July 13

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What is a Fireplace Hearth?

By Brian McMonagle

July 13, 2017


A fireplace hearth is an integral part of all fuel burning fires to protect your home from the fire itself. Having been used for thousands of years, hearths are one of the most important factors to consider when you’re having a fireplace fitted or even updating your current one. So what does it do and why is it so important?

The hearth is the stone or cement bottom of the fire that often extends out of the fireplace and into the room. It is a key part of a fireplace as it is a safety feature, protecting the floor not just from embers and fallen logs but also radiant heat that comes out of the fire. Over time the hearth has become not only a safety feature but also an area to store any fire tools such as ash buckets and pokers. Keeping tools on the hearth is an excellent use of the space however it is a fire hazard to store any fuel such as logs or coal as embers and sparks could catch them.

Although hearths are important with fuel burning fires they are not integral to gas fires as there is no risk of sparks or embers escaping. Most gas fires are still built with a hearth as it is a classic look that really completes the fireplace. For the traditional look of a wood burning fire but with almost none of the effort (building the fire, lighting it, chopping up logs – it all takes time and effort!) then a gas fire with a hearth will really set you up well.

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Hearths come in a wide variety of materials such as granite, tiled and tanned granite. They also come in slate, limestone and decorative granite however these are not suitable for the more classic wood and coal burning fires. When you’re having your hearth fitted make sure you research the different materials and what they offer. Tiles will offer you more choice in how your hearth looks but you might feel like one solid block is more sturdy and fire resistant. The choice is yours but talking to an expert can only help when it comes to the final decision.

Hearths of old were very functional and therefore it was difficult to find much variation in the type of material used but things have changed for the modern day. In a world where image counts for more and more, there are a greater variety of materials on offer although these often come with a price. Marble, flagstone and some manmade materials are all snazzy ways to jazz up your living room while keeping a more classical look. So when you’re planning on replacing your fire, don’t forget the importance of planning out what you want the hearth to look like. This integral safety feature will complete the look of the room and is worth spending a little extra on.

Brian McMonagle

About the author

Brian took over McMonagle Marble & Granite from his father Cathal in 2009. A family run business McMonagles was originally a fireplace distributer. Brian’s innovative steps has now expanded the company to over 20 employees, International markets and into the leading marble and granite fabricator of the North West of Ireland.

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