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A stove hearth is a masonry surround that sits beneath and in front of a wood-burning stove. By providing a large, non-flammable surface, a stove hearth cuts down on fire danger. Hearths are an ancient tradition that date back thousands of years; in symbology, the hearth is representative of the home and family life.
A stove hearth is usually made of stone, tile, or brick. In some cases, it is built into the floor directly below and around the stove. Another common type of stove hearth is simply a raised platform of hearth material set on top of the regular floor. Stove hearths can vary in size, but typically are relative to the size of the wood burning stove. In general, they need to be large enough to prevent ash or sparks from landing on flammable materials, such as nearby carpet or wood flooring.
A stove hearth can be customized to the decor and style of both the stove and the room. Using different materials for the hearth can evoke very different styles. A brick stove hearth may invoke a rustic, country look, while an ornamental tile hearth may bring to mind elegant art deco lines. Hearths are usually available in a variety of finishes and colors and can be easily customized to suit the style of stove and the type of decor.
A raised hearth may be easier and less expensive to install than an inset version. Many are available from home supply stores and masonry businesses. While typically heavy, these hearths, which are also known as hearth mats, can be installed in moments and frequently without professional health. Using a hearth mat can allow for ease of remodeling, since it can simply be switched out. Hearth mats are usually far less expensive than inlaid stove hearths, and may be a good option for renters or those not willing to tear up a floor to install a hearth.
For inset stove hearths, it may be wise to hire a master mason to manage the job. The installation of this type of stove hearth may require that part of the floor be removed and reset around the hearth. An inlaid hearth does give a more permanent feel to a stove area, though the options for alterations are limited. Installing an inlaid hearth without professional help is not recommended, as it can lead to warping and instability in floors if not done correctly.
In symbology, the hearth has been a sign of home and family for nearly as long as civilization has existed. In ancient mythology, the Greek goddess Hestia, called Vesta in Roman myths, guarded the hearth and was seen as the protector of family life. The hearth represents the ability to cook and provide warmth, two vital components of a household, and has thus been revered throughout history. Consider honoring the traditional symbol of the stove hearth by keeping it well swept and pleasant for all to behold.
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