For complete safety, a firescreen must completely shield the entire fireplace opening. If the screen is open at top, bottom, or is not tightly shut at the center or sides, a spark or glowing bit may get through. Even the small openings left in some screens to permit and-irons to project through can be an escape point. Most curtain, fender, and door-style screens offer complete shielding, but their screen mesh must be fine enough to stop all sparks. Some low-priced screens may not be adequate in this respect. If you have a rug that runs right up to the hearth line, you may wish to get extra-fine mesh, rather than the mesh that is standard on most screens. It’s not simple to switch wall-to-wall carpeting around to hide burned holes.
Curtain screens get their name because they hang like a curtain in front of the fire. Their screening is made of closely woven spiral wire. They hang from a track and are adaptable to fireplaces that open on more than one side, and even circular design. Usually they bunch to either side of a fireplace opening, reducing the width of the opening; but in designing a new fireplace, you can provide pockets on each side for curtains to recess into, or space for them to hang beyond the opening, leaving the opening completely clear. They can be installed with “pressure bars” or clamps so no drilling into fireplace masonry or steel is involved.
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