl

Lay the peg board into the glue. Press firmly in place.

Build a Fireplace Insert Draft Stopper with Reclaimed Lumber | Pretty Handy Girl

Lay the rubber edge bumper onto the side of the frame/pegboard sandwich and measure the area for the rigid foam insulation. Cut insulation to size. It should be inset on the sides and top to allow room for the bumper.Build a Fireplace Insert Draft Stopper with Reclaimed Lumber | Pretty Handy Girl

Add construction glue to the pegboard. Then lay the rigid foam on top of the pegboard.

Build a Fireplace Insert Draft Stopper with Reclaimed Lumber | Pretty Handy Girl

 

Flip the frame over and double secure the frame to the pegboard with finish nails. Be sure that the air pressure is turned down so the nails don’t pierce through the back of the insulation.

Build a Fireplace Insert Draft Stopper with Reclaimed Lumber | Pretty Handy Girl

Apply the double-stick tape that came with the bumper to the sides of the frame.

Build a Fireplace Insert Draft Stopper with Reclaimed Lumber | Pretty Handy Girl

Cut the foam bumper for the first side and press it onto the double-stick tape.  Cut the next side and notch out where there are any overlaps.

Build a Fireplace Insert Draft Stopper with Reclaimed Lumber | Pretty Handy Girl

Firmly secure the bumper to the sides of the frame with a staple gun. This is a necessary step because with repeated removal of the insert, the bumper will eventually come off.

Build a Fireplace Insert Draft Stopper with Reclaimed Lumber | Pretty Handy Girl

Feel free to add a handle or decorative pull to the front of your insert.

Build a Fireplace Insert Draft Stopper with Reclaimed Lumber | Pretty Handy Girl

Press the insert into your fireplace and stop the drafts forever!

Build a Fireplace Insert Draft Stopper with Reclaimed Lumber | Pretty Handy Girl

It also eliminates that big gaping black hole in the living room. And the insert is easily removed to enjoy a warm fire.

Build a Fireplace Insert Draft Stopper with Reclaimed Lumber | Pretty Handy Girl

Looking for more energy savings and home improvement ideas? Look no further:

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Disclosure: As a #LowesCreator, I was provided with a Lowe’s gift card to purchase supplies for this post. I was not told what to write. All ideas and words are my own.

43 replies
  1. Beth @ Sawdust and Embryos
    Beth @ Sawdust and Embryos says:

    I LOVE how this looks! And I LOOOOOVE your mantel! I’m having a serious bout of fireplace jealousy, because our old farmhouse doesn’t have one. Don’t you think 113 years ago a fireplace was a necessity in the midwest? Apparently NOT. K I’m done. 🙂 Love your project!!

    Reply
    • Barbara
      Barbara says:

      Have you checked all the walls, maybe the fireplace was covered by a false wall or a brick wall to prevent a draft. This is what happened to a friend, after checking the house they found a beautiful brick fireplace covered in their kitchen

      Reply
    • Cherie Smith
      Cherie Smith says:

      My house is in MI and is 146 yrs old-no fireplace, even in a picture of when the home was 5 yrs old! It was heated by gravity with an Eisenglass stove. BTW, no one was cooking in a fireplace 117 years ago, most had cast iron wood burning stoves with water heating reservoirs on the side to supply the household with hot water.

      I love the fireplace draft stopper!

      Reply
  2. Laurie
    Laurie says:

    This is a great idea because during the Winter, I have fires in the fireplace all the time so I don’t feel like I can close the damper but it can get darn cold at night so I’d like to block off the entrance into the house. Nice!

    Reply
  3. Adam
    Adam says:

    That turned out great! My mother has been asking me to do something like this for her fireplace forever but never had any ideas that she liked. Hopefully she will like this idea, thanks for the inspiration!

    Reply
  4. Riann
    Riann says:

    Thank you for sharing this and all your other wonderful projects. I am in awe of your creativity and skill. And thanks for posting about the Kreg Rip Cut. I’ve been looking for an alternative to a table saw and this looks like it will work great for me.

    Reply
  5. David
    David says:

    Thank you for a great fireplace insert DIY. I’ve been doing what I can to make my home more energy efficient and recently added an additional layer of unfaced R30 insulation in the attic, along with an insulated attic hatch. I’ve decided to tackle the fireplace next, which always struck me as an energy waster. I Googled fireplace inserts and yours was one of the first that impressed me with it’s simplicity and beauty. I’ll be making my own using your advice and hope that mine comes out even half as nice as yours. Thanks for taking the time to post this.

