A fireplace hearth is one of those places in your home that you may hardly be thinking about all the time.
Nevertheless, this small slab of concrete or any other suitable material that sits directly in front of your fireplace has a massive significance in the look and feel of your home.
Understanding how to use and design it may go a long way in changing the aesthetics of your fireplace and the entire room.
This article is about two common styles or types of fireplace hearth: raised and flush. There are a couple of other types of heath. However, we shall focus on these two in this article.
We shall discuss their pros and cons. We shall also discuss a few additional details about the fireplace hearth’s nature, function, and mode of operation.
What is a Fireplace Hearth?
A fireplace hearth is the piece of the slab that directly sits at the bottom and in front of your fireplace. The slab is usually made from materials that cannot catch fire, including bricks, stone, or clay.
There is nothing new about a fireplace hearth. This piece of the slab has existed as long as man has been using fire. That counts back to hundreds of thousands of years ago.
In the past, a fireplace hearth was considered the space where the actual fire burned. However, over time, the meaning of a fireplace hearth has changed to describe the space directly in front of the fireplace.
We shall discuss the importance of a fireplace hearth later but suffice to mention at this point that this piece of the slab has essential functions.
Primarily, it protects people from the dangers that are posed by the burning embers of a fireplace. In addition, it can serve as a space for placing ornaments and other decorative stuff.
Some of the materials that are usually used to make a fireplace are as follows:
- Marble: This material comes from stone, but it is softer. Marble remains intact for a long time because it does not crack easily even when subjected to intense heat.
- Ceramic: This is an ideal material for constructing your fireplace hearth because it comes in multiple colors and patterns. It is also strong enough to withstand the heat in electric, gas, and even wood fireplaces.
- Granite: Granite is one of the materials that you will find in many fireplace heathers. It is strong and highly durable, just like the other materials.
- Slate: Slate is more durable than limestone and several other materials used to make fireplace hearths. Slate also comes in more colors than limestone and soapstone. Thus, it is a good choice if you are interested in the aesthetic value of having a raised fireplace hearth.
Do I Need a Fireplace Hearth?
The truth of the matter is that you do not need a fireplace hearth. Your fireplace can still function perfectly even when you do not have a hearth.
This type of fireplace that does not have a hearth is referred to as no hearth or hole in the wall. The other fireplaces that have hearths are described according to the style of the hearth.
One common type is called the raised firebox. Another common type of fireplace with a hearth is referred to as a flush hearth. The third type is referred to as raised hearth.
All these types of fireplaces function as usually as one in which there is no hearth. Therefore, you can decide whether you would like to have a hearth in your fireplace or not. If you decide to have one, you will have to choose the style of the hearth.
What is a Raised Hearth?
A raised hearth is a type of fireplace hearth that rises above the ground. The height of a raised fireplace hearth is usually not more than 17 inches from the floor. However, there are specific regulations that govern the height of a hearth fireplace.
Raising the hearth fireplace requires that you use additional amounts of materials for constructing the hearth. This usage of an additional amount of materials may translate into higher costs of constructing a raised hearth fireplace.
In addition, a raised hearth fireplace takes up a considerable amount of space on the floor. Therefore, you need to plan carefully on how to construct your raised fireplace hearth based on the available space in your house.
How does a Raised Hearth Function?
The design of a raised fireplace hearth helps it to protect the firebox from intrusion effectively. Children and pets can easily reach the fireplace if no small and raised wall acts as a barrier.
The raised fireplace hearth is raised about 17 inches from the level of the floor. This design enables the hearth to prevent your kids and pets from accessing the firebox quickly.
In addition, the raised hearth design is very effective in preventing sparks and even logs of fire from rolling over from the fireplace. This happens when you are using a wood fireplace.
In the case of a gas fireplace, your raised hearth will provide a sound barrier between the house floor and the fireplace. This barrier will prevent radiant heat arising from the fireplace from reaching and possibly damaging your floor.
How does a Flush Hearth Function?
A flush hearth functions in a similar way to a raised fireplace hearth. However, slight differences arise from the fact that a flush fireplace hearth is on the same level as the floor of the house, whereas a raised fireplace hearth is a few inches higher than the floor level.
