26 October 2023
Why Are Fireplaces & Hearths So Important?
So you are in the market for a new fireplace, but too often we forget the importance of a good hearth and what it is that they actually do.
What is a Hearth and why are they important?
Hearths are an important feature in any home with a fireplace but also have a historical significance dating back hundreds of years. A fireplace hearth is the floor or ledge on your fireplace that extends into the room as well as the wall around the fireplace.
Hearths essentially were created to serve a purpose rather than strictly as decoration. They make the fireplace area a safe space and also prevent fire hazards. They extend into the floor space and effectively prevent burning embers or logs from falling onto the floor and potentially burning your carpets and floor coverings.
Let’s explore their importance below;
As well as serving a practical function, a fireplace hearth can be an effective way to add some creative flair to a room. Hearths made from high-quality and visually striking materials, such as marble, limestone, or sintered stone can be a striking design feature, bringing elegance to a space and elevating your fireplace.
A well-chosen hearth will make your fireplace the focal feature of your room, giving a cosy and homely feel.
In practical terms, a fireplace hearth will protect your home from fire hazards caused by heat, as well as embers and ash if you have a real fire. They’re made from hard, non-flammable materials such as stone, brick, or ceramic.
They offer a fire-proof shield, catching any heat or hot materials before they reach your floor or furniture.
Cultural and Symbolic Importance
Hearths have been a feature of homes in Britain for hundreds of years, with the use of fire indoors for heating and cooking purposes dating back thousands of years, to early humans and the discovery of how to make fire.
Fireplaces, and the hearths that came with them, occupy a huge historical significance and were seen as the heart of the home. The first use of fireplace hearths as we know them today dates to the 12th century, when large hall houses of the time would have a large fireplace in one room which would heat the focal point of the house.
Over the next 300 years or so, hearth fireplaces became more widely implemented into an increasing number of homes and were at their peak around the early 20th century, prior to the introduction of more modern cooking and heating methods.
Modern hearths feature materials such as fireplace hearth tiles, and stone fireplace hearths are common, including granite fireplace hearths.
Wondering how to maintain your Fireplace?
Fireplaces, particularly ones that burn wood or other fuels, will require regular maintenance for safety and usability reasons. There are a few key steps you should take to keep your fireplace safe and functional –
- Cleaning – Make sure your fireplace is regularly cleaned of ash and other leftover materials. Debris can obstruct the burning of the next fire, as well as being unsightly and potentially finding its way around the rest of your home.
- Carbon monoxide and smoke alarms – Fires pose a number of potential risks, and having early warning systems such as carbon monoxide and smoke detectors installed can give you warning to address the issues or evacuate as soon as they occur.
- Chimney maintenance – Burning fuels such as wood releases soot and creosote, which can build up in your chimney and on the back wall of your fireplace, and, over time, pose a serious fire hazard in of themselves. Making sure your chimney is regularly cleaned and inspected is crucial to making sure your fireplace doesn’t become its own hazard.
- Use the right fuel – Make sure you use the right fuel for your fireplace, not just in terms of whether you use coal or wood, but, for example, using the right kind of wood. Softer woods such as pine will burn more quickly and produce more creosote than harder, seasoned woods.
Do You Need a Fireplace Hearth?
If you’re looking for a fireplace hearth with a touch of elegance, Impala Stone can help. We stock a range of high-quality hearth materials including granite, limestone, and marble, all of which can be tailor-cut to suit your specific needs.