    Reply
  6. David
    David says:

    A bit of an update to my other comment. I noticed how much warmer it has been in the family room this winter since the fireplace insert was installed. Yesterday I got one of those infrared thermometers and was going around the house pointing it at the exterior walls to check the temperatures. Most were in the 67-68 degree range. I then pointed it at the fireplace insert and it too was 68 degrees. Moving the insert to the side and pointing it in the firebox and it showed a reading of 39 degrees! All of that cold air would have been flowing down the chimney into the family room were it not for the insert. Thanks again for a great energy saving project.

    Reply
  7. Terry
    Terry says:

    Any ideas on how to fit the insert on a fireplace with doors? You would think they would help, but they don’t stop the drafts when it gets really cold out.

    Reply
  8. David
    David says:

    I also had a problem with airflow, so I went a little easier.

    I got a piece of Plexiglas and every summer I use silicon to seal the opening. In the winter I reopen it and use the fireplace.

    Reply
  9. David
    David says:

    Brittany,

    Do you know if anybody every converted a traditional fireplace into a direct vent fireplace? I am thinking bout doing so. FYI, I already have a gas insert.

    Seems pretty straight forward, one could use a fireplace two tube direct vent kit for external venting, modify a steel plate to accept the incoming air and outgoing exhaust gas, seal the steel plate in the existing damper area, use some steel tubing to guide the fresh air to the bottom gas insert, and then use a replacement direct vent fireplace doors to close off the opening.

    The key is the steel plate and the tubing to direct the fresh air to below the fire. This would take a little work, but seems pretty straightforward. All the parts can be procured easily off the internet.

    Anyway, just wondering if you every came across this idea before?

    Dave

    Reply
  10. Pete
    Pete says:

    Thank you for this idea and plan. Your directions were spot on and having all the supplies attached to a Lowe’s link was very helpful. Made my insert yesterday and it looks, fits and works great! The draft that was coming around the edges on the insert as I put it in place the first time made me wonder why I hadn’t done this 10 years ago! Thanks again. Great little project.

    Pete

    Reply
  11. BRAD BLY
    BRAD BLY says:

    Looks like an attractive solution, but I before I build it I am wondering what keeps it from falling forward or backward? Do I need to make it a tight enough fit inside the fireplace opening so that the foam bumper keeps it from moving?

    Reply
    • Brittany Bailey
      Brittany Bailey says:

      Yes, the wood insert needs to be built custom to the size of your fireplace opening. But, the rubber bumper will be very snug and since it’s foam it can compress when you insert it into the opening and then expand slightly to hold it in place.

      Reply
  12. Angel B
    Angel B says:

    Excellent diy, and thanks for sharing. I have a similar brick-face fireplace and was about to do a similar cover using the rubber edge or bumper. Looking at your snug-fit test, I see the rubber fits very nicely on all corners but what prevents the air from seeping through the brick layers’ 1/8 inch gaps – see the left and right side of the fireplace.

    Once air is accumulated inside the fireplace, air pressure will build-up and exits out through those gaps.

    When you have a chance, please have your fireplace cover on, and then, cover the entire fireplace opening again with a 2mil plastic sheet. If there’s no air build-up between the plastic sheet and the fireplace, your fireplace cover and the edge bumpers have successfully sealed the fireplace; if there’s air build-up, air is leaking through.

    Using your ideas, I’ll just keep it simple for now 🙂

    “Another option would be to buy foam insulation and wrap it with fabric and batting and simply fit it in the fireplace opening.”

    Thanks!

    Reply
      • Angel B
        Angel B says:

        Got mine done last night and it looks nice, to my eyes : ) Yes, those 1/8-1/4″ brick gaps allowed air to pass through, but not a whole lot; it was worse without the draft stopper. But, just to keep my mind at peace, I bought a 1/4″ backing rod, cut pieces to about an inch, and pushed it through those gaps, almost invisible from a distance, and it worked perfectly. I could barely feel any draft coming through now so I’m satisfied with the project and would say about 95-98% air is contained in the fireplace.

        Again, thanks for sharing your project… it inspired me to move my lazy buns and do something useful… : )

        Thanks!

        Reply
  13. Mac
    Mac says:

    What could I use besides rigid insulation? My fireplace is not set in that deep. Do you know of another material I could use on the back of the pegboard to get the same result?

    Reply
  14. tami gormady
    tami gormady says:

    Although this is a older post I had a few ideas about the insert. I have a mantle that is well caulked on the inside against the fireplace wall. I used foam board covered with fabric as well as batting that I spray glued to the foam board. I measured from the inside of the mantel, side to side and the bottom to the top inside edge as well. This worked perfect, I feel no air. I also used velcro strips to hold it in place. Its beautiful as well as decorative and Ill make another for when I tire of this one.

    Reply

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