When designing your fireplace hearth, there are several variables to consider. What kind of hearth would look best in the room? What functions will it serve? Will it be a raised hearth or a flush hearth? Will you use limestone or brick? This article explores different fireplace hearth styles and the materials most commonly used to create them.
What is a Fireplace Hearth?
A fireplace hearth is the floor that extends in front of your fireplace and protects the rest of your home from rogue sparks, embers, and logs that could cause a fire to spread. You build your fireplace hearth with non-combustible material, such as granite, marble, quartz, or soapstone.
The two most common hearth styles are flush hearth and raised hearth.
A flush hearth is level with the floor. Most fireplaces have flush hearths. A flush hearth uses fewer materials than a raised hearth and is less expensive to build than a raised hearth. It also saves you more space.
A raised hearth is just as it sounds: above the floor. Sometimes raised hearths are tall enough to provide shelving or fireside seating.
Check with your city or town for building codes that specify materials you may use. Some municipalities mandate certain materials, such as brick or stone for a fireplace hearth.
While brick and stone are the most traditional materials you can use to build your fireplace hearth, they can be pricey. You can also use the following:
- Granite is common for its durability and cost-effectiveness.
- Marble is modern. It is easy to clean and heat-resistant, but expensive.
- Slate is rustic, but it takes work to clean and can’t be used in one slab.
- Concrete is inexpensive and paintable.
- Ceramic/ porcelain tiles are very heat resistant and easy to clean.
- Quarry tiles are red and made like brick for a traditional look. They’re durable, stain-resistant, and heat-resistant.
- Quartz is engineered and comes in a variety of colors and styles. Clean with water, not bleach. Don’t build with quartz outdoors, as it fades with exposure to UV rays.
- Soapstone is beautiful and heat-resistant
- Limestone is inexpensive but should only be used for gas or electric fireplaces, as the heat from a wood fireplace is too intense.
A fireplace hearth should work well with the room it occupies. Look for a design that complements the style of the room, not one that overpowers it. You probably wouldn’t want an oversized, raised hearth in a tiny room. It should be an appropriate size for the room as well as the fireplace.