Hearths are a crucial part of your fireplace. They keep your home protected and your fireplace functional. But what kind of materials can be used for your hearth, and can you use wood for a fireplace hearth?
Wood should not be used for your fireplace hearth. Wood is too combustible and poses a major fire hazard when used for your hearth. Instead, go with materials that aren’t combustible, such as granite, brick, marble, limestone, or most other types of minerals or stones.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at why wood isn’t a good material for your hearth, and we’ll also give you some alternatives that do work great as hearths!
Can Wood Be Used For Your Fireplace Hearth?
Wood is not the best choice for a fireplace hearth. Really, hearths need to be fire-resistant, they should be able to handle high temperatures and heat, they cannot combust easily, they should not crack, and they need to be durable. And finally, the material used for your fireplace hearth needs to look good, but this of course not as important as the other requirements.
Unfortunately, wood does not meet these requirements. Wood isn’t fire-resistant (after all, isn’t wood the main source of fuel for our fireplaces?), and although it can handle high temperatures to some degree, it is combustible. This is why we do not recommend using wood for your fireplace hearth. Still, there are plenty of other great materials that can be used in your fireplace hearth.
What Materials Should Be Used For Your Fireplace Hearth?
While wood can not be used for your fireplace hearth, there are a lot of great materials that can be used for this area of your fireplace. We’ll go over some common materials here.
Granite is the most popular option by far. This material is affordable, and it offers the best protection from fire and heat. In addition, granite looks great in fireplaces, as it comes in a lot of different varieties and colors. Granite can get scratched easily, but overall it is durable and popular in homes.
Brick is another choice you can go with as well. There isn’t as much variety with brick but it looks good and it can guard your home against fire too. And this is a cheap building material!
Limestone can also be used for your hearth, as this is easy to get access to. But we only recommend this material if you have a gas fireplace or an electric fireplace.
Marble really looks great in any fireplace, and it is highly heat resistant. As you can imagine, this building material can cost a lot of money. Only use marble if it fits in your budget.
Concrete is a more simple option, but it is practical and easy to build with and repair. You won’t spend a ton of money on a concrete hearth and you can even paint this material.
Slate is a type of stone that can be used for your fireplace hearth. It is similar to limestone, and it should not be used in fireplaces that burn materials like wood. A slate hearth is best for gas and electric fireplaces, but it can be difficult to clean up.
Quarry tiles have a similar look to brick and are highly durable. Your fireplace will look more traditional with this type of tile, but you will have an easy time cleaning up the surface of these tiles. And you can add them to any kind of fireplace.
Finally, you can go with a ceramic tile for your fireplace hearth. Ceramic comes in a lot of different colors and best of all, it is easy to clean up.
Do You Need A Fireplace Hearth and What Do Hearths Do?
If you have a fireplace that is used to burn solid fuel, then you will need to have a hearth. Electric fireplaces don’t really need to have a hearth, but many people choose to install a hearth as it makes their fireplace look more complete and pleasing to the eye.
Still, you might be wondering what the purpose of a hearth is and why it is necessary to have one. Hearths are important because of their fireproofing abilities. A hearth is located at the base of the fireplace and helps shield your home from flames, embers, and other combustible material that comes out of your fireplace.
In other words, the hearth protects your home and acts as a shield. This way fire stays in your fireplace. Ash and embers are also caught on the hearth, which will keep your furniture clean and free of flames.
Your hearth not only protects you, though, it also makes your fireplace look better. You can add non-combustible decorations to your hearth, and also design your hearth to match with the decor of your home.
Some people wonder whether they can paint their hearth. While not all hearths can be painted, if you have a brick or concrete hearth, it will be much easier to paint this area of your fireplace. Some materials don’t take well to paint, though. Keep this in mind if you plan on painting your hearth.
In addition, you want to do some prep work before you start painting. Make sure your hearth is cleaned, that the surrounding area is covered up, and you want to purchase paint that is heat resistant. This way the new color you paint on your hearth lasts.
Hearths need to adhere to certain requirements and standards, but this will depend on the country you live in. For example, your hearth will have to be a certain size and thickness. In the United States, hearths need to be at least four inches thick and go at least twelve inches out.
In other countries, hearths might have to be even longer. And most areas of the world require hearths to be made of non-combustible material. So, again, wood would not be a viable material for your hearth. You have to use something that is heat resistant and fireproof.