Slate Fire Hearths; Questions and Answers

Slate is the perfect choice for a fire hearth, it has been used for centuries here in the UK as the base for a fire, due to its natural properties material and that it could be sourced locally. Modern slate hearths like those supplied by Ardosia are increasingly popular particularly as wood burner design has improved the efficiency and safety of natural fires in the home. Slate hearth designs have evolved as have the wood burners, with many contemporary home designs now incorporating new patterns, whilst demand for slate hearths for traditional open fires remains strong. Here we answer questions about slate fire hearths and why they are so popular.

 

Can I use slate tiles for a hearth?

Yes, you can use slate tiles for a hearth but a single piece of slate cut to the shape and dimensions you require is a much better solution. Whatever you use the floor surface needs to delineate the area around the fire from the remainder of the floor, to satisfy safety requirements. Thick slate fire hearths are much better than thin slate tiles as they are stronger and have better fire protection and thermal insulation properties

  • Slate fire hearths are thick and offer improved safety over tiles.
  • Fire hearths in slate can be cut in a single piece in a range of designs.
  • Slate is a natural material, almost never stains and is easy to clean.
  • A single fire hearth in slate avoids the need to match tiles together.
  • Fires should never be in direct contact with a hearth, you should not burn directly on a slate hearth.

traditional wood burner on a slate hearth

 

How thick should a slate hearth be?

  • The minimum thickness of a slate hearth supplied by Ardosia is 12mm
  • With an enclosed wood burner, the hearth needs to extend at least 22.5cm from the front of the wood burner.
  • With a wood burner that opens to the front the hearth needs to extend at least 30cm from the front.
  • At least three sides around the wood burner should have space around them.
  • A thicker hearth offers more protection and is more durable.
  • Slate thickness can be in 12mm, 25mm, 30mm or 40mm thick

slate hearth with an inglenook wood burner

 

How do you cut a slate hearth?

Thick slate usually requires specialist machinery to cut. If you are cutting a slate hearth to an intricate design or to an accurate shape it is best to engage the services of a professional, specialist slate supplier, like Ardosia, that will supply a finished product.  Thin slate can be cut at home with an angle grinder with a diamond tipped cutting wheel. This is feasible for cutting slate up to 25cm but as slate chips and cutting anything but straight lines requires considerable experience. Whatever tool you are using, use a facemask to protect yourself from the dust.

 

Are Slate Fire Hearths Easy To Clean?

  • Slate is very easy to clean and is a great material for use as a fire hearth.
  • Clean off all ashes with a dustpan and brush.
  • Use soapy water to wash down the hearth, they can get dirty.
  • Finish with a wash over with clean water to remove any soap residue.
  • Periodically improve the slate hearth appearance with a wipe over using teak oil.

Ardosia do not recommend ‘honed’ slate for hearths as it shows very light scratches more easily, hand polished or riven slate provides a more robust finish.