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How High Should A Fireplace Be?

If you are building a home or remodelling an existing one, consider having a fireplace. The obvious advantage of a fireplace in Toronto is that it keeps your home warm in chillier months. A fireplace also lowers your energy bills, be it an electric, wood, or gas fireplace. A gas or electric fireplace, when used for warmth, allows you to lower your AC’s thermostat. A fireplace also serves as an important design element for your home by being an important focal point. Other benefits are that it provides you with light and heat whenever the power goes out, and it increases the resale value of your home.

How High off the Floor Should a Fireplace be?

This is one of the most important considerations when buying gas, electric, or wood fireplace. Below are some reasons to consider raising your fireplace off the ground.

Reasons to Raise Your Fireplace 

  • With the fireplace a good distance from the floor, there is less risk of excessive heat and sparks damaging your floor, rugs, and carpets. Raising a fireplace adds to safety by eliminating the risk of fires. You also save money on reduced maintenance costs associated with rugs and carpets.
  • You get extra space beneath the fireplace with a raised fireplace. You can use this space for seating arrangements and to huddle closer to the fireplace for meditation or as a family for storytelling and relaxing.
  • If you have kids and pets around, a raised fireplace reduces the risk of burns and accidents since they will not be able to access the hotter parts of the fireplace.
  • A raised fireplace can be seen from all across the room. You can, therefore, use it as the focal point around which the rest of your house décor revolves.
  • Raising the fireplace ensures heat is not lost to the floor. If a fireplace is too low, the most heated area will be very near the fireplace, where you cannot sit to enjoy the fire, meaning some heat is lost.

The Best Height for a Fireplace

When considering the height off the ground, the general rule is that you should be looking down, and not up, on the fireplace. However, this is not always possible such as when you have a low ceiling (e.g. in the basement or the attic). Below is the recommended fireplace height from the floor based on the fireplace type.

Wood Fireplaces 

Wood fireplaces are still popular today, despite advances in gas and electric fireplaces. With rising electricity costs, using a wood fireplace can prove to be the cheaper option. You can use the flame in food preparation, such as roasting marshmallows and placing a kettle over the fire for your coffee. A wood fireplace gives cozy warmth – humanity has gathered around the fire to relax after a hard day of work and to tell stories for thousands of years. A wood fireplace inspires romance, allows you to move away from dependence on utility companies, and provides warmth even during blackouts.

Wood fireplaces come in different designs, shapes and sizes. The space the wood fireplace should take depends on your personal preference. However, you may want to work with an expert who understands fireplace dimensions for guidance since the dimensions are crucial in creating a focal point that is aesthetically pleasing. When considering dimensions, consider the length, width, wood-burning depth, and hearth height.

Most traditional wood fireplaces are square in shape and are at floor level to allow for easy firewood addition. Consider raising a wood fireplace 6 to 12 inches off the floor for a better visual effect. In bedrooms, you can raise the fireplace 24 to 36 inches off the floor. The wood fireplace height from the floor should not be higher than this since you will be interacting with the fireplace a lot more than you would for an electric or gas fireplace. You will be adding wood, lighting the fire, and retrieving ashes, among other tasks.

Pellet stoves, on the other hand, emit very little smoke, about 1 gram per hour. As a result, they are not monitored by the EPA because they have a minimal footprint. Moreover, since pellets are recycled wood, they are more environmentally friendly. The Biomass Energy Center reports that pellets produce 0.035 pounds of carbon dioxide per kilowatt-hour. Pellet stoves are thus more environmentally friendly than wood stoves.

Electric Fireplaces

When it comes to wall-mounted fireplaces, electric fireplaces are the most popular. They come in different shapes and sizes. A wall recess and venting are not always required, which means you can mount electric fireplaces almost anywhere in your home. Other than the fact that you do not need to buy and store firewood and clean ashes, other reasons for the popularity of electric fireplaces are that there is no chimney maintenance and cleaning required, they are safer compared to a wood flame, and there is no air pollution from the smoke. Electric fireplaces do not have an actual flame; rather, the heat comes from a heated element.

