Urgent:: Need to decide hearth height tonight!

ontariomomDecember 17, 2012

HI Folks,

We are having a fireplace installed tomorrow. I need to decide the hearth height tonight. What is a good height? My designer suggested around 9-10 inches. Here are a few specifics to our situation:

Our fireplace is going in the corner between a window seat and a shelf for a TV. Our ceilings are 8 feet. We want to have a stone veneer on the surround and wood mantel. Our firebox is 41" wide, but we plan to overlap the metal frame by a total of 5 inches; so the firebox opening will be 36". Our surround will be 12" wide on each side.



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Why can't the hearth be set at the floor?

    Bookmark   December 17, 2012 at 9:52PM
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The best fireplace style as far as I have determined is the Rumford fireplace with the hearth on the floor. With a raised hearth, because heat rises, cool air will remain on the floor. The Rumford fireplace is designed for increased heating efficiency and less loss of room heat via the chimney.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2012 at 10:38PM
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Hi palimpsest, luckygal and others,

Thanks for your thoughts. We prefer a raised hearth. We have ordered a Heat and Glo gas fireplace; the 6000 series. There will not be a chimney. We will also have in floor heat, so I am less concerned about the coolness of the floor. Perhaps I am in the minority to want a hearth. For those of you who like hearths, does a 10 inches high hearth sound about right?


    Bookmark   December 17, 2012 at 11:37PM
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The specific question was the height of a raised hearth. Not whether you want the OP to have one.

I don't have a raised hearth but I do like them. My MIL has one, and I wouldn't go more than 12 inches in height. Perhaps 12 inches and another inch for the top layer of tiles or whatever the materials are that you will be using.

Hope this answers the actual question. LOL.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2012 at 12:26AM
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Just measured mine and it's 11 inches.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2012 at 1:16AM
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Lucky, I have a Rumford FP with the hearth on the floor!

Ontario mom, the person who builds your FP should know what the norm would be for a raised hearth. But I think you need to take the height of the window seat into consideration.

Visualizing the two close together, I think the hearth being lower than the seat would look better.

We built a stone bench next to our FP which is 15" high, and it's a perfect height to sit on to get warm.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2012 at 7:30AM
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I think the first question is why is the raised hearth important to you? Is it an appearance thing? Is it meant to be used for additional seating? Is it simply what you're used to?

Our hearth is 8" tall. I hate it. To an observer, it looks "nice". But an observer doesn't have to live with it. It's in the center of the long wall of a narrow living room, so it becomes something of an obstacle when placing furniture/planning pathways. (But this is also compounded by the sheer width of the face of this particular fireplace). It definitely makes a visual statement that I like, but it suffers greatly in usefulness. A modern take on my "type" of home/fireplace would have the hearth flush with the floor, or perhaps a floating slab hearth. Also, 8" is way too short to serve as additional seating, so I would think 12" would be, as well. 15" seems a reasonable sitting height.

This pic isn't great, but will give you an idea.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2012 at 10:27AM
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I was asking if it was NECESSARY to have it raised. It's possible the OP didn't know whether it could be set at floor level or raised, that's all. I didn't venture an opinion regarding one or the other.

I would consider raising the hearth to the height of the window seat for continuity.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2012 at 10:35AM
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I love sitting on a fireplace hearth, but not a short one that makes my knees stick up. I would say to draw out the wall (to scale) with the fireplace, window seat and the TV shelf to see what looks balanced then make your decision.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2012 at 1:34PM
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Did you ever decide on a hearth height, OntarioMom? Not sure if this is too late or not. I have a gas fireplace and have a fairly tall hearth that runs wall to wall with a thick mantle above that also runs wall to wall. I think it's probably around 10-12" high, but I can measure tonight if you haven't already made your decision. I like the height because it's great for sitting on to get warm. If I was going to choose a hearth elevation other than flush against the floor, I would definitely go around 10-12" rather than something lower like 3-6" that might be less functional.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2012 at 2:32PM
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I have 2, one is 4 inches, and other is 11 inches. They both look fine, but, I hate them. They take up extra floor space, and they both have the rubber edging around the top (from toys r us) because of the great grandkids. 2 of my 3 kids have permanent scars on their faces from my mothers raised hearth. My last house had a 9 inch hearth, so I think it is whatever your own preference is.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2012 at 3:22PM
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Wow, thanks for all the feedback --- just checked my thread after work. We told the guy to set it 10 inches off the ground. Hopefully, I won't regret the decision.

I appreciate everyone who weighed in with their thoughts.


    Bookmark   December 18, 2012 at 3:32PM
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My hearth is 12.5" high. The firebox is 3' wide x 2' high. The surround is 18" wide on either side of the firebox (so, 6' wide including the firebox) and goes to the 8' tall ceiling. The height of the hearth makes a nice bench for two extra butts at those crowded holiday parties ;)

Here's a pic. The room is 18' square with 8' ceilings.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2012 at 3:52PM
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I realize you already decided on your height but just wanted to chime in that mine is 14- 1/2 inches high. Looks fine to me and is frequently used for extra seating.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2012 at 6:43PM
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Hi everyone and thanks so much for the measurements and lovely fireplace photos. The fireplace guys came today to install the firebox and place it on a box 10 inches high as per our morning instructions regarding the future hearth height. The actual surround, hearth, etc will not be done for a while. It is wonderful to have some heat for Christmas as we have all been living in a house under construction with hardly any insulation and no heat but space heaters (yes we are in cold Canada).

However, after reading over your height suggestions, I am now worried we should have asked to have the firebox set higher than 10 inches (would like in a pinch to have the extra seating spot). The firebox itself does have a bottom vent, so the fire part is not flush with the bottom so is higher up. Below is a sketch of the planned fireplace with window seat and TV shelf. Should I be asking them to come back to make it higher?


    Bookmark   December 18, 2012 at 11:00PM
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Sitting on the window seat will be fine to get the heat from the FP. I sit on my bench all the time to warm up.

You can always put some deep and firm pillows on the window seat, and use them on the hearth so it won't feel too short.

Now if you really want the hearth to be higher and you can afford it, go for it!

    Bookmark   December 19, 2012 at 7:21AM
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Carol, mine is 14 inches. It was measured specifically to be a comfortable height for seating. We've never had issues with kids getting hurt from it but it sits back far enough from the main seating area that it is not in the main line of traffic.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2012 at 7:22AM
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Our hearth has sharp corners like yours, Sidney4. We used to put a shawl, a small blanket or even throw pillows on it when the grands came to visit. The rest of the time it looked similar to yours.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2012 at 3:18PM
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Thanks Sidney and Grandmaof3 for your input. I wish we hadn't been in such a rush to decide the hearth height. However, DH insists it will be fine and I should starting worrying about the next decision LOL. If it really continues to bug me we might be able to have it fixed as the firebox is just sitting on a wood support for now.

Merry Christmas everyone and thanks for all your help!


    Bookmark   December 23, 2012 at 3:46PM
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