When you take a break from traveling the world, a nice warm fireplace is what you look forward to coming home to.
If you have a traditional fireplace, you probably have a hearth as well. Hearths have a long and interesting history, serving as a gathering point for families and guests and adding style and aesthetic touches to a room, and something to look forward to when returning from another jaunt of travels.
But if you want to get the most out of your fireplace hearth, you’ll need to work for it.
Getting More Out of Your Fireplace Hearth
Follow these tips if you want to get more out of your fireplace hearth:
- Choose the right material. If you’re installing a new hearth or replacing an old one, you’ll need to choose the right material. There are many different materials available for hearths, including limestone, slate, marble, soapstone, granite, and ceramic, all of which have strengths and weaknesses. For example, limestone is inexpensive, but it’s not well suited for wood burning fireplaces. Soapstone has a very high resistance to heat, but it can be prone to cracking over time. Granite is durable and versatile, but it happens to be more expensive.
- Choose the right height. Similarly, you’ll need to choose the right height for your hearth. A flush hearth will be level with the floor, providing a clean, level aesthetic. A raised hearth will provide an opportunity for seating—and decorating, in some cases. You can also choose from a variety of different heights.
- Make sure to follow all regulations. Depending on where you live and what kind of fireplace you have, you may have to follow certain regulations for your hearth. If you have no specific laws to follow, make sure you follow the guidance of your manufacturer.
- Clean your hearth before every use. Before you use the fireplace, make sure to give it a good cleaning. Clear away any ash from the hearth and ensure it’s clear of debris. This isn’t just to keep your hearth looking nice (though that’s a great added benefit); it’s also to minimize the risk of a fire. This is especially important if you have a wood burning fireplace.
- Burn the right fuel for your hearth. Don’t burn a fuel that isn’t a good fit for your hearth material. For example, burning wood could crack your limestone hearth. And if you have a traditional wood burning fireplace, make sure you’re only burning seasoned wood for the best results.
- Inspect for cracks routinely. Cracks in a hearth may be unpleasant, but they’re not a huge issue right away—instead, they become a big issue over time. Small cracks tend to spread, becoming large cracks. Accordingly, you need to inspect your hearth for cracks regularly. If you see one, even if it’s small, make sure you get it repaired before it gets any worse. This could help you save a lot of heartache (and money) later on.
- Have your hearth professionally inspected for damage. As an amateur, you’ll likely be able to spot a crack when it emerges. But other types of sustained damage are harder to notice. At least annually, call out a professional to inspect your hearth for damage. They may notice something off that needs to be addressed, maximizing the performance and lifespan of your hearth with a simple fix.
- Use a hearth rug. Invest in a hearth rug. On the surface, this item serves as an aesthetic touch to make your hearth more inviting (or fit with the color scheme of your living room). But more importantly, it serves as a protective measure; it will reduce the possibility of fire, and in some cases, prevent cracks and other forms of damage to the hearth.
- Get creative with your decorations. Decorating a hearth is one of the great joys of owning a fireplace. Your hearth often serves as the focal point of your living room, so it’s your opportunity to get creative and tie the entire room together. Decorate for the current season, or display various themes of decorations.
- Gather. Hearths have served as a gathering point for groups of people for centuries, so it’s valuable to continue that tradition. No matter how busy you get, make sure you set aside time to gather around the hearth with your family and closest friends. It’s the perfect opportunity to talk and bond with each other.
If you take good care of your fireplace hearth, it has the potential to last you a lifetime. You may need to conduct occasional repairs if it takes any damage, but it should have a long lifespan regardless. If you ever choose to upgrade the hearth, you can do so, replacing it with a different type of material or expanding it in some way. Just make sure you’re giving it the attention and care it needs.