The addition of a perfectly fitted fireplace instantly elevates a room. Given its importance, you’ll want to get your fireplace’s dimensions right, and the first step in that direction is figuring out the ideal width for your space. So, how wide should a fireplace be?
A fireplace should be 24 – 72 inches (2 – 6 feet) wide. Generally, smaller rooms require smaller fireplaces, while bigger rooms benefit more from larger ones. Getting the dimensions wrong poses the risks of a fireplace that overpowers or does not meet a room’s heating demands.
So, how do you decide how wide your fireplace should be? Read on for more insights into this and what happens when you get the width wrong.
What Is a Good Width for a Fireplace?
As I mentioned, choosing the correct width for your fireplace comes with several benefits. These include increased appeal, better heating capabilities, and lower installation costs. But what size works best?
24 – 72 inches (2 – 6 feet) is a good range for fireplace widths. Notably, 24 – 32 inches (2 – 3 feet) is an ideal range for a 10×14 feet (3×4 meters) room. On the other hand, 40 – 72 inches (3×6 feet) is perfect for a 20×36 feet (6×11 meters) room.
The above dimensions aren’t necessarily set in stone. Fireplaces come in various widths, and the size you choose depends on the size of the room you’re looking to warm up and your personal preference.
Here’s a rundown of the most critical factors to consider when deciding on a fireplace width for your space:
Room Size and Wall Length
The size of the room and the length of the wall you’re looking to install your fireplace are arguably the most critical determinants of its width. Generally, a small space such as an office or a bedroom will require a smaller fireplace.
Meanwhile, a dining or living area that you want to look more spacious might benefit from a larger fireplace. The same goes for wall length. The longer the wall, the wider a fireplace it can accommodate.
To help you pick the ideal fireplace size, here’s a table showing the recommended fireplace width based on room size and wall length:
|Recommended Fireplace Width in Inches (Centimeters)|
|Room Size in Feet (Meters)||Short Wall||Long Wall|
|10×14 ft (3×4 m)||24 in. (61 cm)||24-32 in. (61-81 cm)|
|12×16 ft (3.7×4.9 m)||24-36 in. (61-91 cm)||32-36 in. (81-91 cm)|
|12×20 ft (3.7×6 m)||32-36 in. (81-91 cm)||36-40 in. (91-102 cm)|
|12×24 ft (3.7×7 m)||32-36 in. (81-91 cm)||36-48 in. (91-122 cm)|
|14×28 ft (4×8.5 m)||32-40 in. (81-102 cm)||40-48 in. (102-122 cm)|
|16×30 ft (4.9×9 m)||36-40 in. (91-102 cm)||48-60 in. (122-152 cm)|
|20×36 ft (6×11 m)||40-48 in. (102-122 cm)||48-72 in. (122-183 cm)|
Tip: In addition to the room size and wall length, consider the ceiling slope. Note whether the ceiling has slopes on any side of it that would make it difficult to fit a particular size fireplace.
Door Size and Position
Remember to consider whether your room has doors or other openings that will affect where you place your new hearth. For instance, if someone needs to walk through the area where the fireplace is supposed to be, you’ll have less flexibility with positioning since they require adequate space around them.
The same goes for stairs — are any located in this area? If so, are they primarily used to go up or down (ie; a stair that leads up to your bedroom is primarily used to go up once a day)? You should consider all these factors ahead of time to ensure you get a fireplace that fits perfectly in your space.
Can a Fireplace Be Too Big for a Room?
A fireplace can be too big for a room. For instance, a fireplace wider than 40 inches (over 3 feet) may look out of place in smaller spaces and appear like it’s encroaching too much on interior space. Such a fireplace may also increase energy bills by overheating the room.
A fireplace that is too small for a room also poses issues. For example, you might not be able to enjoy its full heating capabilities because it’s too cramped, and the heat won’t spread as well as intended.
If unsure, use these simple guiding principles to decide:
- Smaller rooms benefit from smaller fireplaces (24 – 32 inches or 61 – 81 cm).
- Bigger rooms can accommodate larger ones (40 – 72 inches or 102 – 183 cm).
You might also want to watch the following Youtube tutorial on picking the right fireplace size, especially if you plan to place your TV right above it:
Should a Fireplace Mantel Be Wider Than the Fireplace?
A fireplace mantel is a crucial part of the fireplace. It’s not just a decorative addition to the room—it plays an essential functional role in directing all smoke up the chimney, preventing pollutants from entering your home. Therefore, you should get its dimensions right as well.
A fireplace mantel should be at least 3 – 6 inches (5 – 7 centimeters) wider than the fireplace. This helps keep the smoke inside the fireplace and ensures it can rise up to the chimney. A wider mantel also creates a more balanced look in the room.
You should also check the slope of your mantel before buying to ensure it will rise up all the way to the chimney. The right slope helps avoid any complications in venting smoke out of your home.
What Is the Average Width of a Fireplace Hearth?
A fireplace hearth is the flat surface that extends from the fireplace. It’s a crucial part of any fireplace because it protects against fire and heat damage and provides a safer space for you to walk around the unit. It also catches any fallen pieces of wood or coal, should they happen to fall.
The average size for a fireplace hearth is 16 inches (41 centimeters) in front and 8 inches (20 centimeters) to each side of the fireplace. These dimensions ensure the safety of all furniture near it. A hearth will also be able to catch any fallen pieces of burning wood if they happen to fall.
The main purpose of a hearth is to protect your home from any fire and heat damage. Therefore, a hearth has to uphold some standards:
- It must be made from non-combustible materials.
- It must be made of a material that does not crack under intense heat.
- It must be at least 12mm thick.
- It must extend 16 inches in front and 8 inches to the side of the fireplace.
Additionally, you can add a fireplace screen for extra safety. Fireplace screens come in different designs, ranging from a very plain and simple screen to decorative screens like this Plow & Hearth Metal Fireplace Screen from Amazon.com.
Ultimately, the size of the space you’re looking to charm up with a fireplace will dictate its width. However, the room size isn’t the only consideration. You also need to consider the fireplace’s size and position in relation to other features in the room to ensure it fits perfectly, looks good, and complements other features to neatly tie your home decor together.
Remember to get the height and length of your fireplace right as well. When in doubt, seek help from professionals to avoid any unforeseen issues.