When you buy a wood burning stove or multi fuel stove, not only do you want to protect it but you’ll also want to look after the space around it, particularly your flooring. This is why you’ll need a stove hearth. Not only are they important for safety regulations but you want to find one that matches your stove’s decor.

If you are looking to buy a new wood burning stove, you’ll need to consider the ideal hearth to match it and keep your home safe. So, Direct Stoves is here to explain everything about hearths for your log burning stove.

Read on to find out more about why you need one, the regulations involved, what hearths are made from as well as the extra considerations when buying.

What is a hearth for a stove or log burner?

Basically, a hearth is the non-combustible floor for a fireplace or stove to sit on top of.

Here is the definition of a hearth according to the building regulations in the approved Document J:

“A hearth is a base intended to safely isolate a combustion appliance from people, combustible parts of the building fabric and soft furnishings. The exposed surface of the hearth provides a region around the appliance that can be kept clear of anything at risk of fire.”

The Functions of a hearth

Is a hearth necessary for a log burner or stove?

If you have any solid fuel burning stove, it is absolutely vital that you have the correct hearth for it to sit on.

Building regulations state that a non-combustible material must cover a set area around your stove. So, varying sizes and thicknesses of hearth pads are available to suit your requirements.

A hearth is essential in ensuring that your home is as safe as possible when using your stove. When your stove reaches a high temperature, or embers and hot ashes fall out from it, a highly heat resistant hearth needs to be in place to ensure they can’t catch fire on any combustible materials.

It also helps keep passers by a safe distance away from the scaldingly hot stove exterior and prevents people accidentally placing combustibles too close to the stove. For this reason, regulations also state your hearth should be ‘visually apparent’, with the edge ideally raised above the level of the floor.

What is the best material for a wood stove hearth?

The most common and best hearth material for a wood burning stove is stone, especially slate and granite. However, you will also find hearths made from glass and steel. These can withstand high temperatures without cracking or posing a fire hazard.

Find out more about them below…

Granite Hearths

Granite is the best hearth material for solid fuel-burning fires, such as a wood-burner. However, to withstand the heat from your stove, you need to get a granite hearth that has been “slabbed”. This means that it has been cut into pieces and mounted in concrete to allow for contraction - to give it space to expand as it heats up.

Slate Hearths

Slate is very much like granite when it comes to hearths and looks lovely with a solid fuel burning stove. If you would rather a black hearth than a light colour, slate is a stunning alternative to granite. You can choose to have it in a deep matte grey tone or polish it up for a jet black finish.

Stone hearths are an ideal match for traditionally styled stoves but will match contemporary wood-burning stoves.

Shop Slate & Granite Hearths

Glass Hearths

For a cool, modern design for your hearth, few can achieve this like a glass hearth. These are a stylish and contemporary choice that provides a safe surround for solid fuel stoves. The benefit of glass is that, if you have a stone hearth, it’s almost guaranteed to be dark in colour, meaning you may “lose” part of your floor. Glass hearths are also easy to clean.

Steel Hearths

Like glass hearths, steel provides a modern choice to sit underneath your stove that can be shaped much easier than stone. Easy to clean, steel hearths are an ideal match for contemporary wood burning stoves, almost acting as an extension to the styling.

Glass and steel hearths are often the more affordable option when buying a hearth for your home compared to stone.

Shop Glass & Steel Hearths

What are the log burner hearth regulations?

As stated by building regulations, your stove must always be placed on a non-combustible material such as granite, slate, steel or glass.

Hearth regulations for a free standing stove

You must always check the size of your stove before buying a hearth. If the heat from your free standing stove doesn’t raise the temperature of the hearth above 100°C, the following measurements must be met:

  • The hearth must extend at least 300mm to the front and 150mm to either side
  • It must be at least 12mm thick
  • It must be made from non-combustible materials
  • It must also cover a minimum area of 840 x 840mm

If your stove heats your hearth to over 100°C, or it hasn’t been tested, the required thickness of your hearth increases to 250mm.

Hearth regulations for stoves in fireplace recesses

If you are placing your stove into a fireplace recess, it needs to have something called a ‘constructional hearth’ in place. This is the floor of your fireplace nook that is usually made of a thick layer of concrete that should be at least 250mm thick.

This should then project at least 500mm outwards into your room and be wider than the recess by a minimum of 150mm.

If there are any combustible materials beneath your constructional hearth, there needs to be a 50mm air gap between them, too - as illustrated below:

Diagram 25 constructional hearth suitable for solid fuel appliance

BUT, you should still place a decorative non-combustible hearth around the required area to ensure no combustible items are placed within this space.

The below diagram taken from the official Document J building regulations illustrates hearth regulations for stoves in both fireplace recesses and free-standing stoves...

Diagram 26 hearth surface surrouning solid fuel appliance

As you can see, there are a lot of regulations to consider when installing your stove’s hearth!

For this reason, it is usually best to ensure a qualified HETAS engineer fits your stove and certifies it for you as being compliant with all requirements.

If you don’t, you could be putting yourself at serious risk of fire hazards.

Shop our full range of stoves and hearths online today!

More from the Direct Stoves blog...

Are There Building Regulations For a Stove? | Can You Install a Stove in an Existing Fireplace? | What Do You Need to Fit a Log Burner?