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  • Writer's pictureG.S. Harris Co., Inc.

Choosing a Hearthstone for Your Fireplace

Updated: Dec 4, 2023

A fireplace typically becomes the focal point of any room. Indeed, on cold days, family members often gather around the fireplace, as they have for generations. Well, one of the constructs of traditional fireplaces is the hearth, or the ledge just in front of the firebox. Not all fireplaces feature a hearth, but the ledge can be a useful addition for adding décor or even sitting.

If you plan to install a traditional stone fireplace, a hearth is a natural addition. Below are some considerations for choosing the hearthstone that makes up the ledge.

Hearthstone Material

As with the fireplace veneer, the hearth must be made of non-combustible materials to prevent fires when the firebox is in use. Many homeowners opt for natural stone.

Granite is beautiful and extremely hard, so it can be used with any fuel type. Slate is available in dark shades, but it should only be used with electric or gas. Limestone, which is available in light shades, is also in that boat. Marble is a luxury material with excellent heat resistance. Soapstone's heat resistance makes it ideal for hearthstones, though it's only available in gray to green shades.

In addition to natural stone, you can also choose precast stone. Manufacturers use a mixture of Portland cement and aggregates to simulate natural cut stone. The benefits of precast stone are you have a wider variety of color choices and sizes, and you usually can't tell they're not natural stone. Because they're made of concrete, precast hearthstones are heat resistant to any fuel type.

Hearthstone Size

The size of your hearthstone depends partly on its use and partly on how big the firebox is.

For decorative fireplaces, homeowners often choose to use the hearth as an additional shelf. You can place objets d'art on the hearth that help promote your room's décor. For that hearth, you might choose smaller hearthstones to make up a narrower hearth. Conversely, you may envision that your hearth will provide extra seating. So, you'll want hearthstones that make up a wider hearth.

Typically, the minimum width of a hearth is 16 inches, meaning how far out from the façade it extends. If you have a larger firebox, you'll want a hearth that extends out at least 20 inches. For thickness, the hearthstone should be at least two inches.

In addition to those considerations, you'll want to decide if you want a hearth made up of one slab or several with mortar in between. This choice is purely stylistic.

If you opt for natural stone, you have different choices in hearthstone size. With precast stone, you typically choose between standard sizes. These sizes usually range from 19-inch to 24-inch of width.

Hearthstone Color

Another purely stylistic choice is the color of your hearthstone. In some cases, you can order a full fireplace veneer that includes a coordinating hearthstone. However, if you prefer your own design ideals, you may custom choose the color.

With natural stones, the stone you choose will determine what colors are available. Before you visit a showroom and fall in love with a natural hearthstone, remember the heat resistance qualities as they relate to your firebox material. Precast hearthstones usually come in uniform colors designed to complement stone facades.

To keep cohesion between your fireplace veneer and your hearth, you'll want them to either match or contrast with each other. For example, you could choose a hearthstone made of the same stone, or precast stone, as the veneer. You could also choose a color in variegated stone and pick a hearthstone in that hue.

You could use a similar plan for a contrasting hearthstone. For instance, say you have some purples in your stone veneer. You might choose a hearthstone with deep gold undertones because purple and yellow are opposites on the color wheel. Or, for a modern take, you might choose a predominantly white hearthstone to complement a predominantly dark veneer.

Complement your fireplace and your whole room with a gorgeous hearthstone. Visit Harristone for a wide variety of gorgeous hearthstones.



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