Types of Hearths and their Pros & Cons

Slate, Granite, Limestone or Sandstone Fireplace Hearth Stone - What is the difference?

With the increasing popularity of log burners as an addition to peoples home heating systems, there an increasing need for a fireplace hearth for the burner to stand upon. 

But what should a hearth be made of? Looking at the data, it appears as though there are 3 materials that spring to mind when people are looking for hearths, with one material being overwhelmingly what people are searching for:

  • Slate hearth - ~80% of searches
  • Granite hearth - ~18% of searches
  • Black Limestone hearth- <2% of searches
  • Sandstone hearth - rarely searched!

But is there a reason for this? Is slate really that much more suitable than Limestone? Or are people simply confused about what is available? Hopefully we can shed some light on the different materials that are available and highlight which materials might be suitable for your project that you possibly didn't know about.

Key Takeaways:

  • Slate Hearths: A popular and aesthetically pleasing option, slate hearths offer unique markings and warm tones. However, they are a premium choice with a higher price tag.
  • Black Limestone Hearths: An increasingly popular choice due to their consistent color and budget-friendly price. Black limestone provides a deep black color and smooth surface, although it may fade over time.
  • Granite Hearths: Known for their toughness and resistance to scratches and stains. Granite hearths have a unique surface texture, making them a durable but expensive option.
  • Grey Sandstone Hearths: Ideal for a natural, traditional look, especially in rustic settings. They are scratch and fade-resistant but have an uneven surface and can absorb stains if untreated.
  • Material Choice: The article highlights the importance of choosing the right material for a fireplace hearth, considering factors like appearance, cost, durability, and suitability to the home's style.

Slate Hearths - The Go-to Option

Slate hearths are by far and away the most well known option. When a customer speaks to use about getting their bespoke fireplace hearth made, it is always slate that they ask for first. And it's easy to see why.

Brazilian Slate hearth stones are dark, decorative and when a burner is active - they radiate warmth into the room.

Slate is aesthetically pleasing with plenty of natural variation for a decorative and interesting surface. 

However, they are a more expensive option than some other materials and often the alternative materials will be just as suitable, if not more suitable than a slate piece.

Pros of Slate Hearths

- A very beautiful stone with unique markings on every piece.
- Naturally smooth so suited to a burner.
- Warm tones add to the heating effect of the space.

Cons of Slate Hearths

Premium material so costs extra.
- Natural variation means each piece is unpredictable.
- Limited choice of edge finishes.

Black Limestone Hearth - The Most Popular

Not many people know Black Limestone exists as an option which is nicely illustrated by the search figures above. But once they learn about the material, a surprising amount of people opt for it as an alternative.

It's difficult to even tell Limestone and Slate apart from the two images, and with limestone coming it at around half the price, it's no wonder it is increasing in popularity year-on-year.

The colour is consistent. There is almost no variation across the surface, so you know exactly what you are getting from piece to piece. 

On top of this, the surface is still naturally smooth and perfectly suited for a burner.

Pros of Limestone

- Consistent colour and surface finish.
- Deepest black colour available.
- Very budget friendly.
- Easily worked, so lots of options for your fireplace hearth edges.

Cons of Limestone

- No natural variation so will look just like any other limestone hearth.
- More likely to fade than slate.

Granite Hearth - The Toughest

Granite is one of the options that people are frequently searching for. It's an incredibly hard stone and ages really well through the years. Because of it's geological makeup, granite is incredibly tough and resistant to damage.

The tough nature of granite means it's very resistant to scratches, damages and stains of all variety. If you are using a working burner with pokers and tools, granite may well be a great option for you thanks to it's hardy nature.

There is also a slightly varied surface texture and pattern thanks to the cooling of volcanic rock that forms the granite material. 

The surface is still overall nice and smooth, but it has a dimpled effect so isn't quite as smooth as other options.

However, due to the fact the stone is so tough it does require more work to cut, so it is the most expensive option.

Pros of Granite

- Incredibly tough. More scratch and stain resistant than the other options.
- Decorative surface thanks to the way is formed.

Cons of Granite

- Most expensive option.
- Unpredictable surface.

Grey Sandstone Hearth - The Most Natural

This is a slightly less considered option, but that's not to say it should be written off altogether. Grey sandstone is great for those looking to create the most natural, traditional look as it maintains quite a lot of the characteristics that are common in traditional natural stone.

Grey sandstone is for those looking for the ultimate natural effect. This is a beautiful, naturally occurring stone which will compliment a properties rustic feel perfectly.

Unlike most of our other options, this stone is not designed to give a smooth, contemporary effect but to complement a traditional property and a rustic fireplace. The surface of the stone is rough, but we still only  select pieces suitable for log burners, so they won’t be too uneven to use.

Pros of Sandstone

- Natural look.
- Resistant to scratch and fade.
- Well suited to traditional properties.

Cons of Sandstone:

- Uneven surface which can vary dramatically.
- Will absorb stains quickly if untreated.

Bespoke Slate Hearths - are they the only option?

Absolutely not! There are 3 main natural materials hearths can be constructed from. We hope we've highlighted the main differences for you and help you come to a conclusion regarding which material may be best for you.

Or if you wanted to go ahead and get an accurate price, you can get a quote an any of our custom fireplace hearth pages also.

If you have any questions, please feel free to get in touch with one of our friendly customer service teams at sales@primethorpepaving.co.uk or alternatively, give us a call on 01733 810161

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