What are the Different Options for Natural Stone Fireplaces?

Angela Crout-Mitchell

Many people consider having natural stone fireplaces installed in the construction of a new home or during a remodel. In addition to raising the property value of the home, natural stone fireplaces lend a durable visual element to a room. Some of the more common types of natural stone used for fireplaces include granite, marble, onyx, soapstone, and slate. Most home experts find natural stone very useful and attractive, but these materials are often more expensive than cultured stone manufactured specifically for fireplace construction. Natural stone fireplaces are usually installed using masonry brick to support the weight of the fireplace, and then the brick is covered by natural stone.

Slate, which is often used to make natural stone fireplaces.
Slate, which is often used to make natural stone fireplaces.

Fireplaces constructed from natural stone can be installed both indoors and outdoors. All types of natural stone can be used for either location. Appearance, resistance to heat and smoke, and durability are the key factors when choosing natural stone for a fireplace.

A natural stone fireplace.
A natural stone fireplace.

Granite is one of the most versatile natural stones available and is used for fireplaces, counters, and even flooring. It is a popular choice for fireplaces due to its amazing durability, scratch resistant finishes, and high heat tolerance. This natural stone is also well known for its non-staining surface, making it a popular choice for families with young children. Granite can be quarried in a variety of different colors helping to ensure that the right match is found for just about any decor.

Another group of natural stones used in creating unique fireplaces are onyx and marble. These two stones are different in composition, but both lend a very formal look to a fireplace. Both marble and onyx are susceptible to scratches and will break and chip more easily than granite, and should not be used for fireplaces constructed in an area prone to wear and tear. Contrary to popular assumptions, both marble and onyx are available in a wide variety of colors. Homeowners are not limited to the traditional white or black if either of these stones is chosen for fireplace construction.

Natural stone fireplaces can also be made from materials like slate and soapstone. These natural stones are both chemical resistant and were once used as table tops in laboratories, which attests to their durable and heat resistant natures. Slate is processed into thin and durable sheets, which makes installation easier over the existing masonry fireplace foundation. Soapstone has long been used for fireplaces and hearths thanks to its amazing heat resistant properties.

Proper chimney and hearth construction are crucial to maintaining the safety of wood-burning fireplaces in homes.
Proper chimney and hearth construction are crucial to maintaining the safety of wood-burning fireplaces in homes.

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Discussion Comments

Logicfest

These are great looking fireplaces, but some people take it to the extreme and insist on natural stone chimneys as well. The problem with that is that installing flashing around the chimney is difficult enough, but filling in all the gaps in the natural stone that will keep water from leaking into your house borders on impossible.

The best tactic is to have a standard, simple chimney and reserve the natural stone for the part of the fireplace in the home that people actually see.

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