Fireplace Question: Raised Hearth or Level With Floor?

stephfJune 18, 2012

What's better?

We are putting a gas fireplace into our family room and my first instinct is to have the fireplace hearth level with the floor as we have small children and the corners of a raised stone hearth just add another safety hazard in addition to having the actual fireplace to worry about. However, most of the inspiration pictures I'm drawn to have a raised hearth.

So, in your opinion, what's better and why?

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I've had a raised hearth in both current and previous homes, and prefer it. I like to be able to sit on the hearth with my back to the fire.

If you're worried about the sharp edges, then buy some foam pipe insulation to use as a bumper until the young'uns grow out of their falling over stage. :-)

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 1:20PM
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We have both.

We did a raised hearth in our living room. A wood burning fireplace, not gas. Did the raised for a few reasons. Although the fireplace opening is fairly large, I wanted it raised for sight lines. I wanted it raised for the same reason Weedy wrote, that it actually does provide additional seating when needed. The raised hearth also makes access easier for me when tending the wood fire.

My kids were young, 3 and 5 years old, when we built this house. Though the hearth could be considered to be a hazard of some sort, it also acts as a "stopper" or sorts, keeping the kids from running around right in front of the fireplace opening. My kids loved the raised hearth; sitting and watching the fires, warming themselves, etc. In wintertime it was one of their favorite spots for sitting and reading.

There are differences between gas and wood fires, so your priorities may vary.

Upstairs in our master bedroom suite I have the firebox raised off the floor, maybe 12" or so...but instead of raising the hearth too, I built the hearth itself flush with the floor. Up there I didn't want a raised hearth at shin level when someone was moving around in the darkness.

We wouldn't ever use a raised hearth up there for sitting, we have a couple of reading chairs set around the fireplace.

Though the room is generously sized, I didn't want the raised hearth projecting into the room. Raising the fireplace box itself still gives nice sight lines of the fire from throughout the bedroom area, even when in the shower or tub in the master bath, and the "flush with the floor hearth" preserves some square footage.

So for us it was two different rooms, two different sets of priorities.

And do realize your kids will be young and reckless for how long? Whereas the hearth will be raised or flush forever.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2012 at 10:25AM
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We prefer the hearth level mainly because that is the way it came with our old house and we thought ourselves VERY lucky.

Because our living room is somewhat small and because the hearth was low, the fireplace box overall was low enabling us to mount our TV a foot over the fireplace (we removed mantel).

We don't have the commonly reported problem of people having neck problems because they have to look up at their TV.

The firebox was very large so we actually had a lentel added (top of the fireplace box opening) to make the TV mounting area even lower.

In case anyone is wondering, we tested our fireplace during a week of icy weather mounting several stick-on thermometers above our fireplace making sure it wouldn't be too hot for the TV. Test is mandatory IMO because every fireplace is different.

Everything is so perfect, we watch TV and can look down periodically at the fire, and we don't have to worry about another focal point in our smallish house.

Sorry this is so long but in case you were thinking of this, wanted to share our good luck.

(Also, with the hearth level, this also enlarges the walking space when fire not going - the stone hearth becomes just part of the floor.)

    Bookmark   June 19, 2012 at 1:51PM
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we just built a corner faux fireplace in our master bdrm.
it's on a raised hearth with a fabricated mantle above and above that a large niche opening for the 42" tv, with a smaller one below for the dvd and dish stuff.
the fire can be seen from the bed and the recliners at the foot of the bed. and the recliners make it so our necks never bother us while tv watching.

in a room with low ceilings i'd go for the hearth flush with the floor.

for little ones you can get sturdy screens to go in front of the hearth for their protection.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2012 at 5:19PM
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I took out a raised hearth, and I love the extra floor space that was reclaimed.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2012 at 1:15PM
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I have 2 raised hearths in this house, and no young ones of my own, but I babysit 2 very small great grandkids and the hearths were very dangerous. I bought bumpers to go around the hearths at Toys R Us, to make them safer. In the room, they play in the most, I have a cobbler bench in front of the fireplace, so they cant get close to it at all. The last house we had, was bought by a couple with a new baby, and they have (probably made it), a hinged fence all the way around the raised hearth.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2012 at 4:52PM
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