Typically, a flush fireplace hearth extends about 16 inches from the front of the fireplace. The distance from each side of the fireplace maybe about 8 inches.
By extending these distances from the front and the sides of the fireplace, your flush fireplace hearth effectively provides a suitable space for keeping the radiant heat from the fire in check. The radiant heat can easily damage the floor around your fireplace.
Difference Between a Raised Hearth and a Flush Hearth
The difference between a raised hearth and a flush hearth is in the design. A raised hearth occupies much more space than a flush hearth because it is raised higher than the floor level. Therefore, a raised hearth is ideal for protecting the floor from the radiant heat that comes from the firebox.
In addition, the raised hearth provides a perfect space around which people can gather and enjoy the warmth of the fire without worrying about sparks and logs of fire rolling from the fireplace. This is particularly important if you have a wood fireplace in your home.
On the other hand, a flush fireplace occupies very little space because it is at the same level as the floor. However, it still protects against the radiant heat from the fireplace.
What are the Pros and Cons of the Raised Hearth?
Raising the hearth of the fireplace by constructing it from the ground presents various pros and cons. The pros and cons arise from the way people interact with the fireplace hearth and the firebox. They also arise from the aesthetic value that such a fireplace offers to the user.
Here are some of the most important pros and cons of having a raised fireplace hearth.
Pros of a Raised Fireplace Hearth
- Safety: Raising the fireplace hearth by building it from the ground up enhances the overall safety of everyone in the home. For example, children and pets present a severe risk if they attempt to reach the firebox. By raising the hearth, you can reduce their ability to reach the firebox easily.
- The raised firebox enhances the aesthetic beauty of the fireplace: By raising the firebox using a raised fireplace hearth, you can successfully make the fireplace the main focal point in your home. Visitors can easily catch a glimpse of the fireplace even when they are in their seats.
Cons of a Raised Fireplace Hearth
- Additional construction costs: Raising the fireplace from the ground up means that you will have to spend a large amount of the materials you choose to use. The costs of the materials that you can use for constructing your fireplace vary greatly. If you choose expensive materials for enhanced aesthetic beauty, you will spend a lot more when making a raised hearth than any other type of fireplace hearth.
- A raised fireplace hearth takes up a lot of space: The raised hearth creates the illusion of an appendage to the fireplace that consumes a lot of space. If you have a small living room and use this type of hearth, the illusion will be pretty visible.
Pros and Cons of a Flush Hearth?
A flush hearth is a level with the floor around the fireplace. This styling of a fireplace hearth presents various advantages and disadvantages to the users. The pros and cons related to the safety of individuals, aesthetics, and the cost of construction.
Here are some of the essential pros and cons of having a flush fireplace hearth.
Pros of a Flush Fireplace Hearth
- Less costly to construct: If you decide to use expensive materials to construct your fireplace hearth, the cost becomes essential. It costs much less to construct a flush hearth than to have a raised fireplace hearth. This is because a flush fireplace hearth uses much fewer materials than a raised fireplace hearth.
- The illusion of space: The illusion of space in your fireplace hearth is an important aesthetic consideration. If you have a small room, using a flush fireplace hearth will create the impression that you have utilized your space well.
- A clear view of the fireplace: People can quickly and view the fireplace with a flush fireplace hearth than a raised fireplace hearth.
Cons of a Flush Hearth Fireplace
- Low level of safety: The only significant disadvantage of having a flush fireplace is that your kids and even pets can reach the firebox easily. This presents a serious safety risk that you should carefully manage to avoid accidents.
- The space is not high enough for the storage of items: A flush fireplace hearth is not ideal for storing ornamental items, as is the case for a raised fireplace hearth.
In this essay, we have discussed the pros and cons of raised and flush fireplace hearth styles. We have also discussed the differences between these two types of fireplace hearths.
Your choice of the type of hearth for your fireplace depends on your preferences and the amount of money you are willing to spend. In addition, the size of your house will guide you about the most appropriate fireplace hearth that you should use. Finally, raised fireplaces help keep the fireplace out of reach of children and pets.
Moreover, having a raised fireplace hearth can enhance the overall look of your house. You can conveniently place ornamental objects on the sides of the raised fireplace hearth. The flush fireplace hearth is on the same level as the floor. They minimize the space and cost of construction.