When installing wall-mounted electric fireplaces, note that heat will be coming from the top, the front, and the bottom of the unit. Sufficient spacing at the bottom allows this heat to dissipate unhindered and safely. The recommended height for wall mounted electric fireplace is 1.5 feet off the ground.

Most electric fireplace models today are mounted just like you would mount a TV using wall-mounting brackets. The weight of wall-mounted fireplaces ranges from 50 to 200 pounds, so you may need studs or plastic anchors for extra support.

Note that an electric fireplace should always be powered by a power outlet, never an extension cord. The main cable must not come into contact with any hot element and must remain at the back of the appliance.

Gas Fireplaces

Gas fireplaces also come in different models with different wall installation options. Gas fireplaces are popular because they give constant heat. You will not need to buy and chop firewood, meaning these fireplaces are good for the environment. The fact that there is no ash means easy cleaning. It is easier to start a fire since it starts with the flip of a switch, unlike a wood fireplace where you have to light the fire. When combined with a blower, gas fireplaces are warmer. The fact that there are no flames or sparks means safety for your kids and pets. The installation cost is low.

You should refer to the manufacturer’s clearance requirements when deciding on the gas fireplace height from the floor. You must consider the local codes when installing gas fireplaces because of safety reasons.

The code specifies the floor distance to combustibles. The distance the hearth should project from the fireplace is at least 36 inches. Direct vent units (those that have sealed fronts) can allow less of a hearth. When it comes to side clearance for combustibles, the code requires at least 6 inches of clearance around the opening of the fireplace, and the clearance must be made of noncombustible material. Appropriate hearth materials are tile, stone, concrete, and brick. However, mantels that project more than 1 ½ inches from the face of the fireplace require at least 12 inches of clearance around the opening of the fireplace. For direct vent sealed units, the clearances depend on the manufacturers’ installation recommendations and should be followed strictly to prevent injury and/or fire hazards.

Linear fireplaces are gas fireplaces that are a lot wider than they are tall. They are very popular today. They look best when off the floor 12 to 30 inches, given they are not very tall. This height allows you to look down at the flames while seated. When installing linear fireplaces near the dining area, they should be higher (at least 36 inches) because of the higher dining chairs, which would otherwise hide the flames.

Factors to Consider when Determining Fireplace Height Off the Ground

While raised hearths are the most common choice today, there are several factors to consider when determining the right height off the ground for your wood-burning fireplace hearth:

  • The fireplace opening size: The fireplace opening and the hearth height should work towards your desired look. While a smaller fireplace opening is more appealing when it has a raised hearth, a larger fireplace opening appears better when it is positioned lower.
  • Ceiling height: The standard ceiling height is 9 feet. However, some ceilings are higher and others lower. The higher the ceiling, the higher your fireplace can go, and vice versa. For a low ceiling like the attic or basement, you don’t want to cut the wall in half with the fireplace. Position it in the bottom third of the wall space and ensure there is sufficient place for anything that may need to be placed above it.
  • TV Mounting: Mounting the TV above the fireplace is very popular. Most manufacturers give clearances of how far above the fireplace the TV should be to clear the heat output. The best way to make this setup is to mount the TV first to the desired height, allow for the recommended clearance, and then install the fireplace.
  • Your height: Since you will be working on your fireplace from time to time, such as to empty ashes and light the fire for a wood fireplace, you want a hearth height that makes doing these activities comfortably.

Fireplace installation does not come cheap. This and the fact that the fireplace gives character to your home means the decision should not be taken lightly. Consult an expert and look at sample homes for tips on what to do with your fireplace. At The Fireplace Store, we have a wide variety of fireplaces to choose from top brands. Our highly experienced and certified installation team will do the installation for you. Our team will also advise you on custom fireplaces and recommend the best fireplace for your home. 

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